Thursday, March 26, 2009

For the President of the United States....

I have been writing on this cyber blackboard about teachers and their teaching since January.  It is primarily for teachers--meant to be a pat on the back.  As I said initially I like teachers, even though I may disagree with some and I have yet to find a bad teacher.  Let's face it, for the salary that most teachers get, if they didn't like to teach they would get out of education and do something else.

Actually, the research backs this up.  The first year of teaching is the most stressful.  Makes sense.  You don't know what you are doing and you have a class claiming your attention 100 percent of the time.  The second year, according to the research is the sickest.  You begin to relax a bit and catch every known bug the kids have--this holds for all grades through high school.  The third year is the most frustrating.  By now the young teacher knows what he/she wants to accomplish but hasn't got all the tricks and knowledge of how to do it.  If a teacher goes beyond three years they are probably going to stay in the profession.  That is what the research says.  Most people if they are unhappy in their teaching position quit by the third year.  In another blog entry I'll tell you about a kindergarden teacher that quit on the third day.  Yes, day.

But the rest of this blog posting is especially for President Obama.

I am, according to your own e-mails one of the first one hundred thousand who signed up to support you.  And I was with you at the end.  In a sense I was with you at the very beginning for I've been to the Punahau school in Honolulu.  I lived in Hawaii for several years.  I know the school.  While I might disagree with you about somethings, I understand the word "compromise" that goes with give and take in politics.  But I don't compromise when it comes to children and young adults.

I listened to the questions and your answers on the Town Hall segment this morning on television.  I followed closely with your answers.  The lady who asked that nurses be involved in the healthcare issue was right on and your answer which included how many nurses have helped your family through sickness and health was also right on.  And of course, you will have nurses included in the development of the healthcare plan for American.  Right!  

Then someone asked you about what you are going to do about education.  And the first thing you did was asked "How many of you know a teacher that you wouldn't want your child in that classroom--let me see your hands!"  Quite frankly, I am pissed, Mr. Obama.  That wasn't presidential, intelligent or smart.  Can you define to me what a "poor teacher" looks like or acts like?  I doubt it.  Your children go to a private school--I know it to be a good one.  You went to a private school.  I really suspect that if you came home when you were young and told your grandmother that you had a bad teacher, she would have said, "Get to work on your homework."  

Given the fact that we have several million teachers in the United States in the K-12 grades I will accept the fact that there may be some who probably should be in another profession but quite frankly, Mr. Obama, I have yet to met one of them.  And I have been in this business for 53 years.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.  You should have said something like this.... "I will be asking teachers from around this country for their input and suggestions, yes, I want to hear from them."  Why do nurses get your love and charm and we teachers get the back of your hand.  

Why is it that when a non-teacher such as yourself (I know, I know, you taught constitutional law but that was teaching to adults) speaks about improving education that always, always talk about getting rid of poor teachers (like there were so many), merit pay for the excellent teachers (like you can easily spot them in the classrooms) and higher standards (whatever that means).  Why don't you talk about improving the school buildings so that my teachers don't have ice on the blackboard in the morning, let us have some new up to date textbooks for the boys and girls (and enough for all so they don't have to share), good heating systems so the kids are not putting on or taking off the jackets throughout the day, breakfast and lunch for those that don't get it at home and computer connected to the Internet. 

Damn, I'm mad.  Yesterday you blew off a reporter by saying you didn't say anything for two days because you like to first know what you need to know to make an answer.  So why didn't you do this time?  I've seen private schools like the one that your children are attending.  I've been to Lakeside school in Seattle where Paul Allen and Bill Gates attended.  It must be nice to teach at a school like that--even better to be a student at Lakeside---or the Friends school in Washington, D.C.  The teachers of this nation need an educational President, someone who will listen to them.  We teachers want to do a better then a good job with our students.  We want to be successful, we want our kids to be successful and we want to do without it being stressful.

So here is the plan Mr. Obama.....  You get some teachers who are currently teaching in the classroom (no Education Association presidents, no superintendents, no principals), ones who have chalk on their hands and chalk dust in the hair and get them to tell you what they want to see in your educational plan.  Then you can tell the American people what you are going to do because the rest of us teachers need to get back to our classrooms and do the job we've been doing.

You really ticked me off.

Les Blackwell, Ed.D.
Professor Emeritus
Woodring College of Education (where we educate great teachers to be)
Western Washington University 
Bellingham WA 98225


  1. Hi Les,

    Check out my post on the Obama educational policy, "For a Progressive President, a Very NonProgressive Educational Policy" at:

  2. Dr. Lorraine is the editor of a very fine and well written blog, entitled, Journal of Educational Controversy. You can find it at: I highly recommend it. She is a teacher extraordinary.