Friday, March 12, 2010

New Rule: Let's Not Fire the Teachers When Students Don't Learn -- Let's Fire the Parents

New Rule: Let's not fire the teachers when students don't learn - let's fire the parents. Last week President Obama defended the firing of every single teacher in a struggling high school in a poor Rhode Island neighborhood. And the kids were outraged. They said, "Why blame our teachers?" and "Who's President Obama?" I think it was Whitney Houston who said, "I believe that children are our future - teach them well and let them lead the way." And that's the last sound piece of educational advice this country has gotten - from a crack head in the '80's.

Yes, America has found its new boogeyman to blame for our crumbling educational system. It's just too easy to blame the teachers, what with their cushy teachers' lounges, their fat-cat salaries, and their absolute authority in deciding who gets a hall pass. We all remember high school - canning the entire faculty is a nationwide revenge fantasy. Take that, Mrs. Crabtree! And guess what? We're chewing gum and no, we didn't bring enough for everybody.

But isn't it convenient that once again it turns out that the problem isn't us, and the fix is something that doesn't require us to change our behavior or spend any money. It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people.

Firing all the teachers may feel good - we're Americans, kicking people when they're down is what we do - but it's not really their fault. Now, undeniably, there are some bad teachers out there. They don't know the material, they don't make things interesting, they have sex with the same kid every day instead of spreading the love around... But every school has crappy teachers. Yale has crappy teachers - they must, they gave us George Bush.

According to all the studies, it doesn't matter what teachers do. Although everyone appreciates foreplay. What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if your kid goes to private or public school. So save the twenty grand a year and treat yourself to a nice vacation away from the little bastards.

It's also been proven that just having books in the house makes a huge difference in a child's development. If your home is adorned with nothing but Hummel dolls, DVD's, and bleeding Jesuses, congratulations, you've just given your children the gift of Duh. Sarah Palin said recently she wrote on her hand because her father used to do it. I rest my case.

When there are no books in the house, and there are no parents in the house, you know who raises the kids? That's right, the television. Kids aren't keeping up with their studies; they're keeping up with the Kardashians. We're allowing the television, as babysitter, to turn us into a nation of slutty idiots. By the way, one sign your 9-year-old may be watching too much One Tree Hill: if she has an imaginary friend with benefits.


Andrew Nolan said...

I'm a teacher (a good one, I hope) who's been talking about this exact sort of anti-teacher hate with my colleagues for the past few months. Bill is exactly right.

We do our best with what's given us, but there's a reason student test scores in socio-economically depressed areas are consistently worse, and it's not that the teachers there suck. It's that their parents don't make education a priority.

He's also right about this ridiculous notion of getting rid of all the bad teachers (and yes, there are many). Where will you find all these willing, eager, qualified replacements? The primary reason there are crappy teachers is that there aren't a ton of good ones to choose from. Do you honestly believe schools are turning away amazing instructors? Everyone hates us, but very few are lining up to do our largely thankless jobs.

Anonymous said...

This is from one of those teachers who wants to sincerely thank you for your words. I have 10 years + before I retire and I just don't know if I can make it. I am a speech pathologist and I have to deal with parents and teachers who feel they have a better handle on the profession, its theories, and practices than I do and they propose treatment plans that have no chance of working, and when it doesn't work, they feel that I haven't done my job. I and others like me have been accused of everything from incompetence to child abuse and nothing can save you, not even following the district guidelines. In public educational administration there is no such thing as fairness and good teachers have lost their positions and reputations because of favoritism and nepotism. We have become the enemy. Parents don't trust us and some teachers are out to get their worst students into special education programs, because with an IEP, they will not count against their classroom average and they will do anything from lie to throw downright tantrums to get what they want. The educational system in America is in serious trouble and what has been proposed so far is not the answer. They ask everyone except those on the front lines. When will it stop? Most assuredly not with the success of American's students.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: Not to be frivolous but George Bush Sr. and Jr. Went to Yale not Harvard...

Anonymous said...

My comment, as a teacher, is simple: thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Finally, someone understands. (I will be posting this in the teacher's lounge.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Maher for finally giving us a voice on national television. We are up against the ills of society that prevent us from delivering quality instruction. Also, our administration has hijacked our education system with illogical decision-making that's insulting to the teaching profession and the community. Why is it the government runs out to foreign countries and showers them with support and millions of dollars and when it comes to our own American children they get kicked to the side? Our society will be paying a price for this and it has already started.

Unknown said...

I believe that the fireing of these teachers sends a clear message that like every other profession you must be accountable for your results. If Bill Maher's ratings are down, he will lose his show. If a salesman's sales are down, he/she will lose their job. Teachers salaries are paid by the public and the public demands results!
Yes, parents should be more responsible with their childrens' education but, the reality is that some are not. Bill wants everyone to watch his show but, the reality is that some people won't. A salesman wants all of his/her customers to buy something but, we know that is not always the case.


What makes me an expert? I have a job that demands results AND I have studied under teachers for 18 years of my life. I can honestly say that most of those teachers did a fair job. Some were really bad and a handfull were great!

In an economy where unemployment is rising, be accountable and produce results...or someone else will.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill Maher...Since the recent firings in Rhode Island, Obama's support of same and the Newsweek cover, I'm beginning to feel as if the good and hardworking teachers will ever be heard. Your New Rule finale was tremondously supportive and for that I am more than grateful. For, it is the missing link, the parent link that is lacking in the successful achievement equation. We find (especially in lower economic districts, but now in most districts, due to the economic crisis), that since the cost of going to college, even a junior college is getting so high, the motivation to get good grades and do well on standardized tests has diminished enormously. In Europe, where college is virtually free, there is a strong motivation to pass the Baccalaureat Exam, hence the higher performance level. In addition, the ACT exam, which my state uses to gauge performance, is the absolute wrong test to use, since it is "normed" at a score of 18 (the top score being 36). No Child Left Behind screams at us to make our students show an increase every year of such an AVERAGE score. With that "logic," they must be able to average a 36 in 15 years, as my district is now at a score of 20. Averaging the highest score possible? Right. Good logic, there! (Oh, and who came up with this? In Illinois, our former governor who is currently serving time, George Ryan. Aye, there's the irony!) Parents must stop the constant barrage of media (texting, IMing, facebooking non-stop) from interfering in homework and study time. But do they? Guess not... for they, themselves have given up on the idea of sending their children to the universities...who can afford tuition of $20m a year (minimum)? Get a scholarship, you say? For everyone??? Right. Yet, it is the teachers' fault ... scapegoats again, for the rotten economy, the incessent media distractions and the "hard" tests we love to give. Oy :-( HELP!

Priscilla Gutierrez said...

The Corporatization of the public education system in America that began with Bush's No Child Left Behind is in full swing with Arne at the helm. He decimated Chicago Public Schools, yet the media is virtually silent on this. Instead they join the teacher-as-villian bandwagon - Michelle Rhee has built her career in DC on this.

High-stakes tests that focus on what is easy to measure rather than what is important to learn, curricula that are narrowed to solely what is tested, scripted programs that deprofessionalize educators and force them into a lock-step, one-size fits all approach are guarantees for "failure."

Very little, if any of the so-called reform being hawked is based on HOW children learn. Much of it is based on the 19th century industrial model of education. And if all educators are allowed to do is "cover" the curriculum, our students aren't really learning.

This in turn, opens the door to for-profit charters that will offer "innovation" at much lower pay. Why can't public schools be the center of innovation and deep learning? Why aren't educators part of the solution rather than the problem? Access to stellar libraries and reading material in the school is a very strong beginning. Instead we consider librarians expendable and they are the first to go in budge cuts.

Poverty is the single biggest predictor of student failure and yet no one seems willing to address this. Jean Anyon did a study in the 1980's that looked at curricula across economic groups. She found the higher you go up the economic scale, the more the curricula centered on critical thinking and problem-solving. The lower you go on the economic scale, the more rote learning became, centering on low-level skills. What Anyon wrote back then is even more true today. Reformers are actually insisting that children of poverty are incapable of any other type of learning than rote memorization.

Linda Darling Hammond, who Corporate America ensured got ousted from Obama's ed team has compared our approach to learning and assessment with Finland's which glaringly illustrates our problems. Finland has the highest literacy rate in the world.

On the 12th grade NAEP assessment, our students are asked to name the elements in the Earth's atmosphere via filling in the bubble. The science assessment in Finland gives 12th graders a description of a virus. Students are required to design a drug that will combat the virus and then devise a lab experiment that will prove their drug will be effective against the virus.

Whereas we here in America expect our students to briefly think about science in order to pass a test, students in Finland are expected to think like a scientist.
Therein lies the difference and illustrates how low on the ladder the U.S. values real education.

When all is said and done, if students' experiences IN school do not promote learning and reading OUTSIDE of school, we are merely producing drones. Nothing I've seen in terms of reform, including teacher firings, will promote life-long learning outside of school. But maybe that's the point - they'll continue to rush home to play those virtual reality games(at a huge profit) instead of rushing home to make a difference in the world...

Sharon Schmidt said...

Thanks, Priscilla, for posting Bill Maher's hilarious and TRUE TRUE TRUE comments on the list serve. Thanks Bill Maher--awesome!

See for unfunny truths. We're the newspaper in Chicago published since 1975 by teachers who dare to tell the truth and sign our names.

Sharon Schmidt

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill! I am thrilled that someone with as much intelligence and influence as you finally speaks the truth about what is happening in "the family" in this culture. As a teacher in "nowhere" Florida, I give my life force & my soul to try and make a difference in our student's futures. I believe that most teachers teach from an internal desire to make a difference, yet we get blamed when the kids lack the scores, the motivation, the abilities,
When one whacked out teacher out of thousands of good ones gets so much publicity and the rest of us getted whipped like we work on a 1700's plantation I just get more and more scarred and disillusioned with this country.

WHERE ARE THE PARENTS AND WHY DON'T THEY CARE ANYMORE? When we went to school, back in the day, no one even had to tell me to study. Learning, studying, and doing one's best in school was a given. I was taught to try and make a difference in everything I did. I understood that the s*$% would hit the proverbial fan if I so much as deviated from what was expected.
Now parents come at us with all their claws out and scratching. Somehow it is our fault that their little babies won't sit down, won't shut up, won't pick up a pencil, won't do anything, except to act disrespectful in the classroom to their teacher, their peers, and most of all, to themselves.

This country's education system is broken, and I am terribly afraid of what is happening. These kids will be voting someday. Oh wait....they will be too busy on Facebook to get out and vote!

If I could find another job right now with you Bill or with Michael Moore, I would devote my life to you just I like I do to the kids. I would work endless hours for practically nothing and hope I am making a difference. Are you hiring?

Florida Teacher
Great salesmanship skills (I sell Math)...Great Public Speaker (I can persuade 8th graders to stay in their seats and be quiet for a couple of minutes)...Great Masochist...I take whippings from parents and authority figures and have learned to not only accept it as a way of life in public education, but to almost think I deserve it. That's what everyone, except you says, right?

I am grateful that there are some wonderful people out there that still believe in teachers and the actions we take to try and make this a better place, even if most of the forces of politics are against us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying this out loud! I teach elementary school. The blame is always put on us as educators. Most parents do not want to take responsibility for their child's success in learning. Some even try to shield their child from hard work and self responsibility!
I work so hard to help these students become successful in life. It's so demoralizing to be beat up on all the time by the public. Teaching used to be a highly respected profession. Times have changed!

KKay said...

Thanks, Bill, again, for hitting the nail right on the head. My daughter is a teacher; a good one. On top of it, she teaches in a small town that is in a poor county, so it's really getting rough. Her parent participation is getting worse all the time, and if they do participate and stay involved, it is usually because the are protesting something.

Not only do the parents expect the teachers to teach their parents, they also expect the teachers to raise their children, with no help from them. They don't have time to be bothered with it.

And on that note, on the age old subject of a one or two parent home:

I am a single parent who spent about 15 years raising three children alone and they are all hard working, intelligent, responsible adults. It's not about numbers; it's all about taking responsibility and showing up everyday.

Anonymous said...

Thsnk you, Thank you, Thank you! I am a Spec. Ed teacher in an Urban School District@!Students are Raising themselves!
My students don't eat lunch, don't have winter coats, gym clothes because parents are Not Involved with their Kids!
You are soo right! I watched your show last nite and cheered during New Rules!
Thanks Again!

Anonymous said...

I teach English Language Learners, typically the ones who don't pass the high stakes test. Who will want to work with the neediest students of any type under such a threat?
I was just told by my principal yesterday, that our LONG TERM goal for my students is for them to pass the math test next month.
I am to devote my time to math instruction, funny since my job has nothing to do with math instruction!

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I'm a high school English teacher, and one of my freshmen classes has about a third of the class failing. I think it's safe to say that many of them don't test well, either.

I have another class where there wasn't a single F. When I assign an essay, nearly the entire class turns it in, and the scores are generally really high.

So, am I a lousy teacher or a really amazing one? Or might it have something to do with the mix of kids that I have in each class?

Unknown said...

