Diane\'s Blog

Jamie Shell

I just finished reading The Death and Life of the Great American School System, and I sincerely want to thank you for writing this book.

I am 30 years old and about to start my eighth year as a public school teacher. I was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow (a program that is sadly on the chopping block right now due to budget) and honestly initially went into teaching because I knew I wanted to “do something with Spanish.” The Teaching Fellow scholarship opportunity presented itself, and through the course of my schooling, I came to really love teaching. (My university is one that requires a degree in your content area, then teaching certification coursework on top of that, which I think is a fantastic model.)

Reading your book really reminded me how passionate I have become about public education. I have always found it important and am a product of both it (high school) and Catholic schooling (K-8), but teaching has made me very defensive about its vital importance in our diverse nation. With the public and political discourse and rhetoric particularly of the past few years and all of the edicts from on-high non-educators that we are expected to bow to, it was extremely heartening to feel like someone (you) “gets it.” That, for the most part, teachers want to do their best and bring their students to success without needing the constant threat of reprimand/castigation/termination to force them to do so. That there are MYRIAD factors in a student’s success and teachers cannot be called upon to be the sole fix for all the ills of society. That tests should be used more to inform teaching than to police it. That teachers need to be trained and encouraged and not treated as Public Enemy No 1.

I just can’t adequately express how refreshing this book was to read. I read and loved Language Police¬†several years ago as well, on the recommendation of a teacher friend of mine. Thank you for being a public voice of rational thought for us.¬† It’s been hard to be bullied.

Jamie Shell