Public School Teacher Won’t Teach Shakespeare Because He’s White

We were going to title this post “Illiterate teacher…” but she’s really not “illiterate” she’s unfortunately typical of public school teachers, “educators” if you will, who are destroying the fabric of our nation one child at a time. Or in the case of Dana Dusbiber, a high school English teacher in Sacramento, one classroom at a time.

Her essay, Why I don’t want to assign Shakespeare anymore (even though he’s in the Common Core), can be found published at the link in The Washington Post. It’s the poster essay for what’s wrong with public education and highlights why we’re convinced that putting your kids in public school is tantamount to child abuse.

ImageI am a high school English teacher. I am not supposed to dislike Shakespeare. But I do. And not only do I dislike Shakespeare because of my own personal disinterest in reading stories written in an early form of the English language that I cannot always easily navigate, but also because there is a WORLD of really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of my very ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.
I do not believe that I am “cheating” my students because we do not read Shakespeare. I do not believe that a long-dead, British guy is the only writer who can teach my students about the human condition .

OK, so we’re dealing with a serious case of “white guilt” here. Dana doesn’t like Old Bill because he’s a dead white male.

I am sad that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago and do it without question.
What I worry about is that as long as we continue to cling to ONE (white) MAN’S view of life as he lived it so long ago, we (perhaps unwittingly) promote the notion that other cultural perspectives are less important.

First of all, Shakespeare wasn’t “British.” He was “English.” He wrote in the late 1500s and “Britain” wasn’t formed until 1707. It’s a minor point, but remember, we’re dealing with a “teacher.”

Throughout Dana’s little piece she projects the idea that Shakespeare is the only thing that is recommended to be taught in her classes and she’s rebelling against that curriculum. In fact, there’s nothing in California’s English Language Arts curriculum that says that and there’s no reason she can’t teach “the oral tradition out of Africa” and compare it to Shakespeare. Although we’re not sure what African oral tradition has to do with English, being an old, white, male and all.


Rather than debate the merits of Shakespeare, there’s a fine response to Dana’s twaddle in the WaPo, let’s look at the performance of students in her school. She’s been there for 25 years and we’ll guess she thinks she’s done a bang-up job.

The following is from the Luther Burbank High School 2011-2012 School Accountability Report .

Here’s who they say they are:

Luther Burbank High School is a comprehensive four-year high school located in South Sacramento. The school is dedicated to preparing our diverse student population for the challenges of college and career. In order to fulfill that promise the school provides programs
that range from English Language Development to International Baccalaureate Diploma.

There were a total of 1,828 students, grades 9-12, they are classified as 100% socioeconomically disadvantage (we guess that means “poor”) and only 3% are “white.” The average class size in English, ranges from 17-19. Classes are taught by “fully credentialed” teachers and 95% of them are classified as “highly qualified.” The average teacher makes about $55,300 plus benefits and teacher salaries (not including benefits) account for 35% of the school budget.

An interesting note is that the “suspensions rate,” the number of suspensions divided by total enrollment, is 42% for 2011-12 vs 47% in 2009-10. If we had to guess at the reason for the drop it would not be better behavior on the part of the students, more likely the administration just stopped suspending students for some non-violent offenses.

ImageLet’s look at the performance of Dana’s English Department. We’re looking at the STAR results, it’s a comparison of how well students are doing in relation to the state content standards.

At Dana’s school are 28% of the “English Language Arts” students score “proficient” or “advanced” for the 2011-12 school year. That compares to 50% for school district and 56% for the State of California.

So, in summary, the kids at Dana’s school are taught by “fully credentialed, highly qualified teachers” and 28% are performing at a “proficient” level or greater. To prove that we can still do math, that means 72% of Dana’s charges are not even proficient in English. These are the students who Dana teaches “…really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of my very ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.”

Dana, you’re a failure. And, your laziness and incompetence is destroying the lives of your “ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.”


But hey, you can celebrate the fact that in 2010-11 80% of these little snowflakes graduated. And today, they hold a “diploma” that doesn’t qualify them for much more than asking “Yo, chu wan fries wi dat?”


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