Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Despite the constant barrage of attacks coming from the Right Wing, and indefensible demands placed on their profession, Connecticut teachers show the world the true face of heroism.

Courtesy of Nation of Change:  

I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers. 

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Those teachers, who are routinely being accused by our politicians of being drones and selfish, incompetent money grubbers worried more about their pensions than about teaching our children (though most, even after 10 years, earn less than $55,000 a year for doing a very difficult job that involves at least 12-14 hours a day of work and prep time counting meetings with parents), stood their ground when confronted with a psychotic assailant armed with semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, and protected their kids. The principal too, a veteran teacher herself, stood her ground, reportedly suicidally charging at the assailant along with the school’s psychologist in a doomed effort to tackle him and stop the carnage. 

How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain teacher died doing? How many of us would charge at an armed shooter, to almost certain death, in an effort top stop him from further killing? How many would bravely hide in a bathroom with a class of kids when we could have run away and saved ourselves? 

And this: How many of the politicians in Washington and in state capitals and how many conservative think-tank “researchers” who attack teachers as leeches and drones would have shown such heroism under fire? 

My guess is damned few -- if any. Yet it appears from the news reports that not one teacher in that unionized school fled the scene and abandoned the children to their fate. They all stuck with their kids. So did the custodian -- no doubt a unionized worker earning poverty wages -- who ran through the building warning everyone of the attacker’s presence.

The news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, was some of the most shocking I had ever heard. Yet there was one piece of information that I was expecting to hear even before it was reported, that the teachers had placed themselves in harms way to protect their children, and that many had lost their lives.

To be honest I would have been shocked to have heard otherwise.

As many of you could not help but know, I have become almost apoplectic in my frustration at the way the Right Wing has vilified teachers and their unions, and have come to their defense over and over again.

You see I did not need a school shooting to open my eyes to the kind of sacrifice that teachers make on behalf of their students each and every day. I have witnessed it first hand.

I have seen public school teachers spend their own money to purchase school supplies for a needy child, or pay for a lunch that the little girl or boy's mother forgot to pack that day. In the public school system those people are not considered heroes, they are considered teachers, and nobody expects less from them.

In this terrible tragedy these often maligned teachers did not hesitate to act, and repeatedly placed themselves in harm's way to protect their children.

From the principal and school psychologist who lost their lives trying to stop Adam Lanza from entering the school, to Vicki Soto who used her own body to block bullets while some of her children hid in a closet and others ran past the shooter, to the brave first grade teacher who whispered to her children that she loved them so that those would be the last words they would hear if the worst came to pass ("I need you to know that I love you all very much," Ms Roig said."I thought that was going to be the last thing they were ever gonna to hear. I thought we were all gonna die."), these are the caliber of people who spend their lives in classrooms all across the country educating our children.

You mark my words, and take them to heart, no matter WHERE this shooting had taken place in this country, the stories of heroism by these often vilified professionals would have been almost identical.

Teachers are not sitting in their classrooms for a paycheck.

They are not staying hours after the last bell sounds to further their careers.

They are there because they know they are needed. They are are there for their students. They are there because they cannot imagine being anyplace else.

And if something, or someone, threatens the children that they have grown to love so dearly, they will not hesitate to put the safety of their students above their own.

Heroes? You're goddamn right they're heroes!

But they are heroes EVERY single day. It just so happened that the terrible incident at Sandy Hook gave the country the opportunity to see that for themselves.

 And hopefully it is something they won't soon forget it.