Although I agree that parents (and reality tv perhaps) are to blame for the failing children- it has nothing to do with the Newsweek article you were talking about. It seemed as though you didn't read it. The point is that "in no other profession are workers so insulated from accountability." The article was meant to address a need for reform in a broken system- and it did. The authors talk about more support both emotionally and financially for teachers. There is a great need for classroom management techniques, there should be more charter schools and great teachers should make a lot more money and they should be fired if they hide behind bureaucracy and tenure instead of trying to excel in their jobs. There are lots of amazing teachers who are not acknowledged and work harder and longer than their colleagues who make the same salary as they do. The reference to Central Falls HS was a decision by the RI superintendent to evaluate these teachers and have them stay 25 more minutes per day- Obama supported the decision to implement these changes (and if the teachers refused- they could be fired) They accepted the changes and kept their salaries of over 70 grand per year.
We want to attract motivated, innovative and clever people to the profession, and the public school system across the board is not set up to do that. Take it from a teacher who appreciated the Newsweek article.

Anonymous said...

You can combine the idea that teachers are the sole blame with the fact that news coverage doesn't include anything of value. Of course the missing part of the equation is the parents. How is a child supposed to achieve any success if the parent isn't involved? Children have become peers of their parents and parents simply aren't engaged in their role. Children should be provided a good diet for their body and mind. Thanks

fshepinc said...

Thank you, Bill, for speaking truth to power. I have been a teacher (and a damned good one!) for 25 years. Every year the profession gets harder, as children come to my classroom less well-prepared, with less and less parental involvement -or even supervision. What is the teacher to do when a student fails 9 math tests in a row, gets in trouble on the playground daily, and never does any homework -and the parents do nothing? Most don't even show up for parent-teacher conferences, or return phone calls.

I'm sick and tired of the canard that "teachers aren't held accountable" for their work. That's total bullshit. Kids are not cogs in a machine, and they can't be measured in a profit-loss statement. Teachers are evaluated by their principals, and given improvement plans if they are not producing satisfactory results. If that system isn't working to your satisfaction, then start holding administrators accountable for their work.

Here in California we're laying off excellent teachers right and left as we Race To The Bottom by underfunding education more and more every year. We're now 48th or 49th in the nation and heading down. So my class size has literally doubled, there aren't enough textbooks to go around, music, art, physical education, health, and history have all been eliminated (science hangs on by a thread because in California 5th graders take a state science test). And somehow, I am supposed to do a better job than ever -for LESS money?? Yep, my district is demanding that I take a 10% pay cut this year to make up for the lack of education funding from the state.

And you wonder why the best and brightest aren't lining up to become teachers?

After 25 years as a teacher, with post-graduate degrees, I make less than a fresh-out-of-college lawyer with less schooling. I make 30%-50% less than those in other professions with similar education and experience. Is someone seriously suggesting I am overpaid? Hell, in this economy I've already had to rent out my spare room in order not to lose my home.

New Rule: No one should be allowed to use the word "accountability" without spelling out how students and parents will be held accountable too.

Leslie said...

As a public school teacher in California i want to say "THANK YOU"! The truth has finally been told. It's not the teachers it's the parents or lack of parenting. There are wonderful supporting parents, just like there are wonderful teachers. However, pointing the finger ONLY at the teacher is insane. There are the "Bad Apples" in all professions. Doctors, Lawyers, etc... I absolutely love my job and would not want to do anything else, but it is sad that our country in general does not respect the hard working teacher. Bill, you scored a lot of points last night! GOOD JOB!!

Leslie (1st Grade Teacher)

Gee said...

Thanks Bill for arriving at the game a little later than I would have hoped for. I wrote you awhile back after you went on an anti-public education tirade. This is exactly what I was talking about. My wife is a Boston school teacher. This year they're converting 7 public schools into 7 unaccountable charter schools in a race for more federal dollars. I guess it is all the teachers fault that their students live in desparate poverty or can't speak English.

The goal of many people within and outside of education seems to be to funnel public money into private hands, depress wages and benefits in education and to further destroy what is left of the middle class. This has been going on since the late 70's and it is only a matter of time until they start working on the fire and police. Only then will we achieve our greatness as a third world nation.

Mike said...

Bill, I'm thrilled at your apparent change of heart! Did your sister threaten to cut off your b???s? Until "accountability" rests with students and their families, the U.S. will remain at the bottom of the industrialized nations in educational achievement!

Andrea said...

Thanks, Bill. Your commentary was supportive and smart. I am a high school teacher in Montclair, N.J. There is a lot going on in our district right now - there is an incredible amount of pressure to perform and conform to new rules created to please the taxpayers. Yet, they are not pleased. Now they are asking us - the school board is asking us - to open our contracts for renegotiation. They want us to return pay as a result,in part, of what our fabulous new governor has done to the state public education system (taken away the school surpluses). One of the great ironies of this is that Gov. Christie is himself a product of an outstanding NJ public school system, Livingston, where his mother was also the secretary at the district's central office for many years.
Anyway, when I came home from school the other day, I had a conversation with my father that prompted the email I've included below. Yes, it's trite, but it's heartfelt. Here's the content of that email I sent:

I am writing this because I am furious and don't have any other outlet right now.

In today's paper, it was reported that Obama supported the firing of the teachers in Rhode Island - it was an entire school district.

Ironically, as I was sitting at the kitchen table and talking about this with my dad, I was, of course, grading papers. What else do I do with every free minute of my time besides grade and plan for school??? Anyway, I was grading quizzes from my sophomore class, one that would be identified as filled with "at risk" students. The quizzes were open notebook quizzes on notes I gave last week in class. At the top of the pile of kid's papers, the first student wrote this note to me: "I don't have my notes, forgot my book at home. Please forgive me for not writing down anything." This student was not alone. The majority of kids in the class did not take down the notes (it was 2 overhead pages, bulleted, with a 2-3 lines maximum for each bullet. Each note taking activity took 15 minutes at the start of only 2 class periods.)

I gave this quiz on Friday, and when I saw what was happening, and how most of the kids couldn't answer, I told them to go home, review their notes, get the notes from a friend or come to see me or the other teacher who works with me in that class. They know when we are available for help because we remind them constantly. I told them that we would finish the quiz on Monday during the first 15 minutes of class. None of the kids came to see me or my co-teacher. The extra time to review did not help. The kids, once again, sat there, staring at their papers, unable to respond. They do not use notebooks, they do not take notes, they do not keep the papers we grade and return. Most of the students usually come unprepared to class - no pencil, pen or book.

When there are teachers who work with students before school, during their preps and lunch and after school to help students succeed, why is it always the teachers who get blamed for student failure?

It is foolish and simplistic of anyone, our president included, to believe that teachers can solve the complex problems created by society. It is foolish and simplistic to blame teachers alone for the failure of children in school. Society is failing these children, their families are failing them, and in looking for a simple answer to a very complex problem, it is easy to point the finger at one group, rather than to evaluate and change the many reasons for that failure. The answer is not to fire an entire school district of educators.

Stop blaming teachers. We are a group of men and women who have chosen to devote our lives to the most important task in this country. We have chosen this path knowing that the greatest reward we will ever receive is not financial, but the improvement of the society of which we are all a part. Educators must be recognized and valued for their commitment, and we should not have to fight for that acknowledgment.

Anonymous said...

I have had teachers change an email,[so he could show other teachers what i said even though I didn't say it the teacher did] bruise my childs arm, miss scheduled appointments,one 5th grade teacher had children go out to her car to get her meds,also had them never return graded papers even after 3 requests from me and 1 from the principal. My son saw a teacher yesterday call a girl a slut. Countless unanswered emails from me to the teachers.I have been a PTA president a PTA vice president and hospitity chair. What I learned from that was to stay away... the more you are around the school the more they pick on your kids. I'm not the only parent that feels this way not by a long shot. I must say I have had some great teachers and principals but I have some very bad ones . Bill you need to read newsweek story. Anyone that does not do there job should be fired!!!!!! My kids have seen more movies in school than I think I saw in my entire childhood. My son got in the car the other day and said I love it when teachers teach. Can you imagine. It is that rare. Really you have know idea how bad it really is.

anon said...

Hello Bill ... Good points ... but you seem to keep evading the central one ... All of the issues that you raise are really side issues that distract from the main one - that being that your country has been at war for over a decade and no one is mentioning that , and that , that is bound to have a profound effect on the perceptions , values & attitudes of the children & students ... If anyone is to blame , it is all of us for keeping sooo silent about the atrocity of war and its effects on children everywhere ... saluti ...

DrEBurton said...

Bill, fellow parents, teachers, and those interested in the future of our children;
I could not agree more with the “new rules”!
I am personally invested in a solution.
I am starting an online beginning reading program for children ages 4-6 and their parents called Stepping Stones Together It will launch on May 4th! This new program uses technology to foster a meaningful shared reading experience for parents and their children. It will be especially useful for parents to use with their children during the summer months to keep children reading and retaining their beginning reading skills.
Parents today juggle many hats. They need resources that take less than 5 minutes to get and 15-20 minutes a day to implement with their child in order to realistically work on beginning reading skills. Additionally, children need to be motivated to use a program and love it! This program empowers parents with immediate and easy to follow hands on skills and resources necessary for them to work with their children.
I have dedicated my life to education studying and earning a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies and applying my skills as a teacher, an assistant principal, and researcher in education to positively impact children. I have found that parental involvement is the number one indicator of academic achievement.
I am so excited that Bill Maher took such a public and positive stance to influence so many by reaching out to parents, educators, and the general public on his strong beliefs that parents need to model the importance of reading and education through being actively involved in the process.
If anyone would like to get more information on Stepping Stones Together or me please feel free to email us at

Melanie Miday-Stern said...

This might fall onto deaf ears, but here it goes.

I am a teacher. I have been for 11 years now, and I am disgusted with the way people view us. Yes, I have a job, a teacher's lounge, and I do get paid to do something I really love! However, I do find that parents are the real educators out there. If the parent does not show any interest in their child's education, neither will the student. We can throw every thing we can at some of our students and still no results because THEY DO NOT CARE!

I have students, currently, that have way to much on their mind from their families, gangs, and the like. They have no room for school. The sad thing is... they are in 5th grade! They are not allowed to be a kid! They are stuck raising their younger siblings, making sure their crack head mother or father doesn't beat the little ones to death, and to top things off, they might be homeless to boot!

That is really a big problem. Then, these are the same students whose parents will come in and ask, "Why is my kids failing?". I look at them and ask, "Have to talked to your child lately?". Most of the time, I receive a blank look and the same answer most every time, "No, because they are with you most of the day, you should know!". WHAT???? I do not know what is going on in these homes. Their child does not want to tell because they are afraid that if they tell, mom or dad will beat them! They are scared!

Throwing money will not help our schools, firing a whole school of teachers. will not help our schools, requiring every single child in America to achieve at the same rate, will not help our schools, and entertaining them with movies and technology, will not help our schools. What will help is giving the power back to the states, making all factors, teachers, administrators, parents, students, accountable for the child's education. Too many people at the top are so out of touch! They do not know how it is to have 50% or more of your class on free and reduced lunch. They do not know if they have a bed to sleep in or are they sleeping on someone's floor for the night because they do not have a home. States and communities are more in touch of what they need, what the schools need, and best of all what the children need!

Mr. Maher does have a good point, however in some of his findings or opinions, they are flawed. Go to a school that has little to no money, and see what the TEACHERS are doing for their students.

Each year I spend upwards to $500 of my own money for my kids and supplies. No one asks me or requires me to do that; I do it because I know what my kids need. Does anyone else have to do that? I think not! Some people do not know what a sacrifice it is to be a teacher. They can only point fingers and open their big mouths!

If you would like to visit my blog go to:

M. Meredith

Anonymous said...

The following will hurt the entire country since Texas buys so many textbooks that the rest of us will have to live with.

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change
Mary Helen Berlanga accused fellow members of the Board of Education of “rewriting history.” 3.13.10 - AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”

The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bill, for stating the obvious. But in my many years of teaching, I have come to realize that most parents don't choose to be bad parents; they don't know how to parent. They need to be educated and taught parenting skills. I've have tried to help many parents, but unfortunately it is hard work being a good parent and most would rather take the easy route and do nothing. They are exhausted from working so much to indulge their kids with stuff instead of love and discipline.

Unknown said...

I am a teacher and I want to say "THANK YOU, Bill Maher, for speaking out for us and giving us a voice."

Very, very few people who are NOT in the field of education have any idea what really goes on in a classroom or school and they DON'T WANT TO KNOW. It is much too easy to lazily blame a teacher instead of assessing a situation and trying to resolve it. So many people who are ignorant of the truth don't even know the basic facts of the many factors in our modern classrooms, like: socioeconomic status, abusive or apathetic home lives, behavioral issues, special education situations, horrible parents, complete apathy, etc., etc. And we're supposed to FIX ALL THAT??!!

Well, Arne Duncan and any other nut who thinks this is all such a great thing: good luck pushing out all the good teachers who DO GIVE A DAMN about their kids. You won't have any teachers pretty soon considering that a shortage already exists.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I can only say this. Both Republicans and Democrats will agree that teachers are the problem. This generation of teachers will leave and will be replaced by long-term substitutes that will work w/o benefits and can easily be replaced. New teachers will go into teaching only becasue they can do nothing else and will leave as soon as they can. Florida is facing this as it competes for RFTT money. $1 billion. All it has to do is vote to restrict compesation and marry it to student achievement. Think about it. Students could plan to fail a test, have nothing done to them and get teachers fired because they WANT to. The future is scary.

Anonymous said...

