NewsfeedBest of 2019  Best of the Month  EduClips: Today's Top Education News  

QuotED in 2019: The 19 Quotes About Schools and American Education That Made Us Laugh, Cry and Ponder This Year

By Andrew Brownstein | December 22, 2019

Updated Dec. 23

Nationally, the news of 2019 was dominated by the seemingly endless presidential campaign and the highly partisan debate over whether to impeach President Trump. Education often struggled to find a voice. But outside the Beltway, school news dominated the headlines. Chicago reckoned with a school sexual misconduct scandal that spanned more than a decade. The Palm Beach, Florida, school district fired a principal who denied the reality of the Holocaust. And all over the U.S., from a state takeover of schools in Providence, Rhode Island, to a district secession battle in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, schools wrestled with the legacy of generations of inequity.

These historic moments (and, yes, a gaffe or two) are captured regularly in QuotED, a roundup of the most notable quotes behind America’s top education headlines — all taken from our regular EduClips series, which regularly spotlights important headlines you may have missed from America’s 15 largest school districts.

Here are a few of our favorite education quotes from 2019:

Getty Images

“Lunch should be lunch, which should not be somewhere between breakfast and lunch.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on a Daily News analysis showing that many city schools offer “lunch” long before 11 a.m. (Read at the New York Daily News)

“Rich kids go to therapy, poor kids go to jail.” —Melivia Mujica, a student activist in San Antonio. (Read at The74Million.org)

“Let’s just say my phone has rung a lot.” —American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, on interest from the field of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls in courting the union vote. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

“[The superintendent] came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends. … He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’” —Evan Jones, former headmaster of the New York Military Academy, on attempts to conceal the high school academic records of President Donald Trump. (Read at The Washington Post)

Heather Martin

“Well, you know, I’m going to die in here and I’m a virgin and I will have never met Bruce Springsteen.” —Heather Martin, recalling what she told a friend over 20 years ago as two gunmen terrorized Columbine High School. Today, she teaches high school English in nearby Aurora, Colorado. (Read at The74Million.org)

“Adult misconduct is surely not acceptable, but, holy crap, we have a lot of work to do in terms of student behavior against other students.” —Chicago teachers union president Jesse Sharkey, on 900 sexual misconduct cases being logged in the district over the course of four months, mostly students reporting on other students. (Read at Chalkbeat)

“When it was us, the district didn’t feel like they needed to have any immediacy. We don’t have the resources that SLA has, and their parents jumped on it right away. Where there’s money and influence, there’s more privilege.” —Keith Pretlow, a culinary-arts teacher at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. When Science Leadership Academy, a magnet school, relocated to share the site with Ben Franklin, a long-delayed asbestos cleanup moved into high gear. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Even though you might be scared, you never turn down a story, and it taught me you never know what’s going to happen.” —Amelia Poor, 13, one of 45 students who form the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps that writes for Scholastic’s classroom magazine. Despite her fear of canines, she successfully covered a recent Westminster Dog Show. (Read at The74Million.org)

Five student journalists interview Ziauddin Yousafzai at Scholastic headquarters in Manhattan on June 11, 2019. (Kate Stringer)

“We’re taught to live in the present. Right now, my children are healthy.” —Melissa (last name withheld), who said her Buddhist views prevented her from vaccinating her children unless they became very sick, and one of several parents who successfully sued Rockland County, New York, to overturn a measure that barred unvaccinated children from attending schools. (Read at The New York Times)

“I work 55 hours a week, have 12 years’ experience and make $43K. I worry and stress daily about my classroom prep work and kids. I am a fool to do this job.” —A teacher in an online focus group, quoted in this year’s PDK survey of American teachers. More than half said they had seriously considered quitting in recent years. (Read at The74Million.org)

“Education reform isn’t a cure-all. As a supporter of education reform, I agree that fixing educational inequality requires doing more to address the broader, systemic sources of economic inequality.” —Former President Barack Obama. (Read on Twitter)

“Education clearly has not been at the top of his list of priorities to address directly. But he has been very supportive of all the work that we have done.” —Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, on President Trump’s policy priorities. (Read at Politics K-12)

Getty Images

“Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” —Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Read at Politics K-12)

“It just becomes like a ghost town.” —Jack Thompson, superintendent of the Perry, Ohio, school district, on what would happen if a nuclear plant there closes. Experts warn that half of the nation’s 59 nuclear plants could close by 2030. (Read at The74Million.org)

Getty Images

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event.” —William Latson, former principal of Spanish River High School in Florida. This year’s revelation of his 2018 comments in a local newspaper sparked international outrage and ultimately led the Palm Beach County Schools to fire him. (Read at The Palm Beach Post)

“Anyone who does what we do knows it’s happened not by chance but by deliberate choice by those who embrace and embark on this work.” —Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade superintendent, on the district getting an A grade from the state education department two years in a row. (Read at the Miami Herald)

Long Farm Village and nearby affluent neighborhoods are looking to secede from East Baton Rouge and its district, leaving behind impoverished areas not yet recovered from catastrophic flooding and lacking needed resources for their schools. (Beth Hawkins)

“Schools in north Baton Rouge for 100 years have been getting less. I firmly believe the St. George movement is rooted in racism. Look at the boundaries. You go down Florida Boulevard and it’s like the Mason-Dixon line. South of Florida, it’s white; north, it’s black.” —Tramelle Howard, a new member of the school board in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, which is facing a secession attempt from a mostly white and affluent enclave. (Read at The74Million.org)

“Since when did real estate agents become experts on schools?” —Fred Freiberg, executive director of the Fair Housing Justice Center, who served as a consultant on Newsday’s three-year investigation that uncovered widespread evidence of unequal treatment by real estate agents on Long Island. (Read at Newsday)

Getty Images

“For the past two days, I have felt like I have been kicked in the sternum by Godzilla wearing steel-toed boots.” —Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro, on a scathing report from Johns Hopkins University that lambasted the district for poor academic performance, unsafe schools and lackluster morale. (Read at The74Million.org)

Related

Sign up for The 74’s newsletter

Submit a Letter to the Editor