DISCONTENTMENT, DOUBT AND DISRESPECT: A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER FOR TEACHERS

November 22, 2021

Which comes first: irritability or insomnia? As a retired teacher, I still remember those days when angry parent email rants kept me from getting any sleep. Or well-meaning administration asking me to continually “reflect” (the most obnoxious word known to educators) on my teaching decisions, making me toss and turn preparing an appropriate response. 

But then there were the days I just woke up mad. I loved teaching and had for decades. However, something changed in the past 20 years. It’s taken me a few years, post retirement, to figure it out. I now know what those changes are and how they affect our culture in general and teachers, specifically. I think you can guess the first two.

The Internet and Email

Fast delivery ideas or comments, with no thought process attached and usually sent by those humans who hate in person confrontation but love a good one-sided rant.

Social Media

Multiple platforms designed for communication but hijacked by today’s purveyors of spin, ideology and deliberate misinformation. One of the prime instruments in today’s 21st century bullying, by both adults and kids, dismisses ideas and demeans anyone who does not conform to the ideology of the day.

Reality TV

Surprise! This shiny new genre appeared in the early 1990’s. In my estimation, this one invention has the most negative influence on our culture. Why? Where did our children (and their parents) learn shouting expletives, getting in someone’s face and demanding the right to talk over any thought which was construed as different? What our culture either forgot or never made an effort to research is that Reality TV is scripted to sell the genre to audiences who love to live vicariously through the caricatures of these so called “real” people and their fantasy events.

Teaching has always been challenging. The educator must have the following daily attributes, in order of importance:

  1. clear and concise classroom and time management
  2. sound subject pedagogy
  3. communication skills with colleagues, administration, parents and students both written and verbal 
  4. unconditional love and compassion for all children
  5. thick skin, dedicated determination to stay the course and not quit on those days when all of the above appear to mount a battle of discontentment, doubt and disrespect towards the human trying to teach

Now add Covid 19 to the mix of email, social media and reality tv. We can no longer sit on our derrières ,throw our hands up in frustration and wonder why teachers are leaving the profession in greater numbers than ever before. In my research of teacher shortages, school districts are hiring student teachers, paraprofessionals and yes, even custodians as substitute teachers. According to EducationWeek’s survey of teachers nationally, when asked about the likelihood that they’ll leave teaching in the next two years, 54 percent of teachers said they are “somewhat” or “very likely” to do so.

What is my life’s purpose? I fell into incredible circumstances when I was forced out of teaching by an over zealous administration and some colleagues who wanted me gone. I will spend the remainder of my life being a fierce advocate for teachers. The loss of America’s teachers in such high numbers must be a concern for the nation! I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! Check out my book for viable solutions to retain America’s teachers. TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: How to get sleep on those nights of discontentment. 

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com

My One Year Anniversary

God isn’t done with me yet!

November 9, 2021

One year ago today, I received my Covid positive results. I had a scratchy throat but no fever. For a couple of days previous, I just felt tired and run down. Why did I get tested with such minimal symptoms? Our little town provided testing, so really out of convenience, I received the swab.

Since retirement from teaching choral music in 2017, I’ve maintained my voice studio. Immediately I moved my students to Zoom, which actually turned out to be a challenging yet fun experience. Then came day number six.

I thought I was going to die. My head pounded, my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest and I couldn’t get out of bed. After all, mainstream media hammered into my very being that my morbidity rate was high. And then there was the death count which rolled across every major network for months on end. I did think my life was coming to an end but NOT because of my symptoms. What I experienced was the flu. Nothing more, nothing less, although fever never presented. But the media convinced me this was to be the end.

