We Love Amazing Teachers

Update: A new response from Discovery Education has been posted here.

DiscoveryEducation_2010_Positive200Last week while I was traveling for work my wife sent me a text informing me that she was selected as her school district’s teacher of the year. I almost cried. And I’m not much of a crier. But it has been such a challenging year for her and for her colleagues. They started the year by taking a mandatory pay cut and benefit reduction. They went back to school in the midst of an ongoing firestorm about all that’s wrong in education. In that game of political hot potato teachers usually wind up holding the spud. Regrettably, I’m sure this story may sound familiar.

The good news though is that I can with 100% certainty tell you that I get to see firsthand, every day (and weekends and holidays) all that is right about education. All the passion for helping kids become better people. All the time spent after school tutoring kids who need extra help. All the late night WalMart trips to buy science supplies. All the joy and heartache that come with being a professional educator.

My wife getting this recognition makes me truly happy. The timing couldn’t be more appropriate since the DEN team and I have spent the past month prepping for our favorite week of the year – DEN Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s something we’ve done for the past 6 or 7 years and each time we try to make it bigger and better. We have all sorts of partners involved, special video messages from across Discovery Education team and a few surprises that will make the week even more special. Everyone on our team comes from an education background so it’s really rewarding to be in a position to say thank you.

So, with all this great news personally and around the DEN community as a whole, this morning I saw a few tweets to @DiscoveryEd about a new show on Investigation Discovery (ID) called “Bad Teachers.”

The intention of ID’s Bad Teachers is to expose the small handful of criminally negligent educators who give a bad name to the millions of teachers engaged in this very noble profession. This show does not represent the education profession as a whole, nor the countless number of teachers across the country working tirelessly for our youth each day.

At Discovery Education, we celebrate all facets of education and have tremendous respect for the educators working beside us in our communities nationwide. We are committed to creating and providing resources for the improvement of schools and to offering high-quality professional development opportunities for teachers. Through the Discovery Educator Network (DEN), our community of teachers focused on accelerating student achievement, we’ve reached over 1.5 million exemplary teachers and to date and have delivered 60,000 professional development events.

We are committed to doing everything that we can to ensure that students have the best education possible and that educators have the resources that they need to deliver on that promise now and in the future.

Discovery Education is part of Discovery Communications and so is ID. Having worked at Discovery Education for the past nine years I can tell you that people here care about what happens to kids and we support educators as much as we possibly can. I learned about the show on ID this morning for the first time and I asked myself the same question you might ask:

Why would a company that is so committed to education produce a show that presents the worst about the education profession?

Personally, I wish we would make a show about the teachers of the year like my wife.
ID does shows about subsets of people in a lot of professions and no one would argue with the fact that these people do not represent what it means to be a professional educator. Still, it may seem hard to reconcile the need to do this show at all. But at the end of the day, we don’t get involved in programming decisions and the TV teams leave the education business to the expert teams on our side of the house.

I would just ask that we all do our best to separate a television show from the work we do each and every day at Discovery Education. As we approach National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s turn our energy toward celebrating and recognizing teachers.

Follow John Spencer’s lead and thank an amazing teacher using #amazingteachers and next week during DEN Teacher Appreciation Week show your #DENlove for teachers around the world.

Comments

  1. Hall Davidson

    Totally agree.1.5 million exemplary teachers trumps all. No one knows better than teachers the truth of the education system and how hard teachers work to make sure students, families, and communities are well served. The reason why there aren’t more shows on excellent teaching is because it happens every day, everywhere. Remarkable teachers are, thankfully, remarkably familiar. And congratulations to the district that has Martha.

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  2. Susanne Thompson

    HUGE congratulations to Martha! What a beautiful recognition for her amazing work!

    I see GREAT teachers every day all over the country! I have worked with AMAZING teachers my whole career. I am filled with honor and pride being a member of the education profession.

    I remember every one of my teachers, who were so inspiring to me as a student, for them I am eternally grateful.

    Teacher Appreciation lives in our hearts and minds and our work everyday at Discovery Education.

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  3. Michael Pena

    Lance,

    Congrats to your wife on what is a wonderful achievement.

    However you may understand and appreciate what we do, that has no bearing on the image that shows such as Bad Teachers leaves upon the collective American consciousness. When a show such as this highlights the extraordinarily small percentage of teachers that behave in such a ugly way, Discovery inadvertently (and I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt here) paints all teachers with the same image. As a matter of fact, I do not see individuals such as the show highlights to be ‘teachers’ in any sense of the word, and they deserve every punishment they receive and more- from a court of law. As for the concern that this behavior needs to be brought to public attention, I would only suggest that the mainstream and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter do a more than adequate job.

    As you must surely be aware, American public school teachers are under attack by a variety of political and corporate interests who use any and every opportunity they can to paint us in a negative light. I would like to believe that, given all that Discovery has done to help teachers in reaching every student and engaging them in positive ways, this was not the intention of the show’s creators. However, thousands of teachers are now connecting across the country in an effort to push back against these types of caricatures. Quite simply, those of us who work hard and sacrifice much to protect and nurture children have had enough.

    You wrote “Personally, I wish we would make a show about the teachers of the year like my wife.” Why doesn’t the Discovery Channel take that opportunity? We have had enough negativity dictating the discourse around issues in America. Perhaps if companies such as the Discovery Channel and its collective networks chose to take a stand and highlight the good that working Americans do in the world today, our own self-view might begin to change and we can move toward the bigger and brighter future that is out there for us.

