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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 11/ 1/2010

Teacher apologizes for achievement gap: 'My fault'

By Valerie Strauss

Mr. Teachbad's Blog of Teacher Disgruntlement has some very funny posts, including this one, a piece of fake education news. [Some of the language on the blog is raw; because the Post has different standards on this sort of thing, I've taken out some of the more colorful words and replaced them with synonyms in brackets.] As I said last week, sometimes you have to laugh through the pain.

INDIANAPOLIS--Trent Jakob, eighth grade Earth sciences teacher, was surrounded by family and friends as he tearfully spoke to reporters this morning in front of the Andrew J. Brown Academy Middle School in Indianapolis, IN. After years of denial and excuses, Mr. Jakob finally admitted that the achievement gap was the work of none other but himself.

A transcript of his remarks follows:

I stand before you today, a broken man with a heavy heart. It is so heavy because it is filled with shame.....tightly packed shame made of iridium and lead....I do not deserve golden shame, and it is not as dense an element anyway.

For nine years I have held the sacred trust of the Great State of Indiana, the good people of Marion County, and the below-average children and parents of the Andrew J. Brown Academy Middle School. I have let you all down. And I am sorry.

As you may know, scores fell at our school last year. I believe this is a direct result of my ineffectiveness as an educator. I am a bad teacher and a bad man. What sort of person would teach for nine years and see test scores drop on his watch in this way? We are all connected. What happens here affects everyone, everywhere.

Some people would have you believe that the achievement gap is the result of [lousy] parenting, poverty, and toxic neighborhoods. I am here to tell you that these people are [cowards] and they don’t believe in children. I have allowed them to corrupt me. The intergalactic achievement gap is my fault and mine alone.

As evidence of my treachery I submit the following:

I don’t call parents that much. Forgive me ... but they are not all that helpful.

I have been late turning in weekly lesson plans.

Sometimes I think of the warm-up activity just as the students are coming into class, or slightly after.

I have not provided kinesthetic learners with enough opportunities to demonstrate mastery of content through clapping and jumping.

I have not fully differentiated for every possible learning style and ability level.

My expectations have not been high enough.

Don’t even get me started on my lack of rigor.

I have not given more difficult work to my students who can’t do the easy [stuff].

I have not taken the proper time and care to ensure that there exists some parallel universe in which whatever this one psycho girl writes meets the standards of the assignment and she graduates.

The jig is up
The news is out
They finally found me
The renegade who had it made
Returned for the bounty*


I can only pray that God and America will forgive me.

Thank you.

(*This is from the Styx song Renegade)

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 1, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Laugh and cry  | Tags:  achievement gap, fake news, teachers  
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Comments

Congratulations on finding the trove of wisdom that is Mr. Teachbad! His blog keeps me (a fellow high-school teacher) sane!

Posted by: hippiehigh | November 1, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

As a college student who is working towards their teaching degree, this is an interesting story. We have spent time in one of my college courses talking about the pressure of standaardized testing on teaching and students. I think that this is funny and gives me hope that there are other teachers out there that feel the same way. This post kind of reminds me of the saying "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" I think that there are a lot of amazing teachers out there and there are more to come. Test scores are not a total reflection of the teachers effectiveness in the classroom. Just as test scores are not fully reflected of a students abilities.

Posted by: waytoteach | November 1, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

What a beautiful confession of guilt that doesn't belong to him.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 1, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Teachbad writes bad(ly) too. As Jon Stewart said, "if we amplify everything, we hear nothing." This is just noise. It does not further intelligent debate.

Posted by: Oneder | November 2, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I can somewhat respect a man that will come and admit his dealings. Think about all the teachers out there today that probably do a worse job than this man. They stay in the school to have that job security, which is not the right reason ever. Your sole purpose in the classroom is for the students and to pass along knowledge they need. On the other hand, how long has this situation been going on? Oh yeah, nine years! Why hasn't there been anyone there to pull him out along. I mean if a teacher has taught for that long, you would think the principal or other colleagues would have been suspicious or something. I guess that comes as a surprise to me.

Next, it was stated that the achievement gap could have been because of bad parenting. Jakob (teacher) denied this and said it was completely his fault. I give him a little more credit. Yes, he dug his own grave in the education field, but the parents should have been working with their children. Following up on homework/assignments, asking how science has been, what labs have been going on, anything! This could have helped them realize their child is not getting the full education. I do believe that he did not solely bring down these test scores. I still think he was in the wrong and selfish, as admitted. But, there are other hands involved.

"Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants."
- John Gardner

Posted by: canfieldg1 | November 2, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I think it is great that this man can admit his wrong doings. The biggest problem with our teachers today is that they can't or won't admit when they are being bad teachers. It's so easy to fall into the habits of a bad teacher because of learned experiences and taking the easy route. I think even if you are doing these things, if you can see that you are and admit that you are then that makes you a good teacher. I applaud this man and hope that he wakes up from this and improves his teaching skills.

