Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Teach for America

California is considering legislation that would ban Teach for America, an organization that recruits college kids for a short stint as teachers in inner city schools. Teach for America (TFA) looks attractive, with a pitch like the Peace Corps, urging bright college kids to serve society by teaching in the most troubled schools that have difficulty finding good teachers.

The group is disturbing to many traditional teachers because they reinforce the notion that teaching is something we can all just jump into, undermining the notion of teachers as professionals; after all, everyone knows how to be a teacher because we all went to school ourselves, right? Traditional teachers spend years in college earning a degree in education to qualify for their teaching credentials, but the young TFA teachers get only a five week crash course.

School districts pay TFA teachers the same as starting teachers, but have to pay many thousands of additional dollars as a fee to TFA, a fee that the California Assembly threatens to ban. California further threatens to bar TFA from the troubled schools that need the best teachers, and that are the only places where TFA places their teachers. A very low percentage of the young TFA teachers remain in the classroom after their short teaching stint, so TFA doesn’t offer a long term fix for the shortage of good teachers in bad schools.

TFA annoyed traditional teachers recently when they seemed to encourage their recruits to cross picket lines in the Oakland teachers strike, and they have annoyed teachers unions by their close affiliation with charter schools, a teacher union bugaboo.

Get a group of teachers together and it won’t be long before the conversation turns to bashing TFA. It looks like I’m the only cartoonist in our group who has drawn anything on this topic –which is interesting in itself. Since the controversy about TFA isn’t in the news much, my cartoon takes the form of an explainer. I expect we’ll hear much more about TFA and the professionalism of the teaching profession if the proposed California legislation passes.

Here’s my cartoon.

Blog Syndicate

Teacher Strike Ending

I expect that the Los Angeles teacher strike will be ending this afternoon. My teacher/wife just went to her school to vote on the settlement. Here’s my cartoon anticipating a deal.


In case everyone forgot, here’s my teacher strike cartoon from last weekend!

I think the strike left teachers with a better sense of camaraderie, and even more disgust for superintendent Austin Beutner and the school board.

Hey, sometime I have to draw local cartoons.

Blog Syndicate

Common Core in Tennessee

Here’s my new cartoon for the Nashville Next altie-weekly newspaper. Tennessee has a number of commissions that are passionately reviewing the Common Core standard that conservatives in this red state just can’t stand.



Worms in the Common Core

156472 600 Worms in the Common Core cartoons


Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers!

Here are my three most recent cartoons! I just finished this one on the Republicans’ 40th vote against Obamacare and their recent attempt to shut down the government over Obamacare. They will be run over each time.  They don’t learn.

135509 600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

Since you folks like to see my messy, rough sketches, here you go …

ObamacareSketch600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

The next one is the Arab Spring in Egypt.  Here is the line art that most people will see in the newspapers.

135225 600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

I try to do enough line work in these that I get some dark and medium areas to anchor the composition.  I wouldn’t worry so much about that if I knew it would only run in color.  The color version is below.  I’m trying to use more texture in my color now, mostly with a rubber stamp pattern in Photoshop that looks like a sponge.

135235 600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

And I did this cartoon about teachers, then and now …

135351 600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

This is a refurbished oldie which has been a big seller in pay-per-use. I noticed another nice book sale on this one in our system last week, and I thought the cartoon needed to be freshened up.  Here’s the original …

77685 600 Arab Spring, Obamacare, Republicans and Teachers! cartoons

I always tell cartoonists not to put the year in their cartoons.  For some reason artists like to put the year after a copyright circle ©, which just makes the old cartoons, that should sell as evergreens, suffer for their age.  Now this cartoon isn’t dated, and I think it is greatly improved with the black and white in the first,  1960 panel.

I noticed after I posted this last week that almost every newspaper subscriber was downloading it, even though I marked it as a revision.  Some cartoons strike a chord.  I got this idea from my Israeli cartoonist buddy, Uri Fink.  Thanks again, Uri.



Teachers Then and Now

135351 600 Teachers Then and Now cartoons


Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing!

Here’s my weekly blog about my latest cartoons!  The last two are about the drop in the stock market and rise in interest rates after remarks by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.  Here’s another take on the Wall Street bull.

133579 600 Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing! cartoons

And here is Bernanke, trimming rates, only to see a little sprout of the economy bloom.

133538 600 Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing! cartoons

47151 600 Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing! cartoonsBernanke, and Greenspan before him, have been trimming rates for a long time.  This cartoon adds sprouts to a three year oldie (right).  This one amuses me because it is the kind of thing our editorial cartooning professional organization will be discussing next week – whether to ban editorial cartoons that consist of alterations to previously drawn cartoons.  The cartoon police may come down on me for ethical infractions like this one.  Cartoonists are a humorless bunch, when it comes to “cartoon ethics.”

