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"You can please some of the people all of the time," the saying goes, "or all of the people some of the time. But you can't please all of the people all of the time." If you doubt the truth of that adage, just write an opinion column … and wait for your readers' reactions.

At Education World, we rarely hear from our readers about the factual articles. Oh, we might get an occasional thank you for a particularly helpful lesson plan, or a request to reprint a particularly pithy feature, or a heads up about a dead link or embarrassing typo, but for the most part, our mailboxes are pretty unexciting.

Until we run an opinion piece!

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Look What She Starr-ted!

If you'd like to comment on one of our StarrPoints features, you can share your thoughts on the StarrPoints message board.

Linda Starr, a former teacher and the mother of four children, has been an education writer for nearly two decades. Starr is the curriculum and technology editor for Education World.

Those opinion pieces often spur our readers to react. Some of their reactions are angry and others are grateful; some are critical and others laudatory; some agree while others disagree. Almost all of them, however, are opinionated, passionate, thoughtful, and interesting.

So, as this school year -- and our publishing year -- draw to a close, I'd like to share some of our readers' reactions to the issues discussed in this year's StarrPoints.

TEACHER BULLIES

Are You a Bully?, a column that explored the distinction between teacher bullying and classroom management, garnered the most responses this year -- many of them from parents:

"Thank you for acknowledging that teachers have a very important role to perform and that their behavior can isolate students -- making them vulnerable to further attacks, both by the teacher-bully and by student-bullies. I know; it happened to our daughter."

"I am in total agreement that teachers can sometimes be the bullies. I have been in education for 31 years. For the past three years, I have been offering a free 18-hour seminar called 'Strategies to Promote a Safe School Environment' as a community service for educators. The second 3-hour session is entitled, 'Who Started This Anyway?' I pull no punches and really hit hard in this session about how often teachers start the situations that occur in their classrooms. I've seen it over and over again, so I know just the approach to take to get the point across in that session. Thanks for the validation I received reading your article."

"I don't think it would be difficult to tell the difference between bullying and behavior management at all -- especially when a teacher takes a student by the collar and slams him up against the wall. More of this goes on than one would like to know. I know of a P.E. teacher who pulls girls' hair and slaps them on the butt. Excuse me, but I think that is grounds for firing! He still teaches. Another teacher uses any excuse to put someone down. That is not classroom behavior management; that is bullying! Simple words like 'You should know this stuff!' and 'I could have told you who would forget his assignment today,' are clearly not behavioral classroom management procedures; they are simply smart aleck remarks that students are undeserving of receiving. I would like to see this teacher evaluation spread to Iowa and all other states. I think a lot more teachers would keep their tongues and tempers in check."

"We have a teacher bully in our school. I think [your column] says perfectly what I (along with 38 other parents) have been trying to tell him!"

"I am a public school teacher and a parent. From the parent standpoint, especially, I liked the bullying article. My son, who is now a high school junior, was bullied in 8th grade by an English teacher who used his command of the language to indulge in his love of sarcasm at the expense of the students. I don't doubt that some kids were able to take it for what is was and let it roll off their backs, but my son took the comments, the eye-rolling, and the humiliating actions of this teacher straight to his heart. What is it with middle school teachers?"

"This article is being printed and sent to my district administrators, as well as the California Department of Education. I'm also e-mailing this to many parents that I know. My children have been victimized by teacher/bullies for years and the district administrators ignore requests/demands for it to stop. Perhaps the bullies will read this and recognize themselves. One can only hope."

"I am a special education administrator in Virginia. I regularly teach behavior management courses for special and general educators. I'm going to share this today. It's very pertinent."

"I so enjoyed reading your article, which I saw in the FEAT (Families for Early Autism Treatment) newsletter. As a school psychologist I spend a lot of time in classrooms, both general and special ed settings. The distinctions you make are real and can be easily discerned by any of us who understand the basic premises of teaching and good instruction. The teaching profession has been lax, as have many professionals who deem themselves ethical and reasoned folks, to police their own or allow for public scrutiny of their many hours of essentially private practice. I have seen children not only humiliated into shame, but enraged with anger from controlling tactics that all too often lead to killing the motivation to learn in many bright and curious minds. I spend countless hours trying to help teachers understand the positive power of the relationship they can forge with students when and if they are able to consider giving up a little control. I also work hard to assist teachers in understanding that a partnership with 'difficult' parents is much more beneficial to the student in the long run than showing them who's 'boss.'"

