No, Gerry Brooks, It’s Not Funny When Educators Ridicule Parents

Gerry Brooks (pronounced like “Gary”) is an elementary school principal at Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky. Almost three years ago, Mr. Brooks uploaded his first YouTube video, and subsequently has added over 180 videos to his channel and has amassed over 102,500 subscribers. His most popular video to date, “First week of school stress…,” is approaching 2 million views. Brooks’ YouTube fame has evolved into a speaking tour called “Celebrate Educators,” which includes a stop at Jenks High School near Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

Gerry Brooks

Principal Brooks is undeniably funny. Being a public school educator comes with a very unique set of challenges, challenges that can be overwhelming at times. Brooks has a special way of humorously describing life inside his elementary school that is both therapeutic and enjoyable to literally hundreds of thousands of teachers and principals alike. It is vital for educators to be able to laugh (at themselves) on a very regular basis. Gerry is feeding this basic need while tapping into a fundamental truth; a lot of funny things happen at school. Brooks will poke fun at just about anything; from standardized testing to education jargon to difficult food packaging. It’s funny because these experiences are shared by virtually every teacher.

But there is a consistent thread throughout Brooks’ videos that is neither funny nor helpful to educating the youth of our nation. Gerry Brooks has a regular habit of posting videos that ridicule parents of public school students. Watching some of Brooks’ videos leads one to think that there are only two types of parents; the overly involved helicopter parent and the unconcerned, disconnected parent. One of Brooks’ favorite scenes recorded from the driver’s seat of his car involves mocking parents by creating fictional characters and phone conversations.

In this video, “The Home Visit…,” Brooks says to a parent during a hypothetical home visit, “I don’t know how you got a Range Rover working at McDonald’s anyways.” Though fictional, this statement represents a microaggression toward the working class and the underemployed and the life choices they make like what kind of car to drive. In this video, “Student Placement Cards…,” Brooks uses a fictional and hyperbolic “placement card” to create a caricature of a parent who in reference to parent teacher conferences is marked as “RRNSU” or “Reschedule, Reschedule, Never Shows Up.” Gerry Brooks has a doll that helps educators avoid saying the rather nasty things they actually want to say to parents at conferences. “The School Secretary Grinch…” says to a late student, “tell your daddy to poop on his own time and not on my school time.”

Many important advances are currently taking place in public education such as restorative justice, community school modeling, and educating the “whole child.” The most concerning element of Brooks’ videos and of his popularity is that his messaging completely ignores the collaborative nature of these important educational innovations. To hear Gerry Brooks tell it, public education is an endeavor of educators alone, and parents only serve to regularly attempt to derail what happens inside the schoolhouse. Brooks’ videos paint a picture of education that is very much us (educators) vs. them (parents).

parent, it's a verb

To hear Gerry Brooks tell it, public education is an endeavor of educators alone, and parents only serve to regularly attempt to derail what happens inside the schoolhouse.

The future of public education demands a stripping away of this us vs. them mentality. Parents must not be viewed by teachers and principals as “other.” Educators and parents are rightful partners in student learning. Anything that suggests otherwise is detrimental to the project of advocating for public education and for the teaching profession.

Some may counter that Brooks’ gimmick is playful and point to anecdotal evidence of parents not taking offense. Gerry Brooks’ mockery may be deemed harmless in mostly white suburban schools like his, and Brooks’ critique of helicopter parenting is not without merit. But when his stereotype of the inept disconnected parent, epitomized in the phrase “Parent, it’s a verb,” is consumed and embraced by urban educators, it only reinforces an ideology that is nothing short of classist and racist.

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24 thoughts on “No, Gerry Brooks, It’s Not Funny When Educators Ridicule Parents

  1. I appreciate this. Someone showed a Gerry Brooks video at a recent PD at the Title 1 school I teach in and I thought to myself “Am I the only one who finds this offensive?”

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    1. No, you are not the only one who finds it offensive. I think it’s great to be able to laugh at ourselves but, to me, this is not humorous. It’s snarky and mean spirited. Two things we don’t need in education.

