THE BLACKBOARD WARS’ BAYE COBB

Hello class, welcome your new diva, er, I mean teacher: Baye Cobb.

Hello class, welcome your new diva, er, I mean teacher: Baye Cobb.

One of the drawbacks of not having a television is that I am not able to keep up with the new Oprah series Blackboard Wars. The show follows the efforts of a charter school to turn things around in a low-income community in New Orleans.

I have yet to see any full episodes. If someone can direct me to a link where I can watch them online, it would be greatly appreciated.

However, I have seen all of first-year teacher and TFAer Baye Cobb that I need to see.

Reading the comments under her profile, it is obvious some people get it and some people do not. Some people see a wealthy white woman who probably could have went into a lucrative career but instead chose to work with inner-city youth. They compliment her up and down, calling her everything short of  a “hero”.

Those people do not get it. This school probably used to have many teachers who dedicated their entire lives to these students. Day in and day out they came to work under the worst imaginable conditions. They did not have shiny new facilities, millions of dollars from private investors, crisp uniforms, small class sizes and all of the other amenities these first-year teachers have. Many of the old teachers were probably from the community. All they were told was that their school was failing and they were the cause of it. They got nothing but derision from the public.

Now here comes Baye Cobb riding in on her (very) white horse. She took a 5 week Teach for America training course and then was charged with teaching math to kids who need a great teacher. It is hard to imagine any of the teachers that were fired to make room for the likes of Baye Cobb could have been any more incompetent than her. Yet, she gets all the compliments and all the praise for sticking out her first year in such a rough environment. While the previous teachers got to toil in obscurity for many years, Baye Cobb gets the spotlight and all of the celebrity that comes with it.

It is unfortunate that these students, who seem by and large like good kids, are stuck with this mess of a woman. Sure, the first year of teaching is always difficult. We have all had our growing pains and embarrassing moments as teachers. Baye Cobb, however, represents everything wrong with putting ill-prepared teachers from white bread backgrounds in front of inner city children. She is a total caricature of herself.

Take, for example. the incident of a student named Coco.

Security guards are called to Ms. Cobb’s classroom. She tells them that there is no longer an issue because “the issue” just left the room. Yes, she calls a student “the issue”. Apparently, Coco was using some foul language to some other students, threatening them with getting her brother if they keep bothering her. When Coco was brought to the principal’s office, it turns out that she was upset because other students were calling her ugly. To his credit, the principal does try to make her feel better by telling her that she is not ugly. He is right to do that, not only because she is not ugly but because she needed to be treated like a human being and not “the issue”.

However, the principal then goes back to treating her like “the issue” by bringing her back to Ms. Cobb’s classroom to apologize. Ms. Cobb accepts Coco’s apology and then gives her a weak and cliched lecture about proper classroom decorum. At no point does Ms. Cobb treat Coco any differently than “the issue”.

This might seem like hyperbole to some but, as a teacher, Ms. Cobb’s handling of this situation disgusts me. She knew that Coco was telling other students to stop bothering her. She knew she was threatening those students. It was obvious that the girl was at her breaking point. Does Ms. Cobb try to find out why she was upset? Does she try to ascertain whether or not Coco has a valid reason for acting the way she is acting? Never. It never even crosses her mind. Coco is merely an issue and her behavior needs to be corrected.

As someone who was bullied in school, this is disturbing. I have had teachers treat me the same way when I was sticking up for myself. Nobody seemed to care why I was upset, only that my anger was a nuisance to them. There have been moments as a teacher when I wanted to jump down a kid’s throat for talking or some other bothersome behavior. Yet, I am always reminded of my childhood and take a step back to try to figure out why the student is doing what they are doing. Sometimes it is because the student is helping a classmate. Sometimes it is because a student is being picked on. Whatever it is, a teacher creates a much better environment when they treat each situation for what it is and not merely as an “issue”. You end up validating the student’s feelings and having fewer problems in the future. Most behavior problems end up containing themselves. The ones that do not can be rectified with a simple gesture: moving a student’s seat, giving a glare or quietly asking the student to desist or to see you after class. It is when a teacher does these things that they usually find out more about the situation and deal with it accordingly.

