Update: I originally posted this in April 2021. I unpublished it shortly afterward for a few reasons, but could see in my stat tracking that people were still accessing it via the Wayback Machine. I later noticed that it was no longer showing up in the Wayback Machine for reasons that are unclear to me. I have decided to repost this as an official record of what I wrote and so my comments are not misrepresented in the public square.
When I woke up yesterday morning I did not plan on deactivating the products in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I had been thinking about it, praying about it, and discussing it with other sellers for a few months as I’ve shared here in previous posts. Even though I’m not close to being a top seller, I do make enough that it matters to our family’s bottom line. This was not a decision I made lightly as you will see below.
I had already removed some of my products from TPT when I decided to offer The Lifetime Shopping Pass on my website. Yesterday I started by deleting a few more products (of the 200ish that were left) and adjusting the prices in my website shop. Because I don’t have to pay a 20% fee to TPT in my own shop, I no longer have to factor in the necessary mark-up to keep the pricing consistent as they require in their seller agreement. I am free to price more fairly here which makes me happy.
As I started deactivating more and more products on the TPT platform, I felt more and more free. I got down to the last 65 or so that are my most profitable and decided to fully trust God to provide.
I continued on.
If you look today, my Teachers Pay Teachers shop is still there with two free products. I’ve left them as placeholders. I sincerely hope TPT will adjust their course for many reasons. I’m not terribly hopeful that will happen, but I do believe in grace and redemption so that is why I did not completely delete my shop but only deactivated the products. (Update: I removed those as well shortly after posting this and closed my Teachers Pay Teachers account.)
The truth is I no longer want to support the anti-racist agenda they have been aggressively pursuing since last summer. I believe it is both dangerous and unbiblical. I also believe it has been poorly thought out from the corporate end.
Reasons I Deactivated My Products on Teachers Pay Teachers
Here are some of the reasons I made this choice.
First of all, the entire premise of anti-racism is unbiblical. Rooted in Marxism, it is itself racist. It pits people against each other based on immutable characteristics such as the color of their skin. This is in contradiction to the Gospel. It is also unAmerican. It is, if I may be frank, revolting to me. Reducing entire groups of people to their skin color is racist. Anti-racism is racist.
Second, I do not want my sales to help support the growing war on white people in this country. It has become obvious to anyone paying attention that there are forces at work pushing hard to start a race war. They want us to hate and resent each other. This push is rooted in and actively advanced by the anti-racist movement. I refuse to be a part of this. Why would I want money generated by my products used to promote an agenda calling for violence against white people and teaching white children to loathe themselves as the cause of all societal problems? Dear God in Heaven, help us. Does no one see how truly evil this is to do this to children in schools?
Third, I’ve found the censoring and removal of products that don’t meet TPT’s vague and undefined anti-racism guidelines both troubling and insulting. I say this as someone who has never had a product deactivated or deleted. I don’t have a particular axe to grind in that regard. My objection is moral. The idea that unknown people of no known qualifications make up a “Marketplace Integrity Team” that deletes products at will and with no apparent consequence is beyond Orwellian. The idea that teacher-authors are told to hire a “sensitivity reader” to tell them why their products fail to be anti-racist enough to continue being sold on the platform is absurd.
Lastly, I believe support for the anti-racist movement and BLM (the corporation) has peaked and is now rapidly falling out of favor with a significant portion of America (and the world) as they see the destructive fruit it produces. Teachers Pay Teachers has gone all-in on this. I want to believe they did so with good intentions. I believe there are some people in the company who do care about children and not just dollar signs. But I think they have chosen poorly for the long-term. States have begun to outlaw anti-racist teaching. Parents are beginning to push back hard on these divisive ideas in the schools. What will happen with TPT now that they have very publicly promoted the idea that they are an anti-racist platform?