"As we consider the problems our schools have with violence, I think it behooves us to explore what our teachers bring to the environment. Violence never happens in a vacuum and instructional staff often set a large portion of the environmental tone in a school. Though their responses may often be out of frustration with large class sizes, needy students, and excessive demands to teach to a wide variety of students, requiring teachers to think and think again of their part in classroom management problems is an essential element of the types of broad-based education reform our country needs."

"As an adjunct university lecturer and supervisor of student teachers in their field placements, I need to assemble material to share with my future teachers at their seminar class. Two weeks ago we viewed Harry Wong's videotape about routines and managing the classroom. Next Wednesday I will share your article. This is such an important topic, and we are not enough aware of it. I forget who it was that said, 'if an adult hits an adult we call it assault, if an adult hits a child we call it discipline.' But I think it is high time many strategies used by teachers under the guise of discipline/management are scrutinized. Teacher practices have the triple whammy of affecting children directly at the moment, setting the tone for the classroom and how the other children act in it, and serving as a model for students' behavior in their future lives. I am hoping my teachers will reflect on your words now, before they have time to establish bad habits."

"Great points you made in your article addressing the difference between good classroom behavior management and bullying by teachers/aides. You were right on the nose with your comments."

"I have two teenage children who have been in special ed since starting school and have frequently been in inclusion settings in regular classrooms. We have been lucky that we have only had a couple incidents over the years -- with one classroom teacher and one aide who were bullies. The impact on the children in these situations is devastating and long lasting."

"Unfortunately, the resources for parents to help a child deal with a teacher who is a bully are sometimes missing. There should be a grievance procedure to make the teacher receive further training in classroom management and sensitivity in such incidents."

"My 13-year-old ADHD child had a teacher who simply could not seem to develop the necessary coping strategies to help him succeed and function in her class. Even after repeated meetings and providing literature, suggestions, and specific strategies for us both to implement, she continued to berate and bully him to the point that he became unable to function, made C, D, and F grades, lost his self-esteem, and became very depressed. Today, he is in another school, which has implemented the necessary strategies and modifications, and he is a straight-A student without need for resource classes and quite adored by his teachers."

"Thank you so much for sharing this information. My son with multiple disabilities has been a victim of public humiliation in the classroom by some of his teachers> He has been the butt of cruel jokes by a teacher in front of the class, had his lack of academic skills compared to 'gifted' classmates, and been constantly blamed for academic difficulties resulting from his disabilities. I never thought of the insensitivity of some of his teachers as bullying. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!"

"I am an educator in Texas. Liked the article on bullying. Suggest you be more specific in defining teacher bullying. For example, bullying is a teacher who, on a regular basis, when certain students fail to perform, rolls her eyes and sighs so that many can see. Another example: smirking and laughing with other students about one student. Or, here's the most important one: Allowing students to get away with bullying a child is a form of bullying itself."

"I think my third grade daughter attends a school where [teachers are] encouraged to be bullies. I have even had the principal display some of the things you wrote about. Thank you for opening my eyes."

"Who abuses power? People. What are teachers? People. I suffered from being bullied by teachers at school, and there should be safeguards or mechanisms in place to protect children from these bully 'teachers' who abuse their power."

BULLIED TEACHERS

One teacher brought another interesting perspective to the discussion:

"I am a veteran high school teacher of 28 years and I have been bullied by the principal we got 4 years ago. This principal has taught one year in high school and four years in a community college and has coaching experience. For the first 2 years he was here, I could not understand what was happening -- until I accidentally happened upon Bully OnLine. Tim Field's description of a bully (below) is a perfect description of my principal, what he has been doing to me, and how it has affected me."

"Bullying is constant criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, undermining, isolation, exclusion, being singled out, marginalized, belittled, humiliated, shouted at, threatened, overloaded, your work and credit for it stolen, responsibility increased but authority taken away, leave refused, training denied, unrealistic goals and deadlines, hypocrisy, duplicity, fabrication, distortion, twisting everything you say and do, abuse of disciplinary procedures, imposition of verbal/written warnings for trivial reasons, unfair dismissal."

"Tim states that the two most common career areas where workplace bullying occurs are nursing and teaching. I just wish someone would do research and write about what type of bullying teachers receive from administrators. Not all bullying is taking place on the playground or in the hallway or with students in the classroom."

