Montage of “Karen” women
Montage of “Karen” women
Image from Weis, Suzy, “What is a Karen? The Dreaded ‘White Lady’ Meme Nickname Explained.” New York Post. July 22, 2020. https://nypost.com/article/what-is-a-karen-meme-name-meaning-explained/

Over the summer, a flood of stories about entitled white women turned “Karens” into a type and a meme. The term “Karen” emerged partially from African-American communities as a way to discuss how white women can perpetuate racism, use it as a shield and a weapon, and benefit from racist power structures while simultaneously claiming to be unaware of their privilege. Karens are defined as middle class, middle-aged, white women, usually mothers, who are aware of their privilege and weaponize it to use it against people of color. But more broadly, it denotes any time when privileged white women use…


“We missed the lecture on Tuesday, could you give it to us now,” three students asked a colleague who teaches at a state college.

My colleague explained that she couldn’t spend another hour repeating the lecture, and reminded them to get notes from their classmates and read the corresponding chapter in the course textbook.

Perhaps it was only a coincidence that three days later she had three new negative reviews on RateMyProfessor.com.

We are all still recovering from the craziness of teaching during COVID-19 from March 2020 through the end of the school year this spring. But while we’ve been…


Image credit: Getty Images, Jason Connolly

April 20, 1999. I was substitute teaching in Boulder Valley School District and St. Vrain Valley School District while I applied for teaching jobs. That day, I was set up to sub for a 4th grade ESL class at Columbine Elementary in Longmont. I’d been subbing for ESL and Spanish classes a lot because fewer people wanted to sub for those and I’d taken 2 years of Spanish, so I welcomed the chance to learn more. …


Often, the arguments for basing school funding on test scores has been based on the premise that schools that cannot demonstrate their effectiveness should not receive government funding. Within this capitalistic, zero-sum-game reasoning, test scores become the “bottom line,” serving as a proxy for businesses’ ledgers tallying profits and losses. Test scores — and only test scores — should measure school quality. Schools that cannot demonstrate “success” by this one measure should not continue to be funded.

Book cover for book titled “No Church Left Behind”
Book cover for book titled “No Church Left Behind”
Image credit: Book page on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Church-Left-Behind-Raymond-Culpepper-ebook/dp/B007TWBAOM

This argument is tied to efforts to re-segregate schools via charter schools and vouchers for private schools. Many fine churchgoing people have supported…


Red-lining is the practice the FHA and banks used for decades to decide on which neighborhoods were worthy of home loans. In the early-mid 1900’s, they also viewed melanin as contagious, so they identified any neighborhoods with African-American people in red and wouldn’t provide loans for homes in those neighborhoods. Some of those neighborhoods were even later declared “blighted” and seized for freeways, parks, baseball stadiums, etc., through eminent domain.

Image Credit: KCET. “Segregation in the City of Angels: A 1939 Map of Housing Inequality in L.A. “ about:blank

We often don’t think about how much of the American Dream has to do with access to capital, but Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a strong argument in his already-classic 2014 “The…


It seems early to be thinking about what we’ll be doing in Fall 2121. But that is when experts are predicting that all students may return to school. If we want that to go well, we need to start planning now.

Image credit: Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/welcoming-students-smile

Hope seems so close yet so far away. Vaccines are on their way, but it isn’t always clear when teachers will get them — let alone the majority of our students. …


“Welcome to McDonalds. Can I have your order please,” my cooperating teacher used to ask facetiously, back when I student taught in 1998, as we discussed parents who seemed to make endless demands. But the analogy isn’t fully apt. Public schools aren’t really like McDonalds. They’re more like Costco.

Image from https://www.eatthis.com/costco/

Like Costco (and unlike McDonalds), public schools excel at providing decent or even high-quality items at the most affordable prices. As with public schools, some products are better quality than others, and some prices are more competitive than others. But overall, Costco provides one of the best ratios of quality to…


The Tragedy of The Commons — When Teachers Are The Commons

Image from Seuss’ “The Lorax” — machine cutting down the last tree
Image from Seuss’ “The Lorax” — machine cutting down the last tree
Image from “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss. Image taken from https://www.ponderancecollective.org/blog/2017/7/22/the-legacy-of-the-lorax. All rights revert to authors.

The tragedy of the commons” describes situations in which people share a common resource. Often, since it is in each individual’s best interest to use more than their share of the resource, a resource gets over-used and diminished over time, often to the point where it is no longer useful for anyone. This was originally described in 1833, by William Foster Lloyd, who described a common pasture that was shared by several families. As each family optimized their own economic gain by bringing more cows, the pasture became overgrazed…


7 Spidermans point at each other. They are labeled: Existential Dread, Burnout, COVID Anxiety, Seasonal Depression. . .
7 Spidermans point at each other. They are labeled: Existential Dread, Burnout, COVID Anxiety, Seasonal Depression. . .
Citation: iFunny.com

I taught 8th grade my first year of teaching. And my mom had cancer. She made it through Christmas, which made for a very fraught and not-at-all-restful Winter Break. Then she lost her battle in late January. On top of that, a persistent injury from working on a trail crew the previous summer meant that I was sometimes teaching in wrist braces on both hands. It was also a strange year at that middle school. The district was building a new K-8 that was going to result in liquidating half the school — but they didn’t tell me this (and…


Person falling on obstacle course
Person falling on obstacle course

Look out, you may have missed it. While we teachers have been working overtime to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve just agreed to yet another work speed-up.

We’ve been “stepping up” and “doing what it takes” to continue to provide educational services, even when there has been NO funding for PPE, sanitation, or the technology we’ve been expected to use. We’ve been working unpaid overtime to pivot the classrooms we’d spent years and often thousands of dollars of our own money to convert from desks and bare walls into vibrant learning spaces over to online instruction — sometimes literally…

Writing on the Wall

Suzie Null is a former middle and high school teacher and current professor of Teacher Education. Follow her on Twitter at WritingontheWall @NullSet16

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