Archives for category: Teachers

Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, has pushed policies that are driving teachers out of their profession. He knows exactly what he is doing. He favors charter schools and voucher schools, where teachers have no job security, no pensions.

Teachers are leaving public schools. They are quitting. DeSantis is getting what he wants.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — The Palm Beach County School District appears to be in desperate need of teachers as the new school year gets underway. The first day of school for students is August 10th. Several teachers tell BocaNewsNow.com that they — and their colleagues — are leaving their long-held positions due to what they call the politicization of teaching by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

“From ’Don’t Say Gay’ to other bizarre positions,” said one teacher who asked not be identified, ”teaching is no longer teaching. It’s politics. Politics should have no place in the classroom, unless it’s actually a class about politics.”

“We have elementary school students who have same-sex parents,” said another teacher at a Palm Beach County elementary school. ”Are we really not allowed to acknowledge that? If we get fired, we lose benefits. If we resign now, we get what we have. This is why so many teachers are leaving. The Governor got it wrong.”

While the school district has been transmitting email blasts — and taking to social media — to promote job fairs and open positions, a check of the actual ”help wanted” website reveals just how dire the situation appears to be. As of noon on July 31st, 2022, a search of the word ”teacher” on the official Palm Beach County School District employment website yielded 1,784 jobs. While we did not review each and every listing, a spot check of several listings suggests that the openings are real. They range from full-time gifted to part-time continuing education. They range from Eagles Landing Middle School in Boca Raton to schools in all parts of the county.

It’s not just teachers. Transportation Services is also in need of bus drivers. The need is so great that the school district is offering a $1000 signing bonus to new transportation department employees.

Molly Olmstead writes in Slate that the rightwing plan to replace public schools with charter schools just took a big step backward in Tennessee. Governor Bill Lee, an evangelical Christian, wanted to bring 100 charter schools designed by extremist Hillsdale College to Tennessee to spread the gospel of patriotism, capitalism, and evangelical religion to the state. Hillsdale scaled the plan back to 50 schools, expecting to spread them across the state.

But then someone taped a conversation between Bill Lee and Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale. Arnn said insulting things about teachers. The Governor didn’t speak up. Then school boards got angry. They respect their teachers. Their teachers are their neighbors. Lots of Tennessee teachers are Republicans. Their neighbors don’t think they are “radical Marxists.” They know they are not “grooming” their children.

Arnn and Lee made the Hillsdale brand toxic. Arnn was out of touch. So was Governor Lee. The people of Tennessee don’t want to dump their public schools. They don’t like it when people dump on their teachers.

Back off, Governor Lee.

Go back to Michigan, Larry Arnn.

Steven Singer asks a reasonable question: Why is a Gates-Funded, anti-union, pro-charter advocacy group part of Pennsylvania’s effort to end the teacher shortage?

That would be TeachPlus.

Singer begins:

So Pennsylvania has unveiled a new plan to stop the exodus with the help of an organization pushing the same policies that made teaching undesirable in the first place.

The state’s Department of Education (PDE) announced its plan to stop the state’s teacher exodus today.

One of the four people introducing the plan at the Harrisburg press conference was Laura Boyce, Pennsylvania executive director of Teach Plus.

Why is this surprising?

Teach Plus is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to select and train teachers to push its political agenda.

What is that agenda?

Teach Plus has embraced the practice of widespread staff firings as a strategy for school improvement.

Teach Plus mandates that test scores be a significant part of teacher evaluation.

Teach Plus advocates against seniority and claims that unions stifle innovation.

Teach Plus has received more than $27 million from the Gates Foundation and substantial donations from the Walton Family Foundation.

How can an organization dedicated to the same ideas that prompted the exodus turn around and stop the evacuation!?

That’s like hiring a pyromaniac as a fire fighter!

Read on.

Hello, Democrats! Wake up!

Journalist Jennifer Berkshire and historian Jack Schneider report that voters in school board elections are not falling for rightwing slanders of their public schools and teachers!

Democrats: your best strategy for the fall elections is to campaign aggressively for public schools.

Berkshire and Schneider write that Democrats were panicked by Glenn Youngkin’s election as Governor in Virginia, which they attributed to his attacks on “critical race theory” in the schools and his pandering to far-right fake parents’ groups. Steve Bannon (and Chris Rufo) claimed that the road to a takeover was by seizing control of local school boards and destroying public schools.