I can only echo the majority of these comments....thank you. I'm a middle school teacher, and things are getting worse every year. Are you aware that by 2014 under No Child Left Behind, 100% of the student population which is assessed is supposed to be 100% proficient?!

In what other profession is this the case? Does a lawyer have to get every client a "not guilty" verdict? Does a doctor have to have 0 patient deaths in a year? No, because in these professions we're dealing with human beings who make their own choices! A teacher, doctor, and lawyer can only do so much.

Please use Real Time to shed more light on this issue! I know health care and the economy are hot button issues now, but please consider panelists who can speak to this.

Mike said...

Think how ridiculous the notion is that all students will at level by 2014. What about immigrants who arrive in 2013? How about students with learning disabilities. Pure pandering!

Laser48 said...

Wow, somebody in the media gets it. I've taught English at LA public high schools for 10 years and have had to listen to all sorts of people bash the professionals with whom I work every day. Finally, somebody outside the classroom shows understanding. Thanks, Bill.

Kathryn said...

Thanks Mr. Maher.

Anonymous said...

So Obama says that when someone is doing a crappy job they should be fired? OK, when is he going to step down and let our new President take over?

Raili said...

I rarely feel so inclined to make a comment, but your 'new rules' inspired me. As a teacher, I couldn't agree more about your comment regarding parent responsibility towards their children. This is the first I've heard this support from someone NOT in the education field, so I greatly appreciate your words. However, What seems to be the underlying issue is that, we as a country, continue to blame the next person down on the totem pole. When will we decide to work together to fix a giant problem (poverty) rather than blame the next person? I have two solutions to this problem: As a country we need to invest money on how to educate and SUPPORT parents who need it. This begins at pregnancy. It could start in the doctor office as referrals. It could start in early childhood education programs that also offer parenting classes WITH the child or support groups for these parents so they don't feel alone.

More importantly, our policy makers NEED to have an educational background. I do not mean a background in educational theory; I'm referring to real experiences in the classroom. This goes for school board members, local and state governments and most importantly the big wigs on the hill in Washington. We have policy makers making POLICIES on issues that they have no experience with--or the experience they have is in theory. They are comparing education to a business, and trying to incorporate a capitalistic business model into a system that is much more completed than the selling and buying of material things. Our product is a human being...a child-no less.

I am fearful of this new idea these policy makers are considering: merit based pay and "the race to the top"...of course, this can only happen in a capitalistic society. Competition is NOT the answer to this problem. Merit based pay will be interpreted a thousand different ways. The most terrifying? Money could be given to teachers who have high performing students, or who show the most growth to increase competition. OR, we could look at through a different lens. Money could be given to teachers who collaborate, who work tirelessly on after school committees or activities, teachers who mentor other teachers. It could be used to increase competition, OR it could be used to increase collaboration and team work.

Please, Bill, please research education policy makers. Their background in education, their experiences as teachers in elementary, middle and high schools. I would love to see a show dedicated to teachers and the support of them. We need it. But more importantly, Our children need it.

Mike said...

It's interesting that they fire the "workers" in education (teachers) but keep workers and fire the managers in business (GM). In any other industry management is responsible for success or failure. In education management takes credit for success but teachers are blamed for failure!

Anonymous said...

I am a Special Education teacher in Southern CA. and am in one of the most volatile school districts in the country. We are looking at a strike, because our school board is so busy spending money on 11 different law and P.R. firms that they are cutting school programs, salaries, and teacher's jobs.

As if working an average of 60 hours a week isn't enough, we are insulted by the immorality and wasteful spending of the people in charge of the money for schools.

In addition, we get to hear some parents who will literally tell a teacher (yes, a wealthy stay-at-home parent once said this to me) that... "giving my child homework is like giving ME homework! You don't understand how long this takes, and I'm not doing it!"

The most supportive parents I have in my classroom are the Hispanic parents. One phone call home and I never get late homework again. Unfortunately, due to some of their own issues with lack of education or fluency with the language, they are unable to help their children with homework - but, you better believe that they commit to getting assistance for their child (usually through a cousin, older sibling, or singing their child up for after-school tutoring) so that their child can be the first high-school graduate and hopefully, college-graduate in their family.

Yes, there are MANY parents who are very supportive of their child's education, and we have fantastic parent volunteers who are our among our school's strongest advocates. However, education overall does not seem to be the priority it once was for families.

These are hard times for all of us and things like divorce, job loss, and raising kids in today's world are not easy things for families to deal with. But when it comes to your child LEARNING, shouldn't that be the top priority in each person's home? Nothing is ever going to be easy, but people need to stop blaming teacher's for kids not making higher test scores.

As a teacher of students who have moderate disabilities, these disabilities aren't going to "go away." I teach research-based practices that are effective and meaningful for my students in order for them to learn the material, but if people in government really believe that teachers have some kind of secret power to eradicate every learning disability, they are on crack.

What matters most to a child's success in education, as well as in life, is parental involvement.

The Real Sparano said...


The Real Sparano said...


The Real Sparano said...


virtualhabitat said...

The question why textbooks come from Texas was raised on your show. It is my understanding that because Texas has so many school districts that when the state of Texas purchases textbooks it is simply cheaper for smaller states to purchase the same books rather than have their own published at a much higher unit cost. California also has a similar cost influence due to its size, but Texas outweighs it particularly among the conservative 'red' states. with many more districts buying Texas textbooks, the lower unit cost is attractive for a moderate or even liberal state to buy for its school districts.

Digital textbooks could possibly be the technology that will break the virtual monopoly Texas has on school textbooks.

Anonymous said...

this is off topic:
I really wish you would stop calling the former Representative Massa gay. He was stuck in the post adolescent, drunk frat boy, homoerotic hazing stage of his development. I have a brother-in-law like that. It took me a while to figure out he was not making passes at me.

Maybe one the reasons so many of the older and retired officers do not want the repeal of DADT is this kind of behavior. Massa was not drummed out of the military because sexualized hazing has been SOP. If we allow open gays in the military, this hazing will be seen as making a pass instead of the demeaning, but ‘unit cohesion’ building tool, used for generations.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine teaching children all day every day. I know teachers are handed kids and asked to babysit for the day. I feel the teachers who did a terrible job were simply mean spirited and angry not "bad". I got a very solid public education and went on to teach at a couple good quality state universities. Basically, my parents were college educated and read more than most. I got books for birthday presents. I resented it then but can see why. I wasn't scolded by them when I did poorly but they kept an eye on me and let me know they were aware.

I voted for Obama, gladly, but regret having such high hopes. I think part of becoming cynical and tired of it all stems from the constant vote trading and manipulation that happens in politics. I really thought this guy would be different. I also thought he would be much more supportive of gay rights but that is another blog entry.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I fell in love with you all over again on Friday night! As a teacher of almost twenty years I was so glad to finally hear someone on TV speak the truth about what's "wrong" with education! I hope Randi Weingarten was watching you, because her interview with Campbell Brown and Evan Thomas earlier that evening on CNN was dismal!
She was so mealy mouthed, trying to placate and not piss anyone off that she sounded pathetic in defense of teachers and public education. Of course there are bad schools and bad teachers, but the bottom line is that we pay lip service to the value and importance of education, and that's about all. Parents need to stop coddling their kids send them to school with some sense of responsibility. When your kid doesn't do their homework it's YOUR and THEIR problem, not OUR fault!

Anonymous said...

Well, the recent board decision in Texas (regarding textbook selections) and religious influences on our founding fathers, etc. should enlighten your idea that teachers and administrators know more than parents.

Many liberals are now "home schooling" because this type of right-wing idiocy has been creeping into our local schools.

Personally, I feel sorry that teachers have had to resort to teaching to the test because of "No Child Left Behind" and other similar legislation -- they've lost their spirit, their creative methods, etc.

So, it's not OK to fire all teachers, but fine to gang up on parents and "fire" them? If you ever heard the way teachers judge and talk about their students and families, your head would spin. Put a hidden camera in a teachers' lounge. You'd be shocked.

There are plenty parents out here doing the right thing by our children, education-wise.

And for the record -- teachers in PRIVATE schools (parochial and otherwise) do not need teaching degrees, but no one talks about that. In addition, my children were taught math in our local district by a teacher who didn't have a degree in the subject and barely grasped it. No one talks about that.

I supported teachers my whole life (and have two relatives in the field), but there is much wrong with the profession and the system.

In our district, btw, teachers earn more than most. Look up Council Rock School District (PA) and New Hope-Solebury School District (PA) and Central Bucks (PA).

I just wish you didn't paint with such a broad brush, because while it may be entertaining, it isn't accurate.

I don't expect to agree with you on everything. I still enjoy your show and take on a lot of issues.

Anonymous said...

Bill, thanks a mill for your New Rule regarding teachers. I'm a 19 year veteran in a high school for military dependents. I have seen my kids coping with their parents'
3rd and 4th deployment. The stress my kids are under is tremendous. But here are a few more "dirty little secrets" about education:
1. When we give achievement tests, ALL scores are reported, even the special ed scores (which can really skew the scores). My understanding is that other countries tend to test only their best and brightest (of course I could be wrong about this).
2. You would not believe how many kids tell me they "blow off the test" because it has no meaning for them.
3. Schools were designed on the factory system; in high school they "earn" credits as if they were on a conveyor belt. With enough credits they get to graduate. Stupid system.
4. We all know teens need more sleep, but we start them at 7:25 am. This is mostly done to accomodate the after school athletic programs.
5. Over the years, schools have picked up more and more parental slack. We have been serving breakfast for years now, because parents are not feeding their children in the morning. We now offer one meal a day for free in the summer. I don't go to church, but my sister does and every week she buys food that can be brown bagged and given to some of the poorer kids on Fridays so they have something to eat OVER THE WEEKEND! Too many of our parents do not know how to parent. They try to be friends with their children. Hey, newsflash - kids have enough friends. Grow a pair and say NO every now and then. Read to your kids, show them you value learning. Most teachers are not "out to get" your children.

6. I don't teach elementary, but perhaps the reason ADHD diagnosises have shot up is because schools have eliminated recess in order to have more learning time. How many little six year old boys can sit still hour after hour? Let them rip and run 20 minutes mid-morning and again in the afternoon (and, yes, keep P.E.) and we might have fewer kids on meds.

Sure, there are incompetents in every profession. But I truly believe that most teachers are doing their best in an impossible situation. We've had this "everyone should go to college" push for several years now, and I think that is because the good blue collar/factory jobs don't exist here anymore. What else is there? But now our colleges are facing the same problems as our public schools.

I think I'm a good teacher. But this year I've gone back to school to get my librarian certification. I'm sick of being blamed, I'm tired of the non-stop pressure to bring up standardized test scores, and I despair that anyone with a modicum of common sense will ever be listened to. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

It is not the teachers or the parents. It is poverty. period.

Start talking about why we have so much poverty. hint, military spending for the past 60 years.

Anonymous said...

Yes,your right Bill teacher's are not where the buck stops.But for you to speak on being a parent is like clown trying to speak on making a movie,yeah he's seen a few but how do you put all the pieces together to make it an epic or make it a youtube video? YOU DON'T KNOW,SO,DON'T OPEN YOUR MOUTH!

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone gets it. I've been in special education for 30 years and have taught those children without books in their homes. They did have cable and satellite dishes, however. We were told by our principal recently, that if students come to our classes without pencils and paper, that we were to "just give it to them." Even though I resent this, as we don't have a budget to supply these, I have been doing that very thing already out of my pocketbook. Our science teachers are required to do labs with students even though they weren't given money this year for supplies. We were also told recently that we were not to write up any discipline problems now because the administration didn't have time to deal with these. I was actually written up myself this year because I questioned being pulled out of a special ed class I would have been teaching to sub for a regular class so the principal wouldn't have to hire a substitute teacher. The administrators in central office won't even take my phone calls to discuss this. I thought this was just our school district, but it seems it's nationwide. How depressing.

Anonymous said...

Bill, what you know about the Rhode Island Central Falls High School "firing" is ZIP, ZILCH, NADA.

When a school district excels, the Union takes credit.

When a school district is identified as "non-performing" with a 48% graduation rate; 30% drop-out; 7% proficiency in 11th grade Math...suddenly the teachers are blameless.

Superintendent Frances Gallo proposed dismissing the entire Central Falls teaching staff AFTER the local union balked at Gallo's proposal to raise achievement at the school—a plan that involved increased hours not necessarily matched by increased pay.

(Simply put...R I 's Unemployment is 2nd highest in the Nation & we are BROKE)

Teachers at Central Falls are all top-step earning between $72,000.00 and $78,000 a year PLUS BENEFITS & PENSIONS.

NONE live in Central Falls.

Gallo's decision was selected from one of four federally approved strategies to turn around chronically low-performing schools: closure, takeover (by a charter management organization), transformation (longer school day, etc.), or turnaround (fire entire teaching staff, no more than 50 percent of which can be rehired).

Initially, Central Falls pursued the transformation model, but union and district negotiations broke down over transformation conditions.

As Obama discussed his four turnaround strategies, he noted that, "Replacing a school staff should only be done as a last resort." But, directly referencing the situation in Central Falls, Obama added, "there's got to be accountability . . . students only get one chance."

Faced with the UNIONS decision to ignore the TRANSFORMATION MODEL, teachers suddenly balked when they realized that their UNION sold them down the river.