Ms. Cobb loses this round. I would not be surprised if Coco tuned her out for the rest of the year, or at least lost respect for her authority. There is now a big barrier between Ms. Cobb and Coco, one that will take the teacher a long time to overcome. Coco mentioned that she wanted to leave the school. Maybe that is because her teacher and principal treat her like a problem while the bullies get off scot free.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Take this clip as another example:

Two boys are “fighting” in Ms. Cobb’s classroom, although it seemed more like play fighting. They are on the football team, so they are obviously strong young men. Ms. Cobb decides to step in the middle of the boys and ends up getting hit in the face. She then starts crying.

First, why do the boys even have an opening to play fight in the first place? The fact that things get to that point shows poor classroom management. Second, why is she, a petite woman, getting in between two strong boys? Did she think she was going to break them up? Third, why is she crying? Did she really get hurt or was her pride hurt? This seems to be a common theme with Ms. Cobb. Much like the case of Coco, Ms. Cobb seems to be much more concerned with her authority (or lack thereof) and her hurt pride.

What is really telling is how the students reacted to the situation. When she got hit, one of the boys said “she got thumped” in a very casual manner. They did not seem to be very concerned for her well-being, which is a sign that she has a lousy rapport with her students. Then, when she started crying, the kids were laughing. Again, they were not concerned about her in the least. Ms. Cobb does not have their respect or affection.

As someone who comes from a totally different world from her students, Ms. Cobb has not shown the slightest concern for bridging the gap. The students are forced to do all of the bridging. Coco was forced to apologize. Her students were forced to watch her cry. Everything seems to be one way in Ms. Cobb’s classroom. Is it any wonder the students do not seem to care about her?

My favorite clip, however, is the situation with the cheerleaders:

Ms. Cobb is apparently the cheerleading coach. The students are waiting for a school bus to go to a game or practice or whatever. However, the buses left without the squad because another teacher said that they were for the football team. They call Ms. Cobb on the phone and she comes down to the school. When she gets there she makes them rush and says the last person in the classroom has to do push-ups for not having a “sense of urgency”. Then, one of the students says under her breath “we need a new coach”. Ms. Cobb then forces the student to repeat her words and informs the student that it was not her fault that the bus left without them. The students are subjected to yet another round of tears from Ms. Cobb, who tells them that they do not appreciate the effort she has put into them. The scene ends with her giving postcards to the students so they can anonymously write whether or not they want her as their coach.

Why are the students there alone? Why are they going somewhere obviously off-campus without their coach? This does not really seem to be Ms. Cobb’s fault, since it seemed perfectly normal to the students. Perhaps this is just the way they do things at that particular school. When she shows up, it is understandable that she makes them rush, considering they are late in getting somewhere. If that was the case, why make them do push-ups? It totally contradicts the supposed “sense of urgency” of the situation. Again, is this due to Ms. Cobb’s hurt ego? The student did not jump to her command fast enough and needs to be punished.

One student then made an admittedly rude and disrespectful comment. This is when Ms. Cobb totally goes off the rails. She starts crying and reprimanding everyone for the snide remarks of one student. Again, where is the urgency? If she was hurt by the comment she should have ignored it totally and proved to them over time that she is a good coach, thereby winning the student over in the long run. Barring that, she could have addressed things with that student one-on-one, preferably on the way to wherever they needed to be. Once again her ego, her emotions and her baggage become the problem of the students. The world must stop when Ms. Cobb feels pain. 

Once again, the students seem unconcerned for her feelings. Rather than sitting there stroking her ego, the students would much rather get to where they need to be. On top of this, they seem to be genuinely tired of her antics. Who can blame them? It is completely inappropriate for an adult to force children to deal with her own issues. Their reactions show a lack of respect for Ms. Cobb. They lack respect for her because she lacks respect for them. Her entire demeanor is self-centered. Rather than getting them to the field they are stuck, stuck, dealing with her nonsense. I bet that the kids have heard more about her feelings than she has heard about theirs. That is why her students do not respect her.