  1. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Tea Party Nation Blames Sandy Hook Shooting On Sex In Media, Teacher's Unions And Bureaucracy

    The Tea Party Nation, an ultra-conservative faction of the Tea Party movement, has responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, blaming sex in the media, teacher's unions and an over-bureaucratized society -- among other things -- for the massacre that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

    Tea Party Nation member Timothy Birdnow posted a diatribe to the group's website, blasting everything from the media to the government to "cultural relativism" for their accountability for the Newtown, Conn., shooting. "In the old days everyone would be mad as hell -- now we are sad and weepy," Birdnow wrote on Sunday. "The change in the American character is astonishing. And still nobody will stand up and lay blame where it belongs -- in a culture that has kicked God out of our collective sight, that eternally blames cultural institutions and our most cherished principles for acts of criminality rather than moral character flaws, that refuses to recognize Evil."

    Birdnow goes on to offer some suggestions to stop further tragedies from occurring. He suggests homeschooling children and pushing against teacher's unions, because "as long as we have group think in the classrooms we will never see the end of this." He calls for readers to shift the power from the "top-down," "over-bureaucratized" society, which he says leaves citizens feeling "powerless."

    He also calls for restricting the depiction of sex in the media. "There is a reason why young people commit these sorts of crimes, and sex plays no small part," wrote Birdnow. "Their passions are eternally inflamed, and they wander the Earth with no outlet for their overstimulated glands."

    Considering the proposition of gun control reform, Birdnow dismisses it, listing a number of equally lethal alternatives by which the Sandy Hook shooter might have killed classrooms of children, including poison gas, explosives ("He could have made thermite grenades and blown whole classrooms to bits.") and homemade firearms, which he suggests are all easily made.

    Tea Party Nation describes itself as a "group of like-minded people who desire our God-given individual
 freedoms written out by the Founding Fathers. We believe in Limited 
Government, Free Speech, the 2nd Amendment, our Military, Secure 
Borders and our Country." The Tea Party-affiliated corporation was created by former Shelby County, Tenn., assistant district attorney Judson Phillips in 2009.

    This is not the first time the group has made headlines for controversial statements.


    1. Anonymous10:18 AM

      America does not care what the Tea Party or NRA thinks.

      Not anymore.

      The line has been crossed one too many times.

      ¨No more fucking around....¨

    2. Anonymous12:11 PM

      Yes, Mr. Birdnow, we are sad and weepy now. It is a natural stage of grief which shows how much we care. But, watch out, the next natural stage of grief is anger. You should notice the NRA has gone quiet; they know what is coming.

      Elizabeth 44

  2. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Asheville Tea Party Response to Sandy Hook: Great Gun Giveaway!

    As the nation mourns the horrifying mass shooting of children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Asheville, North Carolina Tea Party has posted a new flyer advertising their upcoming fundraiser The Great Gun Giveaway.

    Without a word of sympathy for the victims, the group's website also offer as a solution to future mass shootings an article urging teachers to carry and gun-free zones to be banned.


    1. Anonymous10:21 AM

      Asheville Tea Party = Westboro Baptist Church.

    2. Time to call a spade a spade.

      Refer to them as the Westboro TaxDodging Cult.

  3. Anonymous9:15 AM

    Right Wing Needs to Stop Crazy Explanations for Newtown Slaughter


    1. Anonymous10:23 AM

      The world cringes as the right wing kicks itself in the groin.

  4. The Walmart on the Parkway in Sevier County sells assault weapons at the gun counter.

    Because it's a tourist area, that Walmart's parking lot is crammed full 24/7.

    Does anyone else find this gut-wrenchingly appalling?

    1. Anonymous9:45 AM

      What's really appalling and of much more importance is that the toy stores sell toy lookalikes! And nearly every little American boy wants one for Christmas. Now that's appalling! Get it?

      When the market declines for that kind of toys then .......... Get it now?

    2. Anonymous9:48 AM

      Macho Marketing Of Gun Used In Newtown Massacre

      The Bushmaster assault rifle shown above is one of several configurations that are sold in gun shops and enthusiast shows nationwide. In many states, you can walk into your local Walmart and buy one for about $895.


    3. Anonymous10:24 AM


      We are legion.

