#JeffBliss: Whistleblower, Catalyst

Impassioned 18 year-old Duncanville High School student, Jeff Bliss, is not blissful. Bliss captured national attention his rant against his world history teacher was caught on video and went viral. “…You want a kid to change and do better, you gotta touch his friggin’ heart...,” says Bliss.

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  1. High School Student gives a lesson to his lazy teacher - Jeff Bliss Original rant.
  2. THE RANT
  3. “You can’t expect a kid to change if all you do is come in and tell him. You gotta take this job serious. This is the future of our nation. And when you come in here like you did last time and make a statement about ‘this is your paycheck,’ indeed it is. But this is my country’s future and my education.”

    Jason Whitely, a local reporter with WFAA Channel 8 in Duncanville interviewed Bliss. Bliss reports that he dropped out of school for a year. This was when he realized he would never "step toward his future" without an education.
  4. Bliss was asked to leave the classroom after he complained about being given a 'packet' lesson in preparation for Texas's STAAR state test. On his way out the door, his complaint turns to scathing commentary on what he perceives as his world history instructor's lack of engagement with students.
  5. THE RESPONSE:
  6. Opinions seems to be falling into two camps: Inappropriate Tone, Bad Behavior vs Go Empowered Youth

    Team Inappropriate Tone, Bad Behavior:
    Dallas, Texas is 19 miles from Duncanville. Tod Robberson from Denver, Colo. writing as opinion columnist for DallasNews.com weighs in for Team Inappropriate.
  7. Again, Robberson is writing this as an opinion piece. He eventually recognized that Bliss's might be commenting on education: "As I think he was saying, teaching by “packet” is no way to get through to young minds..." The piece reads more like a grammar snob's mockery of Bliss himself:

    "And Bliss is so very articulate in his protest. It appears that, in addition to protesting his social studies assignment, he also has an ongoing frickin’ protest against proper grammar, yo. It’s not just his social studies teacher. His English teacher gotta take this job serious, too."
  8. In another article from DallasNews.com, commenter 'ron franscell' (who doesn't capitalize the first letter of his profile's first or last name) writes, "18-year-old SOPHOMORE. That was all I needed to know to understand this whiny doofus. Judging by his exceedingly poor language skills, it's obvious he isn't paying attention in any of his English classes either." (Comment posted '2 days ago' as of May 13, 2013.)

    Another case of messenger in the crosshairs.
  9. Team Go Empowered Youth!
  10. The comment section of Anita Li's Mashable article weighs heavily in favor of Bliss. Reader Diego Sánchez writes: (5 days ago as of May 13, 2013) "I hear a lot of people already saying "Well, this isn't the proper course of action" or "He could of written a formal complaint" but ask yourself really: how far do those formalities go in our current system? This outburst is gonna raise more awareness than any standardized test scores ever will. Our education system is broken. And this kid needs to be given a record deal and a TV show now."

    Even the reader who says "...he's a grandstanding little sh*t. Does he have any idea what kind of salaries teachers make?" starts his comment with, "Maybe he's got a point..." In addition to teacher's salaries, other challenges to today's educators make guest appearances in the thread: disrespectful students and the frustration of having to 'teach to the test' among them.

    Though the slang and adrenaline in Bliss's diatribe can distract, no one on Li's comment board is missing his message or the passion behind it. Li reports that no further action has been taken against Bliss.
  11. THE ESTABLISHMENT:
  12. One wonders how the nation's educational leaders are dealing with the impact of this media attention. The educational community is already beleaguered with budget cuts, school violence and bullying, drop out rates, and public criticism. Mix in the mad scramble to transform curriculum from industrial era expectations (sit, follow directions, repeat) into instruction that will prepare students to be viable and dynamic adults in a rapidly changing economic landscape -- and be able to assess the effectiveness of that curriculum? Who has time to teach anything?

    Probably no other American right now has a more relevant opinion on Jeff Bliss's oratory than Dr. Alfred L. Ray, Superintendent of Schools for Duncanville ISD. Dr. Ray appears to have his priorities in order: who is the beneficiary of all these efforts to educate our youth? Our youth, of course.

    "Today’s students want to be engaged in learning. They want classrooms to challenge their thinking and give them opportunities to create, innovate, and solve real problems. The traditional classroom where desks are in straight rows, teachers stand and lecture, and students quietly copy notes has to evolve."
  13. "There is an important message in the events of this week: Engage students and transform classrooms. It’s a message that can make a difference for every school-aged child in America." -- Dr. Alfred L. Ray
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