The students of this school deserve better. I wonder how many good, solid, upstanding veteran teachers were fired to make room for the likes of Ms. Cobb. Not only is she inexperienced. Not only is she culturally disconnected from her students. She shows no desire to find out about her students, their world and what makes them tick. She expects them to show her that courtesy, however. It is completely shameful behavior for a teacher.

Her upbringing comes through in everything she does. This is a woman who has had everything handed to her. Her entire life has been structured around her: her feelings, her desires, her dreams. Too bad that she has gotten into a profession that demands complete selflessness. Too bad her students are stuck with a completely self-absorbed diva for a teacher.

If this school “turns around”, and if these students “succeed”, it will be in spite of Baye Cobb and not because of her.

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41 responses to “THE BLACKBOARD WARS’ BAYE COBB

  1. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    As soon as I saw her order students to do push-ups, I knew this woman was toast. Everything that follows is likely predictable from that one moment. Your analysis is pretty much spot-on. I would have more empathy for her if she wasn’t such a clueless ass. As it is, she really has no business in that classroom and probably not in any classroom. But never fear: her two years of hardship will be rewarded down the line when she becomes a high-ranking school administrator or policy expert, corporate lawyer, or other elite, privileged person of power pissing down on the kids in her classroom. How absolutely lovely for her.

  2. Michael Fiorillo

    In corporate education reform, it’s the blond leading the blond…

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  4. As someone who has also been punched in the face trying to break up a fight between students, she has my sympathy on the second clip. But I also have to agree completely with your analysis. While watching the third clip as soon as she starts telling telling the kids she was serious about the push ups, I said out loud “WTF are you doing??” She took what should have been a great opportunity to further develop a positive relationship with her students and totally flushed it down the toilet.

    I’d never heard of the show before. Just made a season pass on my Tivo. I expect to be screaming at the TV quite a bit…

  5. Unfortunately, the show does not seem to go much into the difference between a unionized teacher with a Master’s Degree who student taught for six months under the tutelage of a veteran teacher, studied her/his subject matter as well as pedagogy, methods and the rest of the ed curriculum vs. a five year wonder like this doozy.

    It would be good to make this woman into the poster child for TFA 2013 – here’s what the program is putting into urban classrooms to teach the “underprivileged”.

    The kids in this charter school ought to sue Wendy Kopp’s arrogant ass for sticking this winner on them.

    • The funny (or sad) thing is that Oprah has always been a big cheerleader for TFA and there is NO mention at all of the fact that this nutjob is, or any of their nutjobs are, wunderkins from TFA. Between the show and the website, I cannot find one mention of TFA.

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  7. Go easy on Baye Cobb. She’s giving the kids one thing everyone on this site has forgotten about. Love. She may be struggling because she’s not trained properly but she’s there and she shows up every day to give those kids a chance. I don’t see any of you there. It’s much easier to bash her in social media.

    • This comment is laughable. You are one of the ones that don’t get it. You hit it on the head when you said “you don’t see us there”. You don’t see us, me and the thousands of teachers, who work in WORSE conditions with inner-city students, students just as needy, if not moreso, than these students. We don’t get to cry. We don’t get to be coddled. We don’t get the spotlight. You didn’t see the thousands of New Orleans who were unceremoniously FIRED to make room for the likes of Baye Cobb, teachers who not only showed them LOVE but competence. You don’t see us. We toil in obscurity. Wekre blamed when kids are not “proficient” even though we don’t have half the resources they do at Cobb’s school. We do have three times the students though. Give me a break. Give the kids a break and get them a REAL teacher.

    • I’m going to echo Assailed here. Of course you don’t see us there, I for one am working in an under performing school in the South Bronx and have been for six years. I’m betting most every other reader and commenter on this blog can say something similar.

      I myself started my career as a member of the NYC Teaching Fellows, and I’ve worked with members of TFA. On a certain level there is something to be said about someone choosing to be a teacher in such a school for any reason.