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  4. Gail Richmond

    Certainly it is no accident that a show called “Bad Teachers” is being run. Teachers will be digging to find out who would fund/back such a show. Given the climate surrounding public education and the plight of public school teachers, would it not be better to run a show showing the heroic efforts of America’s teachers? I have taught for 35 years. I have not known anyone remotely like the people depicted in your vile show. I, along with teacher activists across the US, will be working to shed light on the background and conception of this series. Further, we will be advocating that Fistricts stop purchasing the many Discovery products marketed toward the schools.

  5. @awesomescience

    Congratulations! for all that both of you do – Martha for the children directly, and Lance for the inspiration and guidance you provide for teachers in and out of the DEN. Unfortunately “Good Teachers” wouldn’t get the ratings, just like they don’t get the kudos they deserve.

  6. Vicky Johnston

    “ID does shows about subsets of people in a lot of professions”

    Do you have a show called Bad Pharmacists, Bad Mailmen, Bad Accountants, Bad Dentists, Bad TV Producers? Why single out teachers?

  7. Marla Kilfoyle

    I have been a teacher for 28 years and have used Discovery channel in many of my classes. I will no longer do that. What a disgusting show to put on the air!! Why don’t you do a show about the teachers who are HEROES every single day? Are you aware that the people following this show on twitter are TEENAGERS!! I am beyond disgusted that a channel that has had the support of the amazing 99,9% of GREAT teachers in this country has been stabbed in the back by this kind of programming. You should be ashamed and you should PULL this program off the air immediately. I also am the general manager of BATs, a group of teachers on Facebook with 45,000 teachers. We will call for a boycott of your channel and products in our schools! We are all disgusted beyond belief!

  8. Linda Myrick

    It seems that the TV teams have not, in fact, left the “education business to the expert teams” on your side of the house. This truly horrible show actually is part of the education business. When these shows are aired, our profession is villified. You say that they do this to all sorts of professions, and yet we see in the comments people who won’t send their child to school, who call teachers (in general) horrible names, who are making extremely negative judgments of teachers—not just the teachers featured, but teachers. We don’t see mothers villified when a mother puts her baby in a trash can. We don’t see the professions of other featured offenders being villified. But it’s happening to teachers, even though in every news story of school shootings in the last decade, teachers have been heroes to their students and colleagues. I honestly don’t watch any of this programming—it’s all a waste of time to me. But I will actively work with the aforementioned group to promote a boycott of your station and your sponsors if this show remains on the air.

  9. Jolie

    I agree with the comment above. When will we see a “Bad Doctors,” “Bad Lawyers,” “Bad Police Officers,” or “Bad Accountants” show? While Discovery purports to support great teachers, you do all of us a HUGE disservice in the public eye by putting this program on the air. Teachers have taken a collective beating in the media for several years now due to corporate “deform” initiatives and politicians blaming teachers for all of children’s ills. I find it unfathomable that no one in the programming department had good conscience enough to think through what a show like “Bad Teachers” might do to add to negative perceptions of teachers in general. I’ve been teaching for 18 years in four different schools, and I have never encountered a teacher who behaved in the manner of those you’ve chosen to depict on television. When will someone in the media stand up for us? Why isn’t there a show highlighting all the good teachers across the country do every day? Because of this show, I will now avoid using Discovery programming in my classroom. I cannot support a network that chooses to further demean my profession.

  10. Amanda workman

    Interesting that while you have a post like this one, you are also currently showing anti teacher propaganda like “Bad teachers”. I have been a huge fan of discovery for a long time and used it in my classroom in many lessons. I will no longer! I refuse to support a corporation that doesn’t support me!

  11. Francie

    Thank you Lance for the post! Also, HUGE Congrats goes out to Martha. She is amazing and steal ideas from her on a regular basis.

  12. Max

    Lance,
    Please send my congrats and give a big hug to Martha from me for her much deserved accomplishment! Her students and the school district are so blessed to have her as a teacher.
    I am also glad to see that Discovery Communications has taken the appropriate step to pull the plug on the ID Channel show that shall not be named. >:-(
    Hopefully this will open the door for conversations about a new show! Maybe one that highlights the abundance of stories showcasing teachers in a positive light for all the selfless work that they do to educate our children.

  13. Chad Lehman

    In good news, Discovery Communications has decided to immediately cancel this program, removing it from ID’s on-air and online schedule.

  14. Karen Wells

    Congratulations to Martha and all the other great teachers who put in countless hours each week ensuring that their students will become productive, creative members of society. A big “Thank You” to Discovery Communication who is canceling the show and removing it from their schedule!

  15. Suzanne Knutzen

    Thank you very much for cancelling Bad Teachers!

  16. Sara Badiner

    Lance,
    Tell Martha “congratulations” from the Badiners! And kudos to you, too. Being an educator isn’t just a “job” that you leave at 4 o’clock. It is a way of life. Nope. It is more than that. It is so deeply ingrained in a person that the individual becomes it. And any educator knows that, behind every great teacher, is a partner that is not only a supportive, understanding, creative, and compassionate sounding-board for ideas and ‘trial runs'; but also an empathetic listener at the end of the “not so good” days.

    Congratulations to you both! (and I’m so glad they cancelled this show!)

  17. Guest Post Online

    I have been a teacher for 28 years and have used Discovery channel in many of my classes. I will no longer do that. What a disgusting show to put on the air!! Why don’t you do a show about the teachers who are HEROES every single day? Are you aware that the people following this show on twitter are TEENAGERS!! I am beyond disgusted that a channel that has had the support of the amazing 99,9% of GREAT teachers in this country has been stabbed in the back by this kind of programming. You should be ashamed and you should PULL this program off the air immediately. I also am the general manager of BATs, a group of teachers on Facebook with 45,000 teachers. We will call for a boycott of your channel and products in our schools! We are all disgusted beyond belief!

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