Written almost two years ago: Little has changed and in fact, with the attention on standardizing teacher evaluations,
now is much worse. Just a quick google search of "Bill Gates" and "teachers' evaluations" will yield
many hits. Googling "Bill Gates and "administrators' evaluations" yields little of substance.
Maybe I need to re-title this
piece from two years ago and call it "Open letter to Mr. Bill Gates."
Here's the piece:
Open letter to our nation's school
Is it possible, Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, that you simply are not aware of the abusive,
arbitrary, capricious--sinful, really--bullying administration going on in many of your schools?
I awoke this morning with two
more emails from two more hurt, shaken, terrorized teachers; teachers targeted by bullying principals. These two emails come
from Georgia and Michigan. One teacher doesn't have a job now and the other is freaked out about returning. That makes twenty
emails from around the nation. I don't know much about statistics really, but I do know that each of those twenty emails
represents maybe 100 more emails from 100 more people. That would be about 2,000 hurt, shaken and terrorized people. These
are people who found me because I simply invited them to contact me.
Mr. and Ms. Superintendents,
I can no longer play with words. I've danced around, beside, close up, and far away from the "bullying principals
elephant" that is in our districts' school houses. I am tired of pretending the elephant doesn't exist. It does.
It sits there as teachers and counselors two step around it. Every now and again there will be an innocent--maybe
new to the schoolhouses--counselor or teacher who stops and says, "Hey everybody there is a fat, stinky elephant right
here in the middle of everything. Let's tie a rope around it's neck and lead it back to the zoo."
The other dancing teachers and
counselors will stop for a moment; not to contemplate the guileless request, but to shush the counselor or the teacher-warn
him or her to just keep dancing. "Squeeze your dancing body close, close, close to the wall like us," they
might say. "Slide right around that lethargic unpleasant beast! We are warning you! Others have tried.
They pushed and prodded the elephant until it, itself, arose and plodded off to the zoo. But only temporarily;
for it returned to the zoo to whine and complain about the ill treatment its caretakers at its school were giving it. It
wanted more than buckets of water and hay, for goodness sakes! It wanted stories read to it! It wanted hot water
bottles for its cold feet, fans on hot days. It wanted fine garments sewn for it when the newspapers came 'round.
The zoo keeper brought it back. The zoo keeper was mad. Instead of looking at the
elephant and saying," Elephant, the way you will really impress me; the way you will really shine, is to stop being a
demanding, spiteful, lying and cheating beast. The other animals at your schoolhouse, the gazelles and the parrots;
the hippos and the lions (there are a few in spite of your taking up so much of the space); the snakes and the spiders too
(even though they probably will never learn to do anything other than slither and weave webs, because they are, after all,
snakes and spiders) needed you to change your ways. The other animals needed you to say something like, "I'm sorry, other
animals. I apologize for polluting our space. I am remorseful that you've had to clean up my stinking messes;
that instead of paper and pencils, I provided each of you with a shovel to clean up my messes..."
No, the zoo keeper did not say
that. Instead the zoo keeper said, "WHAT?!" Lock out the gazelles and the parrots and the hippos and
most especially the lions! BRING THEM ALL TO ME! But leave the snakes and the spiders. They slither and
they weave....AND THAT'S WHAT WE WANT FOR OUR CHILDREN! You've done a good job, elephant. There is no other school
in my zoo district with better slitherers and weavers than yours. You should be a zoo keeper. I will help you
become a zoo keeper like me! "
Here is the truth, Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, here it is. You have an epidemic of bullying,
power hungry principals leading your schools. You have a problem of such enormous size--the size of a herd of sleeping
elephants--that unless you say to that herd, "No more. I will listen to the voices of counselors and teachers;
of gazelles, hippos, parrots and most especially lions. I will not tolerate your bullying ways. Our children deserve
to be educated in places of truth, courage and justice; not places of fear and terror."
Unless you say something like
that, the bullying herd will wake up and stampede straight to the zoo, for that is where they feel most safe, with you--of
that I am certain. You must stop keeping them safe, dear Mr. and Ms. Superintendent. You must--and this will take
courage on you part--admit they stink. Pull out the hose. Hose them off.
Teachers and counselors across
the nation are fed up with pretending the elephants you've placed in their school houses are not fat and stinking. Teachers
and counselors are beginning to prod and poke at the elephants.
Dear Mr. and Ms. Superintendents,
it's time to clean up.
I'm worried that I worry too much.
I got up today with a gritty
determination. I was determined not to worry--"It's pointless," I said to myself. After a brief second
of groggy "empty-headedness," though, the worries flooded in. The first worry "in" was precipitated
by my daughter's sleeping sigh. She'd slept with me and the "smack-smack-smack" of her lips and the air exhaled
from her 14 year old lungs as she slumbered did not fill me with smiles and love. The first penetrating worry was: "Did
she finish the math homework?" It was followed immediately by my own exasperated guilt at not having stuck with
another repetition of her vocabulary words and definitions for her Language Arts test.
All this before
my eyes were fully opened.
More worries: Wine. An inner voice saying, "Yeah, big
girl, keep telling yourself it's good for you."
Teeth. I read an article about
how to care for our aging "not-so-pearlies." That article just in general reminded me I'm "gettin' up
The wine and, then, teeth worries were immediately followed by judgement: Too
fat. Too tired. Too judgmental. I did, at least, find judging myself to be too judgmental to be funny.
And I'm still in bed.
Getting up. Fretting. Followed by exasperation.
Mornings--and they get earlier and earlier--are mine to write and to blog. I am at my freshest and most creative
in the morning and any interruption--an insistent and purring cat wanting my attention, for instance--annoys me. "I'll
feed you in a minute! Let me get these ideas out!," I'll say as Peanut, the purring cat, rubs against the iPad,
knocking my tapping fingers off the keys.
I don't fret much about "big ticket"
worry items--like the Affordable Care Act or the economy--that other worriers worry about. I leave those to the president.
I like him. I think he's doing a good job.
My worries begin right in my own home--locally--and
then out into the world--globally-- for I share them with others. For instance, my personal frustrations about the value of
homework or lack thereof; at having to educate myself (again!) on Algebra concepts and having to pretend they're important
to me--they're not; I've only ever used them to take tests--take my worrying to a worry of the overall effect all of that
"Algebra stress" on families all over the world.
"Solve for x! AND DO
IT NOW!" I think moms are yelling in a myriad of languages; "Qué encuentres el x! QUÉ LO HAGAS AHORA!"
for instance, being cried out in exasperation, as moms all over South and Central America--not to mention Miami where I live--stand
in their kitchens, like I stand in mine, cooking dinner.
Algebra is not good for world peace.
Writing that, with this insistent cat now regarding me through contented slits of eyes, puts a smile on my face;
flattens the worries and wraps them in "what-can-you-do-but-get-on-with-it?" acceptance and places a flouncy bow
of gratitude upon it.
Better go feed the cat; awaken the sleeping girl and smile.