First, Do No Harm

Hi! It’s me! Yeah, that teacher who got way too much press just for quitting his job.  What kind of world do we live in where a teacher leaves and is celebrated by his colleagues and several dozen parents for just up and leaving?  Sheesh.

Well, we live in a world where teachers don’t really fit in anymore.  You see, there’s a cohort of three groups of wolves dressed in sheep’s’ clothing (and school-bus-yellow superhero capes) that have decided that they know better than teachers how kids learn.  In fact, they’re very good at spreading the idea that teachers are to blame for failing schools, teachers get paid too much, teachers have pensions that are crashing the economy, and teachers like to get a little too friendly with their students.  Oh, and they tend to just up and leave when the heat of standardized test pressure gets too high (I was actually accused of that).

But let me tell you the truth.  Teachers, by and large, do what we do because we love watching children grow mentally, intellectually, and emotionally.  (Watching them grow physically is mostly kind of comical, especially in the preadolescent, clumsy years.)  We are in the game to change lives and we care very deeply about our work and our students.  So, when a regime takes over that refuses to let us be those people, it bothers us–sometimes to the point of physical illness and pain.  You don’t need to hear my whole sob story, but I will tell you that my frustrations with the ways my students and colleagues were being treated made me physically sick, to the point of dysfunction.

I left because I believe that teachers live by that one magical line in the Hippocratic oath, just as much as doctors do.  We refuse to take part in practices that might cause harm to our kids.  I found myself to the point of tears a few times as I watched my students struggle and suffer under the weight of the new “ed reform” movement.  It’s worse than we think.

So, I’m taking my action several steps further.  I am now a full-blown anti-Common Core, anti-Race to the Top, anti-privatization activist.  As a parent and a teacher, I refuse to do harm.  Unless, of course, you’re a corporate stooge and your last name rhymes with “funkin’” or “pee.”

I’ll see you on the front lines.


Kris L. Nielsen continues to brutally kick the CCSS around in his new book, Children of the Core, and wants all parents to “refuse” to let their kids take the state standardized tests.  Learn how here!


  1. “Funkin'” and “pee”? Where did you learn your wit, from Beavis and Butthead? I don’t think juvenile name-calling helps our cause.

  2. “Funkin” and “Pee” would not recognize a developmentally appropriate educational practice even if you subjected them to one as if they were Kindergartners themselves, such as playing at the water table. Funkin would likely say it lacked “rigor” and Pee would probably characterize it as “low expectations”. Both of these non-educators would no doubt demand flashcards and highly structured lessons instead.

    Unless, of course, all of that exposure, exploration and experimentation (i,e, play) was occurring at a private school, such as Waldorf Then Funkin and Pee would be likely to send their own children there, rather than making them attend a test-prep Kindergarten where they would be condemned to following the academically-oriented Common Core.

    Developmentally appropriate practices that provide challenges to children at their instructional levels, foster a continued enjoyment of learning and promote intrinsic motivation, are now just reserved for elites, while education “reform,” aka the corporate business plan, robs the rest of the population of their childhoods.

    So much harm, starting so early in children’s lives, so inhumane and so terribly sad.

  3. David Braddy says:

    You are one of the Great Americans left on this planet. Thanks for sharing your heart and telling it like it is. Common Core is rotten to the core! Stop it dead and kill it now wherever anyone who reads this happens to be living. It is a disaster just starting to happen.

  4. I hope some teachers in Chicago see this!

  5. Let’s gather a group of like-minded teachers and start our own school!

  6. Has anyone out there read Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi lately? The riverboat pilot’s association?

  7. Teachers, as experts, shouldn’t be questioned about practices employed in our classrooms. I looked at census data and educators hold more Master’s degrees than any other profession and the third highest number of PhD’s (after health care professions and engineers). We are very knowlegeable and well versed on research. We all know this; we just need to act as though we are.

    That is what you do so keep on!

  8. Awesome. We need someone like you in our district.

  9. Fight the Good Fight my friend! I’m with you!

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