Seems like that $90.00 AN HOUR they wanted for a two week summer session on how to reform the school didn't sit well with the public.

Today...they are back at the table....discussing the original TRANSFORMATION MODEL.

Got that Bill????

By the way...YES, this immigrant POOR town, parents should be involved, but the last RI Dept of Education inspection noted that little effort was made by the teachers to reach out into the community.

Thus...the two week summer session "professional" training. (BTW: When I take a class I PAY....but in RI...we pay the teachers...)

Amongst 30 Industrialized nations, America ranks 21st in Science and 25th in Math.

Mike said...

As a recently retired teacher I fully support what Bill Maher said. No one knows better than teachers what the problems are in the classroom. Simply put accountability should rest with the students and their families. Teachers can only provide the knowledge. You can bring a horse to water but you can't force it to drink.

Anonymous said...

Ah Bill,
so many times, you are so right.

It's often what happens OUTSIDE of school that impacts a child's performance in school.

You are right to mention that studies showing that children who read OUTSIDE of school perform better in all aspects - regardless of the "quality" of education inside the school's four-walls.

60 minutes ran a story about the success of schools on military bases. Interesting, except when the conclusion was to expect the same thing from all public schools. Let's think, what do military schools have that is hard to replicate across all public schools... hmmm?

1. Every child has AT LEAST one parent who is employed.

2. Every child has health insurance offered by the employer of at least one parent.

3. Every child's school environment is relatively safe. Schools on military bases are protected by an armed guard (at the gate of the base) which serves to protect them, in at least some part, from "outsiders", gang members, drug dealers, at the like on school property. Kids who live on base can probably even walk to school safely - imagine!

4. Discipline and good behavior is part of the accepted culture - both in the school AND at home.

5. Parental involvement is expected... and at least one parent has an employer who is relatively supportive of the parent's need to be involved and participate in school activities.

Yes indeed Bill, many of the problems INSIDE schools are caused by what happens OUTSIDE schools. Let's try to fix those things in American culture that will make all public schools more like schools on military basis - then let's see what happens.

Mike said...

You state that when a district excels teacher get the credit but not the blame when it fails. Actually it's just the opposite. Excellence is credited to the management and failure is blamed on the teachers - as in Central Falls. But when students do well management sometimes receive large bonuses, but not the one who taught them - teachers!

S. Nash said...

First, thank you Bill for your comments. As many have already said, you speak for many of us.

I have been teaching for fifteen years, eleven of these years at a Catholic school and yes I have a degree in education and a certification to teach in three different states. I have been told by many students, parents, and administrators that I am a great teacher. I know that I work very hard, usually 10+ hours a day. I do that because it is very important to ME that I do a good job. I do have colleagues that do not work this hard or care this much. But I will not blame them because maybe someday I will be tired of working so hard at a job where I am trashed daily by some parents, students and the media. What keeps me going are those that have told me I am good at this and that I HAVE made a difference in their lives or the lives of their children. It certainly isn't the pay because even with fifteen years experience I am making 35K/year and have basic health benefits which I pay part of and have large co-pays. It will do you all good to realize that pay varies from state to state and district to district. 72K a year is not the norm! I also have to go back to school to earn continuing education credits in order to keep my certification. I have to pay for these credits.

So many things that have been said here are true. It wouldn't make sense to repeat them. All of you that do not teach just remember, unless you WALK in someones shoes you DO NOT know what they experience or go through.

Low test scores are not limited to low socioeconomic schools. I teach in a district that is mostly middle class. My students are tested to death....five-six times a year with a standardized test. They know that these tests so not count toward their personal grade. These tests are ordered by the district and state to see how the students are doing. Because I work with these students everyday I can tell you that these tests DO NOT reflect what these students know or can do. The students blow them off! Yet these test scores are used to judge teacher effectiveness. The students who DO score well on all these tests have parents who hold them accountable for their grades, their homework and most of all their learning.

There are many new programs adopted by schools, for example, ZEROS ARE PERMITTED or ZAP. With these programs teachers are required to accept late work.....sometimes months late, chase the students down, and give them chance after chance to do and turn in this work. Of course, teachers are expected to work through their lunch with these students, at least giving them a chance to complete this work. Most of the time the student does NOT do the work in ZAP either.

I am going to stop now. There is not enough time or space here to try to change how people view education or teachers. I will go back to correcting my tests and planning for my students tomorrow.

Philip said...

I enjoy your program. It is among my: don't miss. I just thought you should know that Amy Holmes' statement that breast cancer rates in the UK str much higher than in the US is false. See:

Her comments were either recklessly made without regard to the consequences or a knowing falsehood. In either case, she does not appear to be suitable guest.

J said...

THANK YOU so much, Bill, for your comments. I was a special ed teacher for over a decade. I quit because I was tired of being mistreated by students and administrators, and no longer felt safe at my job. Yes, there are bad teachers out there, but most of us are decent, law-abiding people who work very hard and cannot be blamed for the low test scores and behavior problems of students being raised by felons, drug addicts, sex offenders, non-readers, alcoholics, and just plain immature "adults" in homes full of abuse, foul language, junk food, and no discipline. I am certain that in a short period of time, these schools firing entire staffs will see the same problems and low test scores because they never addressed the real problems.
I am grateful to you for speaking the words that I would have spoken, and that I know are absolutely true.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 13 year-old girl going to middle school in South Carolina. I love my school; it has plenty of amazing, caring teachers who are good at what they do. However, there are plenty of kids who don't learn the material or just don't care, so it's not the teachers' fault. The parental involvement - well, my parents don't do jack about my education. They're not involved, and half the time I don't bother showing them my report card. Saying this, I'm a straight A (and occasional B) student. Many of the other kids whose parents are completely involved and their parents send their teachers emails, they don't get the best grades.

But, for the majority, yeah. Probably. It's easy to blame the teachers. but really, it's us. It's us, damn it. You can blame the parents, and you can blame the children. Promise I won't get offended.

Anonymous said...

The comment above, I meant Southern California, not South Carolina - whoops.

Barbara Carlson said...

Your show is the most enjoyably, intelligently blunt discourse in all of TV. I would write off American if you weren't rooting for it, in your own dogged way.

Thought Amy was just being a ditto-head Conservative on Friday night's show, but then saw this the original global warming stats. She may have seen it. Have you?

Anonymous said...

Better yet, lets get rid of the union that allows for real bad teacher to stay around due to tenure. My wife is a teacher and is around people who shouldn't be, seriously, every day. She unfortunately gets some of the bad press if you will due to these few. That isn't to say that the bad few shouldn't be kicked to the curb though. Too many people take advantage of situations when they find a way to do so and this, like unemployment in certain situations, is one of them

Mike said...

Idiotic. The states with the strongest unions have the highest student achievement! Ex: Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

Bill, from a teacher: thank you for telling people what teachers have said for years.

alind1 said...

As many of the others have said, THANK YOU BILL MAHER! I have been teaching for 29 years and I always felt that it was the parents who determined the success or failure of the students. Yes, there are some bad teachers, but just a few. I have found that only 5% of students who don't have parental support succeed and only 5% of students who have parental support don't. I couldn't believe that someone who detests children so much was so right on the mark with this issue. Please continue to support and comment on our education system.

Lifer said...

In Eastern cultures no one ever says, "My teacher didn't educate me properly, they say: I didn't work hard enough."

I've attended and worked at the best universities in North America and the truth is that most Americans are idiots. Rich, poor, black and white... you're all F'n stupid.

The American system has the worst return on investment you can imagine. When kids enter university, their first year involves basic literacy, constructing prose, rudimentary math, and basic sciences that any student elsewhere mastered when they were 14.

Yes conservatives are right: culture matters. Unfortunately when more than half of Americans believe in creationism, a plurality believed at one point that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9-11, and that virtually no one in America recognizes that the country is a quasi-military plutocracy that is bankrupt, then it really doesn't matter who is the teacher, because the whole society is rotten and terminally stupid.

Anonymous said...

Bill I couldn't agree more! Teachers work very hard to educate, motivate and inspire. Society wants us to do more and more and more with less and less and less. Let's be honest, we need a license to do everything in this about having a license to have kids?

Anonymous said...

Bill, now that Rush Limbaugh is leaving the country, ( you know the country that does not have medical insurance) he is going to a country that does have health care. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher educator, I both laughted and cried as I read that. Now, teachers are supposed to be educators, social workers, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, your inspiration, your cook, your doctor, etc. Parents have no role--except for blaming teachers. It doesn't matter if mom takes drugs all day and has 4 kids by 4 different guys; it doesn't matter if the children come to school without coats on; it doesn't matter if the kids have a diet of deep-fried sugar; teachers are still the ones to blame!

And it is so sad to see that Obama is ready to throw all teachers under the bus.

Thanks, Bill. I needed to hear that so much. It get really lonely here in Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you'll never run out of material, but if you need inspiration I found something really cool online recently. This guy wrote a book on legitimate deception in relationships - i.e. cheating is GOOD. Its called THE BLACK BOOK and in it he talks about how "cheating" isn't really cheating, renames it Sampling, and puts some serious spin on the whole thing. By the time you're done reading it you're like "Hey, maybe this son of a bitch is on to something?". Anyway, its at Tiger Woods should have read it BEFORE he got caught...

Wanna buy my home? said...

Let me tell you about an amazing teacher. My daughter's 5th grade teacher. Not only was he a great teacher that kept the kids engaged in the classroom but he attended at least one event of each kid in his class. He came to my daughter's ice skating competition. He used time on a Saturday to see my daughter and he did it right he brought his little girl with him.
The biggest difference between success and failure in the classroom is what is going on at home. It doesn't matter how much money is made, it matters how much love is there and that the kids are encouraged to do well and the parents work with their kids so they know that school is important and they are important

Anonymous said...

It is so refreshing and validating to hear the comments that Bill made, as well as those posted on the BLOG. So, first I would like to say thank you!

I am a teacher in a low socioeconomic area and your words could not have been more true to what we deal with on a day to day basis. Parents simply don't value education therefore they don't push their children to do so either. I can (and do) work tirelessly and thanklessly everyday to help my students pass the standardized tests that our government thinks is a way to measure learning. But if the value of of education isn't reinforced at home, I am literally wasting my breath every day. To many of these parents I am a glorified, and over paid babysitter. One who they look for any reason to attack and defend their "little angels" against.

To those of you who say "teachers need to be held accountable", I agree! However state scores is not the way to do it. To those of you who say, "Times are tough and if you can't perform in your job, someone else will".... I say, "please feel free to come into my classroom and show me how it's done!"

Anonymous said...

I've been a Classroom Teacher/School Counselor in an inner city district for the past 29 years. It's NOT the teachers!! Students are given a Kindergarten screening test when they enter school which often shows that they are deficient in background knowledge and verbal skills. So how is this this teachers' fault? We are a "blame everyone else society with a 'gottcha mentality.'" I challenge anyone who blames a teacher to spend a month in a classroom, and then give us his/her opinion.

Anonymous said...

The whole educational system needs to be scrapped. It is an imported Prussian model whose aim is create manageable citizens: passive consumers, replaceable workers, with a stunted inner life, no leadership (life) skills and no self-authorized thinking.

POV said...


The situation in Central Falls High School, RI is a UNION issue about pay.

The jump to conclusion pity-party from all these teachers proves that fact-checking is not their strong suit.

We in RI can not afford $90.00 AN HOUR for a two week professionasl development session....and that was only the beginning of the teacher demands.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Bill said some teachers are good and some are bad. But it does not negate the fact that the parents are/should be the biggest factor in a child's education. I am a college student and I can say that the biggest influence on my success was because of my parents. I have had good and bad teachers. Everyone needs to be a little more accountable for their actions in every aspect of life.

HeatherMU said...

I just wanted to leave a quick note to say THANK YOU Bill Maher for taking a bold stand against the status quo. You're right, it IS easier to blame the teachers than it is to hold parents accountable for raising their children. I'm a teacher (in the south nonetheless) who lucked into teaching. It was so easy to criticize teachers when I was on the outside looking in. But now as a teacher I understand that the training starts at home. Just today I was criticized by a parent while I was calling home to inform parents that their son was failing. It was somehow my fault that he does no work and can't read. I teach the 10th grade! I can only do so much with the students that I'm given!!

Anyway- thank you again for saying what I (and all my teacher colleagues) have been thinking for SO long!!!

bo moore said...

Hey! This isn't about education, this is about the ridiculous argumaents you persist in having with guests about global warming. Arguing over this or that study, news article goes NOWHERE. Step back and tell them this: We need to take care of the earth because we have nowhere else to go. If they don't get enlightened self-interest, tell them that not fucking up the planet is the sane and ethical thing to do. End of argument!

djdoyou said...

hey Bill, i just saw the show when you discussed Sky Blu and Mitt Romney. I cant stand Mitt Romney and am usually in support of your content. But I do want to caution you from developing into the exact person you despise. For one, I know Sky Blu. I have worked with him. By visual appearance, clothing style, speech, and music, you might not even know he is black. I dont think he is more than 1/4 black.

The reason I bring this up is because in suggesting that Mitt Romney and the airplane staff somehow brought their own racism in kicking this black rapper off the plane, you really show your own liberal racism in your assumption that you are more accepting of black rappers when hes not even black and hes barely a rapper. Honestly, rewatch what you said about Mitt and how suggestive you were and consider the fact that he probably didnt know the guy was 1/4 black.

feel free to email me back

Leonard Isenberg said...

