Education, Politics

Sole Redeeming Element of Washington Post Recognizes BATS!

BAT logoValerie Strauss, the Washington Post’s voice of education reason, mentioned the Badass Teachers of America on her blog, The Answer Sheet, today:

Educators who are sick and tired of being blamed for whatever woes exist in the public education system have banded together in a group named to show their disgust and defiance: the Badass Teachers Association.

In the short time that it has existed — it formed last month — the organization has attracted more than 20,000 members on its Facebook Page and, according to its new website, has begun to form state chapters to, among other things, organize resistance to school reform that focuses on using standardized test scores for high-stakes accountability purposes.

Anyone interested in saving America’s public schools is welcome to join  the BATs here or on their Facebook page!

Education, Politics

Surprise! Another of Rep. Lyons’ Former Teachers Doesn’t Like Being Called a Hog

Glad I’m not the only one! Pete Siler, longtime agriscience teacher and FFA advisor at Lowell High School (now retired), didn’t take former student/FFA member/State House Chair of the Education Committee Lisa Lyons’ now infamous “pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered” comment very well.

He wrote Rep. Lyons a letter, too:

(W)hen I saw the video of your comments on the floor of the House of Representatives that teachers are “pigs” and that “hogs get slaughtered,” I was appalled and deeply offended.  You degraded and alienated the entire profession that is responsible for the education that ultimately lead to the office that you currently hold.

The educational system in Michigan needs the complete support of the legislature and the citizens of our state in this time of turmoil and change.  However, the efforts of the legislature, led by the Republican majority, have been aimed at destroying the basic fiber of education in Michigan as well as degrading and demoralizing the educators and support staff responsible for educating our children.

Well done, Pete! Maybe each of Rep. Lyons’ former high school teachers needs to express similar sentiments in writing. Interested? Her email address is Have at it.

Education, Miscellany, Politics

Timeout From Tspelczeching

Unless someone in the Michissippi State House does something unbelievably stupid in the coming days (Vegas Odds: Even Money), the Tspelczechquer is stepping away from the laptop and Intertoobz to participate in one of the great civic responsibilities of our democracy: jury duty.

I’ll miss you, too.

Education, Literature

Saying Goodbye to An Inspirational Teacher

“How will your students have changed?”

That question, once posed to Professor William Vande Kopple, is now one I will ask myself every day for the rest of my teaching career. Not “What did I teach?” or “What did they learn?” but “How will your students have changed?”

Professor Vande Kopple, co-chair of the English Department at Calvin College, passed away suddenly last week, shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A loving tribute to him was published in Calvin’s student newspaper, The Chimes, yesterday.

Today, his family, friends, colleagues, and former students gathered for his memorial. As with any event that includes an English department, it ran longer than the usual memorial.

Then again, Professor Vande Kopple wasn’t your usual professor.

My words cannot do the man justice. I never even took a class of his. Instead, I got to know Professor Vande Kopple from hosting many of his student teachers in my classroom. What fun it was to see his towering presence coming down the hall during passing time, watching dozens of high schoolers turn and stare at this man. What fun it was to hear his bellowing laugh while observing a student teacher. What an honor it was to listen to him talk with those student teachers about their work.

What an honor it was to know him in some small way.

During today’s memorial, I learned that Professor Vande Kopple was like so many of us in the teaching profession. In the classroom, he was full of energy and enthusiasm, he radiated excitement for what he taught (English grammar!), and his students soaked it up. But at home, he was a quiet, unassuming man, content with the blessings given to him, especially his loving wife and sons.

After I said farewell to my most recent Calvin student teacher, I thought I’d take a break from hosting another. But after today’s memorial, I talked with another Calvin professor, James Vanden Bosch, who spoke so eloquently about their working relationship. I told him I’d look forward to working with another Calvin student teacher next year.

I suppose, like Professor Vande Kopple, I consider teaching, and teaching future teachers, a calling.



Essential Reading: Remember, It Could Be Worse

Readers of this blog (thanks Mom!) know of its snarky nature. Today, however, I need to take a break from the snark and focus on two remarkable people: one a survivor, the other recently deceased.

Yesterday’s NY Times featured an absolutely powerful piece on one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. No doubt you’ve seen the picture of Jeff Bauman being rushed to a medical tent in a wheelchair, his face a picture of shock, his legs blown off below his knees.

Bauman’s story of survival and recovery is one of those “there but for the grace of God go I” moments you’ll never forget.

Stop what you’re doing right now. Read it. Take in the photos.

Your pain today – whatever it may be – is real. Don’t let anyone suggest otherwise.

But it could be worse.