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When I Heard the Learned Administrator
Edwin Romond


after Walt Whitman

When I heard the learned administrator speak
in his omniscient in-service day voice to rows
of teachers, I recalled that he himself had not
taught a class in 30 years. And, as he covered
the screen with power point test score
numbers and chided us about ours being lower
than the next town’s, he said this would be
in the papers and he dreaded the phone calls
from parents. After he ordered more work sheets,
drills, and test prep lessons aimed at the SAT
and ACT, this Ph.D. said the governor wanted
new state tests and what was he supposed to do
if that next town scored higher than we did?
When he, with a face red as his new Mercedes,
shouted about teachers’ salaries being so high
with these numbers so low, when he asked
why in God’s name were we teaching
if not to raise standardized tests scores,
I walked out past the coffee and doughnuts
into the perfect silence of the English wing.
I stood yearning for my unstatistical joy
when a weeping mother called to tell me
in her son’s room next to Ozzie Osbourne
CD’s, tins of chewing tobacco, and
under a Guns and Ammo magazine,
she found a poem he’d written in my class
titled, "Someone I Love" and
he had dedicated it to her.

From Dream Teaching (Grayson Books).
Used with the author’s permission.

Edwin Romond  is a poet, playwright, composer, and educator. Now retired, he taught English for more than 30 years in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Edwin's award-winning work has appeared in numerous literary journals, college text books and anthologies, and has been featured on National Public Radio. He maintains an active schedule of readings and presentations; check to see if he's appearing anywhere in your area. A native of Woodbridge, New Jersey, Edwin now lives in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, with his wife and son.

Post New Comment:
Children arrive at school with a natural joy and creativity, but that is not encouraged in the classroom. Good poem!
Posted 04/26/2011 09:49 AM
Gail Goepfert:
I taught junior high English for many years and loved my job. I've seen my share of students who came back to tell me what they liked and remembered about my class. It was precisely the things to which teachers are no longer able to devote time. When I return to visit colleagues at my one-time "home," many say how lucky I am to have gotten out when I did. Sadly, they are counting the years (not days) until they can leave the classroom and the profession. One young woman joined a committee that interested her only to learn to her surprise that they were not actually interested in her viewpoints. A former student in another state became an administrator for about six weeks, learned the same thing very quickly, and as luck would have it, he returned to the classroom happily. Last summer, I found my mother's report card from 1939. She received percent grades for deportment and industry--100%, I might add. The simplicity of the card made me wonder in my own poem if in fact we have improved the system with the test-result crazed focus of today. "Respectfully, I ask, are we sure, are we absolutely sure the results were not the same?"
Posted 04/19/2011 07:54 AM
Says it all, IMO.
Posted 04/19/2011 06:15 AM
oh the joy, if my children have (had) a teacher like this... and a blessing ~ thank you, Judy
Posted 04/18/2011 03:20 PM
Like Jayne, I cried, too. This is so beautiful. And sad.
Posted 04/18/2011 12:44 PM
In Sarasota,FL, one of the high schools requested teams of therapy dogs to hang out in the library--oops--Media Center-- so students could visit with them and de-stress during their FCAT exams. How sad! And now that we are to pay teachers based on the success of their classes on standardized tests, it will only get worse. Our state and country need help!
Posted 04/18/2011 12:12 PM
Joe Sottile:
Correct version: I love this poem! I taught 33 years at the elementary level, and tutored five years kids who had been suspended from school, levels 2-12. We did have some good superintendents, but I left teaching because it was becoming all about teaching for the test! Nowadays teachers are reluctant to have poets come into their classrooms to perform poetry because that's one period less that they have for teaching for the test! How ironical! Poets are the biggest advocates of literacy and the joy of the written word. On my website I have a tribute to teachers. So many of them struggle to teach for the love of learning, not test scores. If you scroll down on the tribute page, you will see a poem written by a student of mine that I treasure... Bravo to Edwin! Posted 04/18/2011 10:28 AM
Posted 04/18/2011 10:33 AM
I retired from teaching English after 35 years, and I am so relieved. For me, the classroom had become the battleground for opposing political views, and most of the people pulling the strings have their children in private schools. It doesn't really matter to them what happens to the "riff-raff." This poem speaks very powerfully to all the painful issues that teachers face today. I pray long and hard for them and our children.
Posted 04/18/2011 09:51 AM
Carol Hauer:
YAY! for teachers, and YAY! for Edwin Romond's beautiful poem. Very touching.
Posted 04/18/2011 09:10 AM
Wonderful poem. As an elementary counselor, I can tell you that the pressure of "THE TEST" stressed out not only the administrators and teachers but also the parents, & CHILDREN, little CHILDREN who should have been finger painting, playing outside at recess or scribbling a love note to the cute girl with freckles. Instead they looked like wooden soldiers, frozen staring at an overhead projector with the dreaded passage of the day. In unison, they took their yellow highlighter & highlighted some word or phrase...all so meaningless, boring and sad.
Posted 04/18/2011 08:54 AM
susan rooke:
By turns this poem moved me to frustration, anger, tears . . . So much genuine emotion brought forth in so few lines. Nicely done.
Posted 04/18/2011 08:54 AM
Donal Mahoney:
This is indeed a fine poem and it takes me back to my first semester of teaching when I realized that although I knew all the subject matter I did not have what it takes to be a teacher. Great teachers gave me a life in which I could earn a living with words. And I thank them all, now dead, every once in awhile when they enter my mind. One can blame the teachers wrongly; no one can stop them. Back in my time, parents cared as well as teachers. I studied so as not to have to face the wrath of my Irish immigrant father working with his hands and so desperately wanting his son to work with his mind. Great teachers made that happen for me and for him. Find some way to motivate parents once again to cooperate with teachers and scores will rise. But then we might not have a poem as good as this one. That's why on my tombstone I'm thinking of asking my wife to imprint the first verse of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" since it has always helped me make sense of this world: 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe."
Posted 04/18/2011 05:56 AM
Ah yes—statistics vs common sense. Figures vs keeping up with the Joneses. Love the way you wrapped this one.
Posted 04/18/2011 01:44 AM

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