Personally, I would no longer purchase anything from the site in history or literature. Based on what I have observed in the TPT forums, I would assume those products have been anti-racist sanitized in order to pass the “Marketplace Integrity Team” gatekeepers. That means at least some to most critical thinking activities have been removed. Activities that ask children to form an opinion about historical events have been repeatedly censured. There is a long list of activities that are no longer considered appropriate. In addition, anything connected to the new definition of “white supremacy” (formerly known as Traditional Western Civilization) is now suspect or outlawed in the anti-racism circles. The TPT leadership believes that anti-racism is the future. I do not. I don’t want my products to be suspect by being on the platform.
I’m Not The Only Seller Disturbed By These Developments
A few months ago another seller contacted me via email and shared her observations based on research she had done into the company and how the site itself seems to be functioning. We’ve emailed a number of times. I’ve extended an invitation to her to write a guest post (with her name or anonymously) to explain what she has researched. I won’t take her research and pass it off as my own so I won’t share today what I have learned from her. If she takes me up on my offer, she will be able to write more in-depth about what she learned and include the relevant details.
I say all of this not to be a tease, but to illustrate that I am not alone in my thinking. Most people are simply too afraid to speak up. People are afraid of losing their family’s livelihood. People are afraid of losing their teaching job. People are afraid of being labeled a racist. These are hard choices people have to make. I know because it took me months to get to this point.
If you are a seller who has made a similar choice, I hope you will leave a comment. If you have a shop on your own website, please leave a link so people can see it and support you in your decision by shopping at your website shop.
Update: The guest post is now here at Teachers Pay Teachers and Equity Funding. There is also a developing conversation in the comments.
Comments and Observations I’ve Made in the TPT Forums
In closing, I thought I would share some comments I made and questions I asked in the TPT forums over the past few months. I’m not going to share the responses I received because the forum is behind a membership wall. I don’t want to violate some written or unwritten rule regarding sharing someone’s forum words in a public post. I was not the only one pushing back and asking questions. There were some excellent questions asked, but I’m not going to publicly share their posts.
The first several examples are from the earlier part of a forum post where sellers were discussing how this new policy was impacting sellers with history products in particular. It will give you a feel for what is going on. After those you will see the questions I asked directly of TPT corporate. As you can see by the date stamps I included, this has been going on for many months.
I will say that I never received a direct or satisfactory answer to any of these questions. The one TPT corporate employee who did respond (in a very kind way) either did not understand the points I was making or chose not to understand the points I was making. I’m not going to assign motive so I will simply say I never received a direct and clear answer to any of the following questions you’ll see below. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Nov 22, 2020 9:33 AM
When TPT sent out a newsletter on September 8, 2020, demonizing the “white, male, heterosexual” point of view, I knew it was only a matter of time before we started seeing increasing levels of censorship on the platform. I also noticed in their September 22, 2020 version of the letter they removed that part when they promoted the workshop again. Maybe because they received pushback privately from many TPT sellers who fit that demographic or are married to someone who fits that demographic? I don’t know, but it wasn’t there in the next letter.
The fact that no one said anything for so long tells you a lot about the state of things here regarding free speech and fear of recrimination.
I’m thankful people are finally speaking up. This is a form of censorship and I was glad to learn this week that people are starting to call it what it is.
Nov 22, 2020 9:42 AM
It also seems to me that TPT is trying to have their cake and eat it too. They are saying “we’re not a publisher” even though they increasingly moderate and censor what can happen on their platform without clear guidelines – just like Facebook and Twitter.
I think they are potentially opening themselves up for trouble in the future just as Facebook and Twitter have been exposed in recent days.
Dec 1, 2020 9:47 AM
(This was my response to what someone else was told in an email from TPT corporate’s Marketplace Integrity Team. Bold is other person.)
“they are no longer interested in students being asked to form opinions on historical events”
Wow. That’s not education. That’s indoctrination.
Jan 30, 2021 8:51 AM
(This was in response to another seller who explained that she had turned off all her paid products because she disagreed with what TPT deemed “inappropriate.” As I write this post, her store is still turned off except for one free item as a placeholder.)