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  2. Not offensive. We teachers love good parents, but there are many who are uninvolved, quiet and unappreciative when all is well, and can be completely hateful if they think they caught you making a mistake. It can make teachers feel like all the good they pour from their hearts each day for these kids was unnoticed by parents. I’m a parent AND a teacher. If parents are offended, they are probably feeling guilty. Teachers need to find other educators who totally identify with their struggles, and Gerry Brooks does! Let us laugh. It’s the best medicine. If you are offended, well that’s popular these days, Snowflakes.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re the snowflake. Parents have every right to be offended because he is accusing them of intentionally breaking the rules or doing their children’ homework for them. That is untrue.

      While there are a few parents who do that, most do not, but he makes it seem like everyone is doing it. If it bothers you that people are offended, tough luck. You’re the snowflake.

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      1. LOL! Do you know what a snowflake is? Snowflakes are offended by jokes, silly. Where do you get your generalizations, and where do you teach? Learn to laugh. That’s kind of the point. If you’re offended by Gerry Brooks, don’t watch him. I relate and laugh because there really is truth to what he says. We agree that not ALL parents act like that. We love the good parents (who wouldn’t?), but the ones who act up make our lives miserable. Any good parent would laugh with us. I’m a teacher AND a good parent, and I love the good old days when people used to tell things called “jokes.” Ah, yes. Wasn’t that before we had snowflakes who got offended? Sorry for offending you, BTW 😉

        Liked by 3 people

    2. You took the words right out of my mouth, Sarah! Principal Brooks posts his videos primarily for other educators; we have a unique work situation that only other educators completely understand, and the type of humor that he displays is fully appreciated only by us…well, most of us. It’s not as though he actually says these things to parents (I, too, am a parent)—his videos are meant for those of us who admit to sometimes feeling the same way. So to those who are offended by his videos, I’ll say the same thing I would say to someone who finds a particular tv show offensive: Don’t watch it.

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  3. “But when his stereotype of the inept disconnected parent, epitomized in the phrase “Parent, it’s a verb,” is consumed and embraced by urban educators, it only reinforces an ideology that is nothing short of classist and racist.” That stereotype is just as accurate in suburban schools, parochial schools, elite Catholic High schools, and inner city schools. I have experience in each of them, and the lack of parenting was shocking. Thank you, Gerry. He makes excellent points.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Gerry is not offensive. He is HONEST, and that is hard to come by in Public schools today. The parents he describes and situations are REAL and occur on a daily basis in most school districts across the US, but your administrators are not willing to be straight forward, honest and tell you what really goes on behind the scenes. I have seen office staff and teachers yelled at, threatened and injured by students throwing chairs in class. Teachers are not supported and instructed to “not write so many office referrals”. Instead other students are told to evacuate the room while a student stands on the table and barks like a dog. It is REAL and someone need to stand up and give teachers the support they deserve.
    I am a parent and an educator and enjoy being able to laugh. THANK YOU GERRY for the laughter!

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    1. I agree. There are an increasing number of parents who are NOT helpful in their child’s education. This becomes their child’s “normal” and the trend will continue in the next generation. Schools are often too deferential to parents and fail to tell them that their behavior is unacceptable. Gerry does this using humor. I agree with the writer who said that only a parent who recognizes him/herself would be offended..Every other parent would think “Yup. I know parents like that.”

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Yes!!!!! Being a parent and an educator.. yes!!! We live in such a world now where you can’t be funny and everyone is so offended. I’m reading these ridiculous comments and then I come across yours using the word “honest” and I thought to myself “Yaaaas!” These parents are real. And when Gerry is “poking fun” he is probably reenacting an actual scenario he’s encountered.. you can’t make this stuff up.

      If you’re a parent and his jokes bother you perhaps you see a little bit of yourself in the parent he describes.. and THAT is what really bothers you. It’s not the joke. It would be like me getting offended if he made a joke about parents who are teachers too (and maybe he has 🤷🏻‍♀️). We have our own frustrating qualities too! And I would laugh.. because it’s probably true.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. He is funny. Comedians generalize. That’s much of what makes them funny. Good teachers appreciate those amazing and imperfect parents who, like us, are trying to do what is best for their kids; however, where’s the humor in the normal? The humor emerges from the ends of the parenting spectrum. That’s where Gerry hovers.

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  5. You couldn’t be more wrong. Gerry Brooks speaks the truth about parents. I don’t know where you teach but it must have rainbows and unicorns in the hallways. I would love to take phone calls at an elementary school for a day and speak the truth to parents. If you’re offended by his humor go crawl in a closet and close your pie hole.

