A Teacher’s Comment

I’ve pasted below, in full, the comment that a teacher wrote in response to Bob Costrell’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the expense of teacher health and retirement benefits in Milwaukee.

Before you read it, I just want to make a few points.  First, this type of comment is not nearly as rare as you might hope.  I’ve written on teacher pay myself and let me tell you that a non-trivial number of teachers react like this.  Second, when I read comments like this I wonder why their authors are still teaching.  They seem to hate their job, hate the kids, and are filled with rage.  If things are that awful perhaps they should look for other lines of work.  Third, comments like this make me worried about how bright these teachers are.  This guy clearly has difficulty with written English.  He also has a hard time rationally processing the argument raised by Bob Costrell’s piece.  The op-ed was about how Milwaukee teachers are paid 74.2 cents in benefits for every 1 dollar in salary.  That rate is unsustainable and lacks transparency because fringe rates are less visible than salary.  The comment does not rationally respond to any part of that argument.  How can this person teach anything if he can’t read and understand an argument?

Let me be clear, I do not think all or even most teachers are like this guy.  But a non-trivial number of them are.  All of us, especially the good teachers, should be focused on how we can get people like this out of the classroom as quickly as possible.

Here’s the comment:

Mr. Costrell (and anybody who agrees with Bob),

You obviously have never experienced “teaching” to its fullest.

Teachers are not typical workers.

You obviously haven’t made a life-long career of “teaching” which cannot be expressed/explained in one word “teaching” let alone a discussion blog: You stand in a room for 7 hours a day 25-35 kids, unmotivated, sometimes you[‘re the best they’ve got, many with broken homes and social issues, baggage. A teacher enters the profession to make a positive difference in the world, then a kid in the class tells you “F U, I’m not doing this…”

Why don’t you take a Special Ed Teacher’s place for one day, and get SPIT on, kicked, smacked, get your hair pulled, get called names, and I dare you to come back the next day, and do it all over again.

Why don’t you stand in a teacher’s place, and put in your 7-3 with barely a lunch, cramming it down your throat in 10 minutes, because you spend your “LUNCH” calling parents, helping kids, tutoring, and planning awesome lessons.

Why don’t you, after your 7-4 shift, continue to coach until 6pm, and then continue to coach at the game, so the bus can return to the school at 10pm, and you can get home by 11pm, just to wake up at 5am and do it again the next day…I dare you. (and you wonder where our extra pay comes from).

I dare you to try to eat your lunch after a kid tells you sick stories, stories that would make you sick for weeks, where DCFS gets involved, that I can’t even share due to confidentiality and legality.

Why don’t you give it 150% everyday, all of the above, in addition to accepting constructive criticism from administrative and government demands for higher test scores, while balancing trying to teach your kids “critical thinking” skills, in addition to solely passing a standardized test, just to meet NCLB.

I dare you to step in a teacher’s footsteps for a day, and then standing up for what you believe in, and trying to keep your basic bargaining rights, and then losing your rights, and go back and give it 75% or more….do you seriously think a teacher would give it their all from that point on.

Why don’t you call all your teachers and thank them for everything they taught you: the ability to write what you believe, even though what you believe is a bunch of B S.

I dare you to send your kids to a school now, after posting your opinion.

Actually, good luck to anybody sending their kids to Wisconsin public schools after insulting the Wisconsin teachers like that. Teachers are more than just “teachers”. Don’t you forget it.

Mr Costrell, why don’t you walk in a teacher’s footsteps, and make a lifelong career out of it, before you open your stupid mouth.

FYI-you’re not a teacher, you’re a Harvard professor. Get off your high horse.

9 Responses to A Teacher’s Comment

  1. MOMwithAbrain says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why SPED teachers are responsible for kids with bad behavior. Years ago you went to see the principal/dean and you were disciplined. There were no SPED teachers for you.
    SPED was for students who might have learning disabilities, not behavior issues.
    The system stinks. We are being fleeced because parents and schools no longer discipline kids! Lovely

  2. Patrick says:

    My theory is that the more monumental the irrational hissy fit is, the less likely we the people are willing to stand up to the self-centered teacher unionista types.