      That being said, I don’t really see any love from her to her students coming through in any of her clips. The subtext of her actions screams “It’s all about ME.” In the second clip when she is punched in the face, she tells the students “This is why you don’t mess around like that in the classroom. Because someone could get hurt! And that someone could be me!”

      And in the third clip, the more I think of it the more the whole situation with her trying to take the kids to the football game is just totally bizarre. If she was just showing up to give them a ride to the game, that’s all she had to do. Show up in her car, give them a call from her cell, they come out, hop in, and she drops them off. Boom. Done. Problem solved.

      But no, instead she has to park her car and enter the building to hold some kind of a meeting with them in a classroom. A meeting she rushes them to with threats of push ups, because they don’t show any sense of urgency. If it was so urgent she would have just got them in her car and left! Instead she decides to hold a meeting the kids can’t refuse, and for what? Anything that could have been discussed during that meeting would have been better off left until Monday. Finding out how and why the situation came up can wait – if there was any real urgency, just take the damn kids to the game and be done with it, instead of wasting time talking and forcing the kids to do push ups. In that clip she was clearly the least mature person in the room, and for that to be true of a teacher in a room full of students (one of whom made a disrespectful comment) – it’s truly pathetic.

      This wasn’t just a simple error in judgement on her part. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding on her part in the way she thinks of and treats her students. She just doesn’t respect them and it shows.

      Yeah, she’s there teaching and on a certain level it’s nice. But would she be there teaching if she wasn’t also going to be a star on a reality TV show? Will she still be there teaching years from now? I seriously doubt it. People can do nice things for a lot of different reasons. Often times, you can lump it into either one of two categories. Are they doing the nice thing because it’s the right thing to do, or are they doing the nice thing so they can run around and tell everyone “HEY, LOOK AT HOW NICE I AM!!!”

      I think Ms. Cobb falls in to the latter category.

    • Frank, Don’t crack out of turn when you don’t know the shot. I work in some of the toughest districts and schools in the country: Detroit, Flint, Warren, Pontiac, Ypsilanti, as well as Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx over the last decade. I don’t get featured on tv, Oprah doesn’t know my name, and aside from the kids and adults I serve, few people see my work. How dare you comment as you did? And who are you to shoot your mouth off about the teachers here?

  8. You say competence yet 46% of the students graduated? Is that competence? Come on. Bash the system man, not Baye Cobb. It is the system that pisses you off, no?

  9. Mr. Quinn, when you tell me how I am supposed to take each of my students by the hands, brush their teeth, feed them breakfast, drive them all to school, take them to each of their classes, etc, then I will feel okay with you being okay with a system that put people with that kind of training in front of a class. Want them for your kids? How about being allowed to be a surgeon because you cut up a frog in high school biology lab?

    By the way, Mr. Goldenburg, I order kids to do pushups all the time. Of course, I am a PE teacher, but I like other “reformy” types shouldn’t let details get int he way of the facts, should I? (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  10. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    pfh64: If you do it arbitrarily and punitively, particularly because you’re upset at something that has nothing to do with any fault of the students, you probably are not exactly a revered PE teacher. But of course, that wasn’t what you were claiming. What this tyrannical little neophyte did was unconscionable, on my view, and what is striking is how maturely most of the students handled an out of control would-be martinet. While we can construct circumstances that might ameliorate her behavior, from the evidence available, she acted like a first-class idiot, and the girl who suggested that a new coach was in order had a pretty good point.

    The worst part of it all, in my eyes, was how incredibly self-centered the teacher’s remarks were. It was ALL about HER. As if that huge 15 minute drive she mentions stacked up with what those kids went through and felt beforehand.

    Spoiled little white girl from the ‘burbs who doesn’t have a clue. As a mathematics educator and coach, I’m ALMOST glad I haven’t really had enough evidence to critique her pedagogical content knowledge (or lack thereof). I’ve worked with TFA teachers in NYC and Detroit. A few were pretty decent. But they were all vastly underprepared and given a bunch of slogans and baloney in place of real training. Every time I heard one of them mouth a “no excuses” mantra or talk about covering a year and a half of material in a year’s class time, my blood pressure rose dangerously. This bozoette seems worse than every one of those I’ve known, by several orders of magnitude.

