I spend my life in two vastly different worlds. The reality of that is continually reinforced by positive feedback from readers and fellow writers; by negative messages and threats from most levels of government school administration.
The government schools are too often unpleasant, discouraging places for the truly dedicated, and the faint-of-heart. In my regulated life I am unfairly evaluated; discounted for remediating and releasing children from special education; attacked by unethical supervisors and co-workers.
My free market life — teaching at my Learning Clinic; writing for LewRockwell.com; participating at The Ludwig von Mises Institute — is positive, rewarding, and stimulating. In this life I am continually comforted, supported and encouraged by: letters from thousands of readers; postings on hundreds of websites; newsletters that carry my columns to ever wider audiences; interviews with radio hosts interested in my thoughts and opinions; feedback from those who hear me speak.
I have learned to distrust so many adults in the regulated side of my life, but I have learned to place faith in the people who share my free market life, most of whom are strangers I will never meet. As government agents work to push me out of their schools (the schools that no longer belong to the people of America), parents and thoughtful citizens welcome me into their lives. These contacts often touch my heart, but a recent meeting in the traffic lanes of the Atlanta airport will be forever remembered.
Unlike the school culture — which I hold at arm’s length — I enjoy opportunities to meet readers if I happen to travel near their homes. I have had the pleasure of meeting and developing ongoing friendships with readers in St. Louis, Denver, and Alabama. When Rita asked me to stop along my route from Alabama to the Atlanta airport so that I could meet her son, Alex, I readily agreed and we chose a meeting place. Unfortunately, we forgot to figure in the time zone change. Too late I realized that my drive from The Mises Institute to the airport would take all the time I had available.
When I did not show up at the restaurant, Rita called my cell phone to say that they wanted to meet me, if only briefly, and would drive the half-hour to the airport in order to do so. We arranged to meet within the airport, but a hurried second call changed the location to the curbside check-in area for departing Delta passengers. I rushed back to Delta, and stepped to the curb just as I heard voices calling “Mrs. Taylor! Mrs. Taylor!” as a vehicle rounded the curve and stopped in the third lane of traffic.
We had but minutes to speak. I stood by their car amid the confusion of departing passengers and praised Alex for his success in homeschooling. I referred to him as a “Liberty Boy” because of his love for real American history. I walked beside the car as Rita drove from lane to lane, letting other cars arrive and leave. Finally they were forced to go, but before leaving they presented me with a beautifully carved “Angel of Learning.”
Our meeting lasted maybe three special minutes — but deeply touched my heart. Such contacts are priceless and amply reward me for my attempts to broaden educational choices, and raise educational standards, for the children of America. Rita and Alex’s acts of kindness were the perfect ending to a trip that had already proven to be one of the most wonderful of my life. I will never forget the day, and will always cherish the lovely angel with a book in her hands. With sadness I boarded my plane — knowing I must return to the regulated portion of my life.
Teaching need not be so repressive, discouraging and disappointing. Administrators need not be so infatuated with power that they lose sight of the fact that children need real educations not progressive blather. Government schools have been following the wrong path for too long, and I have no reason to believe that those ‘in charge’ will ever decide to drag the schools from the quagmire in which they have become lost; from the briars in which they have become entangled; from the quicksand in which they are rapidly sinking while pulling the morals, the culture, the nation down with them. (Who is behind the curtain pulling the levers, and has no one any control over the thoughtless, inept, immoral person?)
My rewards come to me person-to-person. My frustrations come from layers of bureaucratic decision-makers. Teachers were once respected for their intelligence and initiative in educating children to think critically and live better lives. Now teachers are expected to serve as slaves to poorly conceived agendas from the Departments of Education, the National Science Foundation, the federal manipulators who believe they have the right (never questioning if they have the expertise and the experience) to write ineffective curriculum to be foisted/forced upon local school districts. My frustrations come from observing government authorities using money and pressure — even deception — to force the purchasing and usage of anti-learning materials prepared specifically to clone and mold school children into the sheeple of the future; drones to tend the needs of the elites.
I would rather teach in a one-roomed school, with tattered classics and few supplies. I would rather be gifted with an occasional apple on my desk, than to earn a high salary at the expense of being expected to suffer fools gladly — fools who rule too-large schools, created and ensnared by government regulations.
I would rather earn the respect of the individuals in the community, than receive sell-out evaluations from principals who only taught the minimum number of years necessary to qualify for those fancy administrative credentials. (Ah! Yet another good reason to do away with certification!)
As I have said before, and will say forever — I AM a team player, but like Bernie Goldberg, “I play for the OTHER team.” Government school officials should be held accountable and punished for mistreatment of teachers who work hard to really educate children. Such teachers spend their careers in misery — cheated, tormented, and demeaned by administrators driven by progressive agendas, rather than by sincere desires to truly, actually, fully educate children. Government school officials should be ashamed that dedicated, hardworking, gifted teachers must look to children, parents and strangers for angels and apples; to children, parents and strangers who see us more clearly, and assess us more fairly and accurately, than those who have been given the power, by reason of their State certifications, to rule; to lord over; our classrooms, our lives, and the lives of our students.
The kinds of teachers being pressured to leave the government schools are exactly the kinds of teachers that America needs. A vote of confidence, on a person-to-person basis, would mean so much; would lend emotional support; would help those teachers focus on the children and ignore the system. Public support would provide skilled teachers with courage to rise above the chaos as regulated schooling crumbles and sinks beneath the shifting sands of agenda-driven Progressive movements. Good riddance to the dying government schooling system. Apples and angels to those teachers who are battling unbelievable odds as they attempt to save the culture — one child at a time.
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] lives in Michigan. She is a free-lance writer and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.