On Cursing When Necessary

Jose Vilson Jose

Today, I got an e-mail from my SOS March compatriot Nancy Flanagan about the flare-up of protest towards Justin Hamilton, press secretary for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Not sure what the press secretary thought when he got on Twitter. Maybe he assumed we teachers would just parrot the edu-jargon of the day or repeat someone else with thousands of followers and let him only argue with that leader and not the rest of us on the ground. Maybe he assumed we were all going to get a warm belly for him retweeting anything that we said in his general direction. Maybe he believed that, since teachers fear losing their jobs for having an opinion, that we’re all nervous sheep.

Or maybe he thought we wouldn’t actually talk about Arne Duncan, and by extension, Barack Obama.

Yet, here we are, asserting our voices in ways that he probably didn’t expect. That includes cursing. Apparently, The Frustrated Teacher did so at him, and he took umbrage to said cursing. Personally, I’m not usually for cursing. I find that interspersing your four-letter cusses with something more Shakespearean can be much more effective than with a steady diet of “fuck” and “shit” alone. I also don’t think we need to curse in a dialogue when social media is more conducive to quips and hashtag tomfoolery.

For instance, instead of telling him he’s talking too much crap, I’d quote him and preface this with a “robbery in progress” or “we don’t believe you, you need more people.” Instead of screaming in all caps at his nonsense, I’d tell him “Y U NO LIKE TEACHERS?!” and throw him a picture of this:

Furthermore, I find that these people often think that using curses is unprofessional and unbecoming of an up and coming teacher, as if it is us who are learning the curses from the kids before we walk in the door. I completely understand Justin’s point of view, too: if I can’t find these curses anywhere in the Arne Duncan playbook, then how is he supposed to use it? For that matter, it’s really hard to make emotive arguments about education if you can’t make qualitative statements about anyone using the words “good” or “bad” except when it comes to teachers.

I guess that’s the reason why I haven’t engaged this government official in much of anything. Anytime I hear a communications secretary from the White House or an essay Duncan wrote from on high, it sounds exactly the same: let’s say the things that will quell the snickering of international education experts, but let’s continue to encourage the proliferation of assessment upon meaningless assessment. What’s worse is that, just like every other “leader,” it seems that teachers’ opinions only matter if they offer something “positive.” And it seems to have worked with many of my other fellow teachers who show great restraint in dealing with someone who’s probably in over his head using a platform free to the public.

I wish him well. But if you know anything about the desperate times our schools face currently, and you’re as angry as I am, I say fuck that. Curse now. It’s necessary.

Jose, who is honored to be amongst the speakers at the Save Our Schools March …