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Laboring Well

September 4, 2017

I started this blog in January 2013. Before that, in 2012, I was active in posting comments on news articles that read more like propaganda promoting market-driven, test-score-idolizing, teacher-damning ed reform. I also wrote some research articles and sent these to state ed board members and La. state superintendent, John White.

Between 2013 and 2016, I wrote and published three books on ed reform issues.

While all of this advocating and writing transpired, I continued to teach full time.

Throughout the 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, and, to a lesser extent, 2016-17 school years, it was common for me to operate on 4-5 hours of sleep per night at least a few times each week because I was writing blog posts an average of five per week. Despite this intense schedule, I kept up with my classroom prep and grading, and I had no problem with absences.

And for four summers, I wrote books (2013 through 2015) and worked on a major research project (2016).

However, in order to avoid burnout, I must slow down– not stop writing, mind you– but exercise wisdom so that I am well for the long term.

As of this writing, my 2017-18 school year has been in session for a month, and I am pleased to note that I dipped below 7 hours of sleep for only one night.

I am averaging 7 1/2 to 8 hours per night, which, as one might imagine, provides remarkable leverage for laboring well.

I have also learned a second critical lesson that promotes advocacy for the long term:

Don’t dwell on the numbers– the number of books sold, or daily views to the blog, or Twitter followers. And especially, don’t chase after ever-increasing numbers. This only creates the personal prison of “more, more more.”

And a final lesson:

Consciously balance involvement with the computer with involvement with people. Don’t forego time with family and friends in the name of an advocacy that has actually morphed into an addiction.

With that last thought in mind, allow me to exit so that I might head to my sister’s house and help her prepare for the arrival of other family and friends as we celebrate this Labor Day together.

To all of my readers, I wish a Happy Labor Day.

Labor well, my friends. Labor well.



Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.



  1. Jen permalink

    Beautifully stated, Mercedes. Beautifully stated.

  2. Well done



  3. I completely agree and support you in this. I have had a similar experience. Similar to you, I went several years with lack of sleep. I worked in a variety of ways to advocate for Adult Education in California, authoring the Adult Education Blog, working within the union, working with other advocates across the state, working in social media, attending and presenting at conferences, etc. All while also being a single mom and the support to two aging parents. I hit a wall health wise and had to pull back. I am still involved in advocacy for Adult Education – but nowhere the level I was before. For a while now, I’ve been trying to re-calibrate. Since the national election last November, I’ve been trying to decide where exactly to put my focus. Like you, I rely on my spirituality for support and guidance. I still don’t feel entirely clear on what I’m doing currently but I trust that clarity will come. I’m immensely grateful for the work you’ve done and all along, I recognized the cost that surely you were paying in terms of your own energy. Thank you. I have learned so much from you and you have helped all of us who care about education and humanity so much. Keep on keeping on – including in spending time with friends and family. That’s so important. We had our gathering yesterday, enjoying a bar-be-que and a Murder Mystery game written by my cousin. Our labor is precious and is sustained by that which it serves… humanity, higher purpose, our own survival.

  4. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Mercedes, for the labor you have done and continue to do on behalf of kids and your country.

  5. Edd Doerr permalink

    Take good care of yourself, Mercedes. We really need you and Diane Ravitch and others like you who value our public schools.

  6. Virginia permalink

    I applaud your more recent “balance,” but I greatly appreciate all the hard work (perhaps more than was good for you) in posting your blog and writing the books. Your efforts have both informed me and inspired me. I am now a director of Nevadans Against Common Core. (I am a retired college English prof.).

  7. You are making such a wise, healthy decision Mercedes….one that will make you an even better activist/advocate/revolutionary than you already are! It is important that all of us in this work take care ourselves first…if we don’t many around us suffer.

  8. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    You are on the right path. Balance matters. Your work is an important part of your life and makes a big difference in the larger world even it that is not always apparent. But is should not be the whole all consuming reason for getting sleep or not, enjoying kith and kin or not.

  9. Harlan Underhill permalink

    As wise as brilliant in research. Enjoy.

  10. BR Gifford permalink

    Thanks to my favorite and most knowledgeable thorn in the side of the gaggle off knowledge- free educational policy analysts that have dominated public policy debates within K12 Education, Diane Ravitch, I discovered your blog.
    Next to Diane you are my favorite muckraker, and I hope you will continue to challenge these analysts, particularly those equate their lack of concrete experience with wisdom.
    Enjoy Labor Day, and remind your friends and family members that had it not been for the Labor movement, all of us would at the mercy of the narrow-minded machinations of these self-centered “problem generators.”

  11. Zorba permalink

    Mercedes, we really appreciate all your hard work in the education field. Thank you so very, very much.
    But as Laura said, balance is important.
    My mother always used to say “you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first.”
    And she was right.

  12. manny shargel permalink

    I am glad that you are getting more sleep and thereby taking care of yourself. One can not take on the causes we care for if our health fails. Thank you for all your hard work. Reading your blog is always a good experience even if the news is vexing. Bless you.

  13. Maureen OConnor permalink

    Wonderful post—important reminder for all of us to slow down and take care of ourselves, especially during these times. Maureen O’Connor (retired Boston/Newton MA) history teacher.

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