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

The StarrPoints column that resulted in some of the most impassioned -- and to me, some of the most surprising -- responses was Corporal Punishment: Teaching Violence Through Violence:

"An inmate asked me to forward to you her letter to a local newspaper. It is about her daughter. The woman is serving life without parole, but is raising her children from prison. They live with her parents. Her daughter is 13.

"I'm writing in regard to the corporal punishment used on in our schools. I was utterly astonished when I was informed that my daughter received corporal punishment for turning in homework late! The school file report states, 'chose licks instead of detention.' My daughter isn't old enough to decide if she can get her ears pierced or go to a school function without the consent of a parent. Why should she be allowed to choose corporal punishment without the same approval?

"I clearly remember my 7th grade school year. I was removed from the classroom and led to a little room where my teacher told me to bend over and grab my ankles. He then proceeded to give me three licks with a large paddle. Would you like to know what's going through an adolescent girl's mind when this is happening? It is degrading and humiliating for an adult male to tell a twelve-year-old girl to bend over and grab her ankles or knees! As she's bent over, all her self worth and respect is stolen. The little girl asks herself, 'Do all men get to do this to me?' 'What did I do so bad to deserve this?' What little dignity she has left, she uses to hold back the tears before she walks back into the classroom. Please tell me what good corporal punishment has done this little girl?

"My daughter spends many days representing the school on the cheer squad. She works hard and struggles to keep her grades above average. Most children don't learn at the same pace as others. Have the teachers thought about taking a little extra time to help the student who doesn't comprehend as quickly as the others? I guess that's what corporal punishment is for! The bruises on her buttocks will remind her that she's a bad girl for not learning as quick as the other kids and turning her homework in late. Maybe next time she'll turn her homework in whether she understands it or not.

"My daughter isn't the only girl in her school who's received corporal punishment that left bruises. On any morning, ten students will be lined up for licks in the office. Beating our children isn't helping them learn in school. It's doing more harm than good. I do understand children's need to be disciplined. Our schools need to learn to work with parents on discipline and homework problems. Please don't let this happen to our children any longer. Stop corporal punishment before it does any more damage! Will my cry of help to protect our children be heard?"

Not all the responses opposed corporal punishment in schools, however:

"We have corporal punishment in our school, which I wouldn't have a problem with if it was used correctly (as a last resort, with the parents knowledge and participation), but unfortunately I see it used for kids not being organized or not having homework and supplies -- things that parents could help the teacher and child straighten out if that parent was made aware of the problem. Instead, parents are left in the dark and our children receive physical punishment and they learn to hate to learn. The school year is a very frustrating time for me as a parent because so often I feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall. We've come a long way from the horse and buggy era, when teachers had to ride for miles to contact parents about problems in school; we now have phones and the Internet to communicate yet they are not being used. What a waste of great technology."

"I just read 'Corporal Punishment: Teaching Violence Through Violence.' I live in Kentucky, and I am having this problem with my son at his school. The problem is not that they are spanking him; it is that they aren't. Today, I was informed by one of his teachers that he slapped one assistant and drew blood from a teacher. He has never behaved this way at home, but he knows there is punishment here. He is also smart enough to know that there will be no immediate punishment given by school officials. I should also tell you that my son is only 5 years old, in kindergarten. I fear for what may happen in the future with him, when right now he is refusing to submit to or respect authority. Most people would say his behavior is because I have been a bad mother, or that I have not taught him to respect authority, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. He gets punishment at home -- not always in the form of a spanking, but occasionally. Maybe he is just in a defiant stage right now, but the thought of him growing up in a public school where no punishment is ever meted out is scary to me. When I went to school, the mere thought of being called out of class for a spanking by the principal was enough to teach me after a couple of times that if I didn't behave there would be consequences. Students do not know what it means to respect anyone these days, let alone authority, and it cannot all be blamed on the parents. Before I became a parent, this was what I thought; that it was the parents' fault. Now I know differently. If teachers had more control in the classroom, I really don't think the problem of respect for them would be such an issue. I'm not saying that all students should be physically punished for every little thing that goes wrong, but when a child behaves defiantly at school, as my son did today, it appalls me to know that he cannot be immediately punished because the school system is afraid of being sued. He does not need for me to come to school and 'straighten out' the situation. He needs a good, hard spanking to bring him into the reality that there are consequences for his actions. Right now he knows he can get away with anything at school. The delayed punishment of a spanking when he gets home does almost nothing to curb his behavior at school. I am at a loss as to what else to do. I am a good mother and I have tried to do everything that I know to stop my son's bad behavior in school."