Berkshire and Schneider say that their campaign is failing. Even in Trump territory, voters are supporting their public schools and rejecting the crazies.

They write:

As it turns out, GOP candidates running on scorched-earth education platforms have fared quite poorly in school board elections. In places like Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire and New York, voters have rejected culture warriors running for school board, often doing so by wide margins. A recent Ballotpedia review of more than 400 school board contests in Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin found that race, gender and COVID were indeed influential in determining election outcomes, but not in the way one might expect. As they found, candidates who ran in opposition to a “conflict issue” — sexual education curricula, for instance, or a focus on race in the district — were more likely to lose their races.

Cherokee County, Ga., a rural county northwest of Atlanta, offers an instructive example. The county’s schools made national headlines recently after ProPublica reported on a group of white parents protesting the hiring of a Black educator brought on to serve as the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer. Yet voters in the county, which Trump won by nearly 70 percent in 2020, overwhelmingly rejected hardline candidates for school board. A self-proclaimed family values slate, backed by the national 1776 Project PAC, and which ran in opposition to critical race theory and school district equity plans, failed to pick up a single seat.

Voters in Coweta County, Ga., sent a similar message to another slate of candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project. All four challengers were bested by board incumbents in the May primary, while a fifth — a controversial incumbent who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection and claimed that students were being indoctrinated with critical race theory through district-provided Chromebooks — was unseated by a landslide in a runoff election in June.

It isn’t that these deep red countries have suddenly begun to turn blue. Instead, the culture war approach is falling short because Americans have direct experiences that contradict what they’re hearing from candidates.

Please open the link and read the good news for yourself.

Mercedes Schneider writes here about the decision by Willie Carver, Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, to resign.

Carver testified before Congress and described the indignities he endured because he is gay. Carver is a highly qualified, highly experienced teacher. He loves teaching. But he is afraid to return to the classroom because of the state-sponsored bigotry that threatens teachers and students like him.

Carver told members of Congress (in part, open the link):

Identity is rarely discussed by direct means. No teachers come out as straight. They are married to opposite sex spouses whose pictures sit on their desks or whose names come up in stories about vacations or weekend trips to the grocery store.

LGBTQ teachers and students will not be afforded this freedom. They will be required to deny their existence and edit the most basic aspects of their stories, unlike their classmates and colleagues.
Few LGBTQ teachers will survive this current storm. Politicizing our existence has already darkened our schools.

I’m made invisible. When we lost our textbooks during lockdown, I co-wrote two free textbooks
with a university professor, made them free to anyone who wanted them, and found sponsors to print them. I wasn’t allowed to share them at my school. Other schools in Kentucky celebrate similar work by teachers, but my name is a liability.

I’m from the small town of Mt. Sterling, KY and I was invited to meet the President of the United States. It was not advertised to my students and colleagues. My school didn’t even mention it in an email or morning announcement.

This invisibility extends to all newly politicized identities. Our administrators’ new directive about books and lessons is “nothing racial.”

We all know how to interpret this.

Works by white people living lives as white people are never called racial.

Works by Black and brown people living lives as Black and brown people are always called racial.

The politicization of identity erases their identities.

Parents now demand alternative assignments when authors of texts or materials are Black or LGBTQ; we teachers are told to accommodate them, but I cannot ethically erase Black or queer voices.

We ban materials by marginalized authors, ignoring official processes. One parent complaint removes all students’ books overnight.

Endangered educators

My Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), a campus group dedicated to discussing and helping make schools safe for LGBTQ students, couldn’t share an optional campus climate survey with classmates. I was told it might make straight students uncomfortable.

Students now use anti-LGBTQ or racist slurs without consequence. Hatred is politically protected now.

When my GSA’s posters were torn from walls, my principal’s response was that people think LGBTQ advocacy is “being shoved down their throats.”

Inclusive teachers are thrown under the bus by the people driving it.

During a national teacher shortage crisis, I know gay educators with perfect records dismissed this year.

A Kentucky teacher’s whiteboard message of “You are free to be yourself with me. You matter” with pride flags resulted in wild accusations and violent threats. During this madness, his superintendent wrote to a parent, “This incident … is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” The situation became unimaginably unsafe. He resigned.

Last month, a parent’s dangerous, false allegations that my GSA was “grooming” students were shared 65 times on Facebook. I felt my students and I were unsafe. Multiple parents and I asked the school to defend us. One father wrote simply, “Please do something!” The school refused to support us.

