The most popular topic people wanted to read about on my blog this year has been how teachers are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In short, it’s a mess.
We’re struggling big time.
In the media, they call it a teacher shortage, but it’s really an Exodus away from the profession for educators who are fed up with being treated like crap.
But that’s not the only thing I wrote about in 2021.
At this point in my career with everything crumbling around me, I have no more F’s to give.
I’m laying it all out straight. And this is from a blogger who has often been criticized for not holding anything back BEFORE!
Now I am pointing out all the elephants in the room.
And jaws have been hitting the floor.
Sacred cows? Not here. Have a burger.
So after already publishing a top 10 list of my most popular articles from the past year, I’ve compiled a list of ten more (or so) that didn’t get the acclaim but deserve it.
Some of these articles are not for the faint of heart.
If you’re tired of being polite and ignoring all the flaming dumpster fires that well behaved teachers aren’t supposed to mention, then you might enjoy some of these stories.
So buckle up. Here we go:
10) Lesson Plans Are a Complete Waste of Time
Published: Sept. 16
Description: The title says it all. Stop wasting teachers’ time by making us fill out paperwork that won’t help us do our jobs but will make administrators and principals look good. We make our own plans for ourselves. We don’t need to share with you a bunch of BS with Common Core nonsense and step-by-step blah-blah that will probably have to change in the heat of the moment anyway.
Fun Fact: Teachers in my building rarely say anything to me about my blog. But I got some serious appreciation on my home turf for this one.
9) Where Are the Parents? The School Shortage We Ignore
Published: Nov. 17
Description: We talk about missing teachers, subs, aides, bus drivers, but not parents or guardians. We should. They are absolutely essential to student learning. I think there are a lot of good reasons why parents don’t participate in their children’s schooling, but they will never get the help they need if we continue to ignore this issue and throw everything on teachers and the school.
Fun Fact: So many liberals lost their minds on this article saying I was attacking parents. I’m not. If people were drowning, you would not be attacking them by pointing that out and demanding help fishing them out of the water. It is not “deficit thinking” to acknowledge that someone needs help. It’s authentic advocacy for both students and parents.
8) I Triggered Bill Maher By Writing About Standardized Testing and White Supremacy
Published: Nov. 3
Description: It wasn’t just liberals who were butt hurt by my writing – it was neoliberals, too. Comedian Bill Maher actually mentioned my article “Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy” on his HBO show. He joked that I was devaluing the term ‘white supremacy.” Sure. These assessments only help white people unfairly maintain their collective boot on the throats of black and brown people. That’s not white supremacy. It’s melanin deficient hegemony. Happy now!?
Fun Fact: Maher’s assertion (I can’t claim it’s an argument because he never actually argued for anything) seems to be popular with neoliberals trying to counter the negative press standardized testing has been receiving lately. We need to arm against this latest corporate talking point and this article and the original give plenty of ammunition. My article was republished on Alternet and CommonDreams.org.
7) School Sports are Overwhelming Academics. Time to Kick Them Out
Published: Dec. 10
Description: Most of the world does not have competitive after school sports. Kids participate in sports through clubs – not through the schools. I suggested we might do that in the US, too. This would allow schools to use more of their budgets on learning. It would stop crucial school board decisions from being made for the athletics department at the expense of academics. It would remove litigation for serious injuries. Simple. Right?
Fun Fact: So many folks heads simply exploded at this. They thought I was saying we should do away with youth sports. No. Youth sports would still exist, just not competitive sports through the school. They thought poor kids wouldn’t be able to participate. No, sports clubs could be subsidized by the government just as they are in other countries. Some folks said there are kids who wouldn’t go to school without sports. No, that’s hyperbole. True, some kids love sports but they also love socialization, routine, feeling safe, interaction with caring adults and even learning! But I know this is a radical idea in this country, and I have no illusions that anyone is going to take me up on it.
6) Critical Race Theory Articles
A) If You’re Afraid Kids Will Learn Racism is Bad, Perhaps Public School is Not For You
B) Public Schools Are Not Indoctrinating Kids About Racism. Voucher Schools ARE
C) Muzzling America’s Teachers with a Ban on Critical Race Theory is What Orwell Warned Us About
Published: (A) Oct. 14, (B) Jun3 17, (C) July 2
Views: (A) 1,918, (B) 1,869 , (C) 1,207
Description: Republicans have a new racist dog whistle. They pretend white people are being taught to hate themselves by reference to a fake history of the US called Critical Race Theory. In reality, schools are teaching the tiniest fraction of the actual history of racism and Republicans need that to stop or else they won’t have any new members in a few generations. I wrote three articles about it this year from different points of view than I thought were being offered elsewhere.