The previous cartoon was about the NSA eavesdropping scandal.  Presidential ears tend to grow over the years in editorial cartoons, and Obama’s big cartoon ears have become absurdly huge among my colleagues.  I once met Obama’s buddy, Susan Rice when she was UN Ambassador, and all she wanted to talk about was why I draw Obama’s ears so big.  I didn’t have a good answer, except for “peer pressure.”  I may keep drawing Obama’s ears small.  Maybe the cartoon police will cite me for a small ears infraction too.

133187 600 Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing! cartoons

The next cartoon is about “Value Added” testing of teachers.  This cartoon is just a list of the bad things value added testing encourages teachers to do.  There have been lots of testing scandals around the country featuring these abuses, among others.  I got an interesting response to this cartoon from defenders of teachers, who saw the cartoon as “teacher bashing” rather than testing bashing.

133149 600 Interest Rates, NSA Spying, Obama and Teacher Testing! cartoons





I Hate Unions

I Hate Unions Color © Daryl Cagle,,union, public employees, Wisconsin, Ohio, Walker, Kasich, Republicans, elephants, TEACHERS, EDUCATION, SCHOOLS


Cartoonists and Cockroaches

A column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times starts off like this:

“POPE JOHN XXIII, or ‘Good Pope John,’ remains one of the most beloved figures in recent Catholic history. Among treasured memories of this kindly, roly-poly pope, perhaps none looms larger than the evening of Oct. 11, 1962, when he told a vast crowd on a moonlit night in St. Peter’s Square, ‘Go home tonight and give your children a kiss, and tell them that this kiss comes from the pope.’ When German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s stern doctrinal enforcer, was elected as Benedict XVI in April, an editorial cartoon in an Italian paper showed him looking at a similar crowd and saying, ‘Go home tonight and give your children a spanking, and tell them that this spanking comes from the pope.’

“In a nutshell, the cartoon captured many people’s expectations of Benedict XVI: a hard-line taskmaster who would bring liberals and dissenters in Roman Catholicism to heel.”

Speakers and columnists, like this one, often quote cartoons but seldom mention the name of the cartoonist. With this writer, one fourth of his column came from an uncredited cartoonist. (I think it is fitting that one fourth of my own column starts off with a quote from a writer whom I have chosen not to name.) Writers are almost always named when they are quoted, but cartoons seem to be mere anecdotes that deserve no attribution beyond, “I saw this cartoon …”

An unnamed op-ed page editor at the Los Angeles Times told me that he doesn’t like political cartoons because they tend to “overpower the words that surround them.” He went on to tell me that his two favorite cartoonists are Tom Toles and Ted Rall, two cartoonists with rudimentary drawing styles who put lots of words into their cartoons; this editor liked these cartoonists because they were “more like writers than artists.”

There seems to be a natural friction between the “picture people” and the “word people” who are troubled by those powerful pictures. A famously unnamed editor at The New York Times is quoted as saying, “We would never hire an editorial cartoonist at the Times, because we would never give so much power to one man.” Another unnamed New York Times editor is quoted as saying, “We don’t like editorial cartoons at the Times because you can’t edit a cartoon like you can edit words.”

Editors see cartoonists as “bomb throwers,” because cartoonists enjoy a different set of journalist ethics than writers. Cartoonists can put any words into the mouth of a public figure, whether those words were actual quotes or not. Cartoons make readers angry. A strong political cartoon generates much more mail from readers than the strongest words. Most editors are timid and want to avoid controversy; they choose to run syndicated cartoons that are unobjectionable gags about current topics. Cartoonists call this “Newsweekification” after the inoffensive, bland and opinionless – but funny – political cartoons that Newsweek magazine chooses to reprint each week, further trivializing political cartoons.

The power and effectiveness of political cartoons cause more and more newspapers to avoid cartoons. There are half as many editorial cartoonist jobs as there were 75 years ago. Of the biggest newspapers in America – The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune – none have political cartoonists on staff.

The newspaper industry often complains about a dwindling and aging readership as younger readers prefer to get their news through other media. The old-line “word people” lament that youngsters nowadays get their news from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” In fact, most young people get their news from political cartoons. Every state in the United States has middle and high school students interpret an editorial cartoon as part of state-mandated testing. Teachers who must “teach to the test” include political cartoons in their classes. Students learn their current events through political cartoons and, ironically, most of the students see newspaper political cartoons on the Internet rather than on paper (visit The “word people” who run newspapers have “Newspapers In Education” programs to try to develop a younger readership, but when a stack of newspapers is dropped on a teacher’s doorstep once a week, there is usually only one political cartoon on the editorial page – not very useful to a teacher who only needs the newspaper to teach about editorial cartoons.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see this turn around, and see more columns like this one, where cartoonists’ names are mentioned and writers’ names are not; when that happens, I expect traditional newspapers will have long gone extinct. Just as the cockroach will continue to roam the Earth long after mankind has disappeared, political cartoonists will still be crawling out from dark corners long after the “word people” have killed off newspapers.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” are available in bookstores now.