  11. Seems like the title at the top of the page, “The Blackboard Wars’ Baye Cobb | Assailed Teacher,” seems quite appropriate. You, and many others on here, have assailed her based upon some YouTube videos of a show edited to sensationalize. Even more interesting (read: alarming) are the comments from “educators” making reference to her being a “white girl” on a “(very) white horse.” Wow… Really?! Okay, take a second to think about this one… What might be “caught on (edited) video” if you were put in the same situation. Hey here’s an idea: It’s clear that teacher evaluations are a problem. Maybe we should invite the producers of “Blackboard Wars” into classrooms around the country, post their videos on YouTube, and evaluate teachers based on cynical teacher commentaries as above. I guess that would be fair. I know, I know… TFA BAD, REFORM BAD, and therefore, anything/anyone that’s associated must be BAD, but who’s assailing who now?

    • Yeah, because it was slick editing that made her cry TWICE in front of her students. TFA is not reform, it is destruction. Your angel doesn’t get a pass because she shed some tears. The organization of which she is a part is a scab operation, pushing veteran teachers out of their careers in favor of dilettantes who don’t make it past their third year.

      It’s not just that she is a white girl. It is that she is a white girl of privilege who, at the moment, is not connecting with her students. More importantly, she is symbolic of the TFA creed which holds that people of privilege know best how to educate the underprivileged. If you don’t see the white and/or wealthy paternalism in that, I feel very sorry for you. This woman has something the veteran, and minority, teachers who she replaced never had: small class sizes and resources to serve those classes. Push out the middle aged minority educators for young wealthy social climbers, then wonder why actual educators are “assailing” her.

  12. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    I call them like I see them. Those silly pushups, her pathetic egotism, and all the rest of her sorry words and deeds add up to someone wh shouldn’t be teaching, particularly not high needs kids.

    And while I am sorry she caught a stray shot to the face, it could have been much worse. She tried to play Supergirl. Very, very dumb.

  13. Oh so it’s that she’s white and “privileged,” therefore thinks she’s better than everyone else, and can never empathize. Is that about right? So how do you know that she didn’t grow up barefoot in a trailer park? On another note, I’d like to congratulate all of you for being master teachers in your first year. Kudos. Please post videos to YouTube to help instruct new teachers nationwide. I guess I’ll go write on the board with Bart Simpson…

    • The fact that you are tone deaf to the white paternalism inherent in TFA is frightening. The fact that you bring up points I’ve addressed in the piece shows you didn’t even read it. Nobody is good in their first year. I doubt any of us in this thread cried in front of our classes either. “BooHoo, I am a spoiled rich girl and I work so hard for you unappreciative brown children.” <—– does not a teacher make. Bring back the teachers that were fired to make way for her. Now, please, feel free to continue to ignore both the points in the article and the points others have made in this thread by others just so you can make snarky comments about how we are being meanies for getting on the pretty white girl.

  14. I am so glad to see this blog, when I saw this adult stop the transition to the game for discipline action/B.S. I was hot,I am a PHILASD teacher25 years in North Philly..SEEN it ALL and then some…who do you think you are kidding…public school has been under attach since RECONSTRUCTION…this is maddness..our children can not survive any more experiental scenarios.and teachers[who test Praxis]well..but other than books[which is essential] who dont have a clue!!cultural relevance /understanding is important..no control..where are the adults..you are the adult ..dammnit!!..step up your game..throw -down or go down….in myclassroom.. I run this..sure-enough!!![big momma in the house]and if this is not your style and you can’t relate..pack up your pedegological theories and step off cause this is reality !!

  15. Don’t get me wrong Ms.Cobb is not the best teacher, but I give her credit for trying! Teaching is like being a parent no one is perfect parent but you don’t have to be perfect to be a parent, just provide love and support! I admire her for going to a place she’s not from! She needs tougher skin, but I couldn’t imagine to many of us doing a better job! She cares and She’s trying!

