Teacher Calls into The Tennessee Star Report, Claims There’s a ‘Fundamental Problem’ in Public Education


On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy took a call from a Davidson County school teacher named Mike and discussed his disappointing experience as a teacher within the Davidson County school system. He also explained how many parents are unresponsive while the kids just “don’t care.”

Towards the end of the segment, Mike asked Leahy to help get those kids who are causing disruption out of the classroom. The caller was bewildered and stated that many of these “thugs” are causing disruption for those who want to learn.

Leahy: Direct instruction is the way to go. But it’s been resisted. It was a methodology that was introduced by a professor then at the University of Illinois who then went on to the University of Oregon. It’s been very effective when implemented. Now, Thales Academy is the biggest implementer of that. Great test results. So direct instruction is the way to go and it needs to happen. Mike in Nashville I’m not sure if this is the same, Mike. High school teacher calling in. Mike, welcome to the Tennessee Star.

Mike: This is Mike. I’m a high school teacher.

Leahy: You’re not the same Mike that called in in the last hour? You are a different Mike. Well, thanks. So you’re a high school teacher. I’ve been very critical today about our public education system. And I wanted a teacher to call in to give their viewpoints. So tell me about your experience, Mike. Do I have it right or wrong?

Mike: I could sit here for five hours and talk about all the things wrong with our educational system.

Leahy: OK.

Mike: And every teacher knows this.  Truthfully, you’re up their teaching your heart out and the kids got their heads down. They got their hoodies on. They got their cell phones between their legs. They just don’t care.

Leahy: The kids don’t care.

Mike: It has nothing to do with common core. The kids in this generation don’t care. They want to play their video games. And it doesn’t matter. We’re not miracle workers. They want to sleep. A lot of them aren’t getting any sleep at night. If I had my way, I would make education voluntary after about eighth grade.

Leahy: See now that’s a very interesting point. Tell us why. Because I don’t disagree with you, Mike.

Mike: We’ve got a bunch of thugs in the classroom. Kids that just disrupt and their gone half the time. They’re in juvie and a lot of illegals in our classroom who are very transitory. They’re there for a few months and they just leave. They don’t speak a word of English.

And I would say look, if you’re 14 and you want to go in the workforce, have at it. We don’t need you in our classroom disrupting the learning for the kids that actually do care. And believe it or not there are some that do. But in some of our classes especially your non-Amish classes you look out there and you just see the kids with their hoods on and their heads down.

They don’t care. It has nothing to do with common core. We could talk all day long about all the problems with education. But fundamentally this generation is completely different from ours.

Leahy: Yeah. I think you make a really good point. And they don’t care and for a number of reason. Now I’m assuming you teach in Davidson county schools.

Mike: Perhaps.

Leahy: So perhaps you would have some experience there. I got you. We don’t want to get into too many details there. What’s it like being a teacher in those schools. How do you get up every morning and say, “I’m going to do this again?”

Mike: You try to call the parents and they don’t answer. They don’t call you back. They don’t even respond to emails or texts. It’s a fundamental generation problem. You’ve got all these parents having kids and the kids don’t have two parents at home.

Leahy: Yeah.

Mike: Kids are being raised by foster care or grandparents. In some cases they’re homeless. Frankly, there are people having babies that have no means of raising them or supporting them. They can’t feed and clothe their own kid. And they come into our classrooms and a lot of these kids frankly they are thugs. And we’re expected to teach them? We’re expected to teach in English? It’s an impossible task.

Leahy: So Mike, let me ask you this. I want to get your view on how do the administrators handle this A? And how do they deal with teachers? And what’s the school board doing? What’s your view on those two things?

Mike: The school board? I wouldn’t know we had a school board. What do the administrators do? Just have us sit through endless meetings as if meetings are going to cure this whole complicated problem. And they do their walk-through with their clipboards. That’s about it. It’s a fundamental problem.

In Davidson County, we’ere so top-heavy. That’s another problem. Davidson county, we have like 800 employees in that central office. Compared to about 3000 teachers. We’re very top-heavy with administrators and with central office employees and they wonder why we have no money.

Leahy: What can I do to help? What can we do to help? What can I do to help you?

Mike: I don’t know what the state law says, I think it’s age 16. Let the kids who are not serious about school drop out. Get them out of our schools. The kids that are not serious and are just there to cause problems. Get them out of our schools. Put them in the workforce. Let them make money. In a lot of cases, their family’s needs the money. Just get them out of our classrooms please!

Leahy: Will you call back again? We want to help you more. I think maybe there’s something we can do. You can email me at [email protected]. I want to help you. I don’t know what specifically we can do. But maybe there’s something we can do. Thank you for calling Mike. It’s a bleak situation in our public school system Jimmy.

Listen to the full hour:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

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2 Thoughts to “Teacher Calls into The Tennessee Star Report, Claims There’s a ‘Fundamental Problem’ in Public Education”

  1. The teacher is correct. I agree, but he doesn’t go far enough. The constitution guarantees an education, and I agree. The government schooling should stop at junior high. The constitution framers idea of school ended at our idea of elementary. Once reading, writing, and arithmatic are learned, let them go. If the students want more, they can fund their own education at private schools. I’m sure the bright children will continue their education, and even go to university. Some will continue their education through self studies. Those that want to work will do that, maybe even participate in apprenticeship programs. Not only do I disagree with free college, I want to discontinue free high school. Stop forced participation in unwanted and unnecessary education, They are bringing the others down.

  2. Patrick

    This teacher is correct, I too am a high school teacher (starting my 31st year in the classroom). I’ve been teaching so long that I remember when students could drop out at age 16 and go and get a job. But that all changed when the State passed a law that took away the drivers license of a drop out. As a result, all sorts of kids (who didn’t want to be in school) stayed in school so they could keep driving. That was the beginning of the problem.

    If we want to fix the problem, let drop outs keep their drivers license.