TPT is a monopoly and can do pretty much whatever it wants at this point. Your choices are take it or leave it and they know it. People who have been here a long time can clearly see the change in tone re: how they respond to concerns or complaints. They are a corporation with investors. They now make their plans accordingly. You can either play along or you can leave.
A few years ago another site (teachersdojo.com) tried to offer an alternative when there was a big dust-up over the collection of sales taxes. The site is a better site all around in terms of what they offered and the functionality. Significantly better. It was built on purpose to be better. (I have no affiliation with the ownership.) All it would have taken is a core group of TPT sellers to decide to support another option. But they didn’t for a variety of reasons – fear, lack of time, sense of loyalty, etc. TPT relented on the taxes and everyone abandoned the idea of moving to Teacher’s Dojo.
So now we all must do whatever TPT decides.
The other option is to sell on your own website. I don’t know if you have considered it, but here is a post I wrote about why I made that choice a number of years ago.
If you don’t own it, you don’t control it. That’s the bottom line. And the reality is the sellers control nothing here on TPT. The only option is the one you mentioned. Deactivate your products and/or leave. There are now so many teachers dependent on TPT for their livelihood that the chances of them deactivating their products to force a point are slim to none.
They would also be seen as racist for raising questions about this new policy and since everyone is scared out of their minds at that possibility, no one will speak up.
Feb 5, 2021 7:00 AM
(This was in response to someone’s experience with having multiple products deactivated. Bold is other person.)
No specifics were given, but I was told to “remove the problematic content”. … The email’s solution is “engaging a Diversity Equity & Inclusion expert or an experienced sensitivity reader.”
This is beyond absurd.
I’ll simply say it out loud for everyone who is angry, confused, and/or scared spitless right now and too afraid to speak up.
This is beyond absurd.
Feb 10, 2021 9:10 AM
(In response to someone being at a total loss why a product was deactivated.)
Pretty sure you can’t ask children to have an opinion about this. The only “acceptable” response is to condemn Columbus and demand that the federal holiday be dropped. If someone believes Columbus Day is still worth celebrating, then you are immediately labeled as an insert-long-list-of-bad-things-here.
I made an earlier comment about indoctrination versus education. I suspect this is one where indoctrination is the only “acceptable” answer in the new paradigm we’re expected to adopt without question.
Feb 10, 2021 10:10 AM
(Follow up statement to the person above.)
If you want to test my theory, resubmit your product and change the question to this: “List three reasons why the United States should no longer celebrate Columbus Day as a federal holiday.” I bet it will sail through approved.
(I don’t know if she tried this and decided not to ask and put her on the spot.)
And now I start asking questions for clarification, using links to news stories that are relevant to the ongoing issue.
Feb 12, 2021 9:27 AM
How long will it be until Teacher-Authors are no longer allowed to sell products that ask students to “show their work” or get the “correct answer” to a problem?
All the math people reading this thread who think this isn’t going to touch them and their TPT business don’t understand how things snowball.
Feb 16, 2021 7:59 AM
Will Teacher-Authors with some of the 13,866 products related to Shakespeare be asked to remove them or completely re-write them to fit the new woke narrative demands?
Feb 16, 2021 8:12 AM
It would also be helpful to know if Teacher-Authors will be required to cooperate with views like these distributed to white parents from a NYC public school principal in order to continue selling on this platform in the future.
If so, when and how will white Teacher-Authors be required to participate in this?
If not, where will you draw the line and who will be drawing that line? How will we be informed?
These are honest questions. I would sincerely like to know how far TPT is going to go with this so I know if my ability to earn money here is actually threatened. There is no end to where these choices go once they start snowballing.
SCOOP: The principal of East Side Community School in New York sent white parents this "tool for action," which tells them they must become "white traitors" and then advocate for full "white abolition."
This is the new language of public education. pic.twitter.com/0XA3xUpcuT
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) February 15, 2021
Feb 16, 2021 4:14 PM
(This is my response to a TPT employee who left a response to my questions.)
Hi (TPT Employee name redacted),
Thank you for responding.