"I personally don't like the paddling thing, but I think it is the fear that knowing you can get one makes the kids think twice, because no one wants a spanking. Kids all know they can't get anything punishment-wise [at school] that will hurt them, so from a kids' point of view all they can get is detention or suspension -- vacation time for them. I have a 9-year-old in grade school and an almost 13-year-old in junior high and they both think that -- and so do a lot more kids I know."

"You asked why corporal punishment is still used in 23 states. I am a 19-year-old freshman college student from Texas. I have lived in Texas my whole life, but I have been exposed to many people who are from other parts of the United States. Corporal punishment has been used for centuries in schools and at home. Let me ask you this: In the last 20 years, when the rise against corporal punishment has accelerated and most states have banned it, would you say there are more or fewer problems with violence in our schools? Almost weekly now, we hear about school shootings, stabbings, and fights. I am not blaming all of this on the lack of corporal punishment, but it is a large factor. The states that allow this punishment have very strict guidelines for administering of it. Some of those include that the administrator must take into consideration the size and physical condition of the child, the number of 'swats' received, and where they will be applied (almost all require the buttocks). In Texas, teachers are not allowed to give the punishment. The principal does it with a witness. All people who are allowed to administer this punishment must take a course each year on how it should be done. I have not met a student yet that considered these 'swats' as a beating, but rather a realization that what they had done had reaped consequences. In most states, the school sends home a paper for the parents. If the parents do not want their child to receive this type of punishment, then this form will tell the district that. Finally, I would like to address the part of your article where you mention that corporal punishment is not allowed in prison, mental hospitals, or the military. Have you taken into consideration who goes to these places? Adults. We are addressing children who are in grade school to high school. Even then, you will find that more and more high schools are using less of this punishment, simply because the students should be mature enough by then or because they are preparing students for the 'real world.' Once students are out of school, they no longer receive this punishment at home, do they? Also, notice that corporal punishment is not allowed in public or private universities because the students there are adults now. The students that this issue addresses are under 18 and should still be disciplined as children -- not as adults."

"Last week, I had the opportunity to watch an interesting segment on the O'Reilly Factor. Bill O'Reilly, known for interrupting his guests at will, took an uncharacteristically passive role as an urban administrator from Philadelphia stated his case against corporal punishment, while a rural Florida administrator advocated its use (within his district). After nearly three decades in teaching, I found myself philosophically linked with the Floridian, while simultaneously in pragmatic agreement with the Philadelphian.

"In my first decade of teaching (1974-83), while teaching fifth and sixth graders, I had the occasion to paddle approximately ten students. This administration of corporal punishment was neither arbitrary nor capricious. From the outset of the year, class rules (supported by the principal, upper administration, and board) explicitly stated that paddling would occur to any student involved in behavior that placed a physical risk on other students or engaged in blatant use of profanity. Eight of those students never participated in the offending behavior again. In fact, they became model citizens within the classroom and school. Why would that be?

"The answer attests to my philosophical allegiance to the Florida administrator in the O'Reilly Factor interview. Corporal punishment, administered shortly after the offense (after contact with parents), was an attention-getter that interrupted any satisfaction the abhorrent behavior had induced long enough to make the students think about what they had done. As already mentioned, it was my experience that this strategy had an 80 percent effectiveness rating. I also had two boys whose behaviors were unaffected by an initial paddling and a subsequent second paddling. For those two boys, a third paddling was out of the question because it had proved ineffective. Another tack, not as immediate in its effect would have to be applied.

"The failure of corporal punishment to compel a change in behavior in those two boys could have been rooted in a variety of issues. A major one that the Philadelphia administrator brought to the front of his argument -- the amount of violence and possible abuse a goodly portion of his urban youth are subjected to -- negates the use of paddling as a deterrent. I fully understand and support this pragmatic position.

"There is more to the pragmatic side of this issue. In the early eighties, I heard the first of many horror stories surrounding the use of corporal punishment. Supposedly, a first grade girl was held by her ankles by her teacher while the principal paddled her bottom. The offense? Not completing her homework. As more of these horrific uses of corporal punishment came to light, a commensurate rise in lawsuits followed. My school board banned corporal punishment about a decade ago; a decade after I had paddled my last student. In today's litigious society, only the foolish would risk their careers and financial ruin in order to pursue corporal punishment unless there was extremely strong support for its use within the community.