In suggesting that we fire the parents instead of the teachers, I think you miss one major point. In my 23 year teaching career, I taught students who didn't learn anything when they were the students. They didn't somehow get wise with knowledge on how to raise children and support a family with one reasonably paying job just because they either quit school like over 50% of the student in LAUSD, turned 18, or had a kid when they were 14. Check out for a teacher's eye view of what really goes on in education. For posting a story about the graduation with diplomas of 79 students from my high school with reading abilities as low as 2nd grade- math was equally poor- I have been put on paid administrative leave, so that I do not pollute my fellow teachers and parents with my radical ideas as to how we finally turn around purposefully failed public education. Also, it is not that books are produced in Texas, but rather that Texas is the 3rd largest purchaser of textbooks in the U.S., so publisher who want that market will not make a separate edition for it, but rather coincide what Texas wants for all textbooks it sells elsewhere, which gives Texas a real bully pulpit. Check our, where I have also reposted your piece. You can always find me here between the hours of 8am and 3pm M-F. I think of myself as a kind of Aung San Suu Kyi with benefits, where LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines is my unintended patron in the best tradition of the Renaissance.

Peg Pollard said...

Dog! I don't smoke pot, I love me some Jesus, and I still dig the shit out of you and your show.

I'm sure I'm late on this--blame DVR. I'm writing re; your rant about "Undercover Boss". I was SO bummed the first time I watched the show. I guess I had a brain fart, because I thought maybe it might actually show how oblivious the CEOs ARE. (I do somewhat agree with your guest who stated that the show MAY actually shed light on the extreme worlds of the top dogs & the grunts.)

However, I just want to tell you I immediately thought of YOU, while watching the White Castle show! I laughed SO HARD when the CEO got all emotional about his heart- attack. This came AFTER he bragged that since he was a boy, he ate almost daily at the "restaurant". He even "romantically" brought his wife to White Castle on their first date. NO F'in WONDER he had a heart-attack!!

And then one of his long-time loyal grunt empolyees proved to also have health problems, because of her horrifying diet, obviously made up largely of White Castle "food".

Crap, I don't have a CLUE how they could've run that show w/out a single mention of WHY these two had similar health issues. OMFG.

I just had to share. I KNOW you were yelling just as loudly as the tv as I was!

I KNOW that's why you're REALLY steaming about the stupid show! But you gotta admit, THAT was really, really funny.

Remember--we have to give a bit of cred to the general populace--that they're (we're) not always as stupid as it would seem. Afterall--OBAMA GOT ELECTED!! YEAY!

Now about those six vacation weeks...

Love your guts--
Peg Pollard
San Diego

Rebecca said...

COULD NOT AGREE MORE! Hence why the great "American Education Experiment" needs to give credence to parents who are homeschooling. By this I mean, we should qualify for the "education tax break" that is federal and whose exclusions cite "homeschooling" expenses as not worthy. Problem is, if you dare to assume the responsibilty for your offsprings' education, then you are shit on repeatedly.

Worst of all you are immediately assumed to be "Religulous" or labelled a non-conforming freak.

Why homeschool? You immediately drop the 3-4 hours of repetative, bullshit, worksheets that are sent home from Kinder on. What? The more paper with lead on it the smarter you are? When all the intellegent people preach "Work smarter not harder." This is in direct conflict with that philosophy.

Once a concept is learned, you build on on it, not beat it to death. Children are most intelligent and "tune you out" when you insist they act moronic like you.

What about the horribly outdated material that is forced into the neurons of every child. Please, memorizing the lineage of the "blue bloods" (who we know are no bluer than you or I due to their constant need to "rut",) has absolutely no value in the now or future.

And this regurgitating of "facts" from " his story" which in the face of current quantum physics is only recreating the same "his story" due to the fact that matter acts as the observer believes it will act (intent), is counter productive to evolution and creation of a "better world".

Get with the times people. The entire system is outdated and only the "few and the brave" will move into a new frontier of knowledge by letting go of the superstitious beliefs or stories that have been pounded into our brains in a effort to domesticate and control. For a new prespective try:

Tom said...

Thank you Bill,

I am a 15 year teacher, and I appreciate your words. The bottom line is that people have to decide what they want for their children. If they want intelligent, dedicated professionals to teach their children then they have to help make education a place where intelligent, dedicated individuals want to be.

I have had job offers outside of education that pay a lot more, and would actually give me more time off in the run of a year. I haven't taken any of these offers because I simply love what I do.

For me, I am not worried about what I would do if I were in the situation you describe. I can get another job and we would be fine. That said, there are many teachers who are quite worried about these issues, and it is not fair to students to have their teachers distracted by pure reactionary policy. In addition, I am also a parent and I would much rather have my son's teacher thinking about how to improve a lesson than worrying about how to pay rent.

Bottom line: to fix problems in education we need to stop pointing fingers,reinvest in education, and have honest open dialogue about our challenges and our success.

Thanks again Bill, and well done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bill!!!
For those of you who believe that teachers are the problem, I have an open invitation to you. Go to the classroom and teach for one month for my monthly paycheck.

Yes, I am accountable for teaching my students. However, who are holding the students accountable for doing the work?

I love those who say that I have my summers off, work only 200 days a year and get paid for my days off. Sorry charlie! I am only paid for 200 days of work. My pay check is $2200 a month. My insurance (for a single)is $300 a month. Yeah come work my job. I grade papers every evening for 2 hours. I do my lesson plans at home for another hour. I spend at least $500 a semester on my classroom from my pocket. And now the government wants to fire me if my students don't pass a test. Yeah I am to blame so you are more than welcome to come take my job.

I do this because I love teaching. It is definately not for the money or the summers off.
Now if my students cannot pass the test, I lose my job. No problem. TRY to replace me.

For the guy that blames the Unions, sorry that is why the good teachers are in the classroom. Unions have protected them from politics. The bad teachers can be all you have to do is prove it, just like in a court of law. No one wants to try to prove a teacher is bad, just like no one wants to find a criminal guilty and hold them accountable.

More money is actually spend on a prisoner than on a student.

Thanks Bill for standing up for teachers. At least someone can see the light.

K.D. said...

Thank you for "getting it" Bill.I am a public school teacher (in a district with most families with low "socio-economic status" and high amount of English Language Learners), and a parent of children who go to a public school near our home with a minimal amount of English Language Learners and "middle class" socio-economic status. My children's school has very high test scores and the school where I teach has very low test scores. Are the teachers at either school any better or worse? No, it's the clientele. Can the students at my "low performing" school learn and prosper? Of course, but, let me tell you from experience (21 years of it)it takes a lot more skill and patience on the teacher's part to make sure everyone has become "proficient or advanced" on every standard.

And to add to all of this, we now have MAJOR budget cuts to deal with. Talk about job loss! Thousands of pink slips are being given out this week in the state of California. And for those who haven't lost your job, you get to have an increase in class size, 8% salary paycut, unpaid furlough days, and live in a state where per-pupil funding is 47th out of 50 states! Ahhhh, how glad I am that I entered this career- NOT!

And to SCOTT- entry of March 13, 4:41 a.m.: If you're not walking in a teacher's shoes, then shut your mouth. You have NO RIGHT TO SAY how schools/teachers should operate if your only experience with education was as a student. You compare teaching to a being a salesman or a TV host. See, the difference is, our "products" are human beings- schools cannot run on a business model when the "human factor" changes everything. Scott, come spend a week with me in my class and let's see if you change your tune.
Bill, we're coming to your show this Friday 3/19. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill! I am a teacher and I was truly moved by your words. Please keep talking about this. The points you brought up need to be repeated...often.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill! I want to hear MORE! I am a teacher and I was truly moved by your words. Please keep talking about this. It needed to be said and it will need to be repeated...often.

Unknown said...

Thanks Bill, for standing up for the teachers. I am a retired teacher who taught 33 years. I found very few bad teachers. But many are teaching subjects like math and science ,which they are not qualified to teach Why? Becauseschool systems find it hard to get qualified math and science for the the salaries they pay.
A friend of mine's son just started as an engineer for $75,000 per year. Why would he want to be a teacher?
On top of this ,if he did teach, he would undergo constant criticizm as well as receiving no respect among other adults, as well as parents who accept no responsibility for anything.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Maher,

There are so many problems, there isn't "one" answer that is the correct one. High school degrees as well as college degrees really mean nothing anymore. Idiots everywhere are graduating with degrees, whether high school or with a BA or BS, that have no business with that degree. If you spend the time in High School and later the money in college, you will eventually get the degree if you can stick with it long enough. It used to be if you couldn't handle the curriculum and pass the class, you flunked out. It was separating the cream from the milk. That is not true anymore. If you are willing to put in the effort, time and money you will get the degree you covet. It may take you 6 years to pass enough classes to graduate, but it is possible.

This also goes for those that choose to go into the "easy" degree program, such as teaching. I've known a lot of people that fell back into getting a "teaching" degree when they couldn't cut it in their first choice of degree. Sorry you "teachers" out there, but it is a gimme degree. Certainly nothing like astrophysics now is it?

There are a lot of teachers out there that are no more well educated than the sixth graders that they are supposed to be teaching. Put them in the "Cash Cab" and they would be walking the 12 blocks to their destination.

I suggest that any teacher must take a ride in the "Cash Cab" with no call outs and make it to their destination before they can get their teaching certificate.

And on a side note Mr. Maher...there are plenty of anti-religion, non- right wingers that are gun loving and gun-toting Americans..just as a safeguard against all of the gun toting, gun loving, right wingers.

As a coffee lover, I also love to have the companionship of a large bore as well as a very large library. >;o)

LordOfTheInternet said...

Bill My comment is regarding your show last week on the global warming topic being discussed: it was painful that not a single person at that table understood that when co2 levels rise(or methane) and the earth heats, it actually cools. If anything the cooling effect weve realized IS proof of global warming. The Ice caps melting, cause sea levels to rise and with more water on the earths surface the "hot stuff" under the earths crust begins to cool. That is actually how all the ice ages started. Check it out bill.... Now wether or not its from man, and not galactic alignment... hehe... who knows, but we definitely are speeding up whatever processes are occuring.

tarje said...


You just made the 300 pound monkey in the room less a concern by shining the light on the 800 pound gorilla.

I'd like to give you a Nobel peace prize for educational awareness, but I don't have the authority.

If you hit another nerve like this, we're going to have to elect you to office.

Please, don't. Stop.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Maher, please read my book, "African Americans and Standardized Tests: The Real Reason for Low Test Scores."

To everyone interested in education, please join The 2000 Book Movement on Facebook.

Kirby said...

While I agree that this isn't a step that should be taken lightly, let's be honest here. All you really did is change the villains and the victims in this story and retell it. You offered no new facts and no new insight except that we should "fire the parents", which we both know is more psychobabble to make you sound smart to stupid people than coherent thought. Maybe this school does have a large number of bad teachers. Maybe the administration was simply sick of trying to comply with feral regulations and union demands at the same time. And just maybe everyone KNOWS who the bad teachers are, but the way the system is designed the only way you can get rid of them is to fire everyone and start over. The problem with the system is that the unions are fighting for the teachers, the teachers are fighting for themselves, the administrators are fighting for the budget and the only ones fighting for the kids are the politicians who, let's face it, are completely oblivious to how reality works and how real world problems are solved. They think they can regulate away problems and they try for about 5 minutes to do so before they move on to the 5 months of adding pork to the bill to suck tax dollars out of the system for their own personal desires. The system itself is broken and that's not the parents fault. That's teachers, unions and administrators all fighting for everything EXCEPT the kids and oblivious politicians who really think that they can pass a law that all kids must have self esteem and that will somehow, through the wonders of magic, make it so. Yes, parents should be more involved, but I highly doubt that is the only problem in this school district.

Mike said...

Must be a parent of a poor student!

Anonymous said...

Bill Maher is one disgusting human being!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DW said...

A big Bill Maher fan, I was disappointed to hear his recent 'new rule' on not firing teachers in low-performing schools.

Having spent the last two and a half years teaching high school science to kids with learning disabilities in inner-city Los Angeles, many might think I would not support the firing of teachers, given the number of factors, like parenting, outside of the classroom that impact our students' academic success. But, in fact, the opposite is true: I fully support firing bad teachers.

Others might express doubt at the ability of schools to find good teachers to replace the bad teachers that are fired--a very valid point, given the qualifications/schooling necessary to become a teacher.

But let me also mention that I never considered becoming a teacher myself, and jumping through all the necessary hoops, until I learned about the inequities that exist in our education system.

I grew up, blind to these inequities, in a middle-class community with nice schools where all my peers went on to college and beyond; quality teachers and a solid education were the norm.

It wasn't until college that I learned about the lack of access to quality education in many urban and rural communities. This knowledge, combined with the strong demand for quality teachers in under-performing schools, made me want to help.

I don't mean to pontificate, but there is absolutely no justification for a crappy school just because of the neighborhood you live in or because you are poor, a minority, or live in the middle of nowhere. But, unfortunately, this is a reality in American education today.

During my time spent in two under-performing high schools in Los Angeles I've seen how large a role teacher effectiveness plays in the success of a student, regardless of that student's personal circumstances.

