Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear Time Magazine...

Dear Time Magazine,

I am furious, incensed, and irate at your November 3, 2014, cover depicting every American public school educator as a Rotten Apple and a billionaire from Silicon Valley as the savior of American public schools.

 So forgive me, if this Rotten Apple, tells you exactly what I think of your reporting since you never bothered to interview a public school teacher for your piece.

First, let me clarify what it means to be a public school educator in the United States today. Unfortunately, at college campuses around this country, they are berated by their peers for their career choice. I was told on many occasions at the University of Virginia that I was wasting my time and talent on teaching. After graduating, the Rotten Apples are then afforded what the Economic Policy Institute calls “the teaching penalty”. The EPI’s studies and those of the O.E.C.D. show that teachers earn 12% to 14% “less than other similarly educated workers” and “60% of what their peers earn.” These Rotten Apples then spend their summers attending conferences and classes, which most pay for out of their own pockets, to learn skills and knowledge to enhance the instruction their students receive when they report in the fall. They return to their classrooms in late July or early August using their own money to pay for essential supplies for themselves, for their classrooms, and for their students.

Is anyone in Silicon Valley paying for their own office supplies? I can assure you they are not.

The Rotten Apples come into work between 6:30-7:30 A.M. because most are helping students in some way before the school day ever begins. They often feed their students breakfast. They teach all day even during their planning periods. They get less than 30 minutes for lunch, and many have students with them during their lunch breaks. The Rotten Apples then work with students after school either in the classroom or out on the playing fields coaching. After a full day they go home and grade papers, prepare lesson plans for the following day, maintain an online classroom and gradebook, and answer emails. Most don’t stop until at least 10:00 P.M. The Rotten Apples do this day in and day out throughout the school year. The O.E.C.D. report indicates that “American teachers work far longer hours than their counterparts abroad.” In addition, they have now been asked by society to be counselors watching for both signs of drug use and mental health issues in their students. They buy students clothes, they provide them with meals, they purchase medicine for them, and they worry about their safety after they leave school and go home to what are often unsafe neighborhoods. In our society, they are expected to keep every student safe at school as well. How many times have we recently seen where teachers risked their lives or gave their lives for their students? These are the people you have so crassly referred to as Rotten Apples. Shame on you and shame on your magazine for doing this!

In the spring of each year, thanks to NCLB, the Rotten Apples are held to a standard in this age of high stakes testing that no other profession is held to: a 100% pass rate. If teachers are held to this standard, why wouldn’t their working peers whom we have already established are paid significantly more be held to this same standard? Let’s look at doctors and nurses, for example. According to a new study from the Journal of Patient Safety, 440,000 people per year die from preventable medical errors. In fact, this study found that medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States today.

Have you characterized doctors or nurses on your cover as Rotten Apples? You have not. Is the government setting impossible benchmarks for doctors and nurses to make to correct this problem? No, they are not. Why? Because money talks in this country. The American Medical Association spent $18,250,000 in 2013 and $15,070,000 so far in 2014 lobbying our government; in fact, they rank number 8 in terms of organizations lobbying our government for influence. The NEA isn’t even in the ball park with the AMA, as they rank 221st.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren has so aptly stated, “The system is rigged,” and it is definitely rigged against public education. In the latest Gallup poll, 75% of American parents said they were satisfied with the quality of education their child was receiving in public schools. However, the latest Gallup poll showed that only 14% of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job. Have you done a cover calling Congress Rotten Apples? Why no, you have not. In fact, I checked your covers for the last two years and not once have you said a disparaging word about Congress on your cover. Yet, the approval rating for teachers is 75%, and you have chosen to go after them. Why is that? Is it because as Gawker revealed earlier this year that your writers and editorial staff are required to “produce content that is beneficial to advertiser relationship”? So, was this attack on teachers really about pleasing advertisers and perhaps a billionaire from Silicon Valley with deep pockets as well?

You should be ashamed that you have not written about and publicized what is the civil rights issue of our generation: poverty in this country. As I was writing this response to you, JAMA Pediatrics released a study by Dr. Glenn Flores and Bruce Lesley. Some of the highlights of their study are as follows and directly quoted from there:
*Childhood poverty has reached its highest level in 20 years
*1 in 4 children lives in a food-insecure household.
*7 million children lack health insurance.
*A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds.
*1 in 3 children is overweight or obese.
*Five children are killed daily by firearms.
*1 in 5 experiences a mental disorder.
*Racial/ethnic disparities continue to be extensive and pervasive.
*Children account for 73.5 million Americans (24%), but 8% of federal expenditures.
*Child well-being in the United States has been in decline since the most recent recession.

 When schools open their doors to kindergartners, some of the most important connections in their brains have already been formed. Those in poverty have had their brains in a stressful state since birth. Moreover, they arrive on the doorsteps of school with a word deficit compared to their fellow students who did not grow up in poverty. Address poverty and students will be more prepared for school from the very start. As Ewin Chemerinsky, Dean of the School of Law at the University of California in Irvine, wrote earlier this year as they took away teacher tenure in his state, “The problem of inner-city schools is not that the dedicated teachers who work in them have too many rights, but that the students who go to them are disadvantaged in many ways, the schools have inadequate resources and the schools are surrounded by communities that are dangerous, lack essential services and are largely segregated both by race and class. Taking the modest job security accorded by tenure away from teachers will address none of these problems.” Addressing poverty as a civil rights issue will. The American public even stated in the latest Pew Research Global Attitudes Project that inequality is the greatest threat to our country and to the world.  So it seems that everyone understands this issue except for you Time Magazine and the billionaires with whom you seem to be courting favor.

