Teacher says, I quit!

To All it May
Concern:


I’m doing something I thought I would never do—something that
will make me a statistic and a caricature of the times. Some will support me,
some will shake their heads and smirk condescendingly—and others will try to
convince me that I’m part of the problem. Perhaps they’re right, but I don’t
think so. All I know is that I’ve hit a wall, and in order to preserve my
sanity, my family, and the forward movement of our lives, I have no other
choice.

Before I go too much into my choice, I must say that I have the
advantages and disadvantages of differentiated experience under my belt. I have
seen the other side, where the grass was greener, and I unknowingly jumped the
fence to where the foliage is either so tangled and dense that I can’t make
sense of it, or the grass is wilted and dying (with no true custodian of its
health). Are you lost? I’m talking about public K-12 education in North
Carolina. I’m talking about my history as a successful teacher and leader in
two states before moving here out of desperation.

In New Mexico, I led a team of underpaid teachers who were
passionate about their jobs and who did amazing things. We were happy because
our students were well-behaved, our community was supportive, and our jobs
afforded us the luxuries of time, respect, and visionary leadership. Our
district was huge, but we got things done because we were a team. I moved to
Oregon because I was offered a fantastic job with a higher salary, a great math
program, and superior benefits for my family. Again, I was given the autonomy I
dreamed of, and I used it to find new and risky ways to introduce technology
into the math curriculum. My peers looked forward to learning from me, the
community gave me a lot of money to get my projects off the ground, and my
students were amazing.

Then, the bottom fell out. I don’t know who to blame for the
budget crisis in Oregon, but I know it decimated the educational coffers. I
lost my job only due to my lack of seniority. I was devastated. My students and
their parents were angry and sad. I told myself I would hang in there, find a
temporary job, and wait for the recall. Neither the temporary job nor the
recall happened. I tried very hard to keep my family in Oregon—applying for
jobs in every district, college, private school, and even Toys R Us. Nothing
happened after over 300 applications and 2 interviews.

The Internet told me that the West Coast was not hiring teachers
anymore, but the East Coast was the go-to place. Charlotte, North Carolina
couldn’t keep up with the demand! I applied with three schools, got three phone
interviews, and was even hired over the phone. My very supportive and
adventurous family and I packed quickly and moved across the country, just so I
could keep teaching.

I had come from two very successful and fun teaching jobs to a
new state where everything was different. During my orientation, I noticed
immediately that these people weren’t happy to see us; they were much more
interested in making sure we knew their rules. It was a one-hour lecture about
what happens when teachers mess up. I had a bad feeling about teaching here
from the start; but, we were here and we had to make the best of it.

Union County seemed to be the answer to all of my problems. The
rumors and the press made it sound like UCPS was the place to be progressive,
risky, and happy. So I transferred from CMS to UCPS. They made me feel more
welcome, but it was still a mistake to come here.

Let me cut to the chase: I quit. I am resigning my position as a
teacher in the state of North Carolina—permanently. I am quitting without
notice (taking advantage of the “at will” employment policies of this state). I
am quitting without remorse and without second thoughts. I quit. I quit. I
quit!

Why?

Because…

I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely
detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.

I will not spend another day under the expectations that I
prepare every student for the increasing numbers of meaningless tests.

I refuse to be an unpaid administrator of field tests that
take advantage of children for the sake of profit.

I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my
fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive ways
to steal that time, under the guise of PLC [Professional Learning Community]
meetings or whatever. I’ve seen successful PLC development. It doesn’t look
like this.

I will not spend another day wondering what menial,
administrative task I will hear that I forgot to do next. I’m far enough behind
in my own work.

I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes
that are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students have IEPs, yet I’m given
no support.

I will not spend another day in a district where my coworkers
are both on autopilot and in survival mode. Misery loves company, but I will
not be that company.

I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardized
test that the state and/or district thinks is important. I refuse to have my
higher-level and deep thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments
(like the EXPLORE test) that do little more than increase stress among children
and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices.

I totally object and refuse to have my performance as an
educator rely on “Standard 6.” It is unfair, biased, and does not reflect
anything about the teaching practices of proven educators.

I refuse to hear again that it’s more important that I serve as
a test administrator than a leader of my peers.

I refuse to watch my students being treated like prisoners.
There are other ways. It’s a shame that we don’t have the vision to seek out
those alternatives.

I refuse to watch my coworkers being treated like untrustworthy
slackers through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the
hardest working and most overloaded people I know.

I refuse to watch my family struggle financially as I work in a
job to which I have invested 6 long years of my life in preparation. I have a
graduate degree and a track record of strong success, yet I’m paid less than
many two-year degree holders. And forget benefits—they are effectively
nonexistent for teachers in North Carolina.

I refuse to watch my district’s leadership tell us about the bad
news and horrific changes coming towards us, then watch them shrug
incompetently, and then tell us to work harder.

I refuse to listen to our highly regarded superintendent telling
us that the charter school movement is at our doorstep (with a
soon-to-be-elected governor in full support) and tell us not to worry about it,
because we are applying for a grant from Race to the Top. There is no
consistency here; there is no leadership here.

I refuse to watch my students slouch under the weight of a
system that expects them to perform well on EOG [end of grade] tests, which do
not measure their abilities other than memorization and application and
therefore do not measure their readiness for the next grade level—much less
life, career, or college.

I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which
show their true understanding of 21
st century
skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the
arbitrary expectations of low-level state and district tests that do not assess their
skills.

I refuse to hear any more about how important it is to
differentiate our instruction as we prepare our kids for tests that are
anything but differentiated. This negates our hard work and makes us look bad.

I am tired of hearing about the miracles my peers are expected
to perform, and watching the districts do next to nothing to support or develop
them. I haven’t seen real professional development in either district since I
got here. The development sessions I have seen are sloppy, shallow, and have no
real means of evaluation or accountability.

I’m tired of my increasing and troublesome physical symptoms
that come from all this frustration, stress, and sadness.

Finally, I’m tired of watching parents being tricked into
believing that their children are being prepared for the complex world ahead,
especially since their children’s teachers are being cowed into meeting
expectations and standards that are not conducive to their children’s futures.

I’m truly angry that parents put so much stress, fear, and
anticipation into their kids’ heads in preparation for the EOG tests and the
new MSLs—neither of which are consequential to their future needs. As a parent
of a high school student in Union County, I’m dismayed at the education that my
child receives, as her teachers frantically prepare her for more tests. My
toddler will not attend a North Carolina public school. I will do whatever it
takes to keep that from happening.

I quit because I’m tired [of] being part of the problem. It’s
killing me and it’s not doing anyone else any good. Farewell.

CC: Dr. Mary Ellis
Dr. June Atkinson

One Reply to “Teacher says, I quit!”

  1. I'm going to continue to explore sites like these. Honestly, all districts need an anonymous forum where teachers can discuss their school's and district's critical needs with out fear of being labeled insubordinate or subversive and/or losing their jobs. I've also read some of JT Gatto's writing about people reclaiming education to make it relevant.

    The U.S. needs to reclaim "Land of the free and the home of the brave." France doesn't fear the government as we do.

    Thanks for your honesty!!!

    I started a blog, but it isn't much yet:
    localteachersspeakout.blogspot.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *