Texas Student Turns Tables on Teacher
Texas student Jeff Bliss, fed up with the instruction his classmates received at their high school, gives a passionate speech about why education matters. Naturally, the teacher throws him out.
It's the latest YouTube video to go viral. In a Texas schoolroom, an exasperated student is seen ambling toward the classroom door, seeming only to mumble at first as the microphone on the distant camera struggles to pick up the audio. As he passes his teacher's desk and heads for the door, the audio clears.
What quickly becomes clear is that the student is giving an impassioned speech about the state of education in his classroom. His words, though, have wider import.
The brief drama unfolded at Duncanville High School in Texas where student Jeff Bliss was secretly captured on video giving his teacher an impressive lecture on the importance of education.
"If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing out a freaking packet. There's kids in here who don't learn like that. They need to learn face to face," Bliss tells the teacher.
He continues, telling the teacher: "You're just getting mad because I'm pointing out the obvious. You need kids to come in here and get excited for this. You can't expect kids to change if all you do is tell them."
The most noteworthy aspect of the incident was Bliss's understanding of the big picture of what America's failing public education system portends for the nation as a whole. Just before leaving the classroom, he tells the teacher: "You got to take this job serious. This is the future of this nation. And when you come in here like you did last time and make a statement about 'oh, this is my paycheck,' indeed it is, but this is my country's future and my education."
Bravo, Mr. Bliss!
Surprisingly, Bliss, who is only a sophomore, will not face punishment for taking a stand against substandard education. According to the Dallas Morning News, he met with the principal of the school and the district announced that no "further action will be taken regarding the student."
That's not the case for the teacher, however. While the district has not identified who the teacher is, it has placed her on administrative leave, pending an investigation.
The incident at Duncanville High comes after several years of news reports bemoaning the fact that U.S. students are falling behind their peers from other nations.
Two years ago, in the Atlantic, Joel Klein, who served eight years as chancellor of the New York City school system, eloquently described the situation.
"While America’s students are stuck in a ditch, the rest of the world is moving ahead," Klein wrote. "The World Economic Forum ranks us 48th in math and science education. On international math tests, the United States is near the bottom of industrialized countries (the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), and we’re in the middle in science and reading. Similarly, although we used to have one of the top percentages of high-school and college graduates among the OECD countries, we’re now in the basement for high-school and the middle for college graduates. And these figures don’t take into account the leaps in educational attainment in China, Singapore, and many developing countries."
Meanwhile, rather than being places of learning, many of our schools serve as havens for bullies where kids are regularly abused and intimidated. At many schools, academics take a very distant back seat to sports, with athletes being celebrated and scholarship ignored. Worse, gang violence makes just getting to and from school a dangerous endeavor for many children. In Chicago, for instance, where 54 schools are being closed in a realignment that is intended to improve the school system there, many are concerned about the safety of shifting children around gang territories. One of the gravest challenges Chicago faces as it closes schools, the Huffington Post reported "will be safely maneuvering thousands of students to and from class through the patchwork of rival gang territories that cover large parts of the nation's third-largest city."
These, and many other problems too numerous to count, will not easily be solved. In fact, it is reasonable to question whether or not a massive and inefficient government bureaucracy like the public education system can be reformed.
Ultimately, however, Jeff Bliss has indicated what can be done. By taking a stand in his Texas classroom, Bliss has shown that he understands that he is responsible for his own education. By refusing to quietly be ignored by apathetic unionized "teachers," he has shown that it is possible to take positive action.
Real education reform will only come when a majority of students and their parents come to realize, like Mr. Bliss, that education is a personal responsibility, and success will only come as a result of hard work and a determination to oppose the liberal education establishment's apathetic status quo.