Your cover infuriates me because it is an indirect attack on poor defenseless children who so desperately need these people you have characterized as Rotten Apples. For your information, most people are not reading print media any longer. They will not read your poorly written and researched article, but they will see that horrid cover depicting every American teacher as a Rotten Apple as they stand in line to get their groceries at the grocery store. And so you have perpetuated an attack on the only people left it seems in this country fighting every day to help children. In the course of the week that I wrote this response, let me tell you what my Rotten Apples did. Rotten Apple One made sure a student had the basic necessities needed to attend school. Rotten Apple Two and Three made sure a student had the proper medical care when no one in the community responded. Rotten Apple Four stood up and begged for a judge to have mercy on her student when no other adult spoke on his behalf. Take away these people, drive these kinds of educators away from teaching, discourage others from joining the teaching force, and who will fight for children today? Who on a daily basis will look after the American schoolchildren?

Marian Wright Edelman said, “If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. said so eloquently, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." I have been silent for too long. I will no longer be silent as the media attacks public education.

The real question is who will stand with me and raise your voices to protect our children?

Nancy F. Chewning
Assistant Principal

Roanoke, Virginia

469 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   401 – 469 of 469
Kimberlylshaw@ufl.edu said...

You said it.It is high time that government and Time magazine understand what it is to be a teacher. I loved teaching, I miss my students. I don't miss the political game playing with children.

Janice Pope said...

Thank you for this!

Anonymous said...

You wrote an excellent, thoughtful rebuttal on behalf of public educators everywhere! Thank you from a Fairfax County Public Schools teacher!

Anonymous said...

You give me hope that there are leaders like you who fight for their teachers . I'm only a three year old applle, but I have seen only rotten administrators who care nothing about their students or teachers. I'm less discouraged after reading this.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but each paragraph speaks to ONE topic- or point being made.... so if you "break them up into small bits" the ppl reading them would be confused about what the topics were... possibly a teacher could explain topic sentences and paragraphing ...or maybe practice reading longer passages that will increase your concentration levels.........

Anonymous said...

She wasn't talking about the article that MOST people are NOT going to read. She was addressing the message of the cover.

Anonymous said...

She DID read the article. She was not addressing the content of the article that MOST people are NOT going to read. She was addressing the message on the cover that millions of people ARE going to read.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't her point. When was the last time your profession was posted on the cover of Time magazine for not doing its job?

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put. Bravo!

The Mama said...

Thank you, Ms. Chewning, for your powerful and eloquent response.

A Rotten Apple since 1987,

Margaret

Anonymous said...

If you are unsatisfied with the curriculum at your school, blame the school board. Teachers teach what they are COMMANDED to teach, with little or no input into the regimen. Please enlighten yourself to the process!

Anonymous said...

The front page alone is enough to discourage future teachers from ever entering the profession. Many people will just want by the magazine rack and never pick up and read the magazine when the front cover states the magazine's opinion very blatantly. I am a teacher who has spent over 30 years in a profession that is the least funded and supported. I will never recommend another person to step into my shoes and quite frankly, even though I have long loved what I do, I would do something different with my life if I could go back in time and talk sense into my younger self.

Jewel E said...

Teachers have become the scapegoat for everything. Unfortunately there is an enormous breakdown of the American family. Many parents no longer know how to parent. They appease. Other families struggle to make ends meet and are mired in poverty and are barely able to put food on the table. Teachers are expected to make up for all this but sadly they can't. Most of them try and sometimes they make a difference.(That's why they still teach.)But the problems are so large and so pervasive that the public schools are drowning in many places. Teacher should not be condemned but applauded for all that they do and for all of the children they help.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nancy Chewning. I taught for 25 years and the last 9 of those in the inner city where the children need you the most. I as you said in your piece, used a lot of my own money to fund my classroom and help students in need. When I left teaching for Children's Ministry in a church, some of the hardest thoughts to over come were: I can go to the bathroom when I want, and not worry if someone was doing something wrong; I could eat lunch longer than 10 minutes and it was okay; I could eat lunch and not meet with someone too; I had developed a terrible habit of talking with food in my mouth so that I could eat and meet too; and I had office supplies that I didn't have to worry about!
I loved teaching and I love being with the children. I taught 6-8th grade PE, 7th science and coached several sports. I remember having sandwiches for my teams, taking them in my own car to games and then home because parents were too busy or didn't care or had to work. I left because of continuous budget cuts and politics.
Thank you for speaking out. There are some bad apples BUT there are more Great Apples picking up the slack and working hard.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that! THank you for such a beautiful, truthful and heartfelt response- listen up world!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, the buzz about giving parents more say in their children's education is only a tactic being used by folks who seek to privatize education and use your tax payer dollars to start a business - that just happens to be a school. The way they would personalize your curriculum would be something like putting your child in front of a computer and with "trainers' to help them through it. PRofessional teachers of today would be gone. Teachers do not choose curriculum, by the way. It is your state government and your school board and your curriculum directors that make decisions about what your child learns. And, what your child learns is never supposed to have any political leanings - one way or another. Is teaching children to be kind to one another while expecting them to treat others equally and share what you consider an introduction into socialism?

Anonymous said...

Thank you!!!!

Ms H said...

It is time for teachers to find their voice and stand up for ourselves and our students. Thank you for being an example of how to stand up and speak out on issues that matter.

Anonymous said...

I cannot agree further. I too am a Rotten Apple -- and I feed my students out of my own pocket before every test and anytime they are hungry they can go into my storage closet and get food. I buy my own office supplies, I get there early to help students and I stay late to grade papers and reply to emails. I am one of the Rotten Apples that she so accurately describes. I am responding because I am taking a class on Poverty and Its Effects on Education. I MUST RECOMMEND that ANYONE who wants to UNDERSTAND HOW GENERATIONAL POVERTY AFFECTS OUR (beautiful, worthy, behind-from-before-they-even-get-started) STUDENTS should read a book by Ruby Payne titled "A framework for understanding poverty" (Payne, Ruby K. (2005). ISBN: 978-1-929229-48-2 (4th edition)). It is the textbook for our class and it is fascinating/eye-opening/heart-breaking. She has done the research and everything that this article says is supported by research.