So why address my experience now, one year later? First and foremost, I thank God for not needing me in heaven quite yet. My so called “survival” forced me to stop taking life for granted. Secondly, I am puzzled by prepositions. Did people die FROM Covid or WITH Covid? It’s rhetorical so please do not feel compelled to lecture me. Did people with Covid panic and this fear exasperate their symptoms? Again, rhetorical. Lastly, did people just quit fighting because the media told us, ad nauseam, there was no hope? Step away from your keyboard because these are my thoughts and I’ve already addressed the HRS syndrome (Hide behind your computer, Rant and hit Send). So don’t even go there. Quite frankly, I think it may be years before any of us can ascertain how Covid became so deadly for so many.

In celebration of my one year Covid anniversary, this is what I learned:
1. When the networks are pouring unwanted and unmerited information on us, we must turn them off.
2. When social media hacks are deciding who can post and what they can say, we must remove ourselves from those platforms.
3. Fight the good fight. On days 6-10 of Covid, I made myself get up, shower and stay vertical as long as I could. Following good advice from reliable sources, I took care of myself by eating healthy (even though I had no taste or appetite), drinking a lot of water and spending a few minutes in the sun every day. Plus I continued my regimen of vitamins and minerals.
4. Most important: I had very intimate conversations with God. I know my life’s purpose and I have not completed it yet. My other purpose: grandchildren are young enough that they need my life’s perspective in their journey to adulthood. Simply put: I will not take my life for granted ever again. My favorite saying: I will not be a slave to fear for I am a child of God.

What is my life’s purpose? I fell into incredible circumstances when I was forced out of teaching by an over zealous administration and some colleagues who wanted me gone. I will spend the remainder of my life being a fierce advocate for teachers. I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: It’s the season to be thankful.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com!

Karma Baby, It’s Karma!

A Captured Audience Parent Learns a Lesson in Teacher Harassment

Picture, if you will, a teacher trying to constantly recover from hurtful attacks during her entire teaching career. As a choral director, any decisions I made about who was in what choir, who performed what solos or leads in the musical were always up for constant scrutiny. My worst critics? You guessed it. Parents. In fact, it was a handful of parents who got me fired at my last job after 46 years of teaching. But I digress.

It still numbs my mind that a parent would harbor such malicious thoughts and accuse me of malfeasance all due to a child not singing in the talent show, or in a certain choir, or being picked for a solo on a concert. Oh if they had just harbored the thoughts. But instead they put HRS into action: Hide behind their computer, Rant and hit Send.

In my last job, the administrator I reported to wanted me gone at any cost. So when these handful of emails per year popped up on her screen, she was all too excited to act. To this day, I HATE the word REFLECT. My admin’s favorite scolding technique always began with, “You need to reflect on your actions and how you could have better handled the situation.” Better handled what situation? Little “Cindy Sue” didn’t make it into the talent show because she wasn’t good enough. Her parents could not accept that so they literally spent the remainder of the school year trying to put pressure on the administration to fire me. Believe me, it didn’t take much pressure. Five months later I was forced out and “Cindy Sue” went on to have a great singing career at the school. But again, I digress.

Now fast forward. A few days ago I was asked to speak about my book at a local book signing. I stood at the door, welcoming people in, excited to finally be in person after almost two years of being shuttered from public speaking. As the participants entered the area, a few spoke to me by name. I would inquire how we met, with the conversations animated, some even with excitement. Then entered a lady with quite a frown on her face. She barely spoke to me. When I stated she looked familiar, the frown gritted that I was her daughter’s teacher several years before. In my stupor, I did not assess the potential of the situation to implode until the gloomy lady took her seat. And then it hit me like a wall of unwelcome emotions! This face of abject hostility was a “Cindy Sue” mother. Now I was met with this reality: my talking points dealt with the reasons teachers are leaving their jobs all across America. One of the main reasons? Parents inability to be thoughtful in their criticism and demeanor. Do I take out that subject completely? Can I give my rehearsed speech on the equity issues facing teachers and edit it on the spot? The reality answer rose swiftly and permeated my thought process: no, I cannot edit nor should I be expected to edit what I was about to address! So my speech began and to my surprise, was well received. I couldn’t even finish my thoughts before teachers in the audience wanted to share their nightmare stories of parental rants and threats. All the time, I suppressed giggles. Who knew this certain parent would make my life miserable years before and then end up in the audience? And the predominant comments? Many around her spoke of the inappropriate behavior manifested by such crazed parents. Karma, baby, it was karma! Did she establish eye contact with me at any time? No. I would like to think she sat chagrined, hoping for a fast exit. I did not see her afterwards so I’m guessing she was in no shape to lend any compliments to my presentation. But just for a moment, I celebrated a very small victory: a parent who maligned me all those years ago had to sit and listen to what it felt like to be a teacher under fire from a group of parents, who should know better.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: It’s my Covid Anniversary!