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  6. Come on-lighten up a little. Must all humor be sanitized to the point of becoming, shall we say, HUMORLESS. I am going to assume here that you have never worked in a public school ( or not for long anyway). This guy is hilarious because those of us who do, recognize so much of what he satirizes! It is not racist or classist when he is talking about the state of parenting in the good ole’ USA these days-which cuts across all manner of demographic lines. In fact many of the most reliable are “The Aunt Becky’s” of our world-white, well educated and yes-entitled. Check that one out if you have not already. Finally-spend a little time on the “frontlines” prior to critiquing those who do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When teachers can’t laugh once in a while, all we do is cry. He’s hilarious. It’s all stuff that happens on a daily basis. I’m sure he loves kids and truly cares about his students. As the years pass by in my teaching career, I have less and less tolerance for horrible parents too.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Gerry is not offensive. He’s able to find humor in the increasingly difficult job of being an educator. I find it amusing and enlightening to see that many of the daily issues that teachers face are nationwide, not just local.

    If you’re looking for something to criticize, I would suggest: low teacher pay, large classroom size, lack of resources, degrading school infrastructure, delusional expectations for on-line curriculum, the alarming number of students coming to school from a stressful homelife and the unexplained increase of kids diagnosed with autism.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is a perfect example of one of today’s biggest issues. That is taking offense where none was intended. To take a comment of subject that is anecdotally correct and apply it to the masses is uninformed and political correctness at it’s worst. It is usually those who criticize educators the most have the least amount of experience in education, either as a profession or as a parent.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How can joking about neglectful parents be racist? It seems more racist to assume he is talking about other races than to understand it happens everywhere. From the parents who want to be friends and not “parent” their child or the parent who lets the child be on a tablet or video game all day, or not around and so on. Every socioeconomic group has this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This article is seriously ridiculous. No one thinks there are only two types of parents. He is funny. OMG, just stop! He is a comedienne. It is a joke. SMDH! This is the same person who probably gets upset over SNL and other comedy shows. Stop being so uptight. I was a leader in the Red4ed movement and a local teacher comedienne who is a teacher talked about smoking pot every morning and made a Red4Ed eye joke. And I am the most seriously anti drug person on the planet. Did I believe him? Well, Duh, Ummmm no. Did I get upset ?Of course not. I was at a comedy show and I laughed. I can do that ya know. I can laugh at myself.

    Teachers would love a principal like Gerry who gets it! He supports his staff. We have had all the experiences he talks about. That dpes not mean those are the only experiences we have had. Plus, i can’t believe I have to explain that. SMDH!!!!!!Sit down and buck up. Spend your time doing something better for humanity with your too much time on my hands blog article.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gerry Brooks tells it like it is in a humorous way. As a teacher with over 45 years teaching grades K-8 in public schools I can tell you I’ve seen it all. If you are offended by his humor maybe you see yourself in some of his musings. I know without humor I Never would have lasted as a teacher for as long as I did…and I would have LOVED to work for a principal like Gerry!!

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  13. Gerry Brooks simply states what teachers are thinking but cannot say. I teach in a title 1 district that is half and half race and personally, I think he hit the nail on the head with parenting. Whoever wrote this article is obviously not a teacher and definitely not one in an average district.

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  14. No, as a parent and elementary educator, none of what he deliversnis offensive. It’s comedic relief, the snowflake culture will cry and wine offensive. You find it offensive because you are no linger being sheltered as adults. Sorry, not sorry; educators talk about parents and kids and need the space to vent and relieve stress. He’s a great relief to educators who need to feel understood. Go cry somewhere else… we are not listening.

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  15. I appreciate your perspective, though I disagree that his videos are lashing out at all parents. I enjoy them, but I do understand how they could promote an “us” versus “them” mentality, and am surprised that there hasn’t been more backlash about them from his district. The fact that there hasn’t, however, leads me to believe that his actions within his school and community have made him well-respected enough among all stakeholders to see the truth in the parts that sting. I do agree that our role as educators is to unite, not divide; that his videos have not divided his community leads me to believe that there is a lot of goodwill that exists between the community and the school that he has helped to foster in other ways.

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