Rotten Apple, Vicki

Goodbyeandkeepcold said...

Teachers have no say over curriculum. Did you know that? Teachers have no part in deciding if Greek and Latin will be taught, or whether instruction will be bilingual. These are determined by school boards and legislators, who are often parents, and almost never teachers.
In 1914, a century ago, teachers needed to be 16 years old. Most had no college education, because it wasn't required that they know anything beyond what they would teach, which was a basic eighth grade education. This they hoped students would learn by age sixteen, if students stayed that long. They did not teach trigonometry or calculus, because those were higher education courses at that time. Even algebra and geometry were rare. A century ago, only expensive private schools taught Greek and Latin. Most public schools taught enough English that people could count their pay and read written instructions from their employer, which was the point of education at the time. They were not preparing most students for college. Most students went to work by the age of sixteen. They had families by eighteen, and the life expectancy was around fifty. I, for one, do not think that returning to the education system of a century ago would be beneficial.
I'm sorry that you included the comment about misplaced commas. Your comment reads, "PS, the misplaced comma in your second paragraph is an embarrassing illustration of the problem." I assume your misplaced comma and lack of correct punctuation is also an embarrassment? The correct punctuation is as follows.
P.S. The abbreviation P.S. stands for post script, from the Latin 'post scriptum', meaning 'after writing'. The letter P and the letter S are each followed by a period because they are abbreviations, and the first word in a post script message always begins with a capital letter because it is, hopefully, the beginning of a sentence.
Does the phrase, "Pot calling the kettle black", ring a bell?




Goodbyeandkeepcold said...

Teachers have no say over curriculum. Did you know that? Teachers have no part in deciding if Greek and Latin will be taught, or whether instruction will be bilingual. These are determined by school boards and legislators, who are often parents, and almost never teachers.
In 1914, a century ago, teachers needed to be 16 years old. Most had no college education, because it wasn't required that they know anything beyond what they would teach, which was a basic eighth grade education. This they hoped students would learn by age sixteen, if students stayed that long. They did not teach trigonometry or calculus, because those were higher education courses at that time. Even algebra and geometry were rare. A century ago, only expensive private schools taught Greek and Latin. Most public schools taught enough English that people could count their pay and read written instructions from their employer, which was the point of education at the time. They were not preparing most students for college. Most students went to work by the age of sixteen. They had families by eighteen, and the life expectancy was around fifty. I, for one, do not think that returning to the education system of a century ago would be beneficial.
I'm sorry that you included the comment about misplaced commas. Your comment reads, "PS, the misplaced comma in your second paragraph is an embarrassing illustration of the problem." I assume your misplaced comma and lack of correct punctuation is also an embarrassment? The correct punctuation is as follows.
P.S. The abbreviation P.S. stands for post script, from the Latin 'post scriptum', meaning 'after writing'. The letter P and the letter S are each followed by a period because they are abbreviations, and the first word in a post script message always begins with a capital letter because it is, hopefully, the beginning of a sentence.
Does the phrase, "Pot calling the kettle black", ring a bell?




Goodbyeandkeepcold said...

Teachers have no say over curriculum. Did you know that? Teachers have no part in deciding if Greek and Latin will be taught, or whether instruction will be bilingual. These are determined by school boards and legislators, who are often parents, and almost never teachers.
In 1914, a century ago, teachers needed to be 16 years old. Most had no college education, because it wasn't required that they know anything beyond what they would teach, which was a basic eighth grade education. This they hoped students would learn by age sixteen, if students stayed that long. They did not teach trigonometry or calculus, because those were higher education courses at that time. Even algebra and geometry were rare. A century ago, only expensive private schools taught Greek and Latin. Most public schools taught enough English that people could count their pay and read written instructions from their employer, which was the point of education at the time. They were not preparing most students for college. Most students went to work by the age of sixteen. They had families by eighteen, and the life expectancy was around fifty. I, for one, do not think that returning to the education system of a century ago would be beneficial.
I'm sorry that you included the comment about misplaced commas. Your comment reads, "PS, the misplaced comma in your second paragraph is an embarrassing illustration of the problem." I assume your misplaced comma and lack of correct punctuation is also an embarrassment? The correct punctuation is as follows.
P.S. The abbreviation P.S. stands for post script, from the Latin 'post scriptum', meaning 'after writing'. The letter P and the letter S are each followed by a period because they are abbreviations, and the first word in a post script message always begins with a capital letter because it is, hopefully, the beginning of a sentence.
Does the phrase, "Pot calling the kettle black", ring a bell?



Anne Kail said...

Absolutely beautifully stated. Teachers are a unique breed of human, and you describe the extent to which they care for their students so well. But alas, we are not miracle workers. Sometimes the only part of the gift that is absorbed is the love. But oh how important that spark of love is...sometimes it is the one very little thing that makes the very big difference. Sometimes long after we will ever get to see. And it won't save a job, because it won't show up on the test scores. It's a real dilemma, when they have to find someone to blame for not working a miracle!

Anonymous said...

After dedicating 33 years to public education, I had to throw in the towel. Until we begin to value teachers and the educational system, we will see the decline of the profession.

Julie E Jencks said...

Thank you Nancy, for representing me and every student I have taught. I wonder what percentage of Time Magazine writers go to visit their subscribers in the hospital, throw parties for each subscriber's birthday, send cards for the personal accomplishments of their subscribers and write every article as if it is the last their subscriber may read not knowing who will be stable enough or live long enough to re-subscribe the following year. Thirty five years of teaching is about 7000 birthday parties alone. Think about it Time Magazine, how many teachers have honored you children for things you never knew about. I gave an academic achievement award to one of your students just the other day. I hope I do not have to go to her funeral, too.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I taught in a parent participation school. I only lasted one year. Three different philosophies ... no way I could ever make all three groups happy. Someone has to make a decision (and it actually is not the teachers who get to do that).