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . You can find the written word of today’s podcast at: rescuetheteacher.com. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com. Hit that button now and have my thoughts sent to your email!

HRS SYNDROME

HIDE behind your computer. RANT paragraphs on your entitlement to privilege and hit SEND!

So let me rant…just kidding. But I do want to address vitriol emails AGAIN. As I shared in my book Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, I probably lost my last job due to five parents complaining about my choice of who got solos, talent show performers and how I supported my program through fundraising. These caustic emails, sent to my passive/aggressive administrator, ultimately ended my career as a 46 year teacher. I now label these self-righteous parents (and some administrators) with HRS SYNDROME: HIDE behind your computer, RANT paragraphs on your entitlement to privilege and hit SEND. Now fast forward.

I am a vocal coach with a studio of 15 students. After my forced retirement, my studio is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue teaching singers young and old. A few weeks ago, one of my HRS SYNDROME parents decided to attack me. It’s not worth the time nor the energy to share why this parent went after me in such a demeaning way. But here’s the good news: I AM NO LONGER EMPLOYED AS A TEACHER IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS! When I worked in education, the public schools forced me to absorb these vitriolic emails, ever since the installation of the internet! Seldom, if ever, did an administrator support me. These HRS SYNDROME parents loved to rail at me around 7 a.m. so I could percolate on their message, while I taught school for six hours, having no time to defend myself from the attacks. Did it effect my teaching? Of course it did. I found myself previewing my remarks before they made it through the airways so students would clearly understand my every instruction. This created a stumbling, mumbling, inarticulate instructor, with loss of confidence and some days near tears. How could any parent assume the teacher of their child is a moronic, vindictive imbecile? Whereas those words were never used, the translation was clear: my child is perfect, I am entitled to scold you and you better do what I demand.

So how did I handle this newest HRS SYNDROME parent. After I tried to reason with this mother in two emails, I wrote the following: Don’t contact me again. Ever. It felt so good to have the right to disconnect from this acerbic parent. As a public school teacher, I never held that right. Today’s teachers are no different. The HRS SYNDROME parent (and sometimes administrator) prevail with teachers having no right to stop the madness. One solution: administrators need to step up and prohibit this kind of email behavior. I once had a principal who defended me by telling the hostile party to simply “shut up!” It worked and in my tenure at that school, I was never attacked again.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, A fantastic book found at (Amazon/Barnes & Noble). Order your copy today. 14 FIVE STAR ratings. It won the 2020 Topshelf non-fiction book award. It’s a great read for students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Here’s a tease for my next blog:Three 20th century institutions which have been the ruination of our culture.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . You can heaar this podcast at: paulabaack.substack.com. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.

The Season of Our Discontent

The calming sunset of retirement for teachers is a false narrative for many.

Here are a few things I bet you didn’t know about teachers:

  1. We don’t make friends easy since no one wants to hang out with us due to our 24/7 schedule. And we’re usually exhausted anyway.
  2. Our social life is determined by summer weekends only. Most weekends during the school year we are preparing for the onslaught of the coming week. Or we have to supplement our low income with yet another job.
  3. Seldom do we make time for hobbies. Between raising a family and teaching, outside time rarely exists. When it does, usually we teachers just like to chill!
  4. We are defined, almost in total, by the title teacher. It’s a badge of courage and fortitude as we journey through admin who won’t support us, parents who demean us, colleagues who challenge us and a community who denies our very existence through low wages and poor working conditions.
  5. Right or wrong, we live vicariously through our students’ successes and failures. We love what we do but on many days we wonder why?! Oh, I remember: it’s the kids. Always the kids!