Our entire school population qualifies for free- or reduced-lunch and a large portion of our students live in group, foster, or single-parent homes, where parental influence is low/non-existent.

But these students can still achieve, and in my experience it is because they have had effective teachers that are motivated to educate them.

As for me, I don't need a big salary, accolades, or unchecked executive hall pass power-- I need students to learn, grow, and graduate ready to become productive members of society--a result that some of the teachers in these schools are not producing.

I would like to extend my personal invitation to Mr. Maher to visit our school, its community, and meet some of its students and teachers. It is my opinion that a closer look might better illustrate the complexity of this issue.

Anonymous said...

Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language at the Center of English Language. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is


I once read this Native American saying: "Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."

I never thought much about it until I started teaching a few years ago. Trying to actually involve students and parents in the learning process is easier said than done.

One of my part-time jobs is to tutor students from many DISD schools, from middle school to high school. When I last met with my boss for coffee, I expressed my frustration in trying to involve my students and their parents in this tutoring process. I told her that I just could not comprehend why I was being stood up by these kids without even a courtesy call.

My boss, having recently arrived from another state in which attendance is still high, told me that she had to devise a plan to increase tutoring enrollment by offering a free refurbished laptop after 40 hours of free tutoring.

I was repulsed by this thought. I told her it was sad that the only way to involve students in their own education was by offering a short-term reward. Some students would even ask me to put more hours than actually spent with me so they could get this laptop faster.

What a shame. All they see and want is instant gratification rather than delayed gratification, in which learning actually occurs and values are properly grasped.

If parents don't see the value of an education and there is no parental involvement to reinforce this value, then why am I surprised at the disappointing outcome I'm experiencing? I have to wake up from my wishful thinking, my vision of schools of the future and my wishes for parents to see the error of their ways. Nothing will change the vicious circle we continue to face, but why?

I think it's because we continue to try to educate the children of uneducated and sometimes illiterate parents. I strongly believe we have to aid these parents and educate them first, so they can actually make a difference in their children's lives and instill in their kids the value of an education without a bribe.

I also teach older students who come to America with student visas, and I never have this problem with lack of involvement from these students. They mainly come from Asia, and they are eager to learn English and the American culture so they can attend college someday, yet they tell me their parents also take English classes, and, as poor as they are or might have been in their own country, their parents encourage them to pursue their dreams by setting a valuable example.

Maybe poverty helps explain why parents do not seek an education to help their children. Some people relate educational attainment with money, and they might see education as impossible without financial aid.

I believe that education is a most noble and misunderstood endeavor, but it is worthy of every effort because it concerns the future of our children. So how can we involve these students if we can't get the parents involved in their own educational endeavors?

Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language at the Center of English Language. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is

Anonymous said...

Susan Wildburger of Dallas: Bringing up teenagers

12:00 AM CST on Sunday, January 24, 2010
Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language at the Center of English Language. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is susanwild14

I was once a teenager, too. These words often plague my thoughts when I try to justify my own teenage daughters' behavior and when I try to get my point across to parents during parent/teacher conferences.

Teenagers lie. They are insecure. And they need guidance.

Imagine my surprise when I hear parents telling me that their children need to learn how to solve conflicts by themselves. How can anyone expect a child or teenager to reason logically and within a range of balanced emotions to resolve an issue when he or she has yet to acquire such skill from a parent?

Moreover, imagine my horror when I hear parents asking their young kids to make decisions ranging from skipping practice to canceling a dentist appointment. There is nothing wrong with asking a kid for an opinion, but a decision? Yikes!

I have seen parents delegating the responsibility of taking the daily dosage of prescribed medicine to their 8-year-old child, as well as making their child decide whether or not they need a cellphone at age 10. You can't ask a child to be responsible if you have not taught that child what it means.

Therefore, as an older parent, I came to terms with the notion that I would never be my children's best friend during these forming and important years, because what kids need are structure and leadership, as well as advice. This viewpoint has been thoroughly researched by experts in the field of educational psychology and child development.

That doesn't mean that you don't show affection. A few years ago, a good friend of mine made me aware of this fact: Teenagers are the least hugged age group in our society. I now believe this to be dead-on right. I mean, really who wants to hug an illogical, moody, ranting and angry teenager? It all starts with making kids feel secure so that parents can teach them important lessons in life.

After interviewing many teenagers from different walks of life, and asking them for the one advice from their parents that resounded deeply within them, their reply was "perseverance." If we teach our children to persevere, we are leading them away from the "instant fixer" and "easy shortcut" type of mentality.

Teenagers will most likely make mistakes as part of their growing process but will probably weigh their options based on the sound foundation built throughout childhood.

I believe that if my only achievement in life is to have given my kids a solid foundation to be able to weigh their options before taking risks, then I'll be happy.

I believe that an education rather than an attitude can take you further. I believe that being ethical or morally apt is an acquired, taught and exercised skill and that children will always lead by example. And I believe that getting to know our children's personality, talents and weaknesses is crucial. There is no standard blueprint out there, so we have to do our best to effectively shape their moral, behavioral and emotional development, and we must persevere.

Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language at the Center of English Language. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is susanwild14

Anonymous said...

-Not too long ago Joy Behar interviewed prolific writer Gore Vidal on her new show. Vidal told Behar's audience, "We have the worst-educated population of any first-world country, and I hope you're listening, and I hope you know that your lack of education is the joke of the world. This is not a very nice joke."

Reading is probably the most underachieved skill that is yielding the so-called "uneducated masses of young children and young adults" in this first-world country of ours.

Reading is what my mother, grandmother and many influential members of my family encouraged me to pursue. Reading opens doors; reading conquers barriers; reading soothes the soul. It enables one to explore beyond the boundaries of the impossible, beyond imagination, beyond boredom. Reading not only helps children master tasks, but they learn to be inquisitive, to logically interpret and infer.

That's why I remembered "The Day that Reading Died" for my oldest daughter and the rest of her generation. Back in her elementary school days, every month her teacher would show the kids the Troll and Scholastic book order forms so the class could take them home and return them, filled out and with a check attached.

My daughter always read books with gusto. Sometimes she even saved money to buy extra books and/or science magazines. Then it happened one day: Her teacher told her she was the only one who had ordered books, and the monthly ordering would have to be cancelled.

One can only imagine the impact that had on my little girl, and as her eyes welled up with tears, her bottom lip quivered in despair and sadness.

Luckily, her teacher reacted quickly to avoid an emotional encounter of massive proportions. She told her she would wait until week's end to give the other kids a chance to rethink and order books. Week's end came and went, and nothing changed. The teacher sorrowfully returned my daughter's check, and she watched with great anguish as her father tore the check and trashed it.

I can relate to that experience when I worked as a librarian a year ago.

I remember organizing the yearly book fair (sponsored by Scholastic, which ended the monthly book ordering years ago) with my awesome helpers and observing the trend of kids coming to shop for books but choosing mostly toys. Yes, some had submitted forms and were picking up their orders, but for the most part, parents yielded to their childrens' wishes and gave into the toy fixation.

We want to give our children everything we can, but what example are we setting when we encourage the purchase of a video game instead of a book?

Older students made me proud when they selected books, but in general, there was a pervasive disdain for reading, thinking about reading or just having an interest in books. In the three-plus years that I have been teaching, it's been appalling to hear kids telling me they don't understand the task at hand, yet they don't even read the instructions.

They have no desire, no drive, poor study skills or little interest at all in performing well.

Indeed then, from the words of a great writer, we do have the worst-educated population among first-world countries. We are in the parental era of 'instant gratification." We want more, but faster. No wonder we are now collecting the seeds of ignorance and lack of curiosity.

When did parenting by omission become OK?

Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language, most recently at Brookhaven College as adjunct faculty member. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is

Anonymous said...

-Not too long ago Joy Behar interviewed prolific writer Gore Vidal on her new show. Vidal told Behar's audience, "We have the worst-educated population of any first-world country, and I hope you're listening, and I hope you know that your lack of education is the joke of the world. This is not a very nice joke."

Reading is probably the most underachieved skill that is yielding the so-called "uneducated masses of young children and young adults" in this first-world country of ours.

Reading is what my mother, grandmother and many influential members of my family encouraged me to pursue. Reading opens doors; reading conquers barriers; reading soothes the soul. It enables one to explore beyond the boundaries of the impossible, beyond imagination, beyond boredom. Reading not only helps children master tasks, but they learn to be inquisitive, to logically interpret and infer.

That's why I remembered "The Day that Reading Died" for my oldest daughter and the rest of her generation. Back in her elementary school days, every month her teacher would show the kids the Troll and Scholastic book order forms so the class could take them home and return them, filled out and with a check attached.

My daughter always read books with gusto. Sometimes she even saved money to buy extra books and/or science magazines. Then it happened one day: Her teacher told her she was the only one who had ordered books, and the monthly ordering would have to be cancelled.

One can only imagine the impact that had on my little girl, and as her eyes welled up with tears, her bottom lip quivered in despair and sadness.

Luckily, her teacher reacted quickly to avoid an emotional encounter of massive proportions. She told her she would wait until week's end to give the other kids a chance to rethink and order books. Week's end came and went, and nothing changed. The teacher sorrowfully returned my daughter's check, and she watched with great anguish as her father tore the check and trashed it.

I can relate to that experience when I worked as a librarian a year ago.

I remember organizing the yearly book fair (sponsored by Scholastic, which ended the monthly book ordering years ago) with my awesome helpers and observing the trend of kids coming to shop for books but choosing mostly toys. Yes, some had submitted forms and were picking up their orders, but for the most part, parents yielded to their childrens' wishes and gave into the toy fixation.

We want to give our children everything we can, but what example are we setting when we encourage the purchase of a video game instead of a book?

Older students made me proud when they selected books, but in general, there was a pervasive disdain for reading, thinking about reading or just having an interest in books. In the three-plus years that I have been teaching, it's been appalling to hear kids telling me they don't understand the task at hand, yet they don't even read the instructions.

They have no desire, no drive, poor study skills or little interest at all in performing well.

Indeed then, from the words of a great writer, we do have the worst-educated population among first-world countries. We are in the parental era of 'instant gratification." We want more, but faster. No wonder we are now collecting the seeds of ignorance and lack of curiosity.

When did parenting by omission become OK?

Susan Wildburger teaches English as a second language, most recently at Brookhaven College as adjunct faculty member. She is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is

Cohens! said...

The Yid inside you doesn't seem to be too informed. I think you have made a mistake in your full assessment of Torah Judaism by lumping it into the nonsensical religions of the world.
There is no word RELIGION in Hebrew.

95% of Judaism is the Talmudic - Non-observant Jews today have almost 0 knowledge. Ppl think Judaism is the "Old Testament."

The questions you ask on religion in general, are so elementary in Judaism...I'll just give you a few...

1) The concept of G-d (as a grandfather in the sky as you stated with Dawkins sitting next to you on your show) is so ludicrous - you're right. Judaism actually prohibits stating anything in the positive about G-d or G-d's essence. We don't and can't understand that...I don't even know what I had for lunch 2 days ago but I can tell you about G-d's essense? What Judaism does say in the "positive" about G-d is via actions...

Much like if you were renting a flat from your friend who you know vs. renting from someone you never met. You would know the latter only at a distance - viewing them only via the material in the room and ascertain some type of that distant...of the owner of the flat.

Judaism, as is clear in Maimonides, when defining G-d, speaks only in the negative. G-d is unknowable, undefinable, without end, etc.

2) Evolution. Well - if G-d created the sun on the fourth day - well then how did He count the previous 3 days (hard to do without a Sun). What would the earth rotate against exactly? But let's say they were 24hrs...why not? Couldn't an omnipotent G-d can create a world however He wants to - it could look however He would want it to look. And why would He do such a unnecessary thing?

Well - this question is asked by Prof. Dawkins at the end of that youtube video with Ben Stein - in which Stein asks, "Richard, what are you going to say to G-d after you die when G-d asks you, Richard, [buddy] why did you write these books? How could you do such a thing...:-)...So Dawkins replies to Stein, well - why, G-d, did you hide to such an extent? I fell over when I heard this response.

This is the most BASIC question in Judaism.

Well...if G-d didn't hide - then you wouldn't have FREE CHOICE. Much like you don't have FREE CHOICE to speed if you have a cop behind you. You could - but you wouldn't. Because the consequences are obvious. Tiger Woods doesn't have FREE CHOICE to have a "night out" when his wife is accompanying him on tour. We have free choice when the situation's consequences are hidden, and players are seemingly absent.
Free choice operates in the realm of moral decision making...and here G-d leaves us to act as we choose. Why is this? Because we have to earn it by choosing good.

Informed Jews steeped in Torah see the religions/ppl of the world who base themselves in BLIND FAITH AS MISTAKEN and a bit nuts! Something that claims truth should be put to the test, 100%. Unverifiable facts can't be used as evidence.
There is no Blind Faith in Judaism.

You can ask any question you want in Torah Judaism and receive a logical answer. You can't do that in any other religious doctrine. At a certain pt. you will just have to believe...and no Jew in his/her right mind will ever do that.

Did you ever step into Yeshiva once in your life? Did you ever learn Talmud once in your life with someone who was fluent in it, who lived it?

Uri Zohar, in Israel, was the Robin Williams of it's society 30 years ago and was 10x sharper in his criticism of religion. But he actually started asking questions to informed Rabbis...he met a challenge which did not leave him.

