The Educators Strike Back: Time for Teachers to Stop Being Punked By the Dallas ISD Board

By now you're probably aware that an unnamed DISD teacher is trying to organize a "Leap Day" sick-out protest by Dallas public school teachers. I hope it's just the beginning. I want to suggest a bunch of other ways public school teachers can get around the state's stupid "right to work" laws, which are nothing more than "right to get punked" laws.

You know what the real debate is now about teachers among people who know the research? It's whether teachers are the single most important factor in the success of students or maybe the second most after parents and home life.

Guess what? There is no debate about school board members. Everybody knows what they are -- self-important meddlers who ran for election because they hope to make money off public education or because their own kids got kicked out of school.

And yet the gutless, feckless, spineless Dallas school district suspended teacher Joseph Drake last week because he sent a pissed-off email to school board member Edwin Flores, a lawyer, honestly expressing anger over public remarks Flores had made about teachers needing to work a longer day. Do you mean to tell me there is a lawyer in this world so thin-skinned he can't handle a little honest criticism?

This was all about a move now being considered by the district to expand the teacher work-day by 45 minutes to allow for more "collaborative planning," meaning time away from students, time out of the classroom, time away from grading papers, time away from dealing with the individual smart kid or the individual kid who is troubled or challenged.

Did the school board make any effort at all to find out how much time teachers are already spending to accomplish their work? No. If you know a public school teacher, have you ever known that person not to bring home tons of grading and paperwork at night and on weekends -- unpaid work that sucks time away from family and health?

Flores was quoted saying, "We're going to pay for eight hours, we're going to get eight hours."

Flores is huge on lawyerly snide-talk. It was a snide remark meant to convey that Dallas teachers are lazy -- this in an atmosphere of Draconian cuts already having dire unforeseen consequences in classrooms, imposed last year by the Legislature at the urging of Governor Rick Perry's regime.


Drake, the pissed-off teacher, told Flores: "People like you destroy morale, beat us down into the ground, and make us wish we had been greedy enough to go into the business world as yourself."

So for that, this father of six living on fifty-five grand a year is suspended with pay pending an investigation of wrongdoing.

Is this still America? Can an American not express honest criticism of an elected official without being subjected to suspension and investigation?

That's why I love this sick-out idea. The person going by the name Anonymous is calling for teachers to call in sick on Leap Day, February 29. It's an attempt to show the board that teachers are sick and tired and not going to take it anymore.

Bring it on.

Teachers will never get the respect they must have, and kids will never get the teaching they need, until the teachers teach some manners to the school board. Calling in sick is a good start.

There are a zillion ways teachers can take the district's own stupid bureaucratic rules and shove them down its throat. Look at cops, for example: A few years ago when the city council threatened to force cops to arrest everybody who looked vaguely homeless, their commanders warned the council that the cops underneath them would react by obeying.

Cops are like teachers: Under the right-to-get-punked laws in Texas, cops can't organize honest strikes. But they can obey. Obey and obey and obey.

If the council disrespected them by telling them how to do their work down to the last detail, their commanders warned, the cops would obey the order to spend their time busting winos for being winos all day long, seven days a week. They would do nothing but arrest vagrants, cart them down to the jail and spend the rest of their shifts checking them in.

Good cops need to be trusted to know how to apportion their time. You want to take that trust away and order them to spend their time the way you think they should? Great. That's just what they will do, while hold-ups, home invasions, car wrecks and assaults go untouched.

That's what DISD teachers should do. Obey these bastards into the dirt. Do all their paperwork -- all of it. Very carefully. Attend all of their meetings. Take copious notes. Ask questions. Get there early. Stay late.

Grind them to a halt.

And, by the way, stay anonymous. Use Twitter, Facebook, the same technology that fueled the Arab spring, to make sure they can't punk you the way they did Drake. That stuff is right there at your fingers, better than a Molotov cocktail.

Do it. You're right. They're wrong. They need an intervention, big-time. Send them to the alternative school board school.