  16. Thank you for this blog! Baye Cobb is horrible and I needed to know that others recognize that.

  17. It is sad to see educators so full of hatred, cruelty, and jealousy (specifically referring to: M. Goldenberg: “I don’t get featured on tv, Oprah doesn’t know my name, and aside from the kids and adults I serve, few people see my work.” Wah, Wah. Would you like your first year in a tough job to be filmed and edited featuring your worst moments to make good television? Are you jealous? It sounds like it.). You seem unable to see how much she cares for these children and loves them, she should not be touted for her race nor her inexperience. She’s 22, she’s clearly trying her best and privileged or not, white or not, and inexperienced or not, she wants what we all want for these children, a good education. Also, you sound like a child with your “my school is just as bad” qualifying statements. Give it up.

    • Her students are not bad at all. She has small class sizes and a ton of resources and support. My first year of teaching would have been embarrassing, but nothing like Baye Cobb.

      What is more disturbing though is how all of Baye Cobb’s defenders say stuff like “she is trying” or “she wants what is best for her students.” She gets a medal for this? Teachers are supposed to posses these qualities. The inference many of you are making is that teachers, by and large, don’t possess these qualities.

      NOLA Teacher, I wonder if you were a NOLA teacher before Katrina washed out all the poor people and minority educators or are you part of the corporate army that came to NOLA to privatize the system after 2005?

  18. NOLATeacher: could you be more clueless and tone-deaf? Are you incapable of detecting irony or sarcasm?

    My point was not that I expect or desire to be featured on television, you twit. It was that loads of teachers work in far worse conditions and get nothing special for it. Nor do they expect to. What they would LIKE, however, is not to be spit on by the media, by idiots like TFA’s Wendy Kopp, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and the rest of the twisted educational deform crowd. And for my money, that includes Opray Witless and many other celebrities who apparently haven’t the slightest idea what comprises quality education.

    Your comments suggest you need a course in remedial reading. Re-examine the context of what I wrote and to whom it was written before having the gall to accuse me of complaining about my work or seeking a spot on television. Had I wanted some sort of spot on a reality show, I’d have opted for one with a million dollar plus prize: at least the humiliation of making a jackass out of myself for the entertainment of the public that goes for such trash would have a payoff.

    But since I don’t work in public education with the goal of vast wealth in mind, nor wiith a desire to become a Broad-fed little power-broker, making things worse for the least well-served people in the country, I simply was pointing out that this know-nothing person received far less than adequate training (does she know ANYTHING when it comes to mathematics pedagogical content knowledge? If so, she surely didn’t get it from her TFA 5 week boot camp), and has a bizarre egocentrism that is serving her poorly and her kids even worse, as far as I’ve seen thus far.

    The TFA-trained teachers I’ve met who wind up actually becoming effective mathematics teachers, by the way, are the ones who figure out quickly that most of what TFA told them was baloney of a not-very-good kind. They start seeking out mentorship within the profession; if they’re lucky, they get it, and they start the demanding work of getting a bloody clue about what it means to teach mathematics. Couple that very demanding apprenticeship with the fact that working in high needs schools makes the process vastly more stressful in every way imaginable, and it’s not hard to figure out why most TFAers are out the classroom door as soon as that 2nd year ends, off to find a cushy job suitable for their egos, greed, and sense of privilege and entitlement. Those who do stay learn how to teach.

    While I’d love to continue exchanging thoughts with you, NOLATeacher, I have real work to do with real teachers and kids. And this year, happily, I’m not worrying about whether the TFAers I’m coaching will be leaving at the end of the year, like 2 of 4 I worked with last year did after finishing that second year. That means, of course, that the time and money the school invested in them is now lost. The investment their students made in them? Also lost. Two years and gone, back to the world from whence they came, able to say that they really saw (and perhaps raised) hell.

    This year, I’m working with no TFA teachers and hope that continues indefinitely. So few of them stay past year 2 because so few of them ever intended to become long-term educators. It’s a tough, dirty job, and they don’t HAVE to do it, do they?