No, my question is not primarily about being notified. It’s about knowing how far TPT is going to take this “journey” that they keep saying they are on.
I’ve shared multiple stories about where these decisions lead schools, universities, companies, etc. These are just a few of the many that are out there.
The state of Oregon is now instructing math teachers via training that to expect students to provide a correct answer and show their work is “racist” and due to “white supremacy.” Does the leadership of TPT support that view? If it is happening in Oregon, how long will it be before it takes root in other states? If this becomes the norm nationally, will Teacher-Authors be required to change their products to reflect this? This is a legitimate question. We’re talking about a state training teachers in this, not a one-off piece written on Medium by a random person.
This kind of rewriting of history and censorship starts with the best of intentions, but rarely ends up in a good place.
Teacher-Authors have built businesses over the past 10+ years that are now under the control of people we know nothing about.
We don’t know their names.
We don’t know their professional qualifications.
We don’t know their educational background.
We don’t know their philosophical, political, or religious worldviews.
We don’t have access to the detailed information they have likely been given by TPT in order to make their decisions regarding which of our products to delete and which ones to deactivate.
We don’t know what the end game is in all of this because we are only provided with vague answers about being on a journey and learning as we go.
There are hundreds or even thousands of Teacher-Author business owners who support their families with what they earn here. Many have employees of their own. Those businesses are now controlled in some key ways by people we don’t know and have no access to except in the most vague ways. They are implementing vague and continually changing standards.
Where does this “journey” end? When will the products on TPT be satisfactorily sanitized of “white supremacy?” When there are clip art quotas on our products? When we are required to insert content we disagree with in order to make it “equitable” in the view of the unknown product police? When our stores have a special designation to show that we’re an “Official Ally” or “Certified Anti-Racist Seller” or “Certified White Traitor” or “Certified White Abolitionist” or something else?
I’m not trying to be divisive. I’m trying to point out that this all heads to a very bad place. It’s astonishing to me that people cannot see this.
Feb 19, 2021 11:18 AM
Hi again, (TPT Employee name redacted),
Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my comments. TPT could have deleted my comments and even removed my store from the platform. Some companies would have done that. To TPT’s credit, they did not and I want to be sure to point that out. Thank you.
I did not expect anything I wrote here would change company policy. My intent in sharing these links and asking these pointed questions was to push other sellers to think beyond the immediate and to the long-range consequences of these changes.
I think the answers provided as well as the answers that were not provided to some of my very pointed questions are instructive. To that end, I believe I have accomplished what I had hoped to do.
TPT has charted a path as a company that will have a direct impact on everyone who sells here. Each person will have to make a choice regarding how far they are willing to walk down that path with TPT in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Thank you again for taking the time to respond.
Best wishes to you.
That was the last time I engaged in that thread. The conversation went on from there, including one seller who specifically pointed out that the TPT employee wasn’t getting my point. When I wrote that last comment in February, I pretty much knew TPT was over for me. It wasn’t a matter of if, but of when. Ironically, I had what I think was my best regular month ever on TPT in the midst of realizing that it was becoming almost impossible for me to continue using the platform. I started to write a response to the thread recently as it picked up again but decided, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I’ve done all I can do.
So as you can see, this decision was a long time coming. I spoke up multiple times on this issue specifically. It really does astonish me that people can’t see how this is all heading to a Very Bad Place.
That’s my story. I wanted to record it here because it was a big decision for me and I’ve mentioned working through this a few times in recent months in other posts. If you are a regular reader and think of my family, please pray that God will provide in other ways. This was a step of faith. Pray that He will guide me as well as other TPT sellers who have or know they need to make the same decision. If you have already made or are in the process of making the same decision, please leave a comment with your website shop link once your TPT store is deactivated so people can shop in your website store and support your choice as much as possible.
Please note: I am adding related articles in the comments whenever I find something.
Comments are moderated for first time commenters. Rude or abusive comments are immediately deleted.
Read the next post in this series: Teachers Pay Teachers and Equity Funding