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