Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Teachers of Newtown

The Hero Teachers of Newtown

by Diane Ravitch

This much is clear: the teachers and staff at the Sandy Hook
Elementary School reacted with astonishing courage to the
unthinkable, the terrifying intrusion of a man intent on
murdering them and their students. With no thought of
their own safety, they defended their children..

Vicki  Soto.

Everyone of them is a hero, those who died and those who
survived.   Six of them died protecting the children.

We don't know the names of the survivors, but we know who made
the ultimate sacrifice. For their courage and selflessness,
they are heroes of American education.

The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and the school
psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 52, ran towards the intruder to
try to stop him. They both were killed.

The killer went in search of defenseless babies and teachers.
The teachers heard the gunfire, tried to hide their children,
hid them in closets and cabinets.

Vicki Soto, 27, put herself between the killer and her
children. He killed her. Somehow some of them escaped. Six ran
to a nearby house. They told the surprised homeowner,, "We
can't go back to our school. Our teacher is dead. We don't
have a teacher."

Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was a special education teacher who was
devoted to the children she taught. When her body was found,
little Dylan Hockley was in her arms.

Rachel D'Avino was a new teacher, who was getting her
doctorate in special education. She was a behavioral analyst.
Her boyfriend planned to ask her to marry him during the
Christmas holiday. Like the other teachers, she died shielding

Lauren Rousseau, 30, had joined the faculty in November. She
was thrilled. All her life, her mother later said, she wanted
to be a teacher.

Every one of the teachers was a career educator. Every one was
doing exactly what she wanted to do. they've worked in a
school that was not obsessed with testing but with the needs
of children. This we know: the staff at Sandy Hook loved their
students. They put their students first, even before their own

Oh, and one other thing, all these dedicated teachers belonged
to a union. The senior teachers had tenure, despite the fact
that "reformers" (led by ConnCAN, StudentsFirst, and hedge
fund managers) did their best last spring to diminish their
tenure and to tie their evaluations to test scores. Governor
Malloy said, memorably, to his shame, that teachers get tenure
just for showing up. No one at Sandy Hook was just "showing

Governor Dannell Malloy has led the effort in his state to
expand charter schools and high-stakes testing. He appointed a
state commissioner of education who co-founded a charter
chain. He said, memorably, that he didn't care how much test
prep there was so long as scores go up. Sandy Hook is not that
kind of school.

Let us hope Governor Malloy learned something these past few
days about the role of public schools in their communities.

Newtown does not need a charter school. What it needs now is
healing. Not competition, not division, but a community coming
together to help one another. Together. Not competing.

We can all be proud of these teachers. 

December 17, 2012
Diane Ravitch's Blog


[About Diane Ravitch... http://dianeravitch.net/about/ 
"My website is dianeravitch.com. I am a historian of education
and Research Professor of Education at New York University. I
was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public
schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated
from Wellesley College in 1960. I received my Ph.D. in the
history of American education in 1975. I am the mother of two
sons. They went to private schools in New York City. I have
three grandsons: two went to religious schools and the third
goes to public school in New York City. I live in Brooklyn,
New York. 

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