Truth is not be afraid of any question. Start actually asking informed ppl.

tarje said...

Well Bill,

Since I posted my respect for you it seems a few propagandists have pounded their empty, long winded bullshit rhetoric.

They all missed it. Kirby accurately described the gorilla, then ran away from it! That affirms that what you pointed out is an arrow through the heart of their denial.

My macroscope vision:

1. It appears that the costly federal 'globalized educartoon' program is a dud.

2. The PTA was a damn good idea. Just fucking show up, and don't be high - like Tim Geitner at the state of the union (his eyes were pegged, I saw Biden dripping the nasal, apparently there is a whole lot of cocaine going around the absurd vain asshole superman wannabes).

3. The creators of the wealth are its rightful possessors. The clusterfuck of sharks and now these vultures is really beginning to piss me off.

4. If a school requires as many security guards as a jail, don't send your children there: there is no learning going on there, other than live target survival training. Sue yourselves first, you have due diligence after the fucking. Assholes.

5. They are your punkass children. Its not my problem, until I shoot your infant criminal when it is trying to kill me and steal my earned wealth.

So, the globalization nightmare continues.

Bertrand Dugas said...

In Canada we have the same kind of debate. The teachers work load increases and they end up doing as much if not more discipline then teaching. Transmitting knowledge with an enthusiastic and empathic pedagogy produces miracles. Especially with students with an attention deficit. However the context, the will of the parents and working conditions, are not in place in most cases for the teachers. Consequently the exhaustion and burnout rate is very high. The problem is global and pointing fingers at teachers is an irresponsible scapegoat attitude all too easy and unfair. It's time to say "Hey parents..leave the teachers alone!"

Muriel said...

Bill is ABSOLUTELY correct. Shame on President Obama. Who is he listening to anyway? Arne Duncan. I hope someone checks out how little real experience he had as an educator before taking over Chicago schools. Perhaps he should have spent some time as a teacher and principal!

POV said...

Central Falls High School Teacher hangs effigy of President Obama upside down in his classroom.

Responding to a rumor that one of the terminated teachers at Central Falls High School had hanged a doll representing President Obama in effigy in his classroom, school Supt. Frances Gallo went to the school after hours on Monday to investigate.

In one of the classrooms, she found the one-foot doll hanging upside down on a whiteboard, in plain sight.

Supt. Gallo estimates that the effigy was hanging for at least a week and could have been seen by as many as 100 students.

Gallo said Principal Elizabeth Legault told her she had not seen or been aware of the hanging doll.

CLUELESS...over 90+ UNION employees in that School and not one had the decency to take it down.

Honorable teaching moment?

Anonymous said...

I taught for eight years. Love must be taught at home, just as hate is taught. As the song goes,"parents teach your children". I have found more truth in song lyrics, than any church I have attended. I had a dream about you last night. You stood alone with truth. Your name was Currahee. You were black and white, that blended into gray. Your colors alone were solid. I could see through the other colors. Weird

Anonymous said...

Two words for you Mr. Maher: THANK YOU! Am a teacher getting ready for work right now but want to let you know I appreciate your remarks regarding the firing of an entire staff of teachers at a high school in Rhode Island as the answer to a failing school. I put my hard earned teacher money into Obama's capmaign never thinking he'd turn around and stab public school teahcers in the back. How come an intelligent man doesn't acknowledge the difficult truth that it is a confluence of social and economic issues that create failing schools and generally speaking, teahcers are the one group that tries to counter that confluence on a daily basis! Firing the entire staff of teachers is not going to correct all the ills that created the sad situation in that particular high school. Firing teachers does not overcome the addiction problems of parents and students; firing teachers does not remove families from survivor mode that makes it almost impossible to support their children's academic progress; firing teachers does not mean suddenly tired grandparents that are raising grandchildren now have the energy they need to be parents all over again, firing teachers does not correct the situation where some parents willingly abdicate their responsibilites for who knows what reasons, firing teachers does not mean that magically these high school students can quit their menial jobs after school that contribute to the family income and take up the time that other studnets spend on homework, firing the teachers does not erase the experience of incarcerations at a young age, firing teachers does not make high school students who are also parents at a young age suddently have their responsibilities and stress lifted so they can become outstanding students, firing teachers does not change the transient nature of many of these students lives that have had their education interrupted numerous times as they move about to new locations for so many reasons. What are A. Duncan and Prs. Obama and the Superintendent of that school district in Rhode Island thinking? While some teachers are not what they should be, I dare say more teachers are doing their jobs well with tremedous dedication than in most professions. Oh the stories I could tell, maybe I'll pass them along now and then. The homeless students, the abused students, the students raised by addicts of one substance or another. The following are just two small exaples from the students I currently work with in 3rd grade. One student travels on a public buss for nearly two hours one way everday with his brother from the shelter in order to attend the school where he began the school in Sept. In Sept., his family had a homeless family motel voucher in the neighborhood of the school where I teach. The mother recognizes that our school cares about her children so when the motel voucher ran out, and she had to move herself and two children to a shelter far from the school, she wanted her children to continue attending our school. Hence the boys spend almost 4 hours on the bus daily and if they stay after school for the homework assistance program, they get home in the dark. But the are in a school that 's helping them and does care about them. Will firing teachers help situations like this? - This isn't even a really bad situation! Number 2: We had the students write their 'wishes ' on green construction paper shamrocks for St. Patricks Day - want your heart broken? Here's one girl's wishes, remember she's about 8 years old: "I wish my daddy wasn't so angry about his job and I wish my mommy wasn't getting a pink slip". Want to know the job of the pink slip mommy? A teacher - don't think that firing is going to help that little girl's academic progres!

Milton Cooper, USN said...

SouthPark is one up on you here, Mr. Maher. Its not Kenny's fault that his best job opportunity is drug dealer... if he doesn't use all the product.

Oh my God, they killed Kenny! You bastards!

Here's an idea: give parents supervised detention for their children's misconduct. Do it like Traffic School, waste a Saturday at the courthouse, charge them for it & add points to their insurance. Make it quality time: they attend with their miscreant.

POV said...

Rhode Island Teacher hangs an effigy of President Obama in his classroom.


Because this is what President Obama said during a speech in Washington:

"If a school continues to fail year after year after year and doesn’t show sign of improvements then there has got to be a sense of accountability."



Accountability ???...instead those Rhode Island kids are getting whining teachers, propaganda, picketing, and a week of staring at an effigy of the President of the United States.

If you think that this is OK behavior, then THANK A TEACHER.

tarje said...

What are you saying, hold the school & education administrators accountable? But, where will it all end??

Its so much easier to blame the invisible alien wizards.

Thats not cocaine Geitner is using, its disdain. He snorts massive quantities of it, you can tell by the expression etched in his face. Hilary uses too disdain too. Haven't seen B & M use it yet; give it time.

Howard Anton said...

Its easy to knock the parents, the teachers, the administrators & even the children but I think you hit it when you pointed out the nanny is way too much fun to play with.

Addictive even.

The nanny is in fact doing all she can to cast the responsibility elsewhere, not just to shift the blame, but to advance the agendas of various involved parties who scheme to profit from creating this and other crises and then providing solutions that would be refused under reasonable circumstance.

My advise is, go 30 days without the nanny. Thats no TV and no recreational internet for 30 days. I choose this because thats how long the detox centers say it takes to kick a drug. I include the internet because almost everything on TV is on the net, plus some damn fine explicit mature content.

Holy hooters, Batman! Lets not go out tonight!

Of course there is much work and study that requires the web, so limited use at work or school for work only must be considered.

Texting and tweeting must be prohibited. Not only because they are alternative recreation, but because there are studies currently that indicate that using the minimal jargon of these formats causes the brain to internalize this simple language and manifest a simpler conceptual model in every day activity. In other words, frequent use makes you stupider.

Don't be deceived by propaganda! Do not trust those who intend to gain from your loss!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Bryson said...

For all students who have been left behind due factors that truly are out of even the greatest educators grasps, Thank you! What you have said will echo throughout the halls of education for all students, parents , and teachers. Thank you for having the courage to speak out.

Anonymous said...


Off subject but it seems people always want to bring up the United States Post Office as a failing organization.

Tell them to take their 43 cents to FedEx or UPS and see if they'll transport their letter, postcard, or signature required documents.

Also, ask them if they'll drop things in your mailbox or are you going to need to be home or make a special trip to pick it up.

Kind of says it all. Maybe the Post Office operates in the red right now but how many private comps do that, need bailouts, and rip you off at the same time. The Post office offers a great service at a reasonable price.

It's one of the few organizations that actually can say that.

When FedEx starts delivering documents for 43 cents-hey count me in we can get rid of the post office.

It's a great metaphor how a USA run organization can provide a great service at a price people can afford.

Anonymous said...

The low pay keeps a lot of great people out of the field. Higher pay would make it a more competitive field.

There is a lot of waste and probably too much paid at pension time instead of the early working years.

And the discipline issues. Who the heck would want to deal with that? Especially at the teenage level?

Makes the job too stressful.

With that said. God Bless the ones that are out there doing it because there are a lot of good ones.

And a lot of times the evaluation is not about the actual quality of the teacher but about subjective principal-teacher relationships.

Anonymous said...

Don't go postal!

If the federal government would provide an unlimited subsidy to Fed Ex or UPS, they would ship your letters for 43 cents.

In fact private carriers are prohibited from shipping letters AT ALL because it infringes on the USPS monopoly that the USPS. This is a one sided deal: the USPS is permitted to squander vast sums pursuing rapid air delivery services.

Yup, the US Post Office is AFU. Also known as the 'private bank of Congress', the Postal Inspectors are by far the largest federal investigative body. I bet you did not know this. The guys who read your mail and email, who literally spy on you, are paid through the post office. You know, the compact brick fortress in every zip code precinct.

Did I mention they provided unsecured loans to congress representatives? I don't know if they do that anymore. After the S&L bail out it just got that much easier to directly rob the American taxpayers.

Can you say White-Water? I knew you could!

Boots on the ground, baby! Welcome to the new Socialist dictatorship! Remember, the commies, socialists and fascists all start by promising utopia, then round up all the intellectuals first.

Judy R said...

I am sick to death of every NON-educator telling the country how to educate its children. Get out of the way and let teachers TEACH!

I have taught for 40 years and will retire at the end of this year.

Yes, make it possible to fire ineffective teachers, but support those who are trying to do a good job instead of doing what was done to Don.

He (a captian in the Navy) retired from the military and went back to school to become an educator. First job after he graduated? He was hired as a 5th grade teacher at a low performing school in the area two days before classes began.

Don was told on the first day of school that he had to prepare (as required by the state) an individual educational plan (IEP) for each of the 26 students in his class and hand it in by the end of the week.

"I don't even know these kids yet! How am I supposed to devise a plan for them?"

If the state and federal government would stop requiring all this goddamn paper work and allow teachers to teach, we would have a lot more success in schools. nuff sed

Schwinn Obamamobile said...

Thats cool Julia, so You'll vote for Ron Paul in 2012? He's stated that he'll abolish the DOE and let states run their own education programs.

As it should be in a bottom up democracy.

Nicole said...

It is simple.

1. Who is at fault when the teacher works to introduce a topic, then gives an assignment and 50% (or more) of the students do not do the assignment for homework? Is it the teacher's fault for assigning said assignment or the parents for not seeing that their child completed all schoolwork?

2. The teacher realizes the students did not complete said assignment and therefore cannot monitor the achievement of students based on a lack of completion. The assessment is rendered null if there is no data to assess. The teacher then must decide if he/she A.) Gives those students the opportunity to complete this homework assignment in class thus sacrificing the lesson he/she had planned to build on prior that knowledge, OR B.) Simply give those students zeros and move on educating the students who give a damn, leaving those who do not complete work behind.

Either way, the teacher is strangely the one at fault when the students don't pass the exams at the end of the year because they refused to do the work, and the parents who are complaining that the child did not learn anything are the same parents who never checked up on their child during the school year to discover that they did not even attempt most assignments.

It is one thing when you fire someone who isn't producing on an assembly line or someone who is simply working with numbers and paperwork and assessing something they have control over. It's another to hold someone accountable for something they can only control during a 45 minute interval which has been labeled "English" or "Algebra." Even a scientist cannot do his or her job without data which they collect through experiments and observations. Teachers too need data to assess what is working and what is not.

They can't make the kid do the work, come in early for help, or stay after school for extra review or to do the homework they missed. They've got 45 minutes to change the world for a student on any given day (elementary teachers arguably have 7/24 hours). Where are children spending most of their time? At school with their teacher or somewhere else... at home, perhaps?

Can you hold a teacher accountable for a student who is not doing the necessary assignments? Can you hold a teacher responsible when the kid does not stay after school for assistance which is offered and goes home to parents who do not bother to help in the review process?

I dare say that any teacher who can make students learn all the material to pass standardized tests without having the students do any assignments simply must be a miracle-worker.

In the case of the Rhode Island District in the news... have you see their drop-out rate, and do you want to blame teachers for that too? Under the age of 18, parents have to sign for a child to drop out in most states. Who are you blaming there?

It really is pathetic that we've stooped to blaming teachers because we cannot find the time to help our own children.

Unknown said...

To the anonymous writer who posted that your child has seen more movies in school than you did in your entire childhood:

How can we take you seriously when your post is so fraught with obvious exaggerations and vitriol?