I met another retired teacher (36 years) a few days ago. Before our conversation ended, she was in tears. She cannot find herself in post retirement. Fighting back my own tears, I could only sympathize. Did she have friends as a support group? No. Did she have a hobby? Yes, but is seemed meaningless. The calming sunset of retirement for teachers is a false narrative for many.

All of the above is true for me at least. But instead of teaching 10-20 years, I rode the roller coaster of teaching for 46 years. I did have a plan for post teaching but unfortunately I didn’t prepare for my sudden departure brought upon by an admin who willingly threw me out without due process. Since my demise was made very public in local and regional news, my integrity was left in question. So I wrote a book about my myriad experiences as a teacher. I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!

Plan B was to market my book to universities, school boards, school staff meetings and the general public. It was going pretty well until Covid struck. I know that can be said about everything.

So enter Plan C. Writing a blog, doing a podcast and using social media seemed the best way to reach out to the public about how we can improve our educational system. Most days I fill the internet cloud with my philosophy of education, ways and means to attain better schools and ideas to stave off persecution of our most valuable asset: teachers. Am I making a difference? I don’t know. Hanging on to the “if one person is positively affected” just isn’t enough. My post teaching life’s purpose appears empty of validation.

Last week, however, cast a little light on my journey to leave the teaching world better than I found it. Two former students, both in their 20’s reached out to me. “John” is in the military and writing hip hop music. He shared a song he just completed. It was amazing. Great beats, fun instrumental backing and very cool vocals. John admitted he was a handful in school which is no exaggeration. But I always liked working with those kids who didn’t walk to the drumbeat of the perfect child.

And then two days later, “Sheila” tagged me in a Facebook post. In Messenger, she related how she still sang the songs we performed but now it was to her little boy. Oh my heart! Those words alone lifted my spirits but then she went on. Sheila shared that I had no idea how much I influenced her life in a most positive way. Actually, I did have some idea for Sheila also struggled in school trying to appease what was defined as “normal.”

So today, I challenge you: send a message, email or a letter to the teachers who affected your life in a positive way. Take the time to let them know they did make a difference and your orbit is better for crossing a caring teacher’s life journey. Do it. Right now. You now have the power to intersect a teacher’s life with words of affirmation. Trust me, we need those words. Everyday.

WHAT’S REALLY WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

FINAL BLOG IN A SERIES: The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall in American education.

This is the final blog regarding the specific topic of What’s Really Wrong With American Education. I would encourage you to go back and read all previous blogs on the subject. Next week there will be no blogging as I travel to my home state of Nebraska to speak about my book. Oh, and if you missed the title: Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! (Amazon/Barnes and Noble).

Today’s topic: Is Everyone Welcomed? The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall in American education.

THE COUNTRY: At the age of eight my dad took me to my first Nebraska football game. I didn’t even know much about football but almost everyone in Nebraska looked at Saturday game days as a social event. The band marched on the field, as we were asked to stand for the raised U.S. flag . A 170 member band boldly played the National Anthem. Something inside me welled up in my soul. Goose bumps sat up on my arms as the song continued. Tears formed in my eyes for no reason other than there was an emotional connection to my country’s flag and the Star Spangled Banner. From that moment on, at the age of eight, I knew I loved this country. And when I grew older, I loved it even with its faults.

When I turned 13, school prayer (and later the Bible) were removed from public schools. I was not aware of its impact at the time. In 1962, the Unites States Supreme Court didn’t ask God to leave our schools. They demanded it. Arguably, the court appeared to make the mention of God illegal in our public education. I know this to be true as a choral director. If the word “God” appeared in any music literature, many times a student or parent would demand I remove the song.

