Florida Teacher: Get out of my room!

From the Diane Ravitch blog:

I have no doubt that the whole point of what the conservative
Republican NC legislature has done and what the “reformers” nationwide
are doing is make sure that as many of us as possible leave the
profession so that the NEA and AFT are ruined and, so their thinking
goes, the Democratic party by extension.

The sad irony is that the neo-liberals in the Democratic party
are happy to help this happen; they are more than willing to trade union
support for corporate and Wall Street support and let teachers and
public schools die in the process and the two political parties become
one party that represents the plutocracy.

My Florida school received an “F” last year on Florida’s insane
School Report Card scam. We have been in session for exactly 10 days. I
have been “observed” daily since the 6th day of school, as have all of
my colleagues. The district and the state are sending in these
“observers” to collect “data” so they can create a “reform plan” for our
school (and the 9 other Title I schools in our district that received
“F” grades this past year).

I can’t begin to explain how annoying, humiliating, and
nerve-wracking these anonymous and silent observations become, day after
day. I feel that my first graders and me are fish in an aquarium or
animals in the wild while these cold, nameless “observers” appear and
disappear, marking down everything we say and do on their clipboards
without ever acknowledging that we are human beings and not scientific

There is no allowance for humanity at all in this system. No bad
days for teacher or kids and no lousy lessons that fall flat are
allowed. With the Danielson rubric it is easy to make sure that every
lesson is lousy in some way. Although they delude themselves into
thinking that they are there to “help” us in reality all they do is
raise tensions and create animosity and fear. I guess that’s in keeping
under our newly revealed surveillance society and the NSA.

I loathe these people and wonder how a teacher can abandon their
original mission of educating children to become a member of the reform
inquisition where they spend their days working to end the careers of
their former colleagues and providing the evidence to deliver the “death
penalty” as NY governor Cuomo calls it, to long-term neighborhood

Although I have dearly loved my profession for nearly 2 decades
now I honestly don’t know how much longer I can continue to work under
these circumstances. The pressure to speak up and tell these people to
get out of my room and leave me alone builds every day. My blood
pressure problems and stomach ulcers are returning after a summer free
from stress. I want to teach my children to pick up a clipboard and sit
in a circle around these hated people to make little marks on papers
while staring coldly and unfeelingly at them for 40 minutes to see how
it makes them feel.

Every morning I tell myself that I’m doing it for the children
but that mantra is becoming tattered and worn out and doesn’t make it
any easier when I know that my classroom will be a daily exercise in
humiliation, degradation, disrespect, a source of mistrust in my own
professionalism and abilities and that I am forced to actively
participate in my own destruction.

The people who are “observing” and controlling me all chose to
leave the classroom and quite teaching for one reason or another. None
of them have achieved any of the things that they claim I must now do —
overcome lack of English speaking ability, physical, mental, and
emotional handicaps, and extreme poverty and oftentimes neglect and
abuse to produce the ever-rising test scores the state demands.

The district eliminated our school librarian’s position this
year. We have little to no money to purchase materials to help these
kids catch up due to an austerity budget. Seven of our colleagues were
laid off last June and only three of those positions will be restored.
Everything being done to us is designed to prevent us from succeeding.
None of it is helpful or supportive — it is all punitive, shaming, and

And still I go in every morning and smile at my six year olds and
read them stories all while I am dying inside and living in fear,
anxiety, and under tremendous stress. I want out and I know that’s what
the reformers want most of all — for me to leave just a few years shy of
a good pension that they won’t have to pay. The question has become “Is
this job worth sacrificing my good health and mental stability for?”
and my answer has become “No.”

I don’t want to give up and let them “win” but I don’t want to
destroy myself either. This twice former “teacher of the year” and
National Board Certified teacher with 2 masters degrees has just about
thrown in the towel and that makes me feel even worse but I can’t
maintain my best work under these circumstances and I can’t give my
children 100% when the “observers” are sucking out my soul, hour by
hour, either.


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