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Monday, August 6, 2012

Grin and Bear It: Teachers Paddled in Texas

Laredo - A New York Times editorial entitled, "Carrots and Sticks for Schools" called for rewards for "good teachers while easing chronic low performers out of the system."  What they apparently didn't know is that a small charter school in Texas beat them to it - literally.

"When the principal first told me to bend over and accept the paddling, I thought he had lost his mind," recounts Jeremy Finn of Harmony Science Academy in Laredo.  "But now I understand and can even see that he was right.  When my students do well on tests, I get rewarded with coupons for food." And when they don't?  Finn bows his head and recites, "Well then I haven't done my job and deserve to be paddled."

Food coupons entitle teachers and their families to eat for free at local eateries such as Sonic Drive-in, the Corn House and Posh Sushi Express. Fifth grade teacher Mary Robinson, who amazingly hasn't had a student fail a test in three years, speaks very highly of the program. "I'm uncertified so I get paid less than other teachers and the coupons really help my family make ends meet."

"The system works for us," smiled James McFadden principal of Harmony while brandishing an long wooden paddle.  "Usually I only have to swat a teacher once and then they learn to get those kids to pass the test but fast....or they quit."

Turnover has been high at Harmony with more than 75% of teachers leaving during the 2011-2012 school year, the year the school first began sticking it to teachers.  However, with only minor improvements in the economy, many educators feel they have little choice but to grin and bear it. Last year, turnover was just over 40% and McFadden thinks that number will go down farther still.  "As long as you hire young teachers, they don't know any better."  As for the older ones who have hung around, principal McFadden has his own theory, "I think we have a few staffers who like it."

The paddles were paid for by a generous grant from the Walton Foundation while a soothing balm is distributed courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reality Alert: Interested in how we came to write this? Read NYTimes here.


  1. Students last, ain't that the truth!! Good ole Texas still paddles kids. While I have never heard of a teacher being paddled, I know for a fact that the administration bullies the hell out of them. Here in Texas, nothing is more important than the almighty test score. The principal at our school is utterly fixated on data and test scores. Standardized testing is a year 'round event, so get ready and bend over. Let's paddle everyone who does poorly and have a pizza party for those who do well!

  2. That "article" is absolute genius. However, with our country's "education gone wild", at first, I thought it was true.

  3. I know this is fake, but I wouldn't be surprised if an admin read this and started the rule. Texas is fucking crazy. I would know, I moved here a few years back! I miss my Virginia school... all Texas cares about is test scores, test scores, test scores! Students Last indeed.

  4. That's the only thing a certain administrator at my school probably hasn't thought of. She sure does all she can to punish teacher for any real or imagined deficits. While ignoring her own, of course.

  5. Texas used to allow paddling for Student Teachers, but I am only aware of teachers being paddled who accepted the paddling as an alternative for other other more costly alternatives.

  6. In the current education climate, I read this twice before I realized it was satire. Jeez....

  7. Hi Are teachers really paddled at this school?Please email me at tomshad@consolidated.net Happy Holidays.