There are 10,000 people in my town; one fringe parent doesn’t represent most parents, who trust us.

Student suicides

School is traumatic; LGBTQ students are trying to survive it. They often don’t. Year after year, I receive suicidal goodbye texts from students at night. We’ve always saved them, but now I panic when my phone goes off after 10:00.

Meryl, a gentle trans girl from Owen County High, took her life in 2020. She always wanted a GSA. Her friends tried to establish one, but the teachers who wanted to help were afraid to sponsor it. Meryl’s mother Rachelle runs an unofficial GSA, PRISM, from the local library.

45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide this year. We chip away at their dignity and spaces to exist. The systems meant to protect them won’t even acknowledge them.

I recently attended Becky Oglesby’s TED Talk. She described surviving a tornado with first graders, how they huddled, her arms around them, as their school walls lifted into the darkness.

I sobbed uncontrollably. I realized that for fifteen years, I have huddled around students, protecting them from the winds, and now the tornado’s here. As the walls rip away, I feel I’m abandoning them.

But I’m tired. I’ve been fighting since my first day in a classroom. Fighting for kids to feel human. Fighting for kids to be safe. Fighting to stop the fear by changing hearts and minds.

I’m tired. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

It is not safe to be gay in Kentucky or Florida or most states in the South and Midwest. Nor is it safe to be Black or Brown in the many states that have banned teaching about the history of racism.

Willie Carver has accepted a position at the University of Kentucky where he will work in student services.

Censorship and harassment does eliminate homosexuality. Nor does it turn all students white.

Lying about history doesn’t change history. It just spreads ignorance.

Kathryn Joyce is an investigative reporter for Salon. In this article, she shows how the Republican leaders of Arizona have decided to end the teacher shortage by reducing standards for teachers. They have decided that teaching is not a profession. Anyone, they think, can do it.

She writes:

Last week, just days after the Arizona legislature passed the most expansive school voucher law anywhere in the nation, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law another education measure decreeing that public school teachers are no longer required to have a college degree of any kind before being hired. Instead of requiring a masters degree — which has long been the norm in the profession — Arizona teachers will only have to be enrolled in college in order to begin teaching the state’s public school students.

The law, SB 1159, was pushed by conservatives on the grounds that Arizona has faced a severe teacher shortage for the last six years, which, by this winter, left 26% of teacher vacancies unfilled and nearly 2,000 classrooms without an official teacher of record. That shortage has led supporters of the bill, including business interests such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, to claim that loosening teacher credential requirements will help fill those staffing gaps. Opponents of the bill, however, point to the fact that Arizona has the lowest teacher salaries in the country, even while boasting a budget surplus of more than $5 billion.

“Arizona’s teacher shortage is beyond crisis levels,” tweeted Democratic state Rep. Kelli Butler this March. “Instead of offering real solutions (like increasing pay & reducing class sizes) the House Education Committee passed a bill to reduce the requirements to teach.”

“With Arizona trying to get education monies to parents directly to pay for schooling — including homeschooling — you see more evidence that the state doesn’t care who teaches its kids,” said David Berliner, an education psychologist at Arizona State University and former president of the American Educational Research Association. “Charters and private schools for years have not needed certified folks running schools or teaching kids — as long as the voucher for the kids shows up.” Combined with its new law creating a universal voucher system, Berliner added, “Arizona may now be the most radical state in terms of education policy.”

Please open the link and read the article in full.

Arizona doesn’t care about its children.

Mercedes Schneider writes about Arizona’s new law, which seeks to fill its teacher shortage by eliminating almost all professional standards for teachers.

She writes:

In an effort to address teacher shortages in Arizona classrooms, the Arizona legislature passed a revised version of AZ SB 1159, which Arizona governor, Doug Ducey, signed into law on July 05, 2022.

This revision allows for Arizona school districts and charter schools to apply to the state to operate classroom-based, teacher-prep programs in which participants need only pass a background check and be enrolled in an accredited bachelors degree program before being allowed into the classroom– supervised, sort of maybe.

Just enrolled– meaning not even a single credit hour yet earned is acceptable, and in no particular field. Furthermore, the bill language is loose regarding who could be actually instructing the class, since the bill states that participants do not “regularly” instruct class unless a “full-time teacher, certificated teacher, instructional coach, or instructional mentor” is present.

