December 20th, 2012

Martyrdom at Sandy Hook should silence bullying of teachers by “reformers”


Merriam-Webster defines martyrdom as “the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause.” The six adult educators slain at Sandy Hook elementary on Dec. were practicing the profession they all claimed to love. These teachers and mothers were killed in a school, protecting other people’s children.

How many education “reformers” would lay down their lives for their principles? These system “deformers,” (a phrase used by Ralph Nader who pointed out that those claiming interest in tort reform actually sought to deform and kill the legal system that enables individuals to sue hurtful corporations, as do education “reformers” who seek to destroy public schools and unionized public school teachers) include advocates from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (referring to their education initiatives, not the Foundation’s noble work in global disease eradication), Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel (who laid the seeds for the Chicago teachers’ strike), and the incendiary profit-driven Michelle Rhee. None are school teachers. They pontificate from a fly-over altitude, not in the trenches.

By contrast, in the trenches with real children were Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Sandy Hook administrators who charged the shooter immediately after his AR-15 assisted break-in through the secured door. They paid with their lives from their up close and personally lethal encounter.

Also dead are Rachel D’avino, a behavioral therapist, teacher Lauren Rousseau, and Anne Marie Murphy, classroom aide who cradled little Dylan Hockley in her arms as they both died.

The teacher in the 1st grade classroom was Victoria Soto. According to the New York Times, Gary MacNamara, the chief of the Fairfield Police Department said Ms. Soto had “pushed children into a closet and allowed other kids to escape” before she herself was killed.

To honor these martyrs, the next time the teacher haters, representing any group with any political slant, rev up in 2013 with proposed legislation, join us in calling them exactly what they are. WBI supports teachers.

Let’s not be turned against teachers, as a group or profession, according to anyone’s agenda.


“The teachers and the principals were absolutely heroic. So were the others, who were in lockdown, and kept their kids calm and quiet in what had to be a traumatizing fear. I don’t think it is possible, if one was not that in that situation, to understand the depth of the heroism of teachers who put themselves in the line of fire to save children,” said Randi Weingarten, sobbing as she spoke, in a phone interview with Working in These Times on Wednesday night. “This has kind of pulled the curtain away to show who teachers really are. Teachers’ instinct is to serve, to protect and to love. And you saw that in full view in Newtown this week. This is who teachers are. If we were in the same position, we would do the same thing; I hope that I would do so.”

Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).


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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at 5:34 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. This is a disgusting use of a tragedy to push your political agenda. For you to insinuate that education reformers would not have also done anything in their ability to protect children is purely hateful. Are you unaware that the Gates Foundation has given millions upon millions to charities throughout the world? And, these include traditional district schools as well as charter schools? Are you aware that many of the education reformers are motivated by social justice – that they want to right the wrong of unequal opportunities. I will now unfriend Workplace Bullying – as you no longer are an entity that I care to follow. I will always consider myself an Education Reformer because I believe that our education system has been unjust to poor children for too long. You have insulted me, my daughter who attends a charter school BECAUSE she was relentlessly bullied at her traditional district school, my daughter-in-law who teaches at a charter school for Somalian immigrants, and all the people I work with everyday who dedicate their lives to the children they serve. If you have any sense of same you will retract this denigrating statement.

    • bullyinginstitute says:

       My point was just the opposite of denigration of teachers. Read all historical posts here relating to teachers whom we hold in high regard. I taught university for 21 years. Reformers to whom I referred in the partial list are outsiders, not practitioners.

      I regret that your daughter was bullied anywhere. But charter schools are sold to the public as cost savers and producers of higher quality education. Both claims have been empirically shown to be false.

      Regarding your experience, perhaps you can start a movement to show that bullying does not happen in charter schools.

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