    I’m sure a lot of people are thinking “some of these teachers hate the kids, but say they do it for the kids, hate the job but won’t quit, complain about the pay but are paid more than me, complain about the hours work less 400 less hours than me in a year, claim to not do it for the pay, but scream bloody murder when there is talk about pay or benefit cuts” but are too afraid to say it because of a potential hysterical nuclear meltdown from their local teacher.

  3. Patrick,

    “I dare you to send your kids to a school now, after posting your opinion.”

    Actually, I think this type of rage-filled teacher is pretty rare. But we should still be focused on getting these folks out of the classroom. Similarly, teachers who have sex with students are pretty rare, but we are pretty focused on getting them out of classrooms.

    • Patrick says:

      Ok, agreed veiled threats probably are rare. But I’ve been to quite a few townhall and legislative committee meetings to see a few teachers have a complete meltdown in public when salary and benefits are put in question – usually they blame everyone else for their troubles and say I must hate public schools or teachers to even question the status quo.

      Of course my experience is anecdotal. On the other hand, maybe its the bad teachers who show up to those events ? 😛

  4. Mike McShane says:

    Wait, if Dr. Costrell teaches at Harvard, and I’m one of his students…..I must go to Harvard. SWEET!!!

    What annoys me about this whole debate is that proponents of teacher pay reform are not about slashing the salaries and benefits of teachers. They are about (as this blog has referred to it) “Rockstar pay for Rockstar teachers”. If we reallocate dollars for merit rather than seniority and stop paying teachers that are bad at their job, we have MORE money to give to good teachers!!

    What gives me hope though is that an increasing number of the proponents for pay reform are people like me, that have “stood in front of a class for 7 hours a day”, have been cursed at, have broken up fights, have coached until 11PM at night, have lost planning periods, and still think that paying teachers based on seniority is a stupid idea.

  5. Well-said, McLovin!

    The thing that I’m stuck on is the threat this guy makes about how critics should be afraid to send their kids to school. Remember that critics are coerced to send their kids to these schools since alternatives cost more if they are available at all. Do people who give 150% for kids and have “awesome” lesson plans also hold kids hostage?

  6. […] Dan Riehl posted about this interesting story. Here is a small section of the postTeachers are not typical workers. You obviously haven’t made a life-long career of “teaching” which cannot be expressed/explained in one word “teaching” let alone a discussion blog: You stand in a room for 7 hours a day 25-35 kids, … […]

  7. concerned says:

    I thought it was a great article!

    Here’s another excellent piece:

    Representative Government Undermined.
    Collective bargaining forces elected representatives to negotiate a contract with union leaders, excluding all other citizens and potential workers from the bargaining table. Voters’ representatives do not fully control spending and tax decisions. They must reach agreement with union leaders who are unaccountable to the general public. This undermines the principle of voter sovereignty. Union leaders once recognized and opposed this. As recently as 1959, the AFL-CIO Executive Council stated flatly that “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen.”

  8. Mitch says:

    Apart from the obnoxious comment about “daring to send your kids to a school”, what is so “rage filled” about this post? And why would you think that he’s someone who hates kids or his job? He works hard, he goes the limit, he helps kids out and calls parents, he’s horrified on the kids’ behalves for the terror and abuse they get at home. How is this a man who hates his students?

    Jeez, talk about melodrama. Are you that clueless about what goes on in many public schools that you think he’s exaggerating, or picking a few stories that (you fondly imagine) are evidence of how he thinks these kids are, rather than every day occurrences? Seriously?

    Here’s something even more funny: I bet you assume that my disagreement means I’m pro-unions. Buzz. Thanks for playing. I hope Wisconsin does end collective bargaining entirely, not just for benefits. But only a clueless romantic would delude himself that this teacher is someone who hates kids. I don’t often agree with you, but I never thought (until now) that you really had no idea what you were talking about.

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