Templeton, NY—At a convocation of 10,000 public school teachers, district officials announced that a big change was coming down the pike. “Don’t think for a second that you can keep on doing things the same old way as before,” said Chancellor Mike Peremena. “It didn’t work then, and it isn’t gonna work now. If you try to resist, you’ll get knocked flat on your butt, just wait and see.”
Asked by a teacher just what the change entailed, Peremena guffawed. “Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said. “Yeah, I bet you’d like to know. That way you can get busy obstructing it. All I can tell you is, there’s no way around it this time. You may think you’ve got a way out, but that’s your own delusion, which’ll burst before you know it. It’ll burst in your sleep. It’ll burst in the middle of your formal observation.”
“Does it have to do with the tests?” another teacher asked.
It always has to do with the tests,” he snapped, “but there’s much more to it. You can be sure of that. Don’t think for a second that you can get away with your Sudoku, your naps in the teachers’ lounge. There’ll be test prep, all right, but it won’t be easy. No more rocking chairs and Facebook and bubble gum.”
”What if we’ve been doing good work?” a voice from the back of the hall asked. “Why do we automatically have to change, if we’ve been teaching well?”
Peremena roared a long roar. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line,” he said at last, wiping his nose. “Every single teacher thinks she’s God’s gift to the classroom, apparently. Well, look at the results. If you were all so special, would we see these dismal results?”
“No, but our school—”
“Your school nothing. Your school… Ask your principal about your school. If your principal says anything good about your school, just send ’em to me. We’ll fix the situation.”
At this point Deputy Chancellor Marcy Verandering stepped up to the podium. “Let’s give Mr. Peremena a big round of applause for being here today,” she said. “You’re a generous guy, Mike. You gave us your precious time. And now I’d like to finish off by clarifying a few details.” The room clicked into hush.
“Nobody here likes change,” she began. “Most of you will fight it tooth and nail. You’ll insist that your current practices are good and right. You’ll defend the status quo. But a special few of you will turn into change agents. You’ll give up your old ways. You’ll do whatever needs to be done for the kids. Let’s have no ambiguity here. The change agents are the heroes.”
A commotion had started up in the back of the room. People were exclaiming and whirling around. “Good God,” said Verandering, “what is going on here?”
In strode a tall, blond, young-looking man. He walked down the aisle and up the steps to the stage. He nudged Verandering aside, cleared his throat, and began.
“Thank you, Ms. Verandering,” he said, “for introducing the change. It was my idea, as you know, and I’m the one who funded it. As of this moment, you and Mr. Peremena are fired.”
“But I supported this change from the very start—”
“That’s the problem. If you think you support it, you aren’t really taking it in. This is the type of change that scares people out of their breeches. The true change agent admits to being scared.”
“But wait,” pleaded Verandering, clutching the rail of the steps. “Wasn’t it just a mandate about items to be posted on every classroom wall?”
“You’re clearly a change resister, because you snitched.”
“That wasn’t my—”
“That’s what they always say. You snitched. Goodbye.” To the audience: “Your walls must be updated by tomorrow. They must have a success symbol, a learning strategy, three graphic organizers, the Common Core standards, exemplary work from every student, and a class roster with test scores. And evidence of technology. All of this must be on the wall by 8 a.m.”
“But that’s nothing new,” an elderly teacher ventured.
“Of course it’s new! Who says it isn’t new? It’s new as new can get. You’re the one who isn’t new. Let’s see the new you. Let’s see how you take to change. We’ll come by your rooms tomorrow morning. You had better be ready and perfect. Your strongholds and defenses are gone. A big, huge change is coming down the pike! You had better embrace it before you sleep. Good night.”