Tom Rademacher was voted teacher of the year in Minnesota. He has recently published a book It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching. I was exposed to his position on teaching in an article called “Classroom Confessions” in “City Papers” a Minneapolis rag of local renown. I am happy to promote his writing and an interest in what he has to say because I agree totally with him when he says in this article:
“My job is at the front lines of everything fucked about our country. My students are part of some of the most at-risk populations in America and are living in systems that work to keep them poor and oppressed.”
The the vast majority of the voting public does not realize how segregation and poverty have co-opted our educational system into a battle zone. More teachers like Tom need to scream out regardless of their politics or position. We need a hurricane, a torrential downpour of teacher resistance to the system that exists. Only then will education change for the better.
We don’t need any more input from the billionaire class of entrepreneurs who stand to make billions more on privatizing and the further segregation of education. We don’t need any more input from the Eli Brodes and Walmart’s of education. We don’t need any more from the parents and their litigious influences. We don’t need any more input from the unions who have had a podium to broadcast from for decades. All of the above have had their say and more. We need input from the teachers – the producers of learning. We teachers should not have to wait until retirement, like myself, to air their objections for fear of retaliation. We should not have to rely on union protection to guarantee academic freedom.
However, I am definitely not in Tom Rademacher’s group when he says, “….just how hard it can be, and just how incredibly worth it teaching is.” Until something is done about the shit that teachers have to go through, it will always be shit and it will not be worth it. Something has to be done by administrators, superintendents, and school boards or it will remain the same as it has been for many year in the United States – not worth it.
It is not worth going through humiliation, trauma, degradation, disrespect, rudeness, crudeness, and emotional or physical damage for anything on this earth – especially teaching. Teachers should be honored, praised, respected, and listened to. We’ve got to go way beyond and demand going way beyond the present level of hand to hand combat in the classroom or send out our students to other countries who do go beyond that point.
Any teacher that sits down and yields to this downpour of bullshit is not preforming his/her duty to education. Discipline is primary in classroom or nothing else matters. If nothing else is accomplished but for the establishment of a disciplined structure and the ultimate authority of the teacher in the class, it will then be worth it. If this means more immediate, punitive, and corporal consequences, so be it. If it means filing formal charges against a student, so be it. If it means the arrest of the student, it’s just as well. Better that they find out now that it is time to stop; rather than later when it may be a life and death situation. Bat Masterson used to say that a man who knew no fear was a damn fool. The same cowboy wisdom holds for students. We do not want to graduate a bunch of damn fools who have no fear.
Tom Rademacher has made a big mistake in this regard. He spoke up in defense of the students instead of law and order. Teachers, administrators, and cops who do a lot of scary yelling are doing the right thing. Sorry Tom, you are not old enough, experienced enough, or have gone through enough shit to know that going down your rabbit hole with the “kids” leads straight to prison or maybe even death. The student who threatened to kill you should have had charges filed against him, been arrested and expelled. The student who had marijuana in his pack needed the scary yelling and needed to be expelled. Students learn by example and it may be tough. It may be heartless and cruel, but that is what’s worth it. Take heart, Tom, your administrators did the right thing. You should feel fortunate that you only have to deal with “bitch” and Gatorade. Try wrapping your head around “fuck your mother.”
Barclay Totten copyright 2017