Before you click “end“on this blog because I am probably one of those Christian nuts. I am. Christian, hopefully not nuts! And before you use the favorite anti-Christian word “hypocrite”, let me assure you I was the victim of such hypocrisy. For it was my principal and colleague after my job who attended my church. The other colleague who constantly accused me of not being a team member, is the wife of a pastor. I get it! I am not proposing Christian prayer or Bible class. What I am proposing is that students and teachers of Christian faith have a voice in the public school system. Academic classes should hold a balance of thought. Margaret Mead, who said children should be taught how to think and not what to think , would like this model: When speaking of the Big Bang Theory, the lesson should be balanced with Creationism, with the teacher staying neutral in the presentation. Then children can weigh the lecture with the walk of life they journey. Today, one would be hard pressed to hear even the mention of creationism in the context of how our universe was formed. It is time to re-evaluate how biology, human reproduction, history, English literature and science are presented. By the way, the Supreme Court didn’t actually kick God out. But their decision made it easier for a few to cancel the Christian perspective in the public school setting. So the poster Everyone Is Welcome may not necessarily apply to the Christian community.

THE CULTURE: The definition of Secular Progressive, according to yourdicftionary.com is: a non-religious person or organization that promotes and supports liberal change and reform.

Interestingly, the so called culture wars date back to the 1920’s with the polarization of the rural communities and the “Roaring ‘20s” urbanites.

James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, introduced the expression again in his 1991 publication, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Hunter described what he saw as a dramatic realignment and polarization that had transformed American politics and culture.

He argued that on an increasing number of “hot-button” defining issues—abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality, censorship—there existed two definable polarities. Furthermore, not only were there a number of divisive issues, but society had divided along essentially the same lines on these issues, so as to constitute two warring groups, defined primarily not by nominal religion, ethnicity, social class, or even political affiliation, but rather by ideological world-views.

My thoughts? Unfortunately the American public has allowed and even promoted those cultural conflicts as an integral part of the school system. Why are we addressing gender neutrality restrooms when our kids can’t read at grade level? Do we really need to spend part of a classroom period asking each child which pronoun he/she/they/them prefer? Why are debate subjects of pro-choice vs pro-life required when we are not addressing college preparation or life skills courses? Why is a theory about race taught to shame white children and victimize children of color when teen suicides skyrocket every year? And my favorite: why do schools insist on using smart phones, tablets and computers for an entire day when experts warn that too much screen time may have effects on brain development.

According to Dr. Lamont Moore, Director of Educational Leadership at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina: Studies have shown that students who spent more than two hours a day using screens scored lower on language and thinking tests (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, 2018). It has also been said that students who spend more than seven hours a day may experience thinning of the brain’s cortex. The brain’s cortex is the part of the brain that is related to reasoning skills and critical thinking.

Again, my thoughts? Parents need to start parenting, especially when their children are in the public schools. If nothing else, Covid taught us that parents discovered an entirely different school environment as they watched their children attend online schooling.

THE PEOPLE: In a simple word, activism has long played a role in education, both positively and negatively. According to Terri S. Wilson, School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder, there are three ways to deal with today’s issues in public education: opt out, dissent and activism. I concur.

Parents need to opt out of schools which have a political agenda (either conservative or liberal). Students need to opt out of classes designed to alienate one another or squash freedom of speech. Teachers need to opt out of working for a school district which is reactive and not proactive. Administrators need to opt out of adding any “push the envelope” 21st century class designed to polarize students.

We, as a community, need to dissent out loud when poor choices are made at the local schools. Here are examples I know of personally: rap music (clean lyrics but unwholesome messages) played on the school intercom before classes start; teachers who use profanity in the classroom; coaches who diminish players’ abilities with rants about failure; boys identifying as girls using girls’ restrooms and locker rooms; electives taught for their political agenda and administrators allowing bad behavior in the classroom.