"Nonetheless, I found myself as surprised by your incredulity about the existence of corporal punishment as you were to be shocked by its continued existence. Contorted by some abusive misapplications and more than eager attorneys, corporal punishment has been mostly eliminated in Ohio where I reside and teach. Only 43 of over 600 school districts still allow its use. Yet, I would never view a professional application of corporal punishment as a barbaric relic of a medieval torture chamber. It would be interesting to research the divergent paths of the rate of use of corporal punishment versus the rise of school violence. Was there an abusive corporal punishment strategy in use at Columbine? Jonesboro? Paducah? In the face of Hollywood values that promote insidious levels of violence throughout the media, please do not blanketly deride localities whose schools still employ corporal punishment as if they vanquished cultural outposts of anachronism."

RECESS

The StarrPoints column No Break Today!, which discussed the trend of eliminating recess, also provoked a number of replies:

"While at a school parent meeting, I found out they are reducing my 6-year-old's recess time to a mere 15 minutes a day, and my 9-year-old will no longer have any recess time at all. The reasoning was quoted from the administrator of our district: 'Our children cannot read, but they can run, jump, and play. I don't want to see another child on the playground.' Not only was his comment insulting, it was also maddening to have them take away a very important part of my children's day. They need the time to unwind and relax. My question to them was, 'Are you adults going to give up your relaxing coffee break?' Their answer was an astounding 'NO!' How do I go about putting a stop to this nonsense?"

"I do fully agree with your article about recess, because I have an ADHD son who would be insane if he couldn't get up and move around."

"I agree with your points about recess. It's all but abandoned. I take my own students out to get fresh air, play, and exercise every day. I teach special ed, but children in general education need the same kinds of breaks. Teachers also need breaks, from children and from work. The theory seems to be, cram as much knowledge as possible into their brains and they will retain it. Kindergarten children are being taught more. Play time is absent. Does this mean they are learning more? "

"As a mother of two children, I experienced that school recess is very important. My children learned better in the school with recess, whereas my children got easily tired in the school without recess. I think that recess is an important element in the students' learning environment."

PARENTS ROLE/SCHOOL ROLE

Should Schools Parent Our Kids?, an article about the role schools should have in off-campus behavior, also generated some responses. Interestingly, all were from parents:

"I am a stay-at-home mom. I'm very active in my child's education, and I have to work very hard to find out how my boy is doing with his peers at school. Schools must remember to pass along information about problems with other students when they occur so that parents can reinforce good values and problem solving skills. Kids know if there is a gap in communication between the school and home, and will often do things just to see what will happen."

"I am extremely disappointed that schools and parents fail to recognize that the friendships and relationships formed at school carry over into home and academics. It is simple-minded to think they can be easily separated. Parents and teachers have the same goal, to educate children to become good citizens. As long as parents and teachers are more concerned about whose job it is to stop bullying and violence, the more we will be ineffective in stopping it. Safe schools are those that recognize it is everyone's responsibility to stop the hostile behavior. I wouldn't care if the parent or the school told me about my child acting up, I just want to know when it happens."

"I agree that parents should be responsible for their child's actions. The problem is that many parents don't want to take that responsibility. They think that the school should take care of it, so that they don't have to. That way they are not the 'bad guys.' If parents would do their jobs and discipline their children when these incidents occur, then the school wouldn't have to deal with them. No child is perfect and every child is going to have some kind of problem that the parent needs to take care of. The main question is 'Will the parent be responsible and take care of it?'"

BILINGUAL EDUCATION

Habla usted ingls? led some readers to defend bilingual education:

"I am a 27-year-old male bilingual early childhood teacher in Illinois. I must admit that I straddle the fence in regard to bilingual education or immersion, but I will say that I have seen both work. Students will learn English if they are motivated to do so and have the opportunities to do so, no matter the method of teaching. Acquisition takes time and whether it is a bilingual program or an immersion program, that time does not change. Sure, students can learn faster if they're motivated and have the proper support at home and at school, but the time factor is still there.