  19. As a public school teacher I totally get where you’re coming from with being against charter schools and TFA tearing apart teachers’ unions in this country. However, before seeing the videos I was inclined to feel sorry for her because I’ve been a first-year teacher and probably a pretty bad one. I had very little classroom control and I still feel badly about the disservice I did to those very needy kids that year (although I put a large part of the blame on administration and DOE officials for allowing such an inexperienced teacher to be left alone with a classroom full of high-needs children all day every day with no support, curriculum, or materials – but that’s another story!) After seeing the videos though, I have to agree with your analysis. She is less mature than the students and her attitude is atrocious. It’s a travesty that education “reformers” believe that having a young white teacher is so beneficial to poor brown children that it doesn’t matter if the teacher is competent or not. It’s similar to the Christians wanting to save the Indian “savages” during the 18 and 1900′s. It’s the same paternalistic attitude. That’s why most charter schools require students to spend most of their waking hours at school, even over the summer. They feel that the less time kids spend with their (obviously) dysfunctional families and the more time they spend with middle-class white people, the better off they are. It’s sickening.

  20. I applaud her efforts, she is trying hard. Why blame the teacher and not the unruly horrible students she has to deal with. Most of the children act as if a zoo animal raised them. Kudos to Ms. Cobb!

  21. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    @Spence: It’s a good thing you didn’t get more specific about which zoo animal(s) you had in mind. Otherwise, someone might just think you were a bit of a racist.

    So, exactly what was wrong with the behavior of the cheerleaders? Which animal(s) do you see them acting like? I’m sure we’re all waiting with bated breath (some of us with baited breath) to find out your taxonomic judgments.

    • Indeed… In none of those clips have I seen the students act out of control or “bad”. Quite the opposite. They are, by and large, mature and decent people.

      • @The Assailed Teacher: that’s what I see, too. I guess we don’t have the right “colored” glasses.

        As to those giving my previous comment “thumbs down”: keep ‘em coming. I love when racists get to anonymously support other racists.

      • Sounds like a TFA support group: racists supporting racists and the racists that love them. Hey, if white paternalists want to use this site as some sort of reinforcement session, more power to them… on second thought….

  22. I’m watching another episode now. There’s a clip where Ms.Cobb is in front of the class, going on about how it’s totally unacceptable that none of the kids in the class could answer her question. (That’s something I think all of us teachers can relate to) But then one of the kids responds to her.

    “We can’t answer and we don’t know cause you don’t teach it right. You don’t teach it right, then you ask us, then you get upset, then you go to the board….”

    Ms. Cobb starts saying multiple times while he’s talking, “Tyler, please stop talking. Tyler, please stop talking.”

    He went on like that for a few seconds, then another student said something to him that I didn’t quite hear, and he said something that made me think of clips you posted.

    “One person says something, just one person says something and then she goes off on EVERYBODY….”

    Ms. Cobb started to cry at that. And then the student said,
    “Oh man…”

    I used the magic power of Tivo to go back and watch that clip multiple times. Even more interesting than the audio of Tyler saying “oh man” was a female student in the background, who clearly turned her head and covered her face with her hand to try and hide the fact she was laughing at Ms. Cobb crying.

    Like you said in your post, she doesn’t have the respect of your students.

    Something else has occurred to me while watching this show, and this is more of a general reality TV thing. Producers aren’t going to cast regular people for a reality TV show – they cast the dramatic people who will have outbursts and give them the footage they need for a show. Ms. Cobb strikes me as just the kind of person a reality TV producer would want if they were making a show in a high school. I have to wonder about the casting/hiring procedure that went on behind the scenes. Who made the decision to hire this new staff, including Ms.Cobb? Was it just the principal, or was he also listening to what the producer had to say? And if it was just the principal, was he picking from a series of applicants that the producers had given him after already being deemed sufficiently dramatic?

    And another thing about that whole episode with the cheerleaders – I’m certain that the scene for it was staged. Not that Ms. Cobb was acting necessarily, but that the whole bus going missing was contrived. They had a camera crew with the students on a Saturday morning. They’re not going to send the crew to follow kids doing some cheer leading for a vanilla football game. They need to add drama, so they can do so by making sure the bus doesn’t arrive. And then who do the kids have to go to for help? Ms Cobb, who has already proven herself a valuable resource for tears.