    4. Anonymous11:02 AM

      Yes. I've been there and you're right - it's an incident waiting to happen. And don't even get me started on Gatlinburg at night :)

    5. Anonymous1:08 PM

      9:45 AM Yes and parents HAVE to get those toys for their little darlings. The younger the better I guess. How horrid that Life with Tripp (a Hollywood production filmed also in Alaska) was a show about an out of control child with a parent who knew they couldn't discipline or handle things. Go figure why it was later announced that Bristol is a nanny to other children. Alleged that Britta Hanson has Bristol watching little Kyla Grace.

      smiling unruly Tripp and toy gun.

      Palin: Don’t put your hope in Hollywood or Washington.

    6. Anonymous5:20 PM

      Anonymous9:45 AM

      There was a day people would not consider doing the following. What changed our culture? The leaders who encourage this should be dealt with.

      Christmas photos feature kids with guns

      Scottsdale. Do they love Palin?

      This could be a young Sarah or Piper. Cute kid.

      Anyone Getting Their Kids Guns For Christmas?

  5. Anonymous9:30 AM

    OT/ need to read

  6. Anonymous9:46 AM

    ‘Hacktivists’ Unite In The Escalated Battle Against Westboro Baptist Church


  7. Anonymous10:01 AM

    I have several friends who are teachers and I can say unequivocally that every single one would have protected and shielded their own students, with their own bodies if necessary, in the same way that the heroic Sandy Hookl teachers and staff did. Teachers are everyday heroes for the sacrifices they forthright teach their students and extraordinary heroes for the sacrifices they make, as exemplified at Sandy Hook, to protect their students. They don't deserve the vilification they've received from the right wing and I'm gratified to see articles such as these giving them the credit they deserve now and have deserved all along.

  8. Anonymous10:03 AM

    Ever since the details of what happened started to emerge on Friday I have been disgusted by the fawning coming from the Right over the teachers and staff at Sandy Hook. These assholic politicians, pundits and pretenders spent the better part of the previous year demonizing and insulting these wonderful public servants.

    They were characterized as freeloaders, union thugs, destroyers of state budgets, out for themselves, and the kids and the tax payers be damned.

    How do those right wing crack pots sleep at night? How dare they now heap praise on these people now that it's "fashionable," when they spewed the worst kind of venom at them when it suited their sick and divisive narrative. They have no right. They have no shame.

    As fate would have it, by the time police and fire and other first responders arrived at the scene the carnage had ended. But they didn't know that. No they ran into harms way to save as many lives as they could and to lead people to safety.

    Just the kind of action you'd expect from a freeloading thug right?

    Shut the fuck up on the right wing. You can't hold a candle to the decency and commitment these people have for their jobs and the people they serve. It is a crying shame that it took a horror like this to make some people finally see the truth. For the rest of you, we've heard enough.

    A Fan From Chicago

    1. eclecticsandra12:09 PM

      Probably everyone feels some commitment to their job, but not everyone is in a position to have the lives of many children entrusted to them. It is not just people on the right who are responsible. We should be thankful that we have so many caring people. And, consider, we not only trust the lives of our children to the teachers but their futures as well. I don't think hanging teachers is an answer to anything.

  9. LoveAndKnishesFromBrooklyn10:07 AM

    Yup, and to add to one of the most unsung, under-compensated jobs on the planet, the Einsteins at the Pond agreed that offering teachers a "generous" bonus of $1000/yr to be professional sharpshooters and armed guards was just peachy.


  10. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Yep! Uneducated parents, leaning to the Tea Party,who has shown such great understaning about the world, teaching children, what they know,that sure sounds like climbing the ladder of success!!

  11. And these are the same women the rightwingers feel do not deserve birth control.

    1. In my state, a right wing legislator (years ago) tried to introduce legislation to deny teachers the right to vote on any ballot proposition about education because they would be "prejudiced".

      Thankfully it never got far.