"Unfortunately, [many] bilingual programs are understaffed with unqualified people in the classrooms. I know that in Illinois a person can take a test that proves they know English and then they can receive a temporary teaching certificate for five years. These people are then put into classrooms with children, when they truly do not know what they are doing. I was one of these people when I started. I am now nearly finished with my master's degree and have learned more and more to make me a more competent and effective teacher. Yet in this process, children do suffer. It is an attempt to manage the problem of the mass number of students unable to speak English, but it is not effective. Perhaps immersion would work better, because it would then require the teachers to actually speak English, but even then there are no answers to the problem. Much like all legislation that is passed by the higher-ups in government, the burden will fall on the teacher, and there will still continue to be students like those you mentioned. Parents must be involved. Teachers must learn how to motivate students and work with students as second-language learners to truly understand how difficult it is for them. Society needs to be more accepting of this process as well. So, bilingual or immersion is such a simple question and a faux solution to a problem that will never have a solution. Much as all teachers do every day, you get to those you can and hope you can do the most good possible. So we must do with the second-language learners as well."

"What a shame that you fail to mention the thousands of children for whom bilingual education has been their saving grace, the thousands who are successful in this world in two languages. What a shame that you fail to point out the hundreds of successful bilingual programs in the U.S. and in other countries. Let's address the issues where they need to be addressed -- in the school districts which fail to monitor their programs to ensure success. Let's not punish the thousands of students and the hundreds of districts who have worked hard to transition students successfully to the mainstream."

TENURE

The Myth of Tenure and the Terrible Teacher struck a nerve with both teachers and administrators:

"As an administrator in a small, close, community, I knew and understood the tenure law and knew it took documentation of evaluation and effort to improve the weak teacher. There were only two teachers in 13 years who I would have dismissed because help didn't work. Those above me were afraid to tackle the problem because they feared the tenure law. It was my opinion that rather than the 'no' I was given, I should have been told to take my documentation to the school's attorney. If I had done my job correctly, the dismissal of the weak teacher could occur without fear. I was never able to convince a school executive officer of this. Neither teacher should have been allowed to continue, but both were. A student might survive one of them, but what if, by the laws of chance, a student had both? In my opinion, CEO's in small towns (communities) should have to take tests on the real tenure law."

"I was wary about where you were headed with "The Myth of Tenure and the Terrible Teacher." I worried that you were simply going to reiterate the many, and oft-repeated, negative comments that come from 'good teachers' about other teachers who are perceived as 'bad.' Instead, you led your article to a positive and encouraging conclusion. We are teachers...and we can be good teachers and even better teachers by being supportive of one another. Again, I truly thought your article was wonderful! It was short and to the point -- a point that needs to be made far more often: instead of complaining about the issue incessantly, let's work together, proactively and as professionals, to make the world of education a better one for everyone."

"What an excellent piece! My father is a retired principal, and he went through the 'publicity storm' of letting go a tenured teacher. He always said what frustrated him the most were other teachers fueling the fire to release her, yet never once trying to assist or mentor that teacher. Your closing line said it all."

"You have written a short article loaded with great points about tenure. However, on the flip side, you neglected to address the insidious and loaded political (aided and abetted by fiduciary concerns!) movement to rid school systems of experienced, wonderful -- and tenured -- teachers who are approaching the high end of the pay scale (where the salary of one veteran teacher is equal to two or three newer teachers). Tenure has not necessarily protected many of our best educators; many exceptionally gifted and seasoned teachers have fallen from the ranks. The reality is that many unions have not supported their tenured, dues-paying teacher members through the arduous labor of fighting unfair administrative practices."

GUEST COLUMNIST

The StarrPoints column not written by me that received the most responses was a reprint of the poem Objection overruled, or You can always go to law school if things don't work out by Taylor Mali:

"Bravo! I felt so inspired by [Mali's] words and I'm glad he's out there advocating all that we do!"

"I am a graduate student preparing for a career change. I am going to teach middle school in my golden years. I read with delight Taylor Mali's poem. I think every educator should have the chance to savor it!"

"Mali's poem starts off nicely but the last couple of lines are horrible. "The finger?" "I make a 'goddamn' difference?" I'm glad he's not a teacher anymore."

"I was totally awed by Mali's poem because he hit it right on the head -- what we as teachers make (to which the public at times is clueless)."

"I am new to Education World and was quite offended by the closing language (use of GD) in 'Objection Overruled.' Any good teacher will tell you that curse words are not a way to effectively communicate your point! It represents a lack of vocabulary development on the part of the speaker. I do not tolerate potty mouths from my students and am greatly disappointed to read it in an article on an education Web site."

"Dear Mr. Mali,
I just want to say: Thank You!"

THE END

And the scariest mail I received? It came anonymously and began:

"As an educator, who has taught all of your children ."