What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?


The stopgap federal spending bill that President Barack Obama signed into law yesterday almost certainly spells the end of federal funding for more than a dozen education programs, at least for two weeks, quite possibly for good.

The bill would scrap all federal funding for the current year for a number of programs that were considered “earmarks” under congressional rules, because they got non-competitive funds, directed just for them. Some senators protested on behalf of the groups, but it may have been too late—the cuts went through anyway.

The list of funding cuts includes:

National Writing Project—$25.6 million
Teach for America—$18 million
Reading is Fundamental—$24.8 million
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards—$10.7 million
New Leaders for New Schools—$5 million
Arts in Education—$40 million
We the People—$21.6 million
Close Up fellowships—$1.9 million
Exchanges With Historic Whaling and Trading Partners—$8.6 million
Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity program—$3 million
B.J. Stupak Olympic Scholarships—nearly $1 million

The programs could get money from the department under other funding streams. But more likely than not, most of them aren’t going to get any more funding from the feds, possibly forever.

It’s been a rather dark month for public educators.  Important ideas and organizations I and others hold dear are under attack.  At this moment, it would be so easy to let the angry voices win, to rage and fume and fuss and whine and complain and surrender to the rhetoric that makes teachers out to be the bad guys.  And the thoughtful stuff that we believe in to be a distraction.

It would feel nice to call names and scream screams and otherwise cynically retreat into mumbles of nonproductive foolishness.  It would be cathartic even.

But that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.  No.  The right thing to do is to take a deep breath, pause for a moment of reflection, and then to talk back.  Kindly.  Firmly.  Consistently.

I was reminded of this last night as I remembered a moment in the past where things looked dark for public television. ((Everything old is new again.  Things look dark for PBS and NPR rather cyclically.))  And a man I admire very much gently spoke truth to power.  And helped restored the funding.

Which is why I even know him at all.  ((This was fifteen years before I would spend afternoons with him and my mom on the old corduroy couch. I miss those days.))

Take a look.  Then think about what you do with the mad that you feel.  And consider what you might do with it instead.


16 thoughts on “What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?

  1. Cathy says:

    Thank you for the gentle reminder.

  2. You (and Mister Rogers) totally inspired me this morning. Thank you.

    1. Bud Hunt says:

      And you, me. Your idea to buy some prepaid phones and pass them around the campus in California? Brilliant. I hope you give it a try.

  3. Amanda says:

    Thanks for this today, Bud!

    1. Bud Hunt says:

      You’re quite welcome.

  4. Ben Grey says:

    The world needs more Mr. Rogers. His absence means more of us figuring out how to be more like him.

  5. Thank you for sharing this post. I haven’t been able to figure out what I wanted to do with my mad. Hearing Mr. Rogers’ voice brought back the special childhood moments he gave me. It reminded me that that is exactly what I am wanting to do in this profession. I’m going to remember his words in the midst of this dark time.

  6. Lynn Rossborough says:

    It is nice to see the good guys prevail once in awhile and elected leaders listen and be inspired…more of this needed today

  7. Thanks for sharing…where has that feeling gone?

  8. Kevin Brooks says:

    Thank you Bud for this…
    I posted a snarky comment on Facebook about public employee unions: bad but NFL players union: good, which created a mild stir. But the mad feeling is there for both. What has happened to our priorities? Why I am I in this basket and where am I going?
    It is a sad day…

  9. Lucy Gray says:

    I like you just the way you are, Bud the Teacher! Thanks for sharing. Can’t believe this is happening.

  10. Tim Childers says:

    What a wonderful reminder that everything, including how we respond to the feelings that well up inside of us, is controllable by choices. It is hard to imagine a time (as in this video) when the whole world had not heard of Mr. Rogers or his neighborhood of care. He is sorely missed in education television.

  11. Ryan Bretag says:

    When I was angered by the realities, my uncle would push me to “tell your story and rise to a higher level”.

    I struggled with latter often causing the story to be lost.

    Your words encouraging us “to take a deep breath, pause for a moment of reflection, and then to talk back. Kindly. Firmly. Consistently” is the essence of rising to a higher level so our story shines brighter and with greater power.

    Thank you… thank you for your words that remind me of a lesson I never should have lost sight of in life.

  12. Bud Hunt says:

    You’re very welcome. This was a reminder as much to myself as to anyone. Now, after some deep breaths – what comes next?

  13. Kfeagin says:

    Thanks for a great post! A simple message that leaves us with a lot to think about, feelings to sort through, and actions to plan.

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