The Hoopla

They say you show what your real priorities are. They being “the experts” who seem to exist everywhere on every topic imaginable.

You can find time to watch six hours of tv but no time to exercise? You’re showing what your real priority is. And, um, guilty.

You say you want to save money but instead find yourself spending unnecessary money on xyz? You’re showing what your real priority is. Not as guilty.

Or, to put it another way: actions speak louder than words.


Tonight was the Super Bowl. I didn’t watch. I saw the final score online, so I know who won.

But here’s what I did see leading up to tonight. Dozens and dozens of commercials. Advertisements for the pregame, the show the morning of, the show the night before, the kickoff to the weekend, etc., etc. I heard stories about the millions of dollars being spent on a 30 second advertisement.

Closer to home, I saw lots of empty parking lots tonight. Some businesses even closed up early because they didn’t expect many customers.

All of this hoopla for one football game. One.Football.Game.

And because I’m a teacher, I had to start doing some comparing and contrasting. (I should totally get a sticker for that.) When do we as teachers see “the hoopla” in our buildings?

That moment a kid reads a new word or advances a reading level? No.

That time where the light bulb went off and a math skill made sense? Nope.

What about when a child who used to hit and scream and throw a tantrum showed a bit more self-control? Nah.

The day that one kid finally brought back whatever form/permission slip/whatever that you’ve been waiting on for forever?

Yeah right.

Okay, so maybe it’s more performance-related. Music program? Art show? School play? Field Day?

No, heck no, of course not, and maybe a teensy bit but not the kind of hoopla we’re talking about here.

I’ve worked in multiple buildings, and the only time I’ve seen Super Bowl weekend kinds of hysteria was…you guessed it…testing time. The children couldn’t attend a one hour program earlier in the year that was specific to their age, but the whole school could shut down for a three hour pep rally. We could spend time making signs and learning cheers and telling everyone to “Do their best on the test!” because that was going to make the difference between passing and failing.

The schools may claim to want to promote learning or something like that, but every spring they show the world their real priority.




Race to the Top funding is going away, and states are scrambling. I know my district received millions in funding, not that I ever saw any of it used in a meaningful way for my students.

My reality is grant writing and reduced price waivers for field trip tickets. My reality is going on Donors Choose and seeing teachers–dedicated, passionate teachers–ask for money for things as basic as pencils, paper, and crayons. The stuff that anyone could go into any big box store and purchase is exactly what these teachers so desperately need in their classrooms. My reality is having my parents help fund some of the supplies in my classroom, because in all my years of teaching, I’ve never had a class as poor as this one.

My reality is saving pictures on my phone of signs that said “No soap” hanging in the student bathrooms for days on end. My reality is getting donations of clothing for students who would otherwise still be wearing worn, dirty clothes every day to school. My reality is hearing that the district won’t be purchasing xyz this year due to the budget.

My reality is that same district spending hundreds of millions of dollars on tests, practice tests, remediation, and whatever else Pearson can come up with.

Because that’s the real priority.

When the hoopla fades, that’s all that matters. To the building administrators, to the districts, to the states.




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