Posted by: williamst8 | November 2, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

It was so enlightening to read this! I think every teacher should be reminded of these "qualifications" that he states he has failed toward his students. I liked how he says "We are all connected." This is so true. There is no one factor that can be blamed for low test scores or poor academics; BUT, above all factors, it is the TEACHER'S responsibility to ensure that he or she is activity applying their knowledge and content to one's students. Many teachers today become so focused on small and individual goals that they forget the "bigger picture." Utilizing every learning style and catering to diverse ability levels as this man states he has failed to do, signifies what is so important. I hope that teachers will be encouraged by this and take to heart the never ending responsibility that does not shrink with experience. I know that this has really opened my eyes in viewing teacher's responsibilities, and I hope to have this daily reminder.

Posted by: twithorn | November 2, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised that so many of my fellow commenters took this article seriously. I read it as if Mr. Teachbad was being very sarcastic, basically saying "You all have been blaming me for the failure of these kids for years, even though you provide them with "bad parenting" and they come from "toxic neighborhoods." I am finally giving up and just taking the blame, because it is so much easier than listening to your accusations!" He mentions that he did not encourage his students to clap and jump enough, which is funny, because sometimes no matter how good a teacher is and how hard they work to teach children, if a child fails, parents will ALWAYS find some reason (ridiculous as it may be) to blame the teacher for that failure. Basically what Mr. Teachbad is saying is that no matter how hard he works in the classroom, if his students perform below expectation, there will be someone in his face telling him that he did not do enough.

Posted by: mckinneyc11 | November 2, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised that so many of my fellow commenters took this article seriously. I read it as if Mr. Teachbad was being very sarcastic, basically saying "You all have been blaming me for the failure of these kids for years, even though you provide them with "bad parenting" and they come from "toxic neighborhoods." I am finally giving up and just taking the blame, because it is so much easier than listening to your accusations!" He mentions that he did not encourage his students to clap and jump enough, which is funny, because sometimes no matter how good a teacher is and how hard they work to teach children, if a child fails, parents will ALWAYS find some reason (ridiculous as it may be) to blame the teacher for that failure. Basically what Mr. Teachbad is saying is that no matter how hard he works in the classroom, if his students perform below expectation, there will be someone in his face telling him that he did not do enough.

Posted by: mckinneyc11 | November 2, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised that so many of my fellow commenters took this article seriously. I read it as if Mr. Teachbad was being very sarcastic, basically saying "You all have been blaming me for the failure of these kids for years, even though you provide them with "bad parenting" and they come from "toxic neighborhoods." I am finally giving up and just taking the blame, because it is so much easier than listening to your accusations!" He mentions that he did not encourage his students to clap and jump enough, which is funny, because no matter how good a teacher is or how hard they work to teach their students, if a child fails, there will always be someone ready to place full blame upon the teacher. Basically what Mr. Teachbad is saying is that no matter how hard he works in the classroom, if his students perform below expectation, there will be someone in his face telling him that he did not do enough.

Posted by: mckinneyc11 | November 2, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Mr.Teachbad seems to have employed a tactic that I myself have used when totally exhausted. You are right, I am wrong. Everything you say is true, everything I say is false. I've used this when arguing with a partner on many occasions, and also during political debates that I want to end. I can sympathize and I also find it hilarious. It is like giving everyone the finger. Except giving everyone the finger only makes them more upset and doesn't solve anything. Whoever is blaming this teacher for low academic achievement is not going to be convinced by his statements, but after reading to Mr. Teachbad's post, it is clear that they would never be convinced. And if someone is that stubborn, it's always fun to make them feel like an idiot, even if it doesn't solve anything. This is an example of why teachers, administrators and parents should work together rather than place blame on each other.

Posted by: kleind1 | November 2, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

It was a nice change to read something lighthearted about education. This teacher’s apology was comical and also quite true. I think there is a lot more pressure put on teachers these days to be everything to everyone. Sometimes our society seems to forget that teachers are human too and can’t always help every student. Yes, teachers are and should be held to a higher standard, but as this teacher explains sometimes it can be so demanding that he or she can’t please everyone. I don’t think this teacher is making excuses either; he’s stating the truth. As a college student who is studying to become a teacher, I feel reassured knowing that I am not alone in my fears/worries of not being able to reach every student or parent.

Posted by: sullivana4 | November 3, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It was a nice change to read something lighthearted about education. This teacher’s apology was comical and also quite true. I think there is a lot more pressure put on teachers these days to be everything to everyone. Sometimes our society seems to forget that teachers are human too and can’t always help every student. Yes, teachers are and should be held to a higher standard, but as this teacher explains sometimes it can be so demanding that he or she can’t please everyone. I don’t think this teacher is making excuses either; he’s stating the truth. As a college student who is studying to become a teacher, I feel reassured knowing that I am not alone in my fears/worries of not being able to reach every student or parent.

Posted by: sullivana4 | November 3, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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