Anonymous said...

I never understood the plight of a public school teacher until I watched Season 4 of The Wire. It is a fictional show, but perfectly portrays every argument you have made in your letter.

Cara TaylorSteele said...

This is beautifully and assertively written. I am so, so thankful for this letter and for the wisdom, passion, and professionalism you put into it. THANK YOU!

Cara
First Grade Teacher
Columbia, Missouri

Frank Krasicki said...

While I wholeheartedly support teachers (my wife is one and I have spent time teaching as well), I find these kinds of responses to be profoundly misguided and they only infuriate people who work outside of unionized government or teaching.

People in the free market economy DO lose their jobs and employers need not have any reason for it. None. Worse still many workers in the free economy lose benefits or wind up paying more for benefits than their salary increase (assuming there is one) covers.

Statistically, over the past many decades, teacher and government salaries have rarely ever been reduced. During that time, American free market workers and their families have taken massive economic losses, lost jobs, benefits, careers, opportunities, and more. Veteran teacher's careers, incomes, and security allow them to live like bubble citizens, immune from insecurity or citizen sacrifice.

The idea that teachers earn less than their free market peers is selective fiction. Their free market peers are often unemployed, under-employed, or on their way to one or the other fate. Do some of the fortunate few earn a dollar or two more - that may be true. Do they enjoy the security, benefits, or pensions of the teaching profession? No.

As a Board of Education member I can assure you I have yet to see a teacher walk out on teaching because their lot in life will be better elsewhere. Wrap this argument up in all the platitudes you like, it just isn't a whole truth.

I can also assure you that free-market employees often not only pay for their own office supplies but spend countless personal hours keeping up with technology and get no automatic step increase in pay for doing so.

Teachers like doctors are a profession. Doctors who are incompetent lose their license to practice. Lawyers get disbarred. And teachers? The teacher unions still act as if unionism is a protection racket instead of a profession that needs to exercise an ethical responsibility to ensure its membership maintains professional integrity. To deny that there are no bad apples in any profession is a fools errand. Why the pretense and indignation?

And the argument that teachers are expected to be perfect is wholesale fiction. NCLB and RTTT became legislated with the nod and disingenuous aid of the teacher's unions who were cutting political deals with the scum whose obvious ambitions were to poison public education. Teachers played along without protest because nobody was rocking their boat. Newly hired teachers have no power and the veteran teaching staff were well on their way out leaving this generation a corrupted and vacant shell of what's left.

Finally, the "we're standing up for children" platitudes ring false when teacher unions promote work environments in which teachers have no obligation whatsoever to promote the well-being of children, better pedagogy, or continuous self-improvement.

NCLB and RTTT and dozens of other dubious and self-serving pieces of legislation pass without so much as a legal whimper from teacher unions as to how caustic that legislation will be on the lives of children.

Teachers unions unequivocally have stated that children don't pay union dues and therefore count for nothing more than political pawns.

Nobody protects children in this country. They are treated like potential terrorists, roughed up like hardened criminals, drugged, labeled, locked up, monitored, and experimented on as if they were rodents. Teachers who should know better and who should protect children, long ago abdicated any such role.

Arguments like these are quaint and nostalgic and good apple teachers are as hard to find as bad apples.

Anonymous said...

In my experience so far this first year as a public school mom, the teachers and staff are awesome!! Based on what I heard about curriculum, I was nervous as first. However, I noticed some parents don't send snacks with their kindergartener even after repeated reminders in the sent home newsletter. Teacher had to buy snacks out of their own pocket for the hungry children. Some parents don't donate materials for classroom special events or parents don't volunteer their time when possible. Parents need to do their part!

Anonymous said...

that has been my quandary as well, Christina.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of being silent too! Shame on Time! I also plan to encourage teachers to stop using Time for Kids also. I don't want to promote anything from Time.

Anonymous said...

I taught for 38 years at my alma mater Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach Florida. I had over 11,000 students sit before me. I have written and could write thousands of pages more about my comments regarding the students that sat before me. I was our local paper's "The Palm Beach Post" Letters to the Editor letter writer of the year in 2009. This summary of we "rotten apples "appearing in Time Magazine is an insult to me and to most all of my associates who have dedicated their lives to helping kids do better. As an dedicated educator professional I just shake my head at the incredible lack of investigating that went into the writing of this article. Needless to say, the author/s of this article never talked to the people/dedicated teachers in the trench's of their opinions of how to rectify the lack of education in the schools of our country. Every teacher in this country is like an engineer let's say building a car. Each part of the assembly line has an improved/not improved assembly of the final product. Each assembled product has a multitude of raw parts (In regards to a human; parenting or lack there of, life experiences good and bad, their TV and computer viewing time, ad infinitum.) If a teacher or an engineer building a car receives an inferior part for the vehicle then the end result is an inferior product. In the real engineering world corporations can be sued and subject to government rules and standards to correct the poor quality of the final product. The teachers in our country must be subject to articles like "We are rotten apples."
How many times must the dedicated teachers of our country be humiliated, insulted, and confronted by powerful political and journalistic individuals that have no idea of what they are talking about.