Fun Fact: I’m proud of this work. It looks at the topic from the viewpoint of academic freedom, the indoctrination actually happening (often at taxpayer expense) at private and parochial schools, and the worthy goal of education at authentic public schools. Article B was republished on CommonDreams.org.
5) County Council Election Articles
A) Why a Public School Teacher is Running for Allegheny County Council
B) A New Children’s Fund – Reducing Student Inequality Through Allegheny County Council
C) I Fought the Do-Nothing-Incumbent, and He Won
Published: (A) March 19, (B) April 2, (C) May 26
Views: (A) 514 (B) 111 (C) 248
Description: I ran for office this year in western Pennsylvania. I tried for Allegheny County Council – a mid-sized position covering the City of Pittsburgh and the rest of the second largest county in the state. Ultimately, I lost, but these three articles document the effort.
Fun Fact: These articles explain why a teacher like me ran for office, how I could have helped public schools, and why it didn’t work out. Article C was republished on CommonDreams.org.
4) Vaccine Articles
A) How I Got the Covid Vaccine: an Immunization Odyssey
B) Hope During a Pandemic is Both Hard and Inescapable
Published: (A) Jan. 30, (B) March 11
Views: (A) 451 (B) 229
Description: These are terrifying times. In the future people may look back and wonder what happened. These two articles document how I got vaccinated against Covid-19 and my thoughts and feelings about the process, the pandemic, and life in general.
Fun Fact: It hasn’t even been a full year since I wrote these pieces but they somehow feel like they were written a million years ago. So much has changed – and so little.
3) What is Taught in Public Schools? Volunteer as a Substitute Teacher and See for Yourself!
Published: Oct. 20
Description: Pennsylvania Republican state legislators were whining that they didn’t know what teachers were doing in public school. So they proposed a BS law demanding teachers spend even more of their never-ending time giving updates. I suggested legislators could just volunteer as subs and see for themselves.
Fun Fact: So far no Republicans have taken me up on the offer and their cute bit of performative lawmaking still hasn’t made it through Harrisburg.
2) We Don’t Need More ADVICE on How to Safely Reopen Schools. We Need RULES.
Published: July 29
Description: When it comes to stopping a global pandemic, we need federal action. This can’t be left up to the states, or the counties, or the townships or every small town. But all we get from the federal government about Covid mitigation in schools are guidelines. Stand up and do your F-ing jobs! Make some rules already, you freaking cowards!
Fun Fact: As I write this, President Joe Biden just came out and said there is no federal solution to the pandemic. It’s not that I think the other guy would have done better, but this was a softball, Joe. History will remember. If there is a history after all this is over.
1) What I Told My Students About Yesterday’s Attempted Trump Coup
Published: Jan. 8
Description: On January 6, a bunch of far right traitors stormed the Capitol. This articles documents what it was like to experience that as a public school teacher with on-line classes during the pandemic.
Fun Fact: Once again, history may want to know. Posterity may have questions. At least, I hope so. The article was republished on CommonDreams.org.
Gadfly’s Other Year End Round Ups
This wasn’t the first year I’ve done a countdown of the year’s greatest hits. I usually write one counting down my most popular articles and one listing articles that I thought deserved a second look (like this one). Here are all my end of the year articles since I began my blog in 2014:
Gadfly’s Top 10 Articles of 2021 – Shouts in the Dark
The Most Important Education Articles (By Me) That You Probably Missed in 2020
Outrunning the Pandemic – Racing Through Gadfly’s Top 10 Stories of 2020
Sixteen Gadfly Articles That Made Betsy DeVos Itch in 2019
A Gadfly’s Dozen: Top 13 Education Articles of 2018 (By Me)
What’s the Buzz? A Crown of Gadflies! Top 10 Articles (by Me) in 2017
Hidden Gadfly – Top 5 Stories (By Me) You May Have Missed in 2017
Worse Than Fake News – Ignored News. Top 5 Education Stories You May Have Missed in 2016
Goodbye, 2016, and Good Riddance – Top 10 Blog Post by Me From a Crappy Year
Gadfly’s Choice – Top 5 Blogs (By Me) You May Have Missed from 2015
Who’s Your Favorite Gadfly? Top 10 Blog Posts (By Me) That Enlightened, Entertained and Enraged in 2015
Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014
Top 10 Education Blog Posts (By Me) You Should Be Reading Right Now!
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I’ve also written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!