      But I always keep in mind that that is the mindset of some of the right wing and probably all of the 'baggers. They are all about denying constitutional rights to one demographic or another as long as they get to keep theirs. They all want to be dictatorial demigods.

  12. Anonymous10:41 AM

    "One of the most unsung, under-compensated jobs on the planet?"
    "Teachers are heroes every day"?

    Really? Can't we just honor the incredibly brave Newtown teachers without hanging the whole profession on a cross?

    I know we're all emotional, but come on: Lots of people work hard every day, work extra hours,go the extra mile, are caring and bright. Lots of them are not as well compensated as teachers. Lots of them would do anything to protect a group of children if they found themselves in a situation where they needed to.

    For some reason certain self-appointed spokesmen feel a need to constantly assert that teachers are just, well, superior to and yet more put-upon than any other employees.

    1. Dear Anon 10:41:

      Bite me.
      Oh, and happy holidays.

    2. Anonymous12:45 PM

      I'm with Liz; Bite me, too.

      Oh, and too bad that your lack of respect seems to co-incide with your lack of education. If you are not satisfied with your lot in life, don't blame a teacher. You should have paid more attention to the teachers in your own life.

      Wild Tortoise

    3. Anita Winecooler7:33 PM

      Well stated, Wild Tortoise.

  13. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Response to Mike Huckabee - brilliant!


  14. Anonymous11:15 AM

    After all the lying and deceit of the Romney campaign, and the Palin hoax before that, I too am blown away by the bravery of the school staff.

    Their heroic decisions were instantaneous, intuitive, and the exact right thing to do. The rest of us wish we would do the same if we were in that spot, but we will never know if we could have done as well. Certainly the lying of Romney/Ryan is just in a different universe than the actions of these heroes.

    1. Anita Winecooler7:07 PM


      I heard some idiot on the radio saying they knew what to do because of fire drills. Luckily, the host patiently and respectfully corrected her and added "Thank your kid's teachers when you see them."

  15. Anonymous11:24 AM

    seen on my facebook

    To parents who are not educators, this may be hard to understand.

    Five days a week, we teach your kids.
    That means we educate your kids.
    Play with your kids.
    Discipline your kids.
    Joke with your kids.
    Console your kids.
    Praise your kids.
    Question your kids.
    Beat our head against the wall for your kids.
    Laugh with your kids.
    Worry about your kids.
    Keep an eye on your kids.
    Learn about your kids.
    Invest in your kids.
    Protect your kids and yes, love your kids.


    It’s nowhere in our job description.
    It isn’t covered in the employee handbook.
    It isn’t cited in our contracts.
    But we would all do it.
    So, yes, please hug your kids tonight, really, really tight.
    But on Monday, if you see your kids’ teacher, please hug them, too.

    1. Anonymous12:21 PM

      I would also add: we tend to forget our great successes, but we remember and grieve over every time, despite our best efforts, we aren't successful in helping a child.

  16. eclecticsandra11:47 AM

    It may be time to reread, "Good Morning, Miss

  17. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I come here regularly because your posts often move me in ways that no other media source can. I am literally weeping as I type this.

    Yes, Mr G, you have for a long time been a champion of our teachers, and I thank you. You have taken up the causes of so many that perform under thankless conditions....you are a voice for many that cannot speak for themselves.

    I love your blog, and find it to be factually unimpeachable (sp?) and of the highest integrity. Because it is so obvious that this blog is an extension of your own views.....I also love you. Thank you for the countless hours that you devote to this forum.

    1. Plus +1000

      Peace and love to Gryphen and to all of you.

    2. lostinthemidwest12:24 PM

      Anonymous12:01 PM

      I come here regularly because your posts often move me in ways that no other media source can. I am literally weeping as I type this.
      This. You made my heart break all over again.

      Please continue to stand up for our teachers. They need each and every one of us. Thanks for speaking out.

