About this project
On Monday, April 8, my blog, "A Warning to Young People: Don't Become a Teacher," appeared on Huffington Post and created something of a firestorm.
As I write this, the blog has received more than 168,000 Facebook likes and more than 1,200 comments have been posted. It struck a chord with teachers and those who support teachers across the United States.
For the past several years, there has been a war on teachers in the United States, a war waged by those would destroy public education.
In my blog, I recommended that those who plan on entering the teaching profession consider changing that decision. Instead I would rather fight to get rid of the obstacles that are turning teachers into second class citizens.
I tried to strike a blow for the cause with my novel published in July 2012, No Child Left Alive. A more effective plan is to have teachers tell their own stories. "Let Teachers Teach" is a two-book series that will accomplish just that. In the first book, tentatively titled The War Against Teachers, I will use my background of 22 years as an investigative reporter to detail the forces that are conspiring against the classroom teacher, both through original reporting and by offering anecdotal evidence from teachers in their own words.
The second book, tentatively titled Teachers Fight Back will feature the stories of teachers, many told in their own words, who relate their successes and failures in trying to find ways to do their jobs, help children, and maintain their dignity in a climate that sometimes makes in nearly impossible to accomplish any of those things.
My plan also includes creation of a website/blog that would enable classroom teachers across the United States to tell their stories, whether they be of the obstacles they face in educating our children or overcoming those obstacles. The blog would enable me to keep the focus on teachers even as I am working on the books.
Risks and challenges
One of the problems I will face is the culture of fear that has taken hold of many schools across the United States. People are scared to death to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. I do not anticipate finding teachers who will talk (some have already shared their stories with me), but there may be some difficulties.
One thing that should help the project go much more smoothly is that I have experience collecting stories to go with my original reporting and essays in my three-volume series on the Joplin Tornado, 5:41, Spirit of Hope, and Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School.
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