We, as a community, need to get off our recliners to attend school board meetings, monitor how our children are taught and insure our children are being nurtured in a safe environment. Most importantly, throwing more money at our school systems has not worked in the past. We are fourth in the world in education expenditures but our literacy rate in the world is seventh, behind Switzerland and Sweden. Quite frankly, I do not believe those statistics. In doing extensive research, the U.S. education and achievement levels range from 1st to 27th. Oversight committees should wield power over the school districts to guarantee tax payers’ money is spent prudently, expeditiously and with integrity.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN SEPTEMBER 27. Here’s a tease: Poetry with a punch!

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.

What’s Really Wrong With American Education?

The entitled students supported by the inalienable right to complain parents.

Today I heard a conversation regarding social media platforms and what they are doing to our children. It is nothing productive or positive. Yet parents feel the need to allow their children on such sites, usually without much investigation or monitoring. The end of today’s conversation went something like this: Where are parents today? Why do they permit their children participating on any platform which has the following potential: bullying, body shaming, hurtful rhetoric, immoral persuasion just to mention a few? I spent countless hours navigating these issues with my high school and college students. The final portion of the conversation? Parents need to parent. Make reasonable rules, follow through on consequences and be present daily (sometimes hourly) in your child’s life. The very same may be said about whining students and complaining parents. It’s time for parents to model support for their children’s teachers. We cannot continue to loose talented teachers who feel they are not only unappreciated but objects of condemnation from irrational, angry parents.

My mother was a teacher so she understood this dilemma teachers face daily: the child does not perceive complete truth, only his version of it. Never should the assumption be made that an evil teacher is persecuting an innocent child. The only times a parent has the right to challenge if a teacher is derelict in his job and should be dismissed are:
1. The student experiences a sudden downward spiral of grades and attitude
2. Actual school phobia has set in
3. An immoral/illegal act may have been consummated

If the student’s account does not fall under these three areas, the parent may certainly ask any question of an instructor but with the attitude of fact-finding and not hurtful discourse.

In 2017, four parents’ complaints of what student was given a solo, who should be in the talent show, who was given what grade and policies of attendance were used to force me out of a job I loved. Never underestimate the power of domineering parents on weak administrators.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and seldom a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall of American education.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.

What’s Really Wrong With American Education

School boards who act as a rubber stamp or don’t act at all are crippling our schools and a disservice to teachers and students.

Today’s headlines regarding school boards in disarray: Chaos at a local school board meeting leads to one person being escorted out by police (KKTV News); School board meetings heat up across country over mask mandates (CBS News); As School Board Meetings Get Hostile, Some Members Are Calling It Quits (NPR)

What’s Really Wrong with American Education? School boards, who are not proactive, cannot serve their district well in today’s secular progressive, rancorous environment.

EducationWeek speaks to truth regarding school board candidates running brilliant campaigns for election to the reality of newly elected members with poor leadership: Ineffective governance (of school boards) is often the byproduct of what has been called “school board dysfunction,” the situation in which board members lacking in organization, leadership, and an understanding of their role diminish a board’s capacity for good decision making and strong educational leadership. The inherent difference between managing a campaign for the school board and actually leading a school system is one of the key drivers of this dysfunction.

Board members spend considerable time campaigning for their posts. In a large district, this can mean fundraising for thousands of dollars, speaking to tens of thousands of constituents, completing dozens of interviews, and networking with countless other politicians. Campaigning, at its heart, is an entrepreneurial experience. The difference is, instead of pitching a product, candidates are selling their ideas, and often more importantly, marketing themselves. The problem lies when a board member moves from tinkering in the garage to elected office.

Students suffer when politics becomes a priority. School boards become the target of voters not because of poor platforms, insufficient creativity, or lack of effort, but because of naiveté and unprofessional conduct. Our national conversation on education should include more discussion of effective school system leadership, and not just of increasing test scores and global competitiveness.

