Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pounding The Keys Again

Lila and Claire

My life is getting back to normal lately. Two weeks ago my daughter and her family moved in with the other grandparents, Roger and Chris Lowell in Bridgton, until the addition on their own house is done. My wife and I are each going over there one day a week to help out, just as Roger and Chris did for us. Twins Henry and Luke will be five months old the end of July and are growing like weeds. Their older sister Claire will be four in September and Lila is two-and-a-half and both are adjusting to their baby brothers. Part of me misses seeing them every day, but I’m glad to have my life back too.
Luke, Henry and Annie

So, after a hiatus of five months, I’ve resumed my work on a book. It’s about years of efforts by leftist individuals and lobbying groups to censor, discipline or dismiss me when I was a teacher. Some expressed outrage at my conservative views as a columnist and claimed they made me unsuitable for the classroom. Others disapproved of lessons I taught in class on US History or current events involving Islamist terrorism, abortion, homosexuality, or other controversial issues. Occasionally I was able to obtain copies of their complaints. Some were fellow staff members, some were parents, community members, or people in various interest groups on the left who lobbied principals, superintendents, school boards, and state licensing agencies against me, and I’ve accumulated a file full. There’s an even thicker file of letters to the editor in papers which have published my column over the years insisting that anyone with opinions like mine isn’t fit to teach. There’s also a file of letters from students, parents and community members in my support - some private, and others which were published.

Then there are my own accounts of meetings with principals and superintendents as well as emails and letters sent to me privately, many of which are nasty and unsigned, as well as others supporting, encouraging, or praising my teaching. There was one telephoned death threat on voice mail that has since been lost, and even though I’ve also lost more than a hundred emails when a hard drive crashed, I still have much more material than I can use.

My goal was to be finishing up the book about now and shopping it around to publishers, but the above-mentioned family responsibilities caused me to adjust my timetable. I don’t regret that, being the proud grandfather of healthy twin grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters with whom I was able to bond for five months. Summer is a busy season for my property-management business around Kezar Lake in Lovell too and that will limit my writing time until it all slows down late in the fall. If all goes right, I should be done with the first draft mid-winter sometime.
It’s been difficult cranking out a column every week while working on the book as well so I’ve begun merging the two here and there. Last week’s column, which I called “Thought Patterns,” was my first effort. It’s what I was working on I left off last January - laying out broad themes into which many lessons in my twentieth-century history curriculum fit. They could be termed “classically liberal” themes, rather than “liberal” in the sense of those whose adherents lately have been calling themselves “Progressives.” Columns like “Thought Patterns” won’t appear in the book verbatim, but some of its paragraphs will.

Had I been finished and shopping the book to publishers now, the timing would have been favorable given recent revelations about IRS harassment of conservatives. It seems that story has legs, however, and it’s likely that it will still be in the news next winter when I’m actually done. I can only hope.

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Blogger Showboat said...

Mr. McLaughlin - your book should be a very interesting one! Considering who your enemies are, there should be informative and insightful reading. Thank you for your articles, and your showing the "face of the enemy" with whom you deal frequently.
Keep up the good fight for Conservative values.

7/17/13, 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to put in an order for a signed copy of your book, Tom. My 4 children have been taught by you at MOMS. Since your class, all have taken interest in current affairs and politics. I thank you for giving the gift of education and for sparking their interest in these areas. Instead of a "Nothing." response, you were the talk at our dinner table many nights when I asked, "What happened at school today?" I know you taught all sides of a story based on responses from questions I asked my children - not something most people, particularily teachers, do. You have also been the topic of many unsolicited conversations in the community that I've participated in as well. A few of my left-leaning friends - whom I respect - who also had children in your class have admitted that you fairly cover (controversial, multi-sided) topics. I offer these comments to those who have publicly criticized your ability to teach over the years. Their opinions are not based in fact but rather emotions. Keep up the good work - Tom Down The Street

7/17/13, 8:59 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Tom.

7/17/13, 10:01 AM  
Blogger Geoff Diehl said...

Am happy to prepay for a signed copy, as well... can you put me on a list? THANKS

7/17/13, 10:39 AM  
Anonymous JD said...

The book sounds like a winner , Tom . I'll look forward to picking up a copy at Bridgton Books .