    3. Anonymous1:11 PM

      AGREE. And thank you Gryphen for all you do. You amaze me everyday.

    4. Anita Winecooler6:53 PM


  18. Thank you, Gryphen.

    As a teacher it is really hard to hear the attacks and blame day after day. You think no one understands what it is to be a teacher.

    You do. That goes a long way to silence the rabid right wing in my head. I may just copy this post and reread it every time I'm feeling like a target.

    I've said it before. No one becomes a teacher for the money. It's a calling. More and more it's becoming like being a policeman or fireman, but with a lot more responsibility and needing a lot more education and credentialing. Yet when the right wing eliminates collective bargaining or cuts budgets, the police and firemen get a pass, but teachers are the primary targets and receive most of the attacks.

    What really worries me is the teachers that may enter the profession in the future. First, how many will bother to begin with? Why go through a degree and post graduate work? There is more respect and more compensation and benefits in comparable professions. So, will there be a shortage? Is one developing already? Who will fill those jobs? Teachers who are in it for the short term until they get something on their resumés and can move up to a more lucrative job? Credentialed in 3 weeks instead of a year? How committed will they be?

    For the teachers at Sandy Hook teaching was a life-long career. They were committed to it. They not only gave of their time and pay, they gave their lives.

    I worry that our profession will be weakened not only by uncommitted short termers but by being unable to recruit our brightest and best due to the attacks from so many sides. Merit pay and value added accountability are not going to help, they're going to hurt.

    Whenever anyone attacks experienced teachers, saying they're only in it for the money, marking time until they retire, remember how many Sandy Hook teachers died who were over 50.

  19. It's time for change! There are so many of us now that want sanity in the types of guns people own. We need to get the assault guns out of the hands of people! We also need to stand up for our teachers and the teachers' union! If the tea party and right-wing ignorant idiots want to teach their children at home then let them! But leave the rest of us alone! Leave our schools alone! Leave our teachers alone! Leave our unions alone! God bless the little children and staff who lost their lives on December 14th, bringing the country to our knees. My thoughts, prayers and love is with the families who lost their loved ones.

  20. I'm a teacher. You made me cry. My heart has been broken over and over by this tragedy. It broke yesterday when my students looked to me for reassurance and understanding.

    Thank you Sir. I wish more people felt like you do about teachers.

  21. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Spot on. Enough is enough.

  22. Anita Winecooler6:45 PM

    This was what I posted on yesterday's thread:

    That sign sums it up succinctly. Congress folk don't care, they got their dream jobs, pay and influence. They got their blood money from the NRA. They're all cowards.

    We also need to address the teaching profession and salary scales in comparison to other fields. This tragedy showed the world the true mettle those who educate possess. I imagine any teacher would do the same.

    Why do we waste billions on Wars without batting an eyelash, while teachers have to dig in their own pockets to get what SHOULD be Basic supplies?

    My sister's a teacher, so I've seen firsthand the sacrifices she makes without complaint, because those kids ARE her kids.

  23. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Thanks Gryph!

    I'm a PTO president and I was thinking today about our weekly newsletter that goes to teachers and parents, and how we need to prepare a special note thanking our teachers and staff for all that they do. I know this week has been exceptionally difficult for them. Your words have given me inspiration; in fact, they have captured my feelings perfectly. These people give so much every day for little monetary reward.Truly it is incredible and I hope they know how much they are appreciated.

  24. An European Viewpoint11:26 PM

    I'm a teacher too. No school massacre that I know of has ever happened in France. Columbine shocked us a lot. What shoked us even more is how nothing changed after it...

    I hope something will change now. People here are also traumatized about it... and yes, if someone ever came into my classroom holding a rifle, I would probably attack him barehanded, although my students are highschoolers, not "babies". We feel responsible for "our" kids. It's part of the job.

    Who would stand the hard work and low wages, and the constant critics from all parts of society, without this interest in protecting and raising them into well-rounded adults ?


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