Solution: From Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!: A community conversation must be initiated on the effectiveness of the local school board. Does the school board reflect the expectations of their constituents? Do taxes reflect a positive, meticulous use of funding or are they used to pay off litigations brought forth by unfairly fired or demoted teachers? Does the board demonstrate an awareness of problems in the district? What does the relationship look like between the school board and superintendent? Does the board seem approachable? (Such was not the case in my district. When a popular teacher was demoted and humiliated due to false charges, his students and colleagues appeared at numerous board meetings to address the inequity of this demotion. Their tearful letters, unabashed accusations of unfairness and pleading for justice were met by a board void of emotions. Watching the board’s faces throughout these proceedings was comparable to viewing wax figures at a museum.)


School boards need to set expectations for their principals. Mentoring by administrators insures teachers will be able to achieve the best teaching practices. Students’ test scores should reflect only a minuscule part of the total picture when assessing the teacher. Heavy reliance on those scores discouraged many educators from continuing in the field. School board members need to advocate against the use of such scores. If board members demonstrated the same pre-election exuberance after elected, perhaps these members could affect positive change in their districts. How do they avoid, inadvertently, becoming a rubber stamp for ineffectual or bullying administrators? In other words, the community needs to vet school board candidates meticulously.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The entitled students supported by the inalienable right to complain parents.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . Make sure to sign up for my podcast (paulabaack.substack,com). If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com!

WHAT’S REALLY WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think. -Margaret Mead

Today’s educational headlines: ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE PLUMMETS (Colorado Springs Gazette); THE LOOMING CRISIS OF KIDS AND COVID (U.S. News); MASK IT OR CASKET (USA Today); TEACHERS QUIT JOBS AT HIGHEST RATE ON RECORD (Wall Street Journal)

Today’s anti-democracy headlines: A CASE AGAINST DEMOCRACY (The New Yorker); THE RISE OF WESTERN ANTI-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENTS (harvard.edu); More Than 100 Scholars Issue Warning That American Democracy Is In Danger, Call For Federal Reforms (Forbes); DEMOCRACY IS TRULY IN CRISIS (New York Times)

What’s Really Wrong with American Education: Any political ideology with an agenda to change the fabric of a democracy or re-engineer its vulnerable children (either politically or physically), should not exist in elementary through high schools.

Why the two sets of headlines? American schools have fallen from sixth (1990) to 27th in the world according to Business Insider. Research shows Covid complete shutdowns or even hybrid learning set America’s children months behind (New York Times). Why don’t these statistics stop school boards, administrators and teachers dead in their tracks?

Yet, the public school curriculum, in many cities, reflects today’s secular progressive stance on “democracy bad, socialism good.” Or this philosophy “white children bad, children of color victims” expressed through critical race theory. And then there is the mind-boggling ideology that our children, born of a gender, can alter that gender by the very least changing pronouns to the constant change of identity though gender fluidity or the finality of gender reassignment. In my final years of teaching, I experienced all three in several of my students. Perhaps if those who implement these 21st century hot topics would step back and spend more time on why our children cannot read at grade level or do simple math, the American education system might have a chance in not plummeting to the abyss.

Solution: STOP re-writing or changing historical events to please those who hate this country. STOP putting down patriotism as racist. JUST STOP referring to everything as racist! STOP allowing a few with radical ideas to set the standards for the multitudes. STOP social engineering our children and START teaching them those necessary subjects which can really guarantee them success. I’ve seen students spend a year traversing pronouns, experimenting with their sexual identity and attempting to change their DNA through gender reassignment. Those students, in my experience, suffered from depression and did not move to the head of the class in academic achievement. Instead these children were bullied, slandered and targeted by constant pressure to be “normal.” To date, I do not know how to define that word! But I do know we must stop spending so much of our educational resources on re-engineering our children (both politically, physically) and utilize the education budgets afforded to our schools to teach survival in the new world: balancing checkbooks, understanding mortgages, reading contracts, writing resumes, and in particular, allowing the negative history of our country to remain in the text books so we can continue to learn from those events, never allowing them to repeat themselves.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The stagnation of America’s school boards.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Oh, and buy my book TODAY and help a retired teacher pursue her purpose!