Harry Winkler

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I guess you failed reading in college. Rotten Apples are the 20% of the 80/20 rule. Not the 80% of good and great teachers. 20% of the rotten apples in any line of work or business ruins it for the 80%. You know the 20%. Not right for the job, use drugs, emotionally and sexually abuse kids, lazy, go thru the motions, hanging on for more retirement money... Those jerks that sit in rubber rooms on full pay protected by the union thugs who are really organized crime. Grow up and if you were a man, I'd tell you to grow a pair. BTW, you choose this profession, so if it's that bad, you have a college degree go get a job in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, you must not have read the article or are thinned skinned. The issue is "It is nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher" Those are the bad apples. The union is run by extortionist thugs living in the 60's & 70's. Your far left politics comes out in those politicians you quote, issues you use as excuses... I read your entire response. Not once did you address why bad teachers are not fired after getting 1 chance to prove and redeem themselves. I see lots of diversionary topics like pay, attacks on administrators, why don't we attack other professions... The 80/20 rule applies in every aspect of life.In this case, the bottom 20% of teachers and administrators are 80% of the problem. The top 20% of the students get 80% of the scholarship money. See the point or don't you? Google NYC teachers/rubber room and see what infuriates us!

John Church said...

(part 1) As a newly retired (42 years) Rotten Apple, the following are my observations and my opinion of the weakening of the American public education system which includes the "regurgitated...hatred of teachers." First, I have seen many of the public become apathetic towards the welfare of the public education system in our country yet demand that the very school they criticize or ignore carry out many of the responsibilities that should be on the parents' shoulders: feeding the children, dressing them, taking care of them when ill or hurt. Also, parents have so many choices now for their child's education including but not exclusive to home schooling, charter schools, parochial schools, on-line schooling as well as the public school. (Sadly, some of these other choices do NOT meet the rigors of a good public school system where a child is with a professional teacher who has been trained to provide the high standards and benchmarks demanded by the government.) Too many choices. In my opinion, the American government at the state and federal levels has a docket to remove public schools from the state and federal bank roll by privatizing its employees. National testing of students is a financial waste of funding; a national test does not show anything about that individual child. Every child will learn but they do N OT learn the same thing at the same rate and the same time. Likewise due to voter apathy, school districts will now be forced to DECREASE the salaries of teachers to balance their district's budget, to make up for lost revenue from failed bond issues for instance. Imagine a business doing this to its employees and expecting even more from the employees, why should anyone especially new teachers want to work in that unsupported environment? Likewise, in my opinion, public education has been stereotyped as a second not primary job; the teacher is usually portrayed as a female probably married even though there are many men that teach as well. This position is not considered the bread winner. It is considered to be a part time job, rather than the person being the bread winner for the family who would not be a teacher but someone earning a higher salary. I have spent hundreds of dollars on my students over the years, yes feeding them, purchasing supplies for them while some of their parents go out and buy personal, in some cases selfish, items not necessary but with that money could have provided their child with a better life.

John Church said...

(Part 2, I wonder where the part 1 went?) Many parents are giving up their rights as parents relying on the public school system to provide what they have at times fail to do for their child. This is not the majority of parents that do provide for their kids, like making brown bag lunches and make sacrifices for their kids but these folks that I describe as parents do exist. It is easier to blame the teacher for the student's failings. Some parents do not provide a place where the student can do homework nor do they provide the support from home to make sure the student IS doing their homework. It is easier to blame a teacher when the child is expected to work, is expected to play sports and use that time as an excuse for not doing school work or for doing well. Likewise, it is wonderful to hear a politician stand up and lambast the public education system of the United States, it’s popular, people pay attention and if the negative comments are in print in a magazine like Time magazine or on the internet then it must be true!!! Lawyers and Doctors do take exams to get their degree, a national test for teacher competency would be in order but the salary of those teachers should be directly proportional to the high salaries earned by those very lawyers and doctors that do pass their exams. (It is hard to get rid of a bad lawyer and a bad doctor too.) Public education with parent support is the BEST WAY to educate all of our children. Children need to be together to grow together, to problem solve together, to work as a team, to be a team player, to socialize together, to communicate, and to learn how to work with other people globally. Students need to learn a hard work ethic so they can earn what they need and make good choices financially not just be given everything under the sun by their parents or in some cases guardians or grandparents just because everyone else has one of these contraptions or cars or whatever is the most popular item at the time. Isolated by the very nature of the alternate means of education and the intensive use of technology without the experience of hands on thinking, too many choices is slowly eroding the American work force. How many contractors (another great form of "teacher") out there cannot find young people to step up and become apprentices and learn the skills to earn a basic wage and to carry on that job once the contractor retires as well. Many students want everything now, wages, cars and a life to be given to them by someone else and not earned on their own. What is happening to the "American Dream?" Reading what I have just said I know there are exceptions from many wonderful parents out there but many of my observations I have witnessed. Thank you, America, for allowing me the privilege to express my opinion on this topic. I want to thank all of the Rotten Apples out there for the unselfish love you give your students each and every day. And to you, the reader of my opinion, thank you.

Shelley Jennings said...

Thank you so very much, Nancy for your outstanding rebuttal! I have shared it with every teacher and friend I know. I was so angry and hurt when I saw the cover and then read the article. I am glad you were able to harness your anger sufficiently to write your outstanding essay.
thank you again,
Shelley L. Jennings
Teacher, Arlington, VA

Anonymous said...

As a current student of Mrs. Chewnings, I can honestly say that the public school teachers are not given enough credit for their work. They are some of the bravest people I will ever have the pleasure of knowing. Not only do teachers do so much for us, they care for us as people, not just pupils. In my high school years, I have seen these "Rotten Apples" being emotional supporters, strong holds, and friends to students who not only need help academically, but on personal levels. Rotten Apple #1 was a huge support to fellow students and myself during the loss of a student this year. Rotten Apple #2 has stayed after school with me until almost 6:00 to study for SAT’s and ACT’s, all the while being very helpful to me in college selection and application. Rotten Apple #3 and #4 have provided me a space where I may take a breather and talk about outside of school problems. Apple #5 has been a counselor to me, and after her supplies for her curriculum have been taken away, she still is able to give a smile and tell us it’s alright. These Rotten Apples have done more for me and my future than I could ever repay them, but calling them Rotten Apples should never have been a title for them. I call them heroes, mentors, leaders, and teachers. Put that in your magazine.

Anonymous said...