7/17/13, 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Texas Transplant said...

Me too! Please add me to the list of appreciative readers who are lining up for a signed copy of your book...there's nothing like critical thinking to keep Alzheimer's disease at bay.

7/17/13, 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with it.

7/17/13, 6:03 PM  
Blogger William Rombola said...

Good luck with the book Tom.

7/17/13, 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

As a conservative teacher, I would love to have a copy of your book as well.

I have tried to represent the least represented side in any classroom discussion. I hope that not one of my students could tell you where I personally stand on issues, that has been my goal anyway.

Good luck and let me know when it's published. I'll be buying it.

7/18/13, 8:09 AM  
Blogger Jessica McLaughlin said...

Proud of you Dad.

7/19/13, 12:51 AM  
Anonymous John Frary said...

A complete, factual record of liberal intolerance of dissent will be a valuable historical contribution. I ran into this myself, but it never became a real threat. In fact I had more words of support from liberal colleagues in my public controversies, but is was always private and muted. It may be that the major victims of liberal intolerance may be the liberal teachers and professors who are afraid of the militants in their own herd.

7/19/13, 5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also very proud of you - Brother. Good thing we have a large family to support each other.

7/19/13, 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Sami Gay said...

John Frary said...

"A complete, factual record of liberal intolerance of dissent will be a valuable historical contribution".

John and Tom are two delusional and self-aggrandizing peas in a pod and legends in their own tiny minds.

7/20/13, 9:21 AM  
Anonymous buttercup said...

The right is always quick to accuse others of crying victimhood. Your book sounds like one long epic boo hoo.

7/20/13, 2:11 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Do you two work at the IRS?

7/20/13, 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with many of views. That said, that's why I think it's important that people like yourself be teachers in the public education system. It can only truly be effective if all viewpoints/opinions are represented. I don't think that is necessarily the case in todays public schools.

I believe the best learning comes when confronted with opinions different than ones own.

Best of luck with your book.

7/21/13, 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Sami Gay said...

Wow, snappy comeback, Tom. No, I don't work for the IRS. I am just a long time reader of As Maine Goes and your column, a viewer of FOX news and a listener of Rush. You see, many liberals, unlike conservatives, explore issues and opinions from both sides and see that everything is not as black and white as your teeny little mind perceives them to be. If there were calls for your dismissal as a public school teacher, I'm sure they were well-warranted. Buttercup hit the nail on the head, "your book sounds like one long epic boo hoo". And, if your column is any indication, it will be quite boring as well.

7/22/13, 8:26 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Okay Sami. So why are you here?

7/22/13, 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Let me get this straight. So you are writing a book about how so many people claimed your were a bad teacher, BUT....they only thought this because of your politics. Yep, that must have been couldn't possibly have something to do with bad teaching.

That is like claiming that people that do not like Obama only because of his color. It couldn't possibly have something to do with his presidential skills, or lack thereof.

How pathetic to have to cling to the "woe is me, I'm a victim" card in order to rile up support for your book.

man up.

7/28/13, 11:04 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks for the feedback, Gary. We agree about Obama at least. There are some former students who say I was a bad teacher. They are, however, a small minority of the approximately 3500 students I taught over my career. Some complained that I was a hard-ass. None ever said I was a wuss.

One chapter in the book concerns the school board, which, after several letters of complaint from liberal parents and community members, ordered the superintendent to investigate me formally.

He did, and reported to the board after. He had interviewed present and former principals, present and former staff members who had worked in my classroom, and former students. The majority said I was a superior teacher. Most of the students told him I was their favorite teacher.

One of the community members who complained to the board was afraid for her son in the younger grades who would be in my class in two years. He eventually did and after the year was out, she wrote a followup letter to the board to say that I was her son's favorite teacher as well.

All my evaluations by principals over the years were sterling and I have hundreds of emails and letters from former students who tell me years later what a positive impact I had on them.

It's one of the rewards of spending most of my career in one community where I still live.

7/28/13, 12:09 PM  
Blogger Ryan McLaughlin said...

If you don't know Tom don't pretend to. He's more of a straight shooter then all of you who disapprove. Get more knowledge of the facts before you pretend to know more then he does.

7/28/13, 2:59 PM  

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