The in box. The value of finger paint.

The last 24 hours have seen a lot of responses to Finger Paint. Here are some:


I’ve posted about this before, but it bears repeating in the hopes that Mr. Olson will read it:

Mr. Olson,
The arts can play an important role in the life of a child. My nephew was very troubled as a teenager. He was acting out and failing until the day a public school music teacher put a saxophone in his hands and taught him how to play it. The music turned him around and helped him get his act together. He became an honor student and now attends a major university. I have no doubt Fred has done the same for countless kids who have come through his art classes. Don’t underestimate the positive effect that teachers like Fred and my nephew’s music teacher can have on children. They deserve our thanks, not our scorn.


It’s easy to criticize teachers, teaching, and the salaries we earn when one has never done the job. When new acquaintances learn that I teach second grade, usually the next thing they say is,”Oh, they are so cute. That must be so much fun!” Well, sometimes it IS fun, but mostly, it’s really hard work.

My team takes our classes to the Shedd Aquarium every year as part of our science unit about oceans. We divide our classes into small groups and each chaperon supervises four to six children. Upon our return to school, at least one parent (usually more) declares, ” I don’t know how you do this everyday.” I appreciate their acknowledgement of the difficulty of my job, but going to the Shedd is easy. Meeting the individual educational, social, and emotional needs of each and every little person in my class is the most difficult part of my job. Schools aren’t factories, one size doesn’t fit all. My district pays me for the expertise that a BA, two MAs, and 26 years of full time teaching brings to my students. Oh, and for the record, I began teaching full time in 1980 at the whopping salary of $7800 per year. My friends who worked in the private sector at that time made quite a bit more than that.



On the importance of art education:

-David Reber


Since much of the EAG tweet-splattering included my Twitter handle, it’s important that you know that I had NO idea who Kyle Olson is before the tweet spat–even though he’s set up shop (with seven full-time employees) in my hometown. Kyle and Ben must have a sugar daddy somewhere, funding all those trips to Madison to film the union protesters and their signs from unflattering angles. That, and sitting in front of their computers all day clucking their tongues–it’s a great job.

-Nancy Flanagan


Our parish tops out at $60,000 (that’s for a PhD and 30+ years of experience), with no raises in years. Maybe that’s one of the reasons our teachers leave – plus the fact that so many “in charge” think we play all day.


Olson should try teaching art to a group of kids. He wouldn’t last an hour. I’m an elementary school teacher and art is my least favorite thing to do with the class. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important. It’s just that each lesson takes a great deal of preparation, and even the best behaved children can go all out crazy on you during art. A person has to have nerves of steel and incredible behavior management skills to really do it right. I can’t believe you do it all day. I take my hat off to you.


As a retired educator, I happen to be highly cognizant of the fact that you earn every penny that you make. I’ll bet your critic wouldn’t last 3 days in a classroom.



I don’t especially want Olson finger painting. You don’t know where those fingers have been.



Hey Fred,
This week in Rockford, elementary school educators were compared to line workers in a factory – wish we had you here as we face a strike this week. We could use your wisdom and humor to help us through . . .

-Marilyn Cicero

One Reply to “The in box. The value of finger paint.”

  1. Fred, I’ll be happy to give Olsen the finger, if you’ll teach him to paint with it. Society is not improved by what he’s currently doing with his fingers.

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