Please read what Frank Krasicki said.

Anonymous said...

I have some issues with this article, but I want to highlight the main few. For clarification, before I begin, none of this is meant to be offensive, but rather a civil discussion.
To begin, you are not a student. You have not been a student for years. The article is about teachers who hinder a child's education. And let me say, as a student, they're everywhere. I'm currently a student, in your school system, and it's horrifying. I once tried to tell the "guidance" of bullying, and they said they could not do anything because it was word of mouth. What happened to the no bullying policy?
Your first example was with colleges. Colleges are not, in any way, a public school. Your argument is immediately invalid. Colleges are not public schools.
If you read a "new Jersey mother's response to Time Magazine” she talks of her son's autism, and how he was verbally abused by his teaching staff. I hear the educators of these people at our school yell at those children. I pass them every day on the way to math. The scream, no, shriek, "April!!! Don't touch him!!!!!" They use force and are not at all civil to the human beings. I will repeat, the educators of these people are not at all civil, they treat the children like disobedient dogs. But when you come to evaluate them, they act on their best behavior. Some of my teachers have done it. It's honestly disgusting and saddening. I say none of this as a jab or barb, but you are more so inclined to your opinions because you're a teacher, and I am a student. Please see my side. The point of the article is to get children a proper education, and I can assure you the special ed children are not getting it. One of my teachers treated her general kids as if they were dumb, and it's so harmful to one's self confidence. I'm an AP/collegebound student, but do you know how awful it is to believe you're stupid because you failed a test because you, "didn't study hard enough" and sacrificed sleep just to fail? Do you know how degrading it is to be in a general math class because "you're stupid"? No I'm not, I do not just understand math. Stop treating me so pathetically.
You've stated, "They have now been asked by society to be counselors watching for both signs of drug use and mental health issues in their students. They buy students clothes, they provide them with meals, and they purchase medicine for them"
I have not, in my eleven years of my "education", had a teacher care about my mental health. The kids who do drugs are treated are not treated as humans who make mistakes. I haven't had a teacher buy clothing for students, Mrs. Sink the exception because she is passionate about women and children at shelters (?, please correct me if I'm wrong, it's probably a wrong word choice, I'm not sure is "shelter" is the correct term.) I haven't even heard of teachers purchasing medicine, and I don't see any sources. Food? That's certainly a possibility, but not medicine.

Anonymous said...

I have not, in my eleven years of my "education", had a teacher care about my mental health. The kids who do drugs are treated are not treated as humans who make mistakes. I haven't had a teacher buy clothing for students, Mrs. Sink the exception because she is passionate about women and children at shelters (?, please correct me if I'm wrong, it's probably a wrong word choice, I'm not sure is "shelter" is the correct term.) I haven't even heard of teachers purchasing medicine, and I don't see any sources. Food? That's certainly a possibility, but not medicine.
In your poll stated, it says that "75% of parents are satisfied with public education". That's parents, not students. Students are the ones at stake, not parents. And as for your statistics on this, "*Childhood poverty has reached its highest level in 20 years
*1 in 4 children lives in a food-insecure household.
*7 million children lack health insurance.
*A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds.
*1 in 3 children is overweight or obese.
*Five children are killed daily by firearms.
*1 in 5 experiences a mental disorder.
*Racial/ethnic disparities continue to be extensive and pervasive.
*Children account for 73.5 million Americans (24%), but 8% of federal expenditures.
*Child well-being in the United States has been in decline since the most recent recession.",
it's ridiculous, and the only thing I can think of against it is, "why isn't the school doing anything?" Because I do not think it is. I truly do not think it is.
Next point, this one I love. " For your information, most people are not reading print media any longer. They will not read your poorly written and researched article, but they will see that horrid cover depicting every American teacher as a Rotten Apple as they stand in line to get their groceries at the grocery store. "
You've contradicted yourself. If people don't read print, why are they reading it in line at the grocery store? I do not understand, I apologize.
You say, "The real question is who will stand with me and raise your voices to protect our children?" Honestly, I do not understand this.
You mention doctors and nurses aren't compared to "Rotten Apples". Of course they can't be compared, they are much different practices that have nothing at all in common!
Not every teacher is a "rotten apple", and I acknowledge this. However, the ones that are rotten apples, you don't seem to acknowledge. It's like saying, "not everyone's like that". But there are a good majority that are like that and that need to be sought out.
You say, "Your cover infuriates me because it is an indirect attack on poor defenseless children". Yes, and these children cannot learn in such a harmful, hurtful, degrading, inhumane environment. We're defenseless because the school system has not taught us to think for ourselves.
You act is if there is not on bad teacher. What about the pedophile cases? The "carve deeper"? The "you're an idiot"?

Once more, none of this was meant to be offensive. But what you said was harmful, and it saddens me that you cannot see that there are problems in our school system. I'm treated poorly because I'm not as smart as some children in my AP class, but in my college bound classes I'm treated poorly because I'm automatically "stupid."

David said...

I have two daughters in high school. They are excellent students, work hard, consistently do their homework, and have plans to attend college. They are active in sports, go to class regularly, and never get in trouble. I showed them both the Time magazine article. While they didn't understand the Value Added section, they both said it was about time that something was done to the teachers who come to class unprepared and who put little effort into teaching them. Then I showed them the response article, and they both immediately said that it didn't have anything to do with the Time magazine article. The big response from both of them came when I showed them the blog posts. I won't give specifics of their response, because it would only anger those who have already written in anger about the Time article. Suffice it to say that my daughters do not have an experience that remotely resembles what so many teachers have written. They do have teachers who are dedicated at their work. But they also have teachers who come to class unprepared, teach via handouts, refuse to interrupt their "lecture" to answer questions, leave as soon as the final bell, etc. In fact, in their school, the latter make up the majority of their teachers, in their opinion. My daughters, who have high aspirations, endure the boredom of school. So all of you teachers who are writing in with indignation - you are ignoring the existence of "Rotten Apple" teachers just as clearly as you believe (wrongly) that Time magazine is labeling ALL of you as "Rotten Apples". And so, the fingers get pointed, and all the while, my daughters, and many many other public school students, are enduring their education. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