You also misspelled "their" and "no," so it's clear how much you value education.

Monday Monday said...

This is what you're teaching and you wonder why it isn't adhering to the little freedom fighters minds? You can't have it both ways. And you ivory tower pansies consider yourselves intelligent... explains everything, doesn't it?

Agression - Money Machine
It's all part of the money machine, the money machine

It's all part of the capitalist scheme, the money machine

Makes you forget you're a human being

And I call it the money machine

So you can

Go to school, study real hard, get your college degree

It's the American Dream, set up for you and me

To keep you from being free

Work from 9 to 5 sometimes overtime, just to pay your bills

The American Dream set up for you and me

By the jerks on Capitol Hill

Then one day, when you're sixty-five

Ain't got no reason to stay alive

Just sit at home waiting for your check

Personally I'd rather be hanging by the neck

Anonymous said...

Hello, Totalitarian Phone? Yes, my brainwashing machine is broken. When can you send out a repairman? Well, this generation is lost, we'll need replacement units.

Anonymous said...

i have gone to school, sat in class, and tried to have the teachers send e-mails on what his homework is, but nothing seems to work. when i talk to the teachers in person, they tell me that he just isn't putting forth any effort. in my situation, i am not seeing much effort from his teachers.

argos said...

i am not seeing much effort from his teachers.

You have 2 options. The 1st is to give your sone the George Carlin treatment, which is to drop him off on a street corner and come back a week later. If he's still there, drive across the Nebraska border, drop him off & make another one.

The 2nd option, which I think you should try 1st is to pick up your boy from school each day and collect the homework from the teachers, then when you get home give him a snack and spend how ever long it takes to help him do his homework. If you ask the teachers to help you they'll give you the homework weekly in advance, so one day a week you pick him up and follow up on the progress.

If thats too hard for you, don't blame the teachers. If you have more than one child, you'll make better use of your time. If the homework is too hard for you ask the teachers and school administrators about getting a tutor to help. They should have several options including ones your tax dollars are already paying for. If they don't, start calling up the ladder from your local politicians to the state ones, until you find the resources. Document this so you can write an op ed to the local paper if you can't get no satisfaction.

If at this point the school system as a whole has failed you, find a good school and move to it.

Having done all this if your child still isn't responding, you could drive him through the barrio and tell him if he doesn't apply himself this will happen to him. If you are already in the barrio or you are afraid to go there, take him to the nearest state prison. Explain your problem and ask them to give him the personal guided tour. I think you will find them very supportive.

I don't know anyone who had to go further than this to get results. I do know more parents who did nothing and got criminals, broken minds, 30 something stay home losers or grave markers for their lackluster performance. I know a few parents from both camps whose children no longer speak to them. Sometimes life is a shit sandwich no matter what and you have to choose the least evil path. Study the rude awakening of Hank Paulson. Nice guy, played like a Stratovarius.

Anonymous said...

you need to forward this blog to the us dept. of education. as a teacher of 10 yrs., i want to know why do high school teachers get the blame for poor test scores? i have come to the conclusion you can't fix in four what has been fucked up for fourteen!

Anonymous said...

Comment after viewing Bill Maher Show on 3-26-10.

We teach our kids like we build our shit!
Statistics show how stupid our kids are today as well as a majority of our population!
Statistics show how our car sales are vs. those made by our foreign competitors....poor.
Why? Because of the inferior quality, and in simple terms thet’re built like shit!

It's time to not only fire bad teachers who find excuses once they are tenured into jobs for life but to fire the Union Executives who defend them too!

If we can fire the Automotive Executives who sat on their hands for years, went to Martini Cocktail lunches, played golf only to land at the 19th hole and wasted stock holder's money only to blame the Union Executives, then we can fire them too.

Randi Weingarten was blowing smoke up their asses and it's time to look at the Executive's of the Teachers Union and to fire those who defend the poor quality teachers who think that tenure is their saving grace to get paid for life and not being challenged for their poor performance.

Bill says fire the Parents and I can agree with that only so far.
I say NO MORE TENURE!! Fire those based on poor performance and REWARD THOSE BASED ON PERFORMANCE

Don't want to take anything away from the great role model Professional Educators that have proven to be an asset to our society from their results.

Lets hope that one day I will eat my words about how our cars are manufactured.
Lets hope that one day I will eat my words about our educational system results based on educator’s performance not on their tenure.

Thank you.

Unknown said...


You write beautifully. I'm in.

Consider this: it didn't take you 10 years to figure out this vital information, so how & why were you silenced for 10 years??


Mike said...

To Lens: Actually Bill Maher was rabidly anti teacher. This was a complete 180 which I am very thankful for.

Lisa WantsReform said...

Hey all you teachers! Give me your suggestions on my blog,, It is dedicated to finding a better way to evaluate teachers. Tenure is obviously not the answer and there is much more to it than just looking at grades or graduation rates. I would love for more people to give their suggestions on what to do about this issue.
Health Reform, check. Education reform, LET'S DO THIS!!!

Unknown said...

If you want a serious laugh take a look at SB-6 in Florida. Teachers are being asked to take a 10% pay cut for a few years that will then be used to develop tests to measure their fitness in the classroom. At that point they will receive 50% of their pay and if their students pass the test then they will receive the other half as merit pay...which will not be counted towards retirement. Only the idiots who have so fiscally mismanaged our economy could come up with such as simplistic and unbelievable idea. I have a question..if you are going to take half of the pay from teachers to ferret out the bad ones, can we do the same with idiot Legislatures? At the end of each year we can ask the voters in each district to vote on the other half of their pay. But! And here it is, you only get it if 100% of the voters turn out and 51% vote in the positive. Let's see how that works.

Anonymous said...

Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 7189 in Florida punish all teachers for the few that are bad. It is possible for administrators to get rid of bad teachers if they do their jobs.
If Govenor Crist signs these 2 bills into law many good teachers will leave the profession and the system will be left with nothing but crumbs. And who wants these leftovers teaching our children? Certainly not me.
Check out the bill for yourself:

Anonymous said...

I would like to see an open discussion with experts regarding Gender and Scores. We need to implement proven and tested methods of teaching in our public schools. School uniforms etc.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see textbooks that contain facts and are not censored by religions, secret societies and bank cartels. And I would like to see this addressed before adding all forms of discrimination including gender and fascist dress codes.

Religion and other forms of prejudice should be taught only at home and in the community where they belong.

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PJ said...

Impose A Fine!

Parents need to remind themselves that they are responsible for the education of their children. To try to shift that responsibility to the child's teacher is ridiculous and plain lazy. Parenting is hard work and sometimes requires tremendous effort. So for those that need a little incentive, I believe we should get parents where it hurts. Their wallets!

In California several of the schools with low test scores and high drop out rates are in poor neighborhoods. The schools are ill equipped and basic needs such as updated text books are a teacher's dream instead of reality.

Who is to blame? I say the blame rest primarily with the parents. Often parental involvement is non existent. Some parents send their children off to school without ever meeting the teacher. If they have never met the teacher it is safe to say that parents have no idea of the classroom conditions. If parents are unaware of their child's school environment how can parents ask for improvement? If you don't know or care that something is broken how can ask that it is fixed?

So I say that it should be mandatory that parents are held accountable. Let's start with the parents receiving welfare. For those that are doing their job, I am not writing about you. For those that refuse to make sure that their child attend class, help with homework, attend parent conferences, and make a point to know and work with the teachers should be FINED! Why? Because you are NOT doing your job!If teachers are being fired because of your undisciplined, ill prepared brat, you should be fired too! If the teacher's income has to decrease, non compliant parents should suffer the same fate. After all it is the parents that have created the bundle of joy in the first place.

Some may argue that these folks are already poor. I say that they know they are poor and if they do not want to be poorer, get on the ball and do your job! In most cases these parents are unemployed. Well now they are employed. Their job is to raise their children and give them a fighting chance.

Employed or well to do parents are not exempt. They should be held to the same standards. Failure to comply will result in financial penalty. That's right parents will have to dig deep into the plastic surgery fund to pay a fine. No Angelina Jolie lips. As a matter of fact their lips will be really tight as the check is being written. By the time parents can afford lipo or get that new, expensive toy they will be too old to care.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where money and things mean everything. Parents buy grade school kids cell phones and give boob jobs to high school students as gifts. The sixth grader may not be able to read but they can text their friend in some made up code. A high school student may have boobs that stand at attention but can't spell the word "attention".
Parents need to get their priorities straight.

I am a mother and I know how difficult raising children can be.
Once you make the decision to become a parent you owe it to your children to put forth your best effort. If you don't you you will PAY in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean this in a bad way but you should seriously consider a major career change. You are obvious frustrated, angry and defensive, doesn't seem like you are going to make any progress.

Step away from it. Maybe a private school, with uniforms and paying rents would be a more suitable environment.

The poor will always be with us and they will be as you have experienced them as long as no effective environmental stimulus to change reaches them. Your victims of this society are doing the best they can within their limited perspective, they are probably so past frustrated as to have numb hardwired into their cortexes.

Obviously you are getting the resources and support you need to adapt the educational environment to suit the real needs of your innocents. Even if they are criminal monsters, they are still children - most of that is their frightened reaction to the harsh first contact that is their only experience of life.

Can the teachers organize around this and work collectively to coerce effective modifications from the treehugging administration and absentee school board? I bet you can get the local cops to your side pretty quick, and they know how to negotiate in this type of situation.

If you start demanding licensing for prolis husbandry you're going to have to join the fringe or leave to a fine, brutal, totalitarian dictatorship like China.

Maybe this can't be won by throwing more self serving bent bureaucrats at it. Maybe the only way to win to to leave until all involved parties come to their senses and act in a rational way.

This has been coming for a long time and people have kept a dysfunctional system propped up. Worst in the industrial world, no excuses, management is obviously incompetent. Stop supporting this wheel thats been crushing middle class children for 40 years and let those who could have made a difference but allowed it to happen pay the price. If they think education is expensive, wait til they see the last skin ripped off the openly criminal cesspool they've created.

More money on prisons than schools. That should tell you all there is to know.

Anonymous said...

As a student who recently graduated from an inner-city school in the last two years...I disagree.

YES, parents need to be more involved in their kids' education. YES they need to take responsibility.

And YES, SO DO TEACHERS. I sat in high school for four years, while teachers who weren't even legally supposed to be teaching (because they'd failed the certification exam multiple times) taught me math formulas that were wrong. Just wrong. They could've looked in the book to check- but no. Some of them said that they "knew how to get the answer, but couldn't explain it." Isn't that what a teacher does? I had an AP teacher who forgot he had class, and went out to lunch instead. When he walked in his response was, "why are you all here?" I had English teachers who, couldn't write coherent paragraphs themselves, much less grade any. I went through honors English classes where we didn't read novels. I went through periods where teachers just handed out worksheets for the period then sat on the computer for the remainder. I've known teachers who called elementary students "stupid" and "dumb" and who've literally thrown things at them. They're still working.

Teaching is one of the most important professions there is. So WHY are they not held to a higher standard? Why allow them to get away with damn near anything? If you can't get results, then you should lose your job.

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Anonymous said...

I can only hope that I have something new to add to the previous rhetoric, but I am very concerned that both the Florida House and Florida Senate passed HB 7189/SB 6. Now, the Florida teachers' and students' fate rests with Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, to save the system from being overwrought by unreal expectations and imaginary capital. Tenure is a teachers' last vestige of safety against an opportunistic society that screams 'victim' everytime it doesn't get its' Ipad or its' Toyota. I'm not sure why the 'blame game' has been allowed to escalate to these monumental portions, when the issue is more than who is the best teacher or the most responsible parent, etc. Education is not a pissing contest where the individual with the biggest 'stream' doesn't have to eat the yellow snow (we reserve that contest for our politicians.) It is a matter of teaching our kids useful information so that they may survive (at the very least) or be comfortable (at the pinnacle of our hopes). It is true that we may not be as competitive as other nations, but it's been a long time since we started our 'charity' at 'home.' Instead of each side tearing the other side up like bloody pittbulls left in a ring after the last fight;why don't we figure out a decent system of measurement that is a true representation of a student's knowledge. The best choice of measurement we have now is paper or computer. Since students can memorize information or cheat off their neighbor, I'm uncomfortable pushing the 'data-driven' kool-aid that has been placed on our picnic tables (evidently, Jim Jones lives in Mr. Thrasher.) We need to find measurement that shows a student can use the information practically, and without coaching from patterns and redundancy. I imagine that once we are able to apply these principles (measuring in practical and not soley theoretical) ourselves; our bickering about whose 'member' shoots the furthest distance or who's moyel made the best 'cut' will cease. Until the process is better understood, and data works across all socioeconomic, gifted, ESE monacres; let's suspend corporal punishment against our teachers, and students.

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Anonymous said...

Please have Diane Ravitch on your show to discuss her new book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" It will be one of the best things you can do for education to promote her book. The quicker it gets to No. 1 on the NYT Bestseller list, the quicker things can change/people above may start to listen.

haroldsr said...

How about teaching academic content before we decide who to fire. Bill, you should invite me on the show to talk about "real issues". Here's some info about me: or go to:

haroldsr said...

How about teaching academic content before we decide who to fire. Bill, you should invite me on the show to talk about "real issues". Here's some info about me: or go to:

shanon said...

Wait. History is written by the losers now?

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