What qualifies as “regularly”? Who knows? Is “regularly” different days of the week? Is “regularly” every day, with some mentor figure poking a head in the door on occasion to token-supervise, thereby CYA, so to speak, on countering “regularly” with a superificial, other-presence of sorts?

Those who teach with emergency certificates need only a high school diploma.

The best way to increase the supply of teachers is to raise salaries and reduce class sizes.

But doing the right thing costs money, and Arizona prefers to funnel money to charter operators and vouchers.

Arizona is doing its best to destroy public education while enriching charter entrepreneurs and the voucher industry.

The state is placing its bet on the assumption that anyone can teach.

Why don’t they try that for doctors? Drop the requirement of medical school and allow anyone to cut and sew. That would kill people. As for the future of their children? Doug Ducey and the legislature don’t care.

Georgia educator Anthony Downer announced a call for sponsors for a rally on July 23.

Hi y’all,

As we gather and reflect on this complicated holiday weekend, I think about how my students are processing their world. Like many of you, I’m motivated by my ancestors’ struggles. I wonder how we’re preparing our young scholar-leaders to fight for equality and liberty, for equity and liberation. The recent education laws in Georgia hinder educators like me from doing just this. So we must continue to organize.

Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice and other education organizations are planning a Rally for Education (name TBA) on Saturday 7/23 at a school in metro Atlanta (location and time TBA). The goal is to highlight the voices of educators as we prepare for the implementation of new education laws during the 2022-2023 school year. Educators from across the state will speak to the negative effects of these laws on our schools and scholars. As we know, while politicians limited public comment and signed into law their draconian restrictions on education, educators were performing their primary duties. Now that we have more time, we have more to say. See below the initial details.

When? Saturday 7/23, time TBA – Please complete this form to share your opinions.

Where? At a school, ground-zero for the implementation and impact of the new education laws

Who? Everyone who opposes the attacks on public education in Georgia – This is an opportunity for our communities to rally to protect educators and students’ education. If you are an educator who is interested in speaking OR would like to sponsor the rally, please complete this form.

We will meet on Wednesday, July 13 at 4 PM. More details about this meeting and the event to follow over the next week. As we continue planning, we are eager to include as many voices and encourage as much participation as possible. This rally belongs to all of us. Once again, if you plan on attending, want to speak, want to sponsor, or have some ideas and opinions, please complete this form. Spread the word to your comrades and communities and we will follow up with additional details. Onward!

Best,

Anthony Downer

The Idaho legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to drop requirements for new teachers, leaving it to districts to write their own standards.

In Idaho, anyone can teach so long as they have a BA degree, pass a criminal background check, and don’t have an infectious disease.

In short, teaching in Idaho is no longer a profession. The charter industry considers this a victory.

Peter Greene tells the story caught on tape when Larry Arnn, president of rightwing Christian Hillsdale College, tells Tennessee Governor Bill Lee that teachers are the dumbest, trained by the dumbest, and you don’t need to know anything to be a teacher.

Governor Lee listens abjectly. He invited Hillsdale to open 100 charter schools across Tennessee. Hillsdale agreed to open 50.

Greene writes about Arnn’s tirade, which was taped:

“The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”


“They are taught that they are going to go and do something to those kids…. Do they ever talk about anything except what they are going to do to these kids?”


“In colleges, what you hire now is administrators…. Now, because they are appointing all these diversity officers, what are their degrees in? Education. It’s easy. You don’t have to know anything.”


“The philosophic understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement…. They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them.”


“You will see how education destroys generations of people. It’s devastating. It’s like the plague.”

“Here’s a key thing that we’re going to try to do. We are going to try to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to educate a child because basically anybody can do it.”

Someone should have told Arnn that America was built by people who attended public schools, not by graduates of Hillsdale.

Governor Lee didn’t have the guts to stand up for the teachers of Tennessee. Probably he thinks the people who voted for him are the dumbest of the dumb.

Anne Thomas-Abbott, a teacher in Knoxville, did respond to Larry Arnn, whose contempt for teachers is abhorrent and ignorant.

Greene adds:

If you are shaking your head at Tennessee, I suggest you look around your own state first, because these public education-hating faux Christian right wingers are all over the country, and when he’s selling his product in public, Arnn is rarely as blunt as he was before the Tennessee crowd. Make sure everyone gets to hear what he really thinks.