    I think the whole show and premise is horribly exploitative of the students in the school. And yes, I’m watching the show. I admit to being part of the problem :(

  23. I think what Ms. Cobb is sorely lacking is maturity. I’ve watched the clips multiple times and see the “me, I, my” complex to extreme. I can completely understand why it would inflame teachers in the trenches when a young, inexperienced, immature teacher comes to a school with high-need students and makes it into a soap opera. She could be making it better by demonstrating control of her own emotions, voice, and classroom management; however, she seems to make things worse. When I watched the episode where she was crying because the cheerleaders made an immature comment, my thought was that she is being destroyed by her desire to be liked and affirmed. I feel confident than in ten years, no matter whether she sticks with teaching or not, she will look back on this experience and cover her hands with her face. I have a lot of those “cringe” moments too, when I look back at my childish behavior, even as far back as yesterday. =0

    When I read the comments online about her being a hero and such, I felt a bit sick. I am a white adoptive mom of a multicultural set of pseudo quads (none related to one another). And when people tell me, “God bless you for saving these children,” I am disgusted. Adoption for me was not a benevolent act! I felt like it was my life’s purpose, and I wanted more children. It was entirely selfish. That said, It is obvious there is a bit of an “us vs. them” mentality when people address her as a hero for leaving her environment and taking on a first year teaching job at John Mac. Hero? For teaching, yes. It is a very honorable profession.. But I’m irate hearing all this talk about a middle- or high-class person condescending themselves to teach to the “lower class” as heroic. As if all we burbanites need to do is go sprinkle some “success” dust on those less fortunate, and lives will be changed, by us, the heroes. If she were actually teaching effectively, then call her a hero. Merely being there is not heroic {The student clearly said the class was not getting what she was teaching, and instead of trying a different approach to the lesson, she manipulated them into compliance…again}

    I can see why there is so much disgust. But I’m not sure why “racist” is such an easy term to fall back on. I haven’t seen actual “racist” comments on the thread. Differences of opinions, yes. Unfortunate use of descriptions that could be read into as racist, I count one. Are people ignorant of what its like in troubled schools? Yes. Do people blame the teachers instead of the administrators and school systems? Yes. Is it condescending to think an affluent young girl is heroic because she could have taught in middle-class America and chose to go to John Mac? Yes….very. But racist…I’m have a hard time finding racism.

    I am awed by what teachers do every single day. I know the hours that you put in, and how you worry about the kids deep into the night. We are asking you to raise our children AND teach them. I get that. If you are giving it your all and the kids are learning, I applaude you. My daughter wants to be a SPED teacher and I am immensely proud because I know teaching is not a career, but a mission. I’m grateful for hardworking, creative teachers.

  24. I was one of those teachers who was fired from John McDonogh last year when FINS charter school came in. I am a 27 year veteran who worked in John McDonogh for 10 years in the 80′s & 90′s and in an alternative school for 10 years pre Katrina. I am Nationally Board Certified, have a Master degree in education and passed all teacher evaluations with some of the highest scores allowed. I have been able to stop the cursing in my classroom, students have thanked me for “teaching them’ and for listening to them, but I was not good enough for FINS!

  25. Glad to see this blog! I question Ms. Cobb’s motives in deciding to stay. Yes, she was offered a job making $50k more (presumably), but surely someone (maybe her dad…he definitely didn’t want her to leave) got in her ear and told her that if she were such a marketing guru, she’d recognize the national platform she has right now, and see that her spot on this reality show is her opportunity to market HERSELF, and possibly gain financial increase and exposure well beyond $50k. She may act foolishly in the classroom, but she’s no fool. There’s a method to her madness. Believe that.

  26. Pingback: It’s Always The Teacher’s Fault | FCMackell

  27. Pingback: A Look at the New Orleans Charter Experiment | Assailed Teacher

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