So it was back to school yesterday after winter vacation. I was at home putting away the Christmas decorations. During a break for a cup of coffee I spotted this op ed piece in the Baltimore Sun by Patricia Daley. Entitled "Teaching for the right reasons", it read more like a thinly-veiled warning to teachers who dare to speak out in a system that prizes controlling the message.
If you aren't behaving in the approved way, it claims, then you are teaching for the wrong reasons.
I found it deeply troubling.
Perhaps it was the appearance of this piece so close to the holidays, but I found Ms. Daley's words brought to mind the image of a certain Granville Sawyer. You remember him, don't you? Granville Sawyer is the the store psychologist in the classic holiday film, "Miracle on 34th Street".
I have never forgotten how Sawyer took the naive and generous-hearted Alfred and twisted his desire to play Santa into something sick, almost perverted.
The creepy Sawyer was also providing some freelance semi-amateur psychotherapy to Macy’s young stock boy, Alfred. Sawyer had convinced Alfred that his desire to impersonate Santa and distribute toys at the YMCA stemmed from an unresolved guilt complex and an Oedipal hatred for his father.
I do not know Ms. Daley and I have no idea what (or who) prompted her to write this piece. But I am profoundly disappointed to see someone who claims to be a teacher first and foremost use such a public forum to malign the motives and values of her fellow teachers. What an insidious theme she is elaborating upon--no overt accusations--just the planting of doubt in the minds of the community.
If they aren't behaving in the approved way, then they are teaching for the wrong reasons.
As of today the petition asking the board not to renew the superintendent's contract stands at over 1200 signers, largely parents. By Ms. Daley's logic, these people who are advocating for significant changes to the school system are "parenting for the wrong reasons." Elected officials are working on two pieces of legislation meant to address inequities in the school system. I guess Ms. Daley believes they are in "public service for the wrong reasons."
As a friend of mine said yesterday,
I don't believe that asking questions or holding opposing views or speaking up when you have negative feedback are incompatible with being a teacher "for the right reasons". Some of the best teachers I've met are as vocal about their questions and concerns as they are about their celebrations.
I wouldn't presume to suggest Ms. Daley's motives for writing this piece, but, if it was meant as an inspirational welcome-back to teachers after the winter break, I think it's safe to say it missed the mark.