This wasn't written very professionally. Mrs. Chewning, as a student at your school, I'd like to politely point out that none of what you mentioned was in the actual article. I suggest you read it.
And you can't compare doctors and nurses to teachers, they're a different profession. Your argument in there is not acceptable.
Colleges are not public schools. You can't use that argument either.
I have not had a teacher at our school once ask me if I was okay.
You don't present a valid counterargument to the one in TIME magazine.It's saddening.
If you read the article you would know that this is about bad teachers, not all teachers. Since you work n the business, you should KNOW there are bad teachers.
You say we're defenseless and whatnot. We wouldn't be so if we were taught correctly. I'm restating what I already have in a previous comment after it came to my attention it was not worded nicely. I apologize. But this needs to be brought to attention that you must live by stereotypes, that the kids are the weeds, not the teachers. Maybe we wouldn't be such "weeds" or "delinquents" or "stupid" if you didn't treat us like such. I've had multiple teachers that have, despite being in higher level classes and I've even seen some of my educators shriek or yell at students. They don't imply that they're stupid, the straight up tell them. And it's the effect it has on the mental health that shatters my heart the most.
- A hurt AP student.

Long-time educator said...

What makes me so very angry is that none of the people who "bash" the so-called "rotten apples" EVER offer to shadow a teacher or administrator for any length of time, especially those who are in our government. I have invited congress members to come and spend a month, a week or even a day in the life of a teacher or school administrator. The time, expertise, money, etc. that we spend trying to get through and teach our students as well as deal with all of the other outside factors beyond out control is unending. We have no control over the students we get, yet we get blamed for their apathy, their appalling behavior and total insubordination, then get sued because we did not reach them. What happened to working together to raise our children? "It takes an entire community to raise a child" used to be the mantra. Now, it's a blame game. Shame on you, Time Magazine for only looking at one side and kowtowing to the almighty dollar. You should be ashamed!

Anonymous said...

A century ago a only a small percentage of people even made it to high school let alone graduated. In the 70s when I was in high school it was expected that many students would drop out at 16 to go to work. And as for immigrants magically learning the language in a few months, the actual statistic are 5-7 years before an English language learner has academic language proficiency beyond social conversation. I'm sure somewhere in this response is an extra comma, I hope I can recover from the embarrassment. BTW I believe it is P.S. not PS, shame...

Donata Fulgione said...

God bless you....I taught in nyc for 31 years and I fear for our profession.. I have never seen such animosity in the media before towards my colleagues. Unrealistic expectations of teachers and NO expectations of society, politicians. I am retired now, but I loved teaching. And yes, I did buy sneakers for a student when I saw him playing in a muddy field with gigantic holes in his shoes. I did make Thanksgiving dinner (with all the trimmings) along with my colleagues for all our classes.....and I did it joyfully. It fed me....that's why this political agenda is very cynical, and a poorly disguised attack on teacher's unions. Where would we be without our union????? Imagine...

Anonymous said...

When a football player is paid more than a teacher, there is something wrong with this picture. America thinks more of entertainment than they do of educating their children.

Lynds said...

I think this conversation has been had thousands of times already. Everyone gets that teachers sacrifice. The problem isn't that we don't get thanked enough or that magazines criticize us on their covers. The problem is that we allow ourselves to be underpaid and undervalued.

http://paintbynumberparents.blogspot.com/2014/11/undervaluing-teachers-and-women.html

MKiwi said...

Well stated. We need more administrators and educators like you to stand up for teachers, especially when so many teachers feel afraid to speak up against the system. I'm currently a student teacher at a high-needs school, and even though the teachers support each other, the administration creates a toxic environment with the constant evaluations, micromanagement, and general belittling.

Our government agencies come up with things like NCLB and Goals 2000, which try to show the world that USA is number one in everything. These policies do little more than inflate the egos of those in office and punish teachers, students and families for circumstances that are beyond their control.

As a student teacher, I'm starting to see the harm that NCLB has done and am inspired to fight back against these asinine laws. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

MKiwi said...

Well stated. We need more administrators and educators like you to stand up for teachers, especially when so many teachers feel afraid to speak up against the system. I'm currently a student teacher at a high-needs school, and even though the teachers support each other, the administration creates a toxic environment with the constant evaluations, micromanagement, and general belittling.

Our government agencies come up with things like NCLB and Goals 2000, which try to show the world that USA is number one in everything. These policies do little more than inflate the egos of those in office and punish teachers, students and families for circumstances that are beyond their control.

As a student teacher, I'm starting to see the harm that NCLB has done and am inspired to fight back against these asinine laws. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

MKiwi said...

Well stated. We need more administrators and educators like you to stand up for teachers, especially when so many teachers feel afraid to speak up against the system. I'm currently a student teacher at a high-needs school, and even though the teachers support each other, the administration creates a toxic environment with the constant evaluations, micromanagement, and general belittling.

Our government agencies come up with things like NCLB and Goals 2000, which try to show the world that USA is number one in everything. These policies do little more than inflate the egos of those in office and punish teachers, students and families for circumstances that are beyond their control.

As a student teacher, I'm starting to see the harm that NCLB has done and am inspired to fight back against these asinine laws. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Melissa C. said...

Well stated. We need more administrators and educators like you to stand up for teachers, especially when so many teachers feel afraid to speak up against the system. I'm currently a student teacher at a high-needs school, and even though the teachers support each other, the administration creates a toxic environment with the constant evaluations, micromanagement, and general belittling.

