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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6 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.

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    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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  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.

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  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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