Our government agencies come up with things like NCLB and Goals 2000, which try to show the world that USA is number one in everything. These policies do little more than inflate the egos of those in office and punish teachers, students and families for circumstances that are beyond their control.

As a student teacher, I'm starting to see the harm that NCLB has done and am inspired to fight back against these asinine laws. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Anonymous said...

As a retired principal, I fully understand your position on this matter. You have written well and hit the nail on the head for the teaching profession and student care. A frustration for an administrator is the fact that it is mostly impossible to remove a slacking teacher that is really not doing his or her job in the classroom. In my experience, teachers are protected when they should be removed and replaced with a dedicated person. Years of tenure should never stand in the way of removing the less desirable teacher. Nor should a union be forced to stand up for that person at all costs. This is happening and is a disparage for improving education at all levels. A problem in education that needs repair.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should hold your school's administrators to a higher standard and require that they stand up for the students by working to remove the teachers who are not educating students as they should. That is part of their job.

blogger.com/comment.do said...

My Granddaughter sent your article to me. I haven't read the original article that prompted your response, but I don't really have to since I thoroughly agree that teachers are not thought of very well and are very underpaid for their time even though "they get 3 months off in the summer". which I always hear when ever I mention how underpaid my Granddaughter is. I know the true story of the required continuing education classes and the long hours throughout the school year. In the 81 years that I have lived I have seen the plight of school teachers go down hill and it is a wonder that there are still young people who are willing to take on the job. I truly believe that she was born to be a teacher and I'm sure she is not the only one.
So what is to be done? Maybe teacher originations need Press Secretaries to get the word out. There are 456 comments here that are mostly favorable. Can your article, complete with comments, be sent to State and Federal Congresses.
Needless to say I am very proud of my Granddaughter. But what is to be done?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderful letter. I just wanted everyone to know that after teaching for 29 years in an urban high school setting, I don't consider myself a "rotten apple". I think American teachers are mom's apple pie. I'm apple pie. What about you?

Annonymous

N Watkins said...

Dear Ms. Chewning,
Your response to Time Magazine's article was spot on. Many of the things you wrote brought tears to my eyes. It described things that many of my rotten apple co-workers & I do ALL year.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy & extremely hectic schedule to speak on the behalf of all rotten apples & the students we teach.

I was incensed & offended with Time's cover. I signed the petition & wrote a lengthy comment. When I saw Time's cover all I could think about was ALL the things I do as a public school teacher in an urban environment. Once again my feelings were hurt by someone who doesn't understand, or, refuses to understand what we do. I am so FRUSTRATED, ANNOYED & ANGERED with the constant disrespect showed to rotten apples. I am a hard-working professional!!! Thank you for the thorough explanation & the comparison of our profession to others.

I will stand with you & raise my voice. I've been raising my voice for my students for years.

Thank you again. It's wonderful to know that there are people like you who are courageous enough to speak up during this age of the 'witch hunt'.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article! My husband is a public school principal in a very low income title I school. He works incredibly long hours and does an amazing job with almost no resources at his disposal. We spend our own VERY limited family income to pay for the lunches, haircuts, and supplies for high poverty kids. We use our own money to take teachers out to lunch so they feel appreciated and loved. I wish more people understood the incredible complexity of what goes on in schools, as you do. Because, of course, there are really bad teachers out there. But even working in a rural community that pays 6K less a year than the county five minutes down the road, the vast majority of our teachers are loving, dedicated, and effective. Schools are NOT the source of the problem... poverty and inequity in school funding are the problem. Thanks for the work you do!

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Anonymous said...

You are so right. I've been retired for 20+ years because I had a work related stress induced heart attact in 1992. I miss teaching and the kids. I loved it, and I was good at it because I went the extra distance, like so many others I know.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful support for teachers. As a parent and teacher, I hear from the parents about teachers and am apalled by what they say, basically "Don't say anything about my child he/she is perfect -- it is the teacher who is the problem, who can not teach." Yet the same teacher can teach my child as well as the other 18 children in the same classroom.

Cindy Piersol said...

I really appreciated the remarks by one person who said the Republicans are trying to ruin public education for their own advantage. Strange, because public education used to be thought of with pride as part of democracy. I also like the comment on tenure, that all it does is guarantee due process. I note from the comments that a lot of misplaced anger has been stirred up against teachers.

Anonymous said...

Well said

Anonymous said...

Even though I don't know what the article was about, I have one thing to say to all the teachers in the non-Silicon Valley world out there...I don't think you all are well-appreciated for what you all do. I see it day in and day out how you all are with your students. I'm just an aide and I gotta hand it to you guys. You all know what you're doing. I send my appreciation and gratitude to you all. And Nancy Chewning: I love what you said in your article to Time magazine. I wish I had the guts to do what you did. Way to go!

Mr. Joyce said...

Thank you so much for this letter. Wow, your only blog post and it garnered 466 comments. Obviously impacted quite a few people that read it. You didn't even mention the ridiculous disparity between politicians pay and teachers pay. Absolutely disgusting.

Ken Rohrs-MS Science for 48 years and still going. said...

I didn't go into teaching for the money. I have been teaching for 48 years, and still going. Every day is a joy and I love it. It is also hard work starting at 7:30 and ending at 5:00. Then you take work home for evenings and weekends. Teachers can't attend events and meetings during the day. You can't just walk out on the students. Business people can have evening events during the week because they dont start work at 7:30 AM. So a good teacher needs to love what they do.

I often wonder if society view the products-commodieities (i.e. children) on a lower scale. Society suffers when you pay (less) for what it needs. teachers are paid a lower wage than other professions because society doesn't value the "commodities" of our "business". I don't understand why people do not put more resources and political and emotional support into valuing our product - the education of our children (the "commodity or product" of the industry of education). Aren't educated children the most valuable things a country or the world has for our future (survival)?

rod3357 said...

The teachers union is NOT that strong or teachers would make more

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