A Teacher Story: Why I’m Leaving Public Education

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A Teacher Story: Why I’m Leaving Public Education Posted on January 23, 2012 by admin

As promised, we are going to begin sharing stories – these stories need to be heard – and many are being silenced through the use of  fear tactics and the ever so silent mainstream media.  So, with your help, we can make these stories be heard.  Please read, please share, and welcome our first guest post by a teacher who wishes to remain anonymous.

I’ve had a radical change of heart recently.  Those who worked with me in my previous position as an Instructional Coach (helping teachers to improve instruction and overcome difficulties with high-needs students) must be shocked by the links I am posting online.  They might say that now that I’m back in the classroom, I don’t want to practice what I preached.  They’d be at least partly right.

Wasn’t I the one reassuring other teachers that the new teacher evaluations, based 50% on student test scores, was exactly what was needed to bring credibility and respect back into the teaching profession?  Wasn’t I the one who said, “Merit pay?  Bring it on!  I’ll be makin’ the big bucks!”  Yep, that was me.  It was frustrating to work with some teachers who didn’t seem to care about their huge responsibility for educating our youth.  Reforming tenure and paying teachers based on their efforts made sense to me, at least in theory.

I tried to reassure the teachers I worked with that they were great teachers who had nothing to worry about, and ignored the nagging voice in the back of my head that said it wasn’t so simple –like what about Special Education teachers? I’d worked with one who had a huge case-load of kids, including Jose, a boy with autism who struggled socially and academically but was a gifted artist.  I had offered to help Jose’s teacher administer the CSAP (Colorado’s standardized test) because she had so many students that required special accommodations.

I was asked to read the questions aloud to Jose, and stop if he became agitated. The previous year, Jose had felt so bad about not knowing the answers that he had gouged his fingernails into his arm.  This year, they felt he had made great academic progress, and his improved scores would make the school look good.  After a few minutes, I could see that Jose was getting upset.  I suggested we take a break.  He vehemently shook his head, determined to “be good”.  When his tears began to flow, I insisted that we stop.  Why were we torturing this young man, when, as a student with an Individualized Education Plan, we knew exactly what his levels of proficiency were?  Still, I reasoned that it was necessary to assess all students, because we wanted No Child Left Behind.

The following year, we relocated for my husband’s career and I was headed back to the classroom.  I was a little nervous; more is expected of teachers now than ever:  instruction must be data-driven, lessons tailored to specific “research-based” methods, assessment both formative and summative.  Still, I was excited to have my own students again, and felt I still had a lot of “teach” left in me.

My trepidation started in the summer, when my new school district sent me to be trained on a new writing curriculum.  “This curriculum will raise your test scores!” the instructor boasted like a circus ringleader (pun intended).  The curriculum was completely scripted, requiring students to write using a specific format consisting of at least one simple, one compound and one complex sentence, one instance of multiple modifiers separated by a comma, one simile or metaphor, etc.  The idea is to make evaluating writing, a very subjective task, more objective (read:  easy for under-trained, low-paid standardized test scorers to evaluate).  Apparently it doesn’t matter if everyone’s paragraph reads exactly the same.

I tried to swallow back my disgust and focus on the way this curriculum made it easy for teachers to differentiate instruction.  I was determined, as teachers almost always are, to remain positive, improve my instruction, to soldier on.  I chatted with the teacher next to me, who said she worked in a district I had heard a lot about – one that piloted merit-pay.  When I asked her about it, she shook her head in disdain.  “It’s impossible to get the big pay raises unless you are in the principal’s inner circle,” she said.  “I’m looking for work in another district.”  I was shocked.  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

On our first day back, the superintendent gleefully announced that our district goal would be to attain the state designation of Accredited with Distinction.  I thought:  who doesn’t want to work in a school that’s not just accredited, but with distinction? I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant, but it sounded great!  Imagine my crestfallen look when we were told that this designation was based solely on growth on the state test.  I wondered how this would really improve the students’ learning.

School started, and so did the principal’s walk-through evaluations.   At least once per week, the principal would sit in the back of the room, writing urgently and mysteriously.  A checklist of Marzano’s elements of effective lessons would appear on my desk the same day, noting elements that were present and those that were not.  Evaluations were often on Fridays before big home games, vacations, etc., and teachers began to grumble to each other that it felt as if the principal were trying to “catch” us not using every minute of instructional time efficiently.

After my formal evaluation, my principal noted that, while my pedagogy, I had serious classroom management issues.  Hadn’t I noticed that while the two students were debating in one group, the other group had already finished and were drawing a fish on the giant sticky note I’d provided for their brainstorming session?  (Actually, I thought to myself, it was a dolphin, the subject of the short story they’d read.)  “Chris would never do that in another class,” the principal told me.  “He doesn’t respect you.”

“Wouldn’t do what?” I asked, “Draw a fish?”  I was instructed, for the first time in more than a decade of teaching, to write a performance improvement plan, and observe another teacher.  I resisted the urge to remind this man that I had taught successfully for four years in inner-city school while he was still in high school.  Instead, I tried to see his point of view – shouldn’t all teachers strive for continual improvement?  Still, I felt threatened.  Teachers all over the country are being systematically intimidated by top-down, authoritarian rule designed to ensure compliance.

In spite of myself, I began to worry about my students’ test scores.  I have always believed that teaching to the test is unnecessary; good instruction leads to good scores.  I hadn’t done the greatest job of implementing the writing curriculum; not only did I not like it, but the students didn’t either.  Plus, some students were threatening not to take the test seriously – they were fed-up with this annual rite of spring that had no relevance whatsoever to their lives.  I could hardly blame them.  In fact, one of my students opted not to take the test:  Ann, a tough-as-nails ranch girl.  Though Ann was no whiner, she ended up in my classroom, sobbing, telling me that the other teachers had berated her for not taking the test.  I was flabbergasted.  This was nothing short of emotional abuse – over one stupid test!  Her mother later called to thank me for being the only teacher who supported her, and I shared with her my disdain for the test.  Whoops.

The principal informed me I was not to disparage the test out loud – certainly not to parents.  I vowed to behave better, though I didn’t really want to keep quiet.  Being silenced has the curious effect of making one want to speak even louder.

This year, I did start speaking up.  No one else wanted to confront the administration about our school’s focus on one test.  Sure as the sun, I was called in to speak with the principal again, the week before Christmas break.  He had a list of things I’d said at faculty meetings. “It sounds like you’re not happy here,” he said.  I tried to explain that I was having a great year with my students (a project we’d done was featured on the front page of the paper a couple of months earlier), but I couldn’t help noticing the fall-out that was resulting from our school’s focus on test scores.  I gave him some examples:  Greg, who told me that another teacher asked him what he liked, so that she could use it to bribe him to do better on the test.  He’d dropped out a week later.  Carrie, who earns straight A’s and plays in orchestra and jazz band, came to me crying because the guidance counselor had tried to shame her for not taking an “optional” ACT-prep class in the morning before school.

I asked my principal what gains we would achieve by demoralizing students and making them feel like nothing but a test score.  We debated.  He suggested that perhaps, over the break, I needed to think about whether or not I really wanted to be there.  Wow.  Under the guise of wanting to make sure I was happy in my job, he had once again made it clear that I needed to shut up or leave.

I did think about it.  I thought about the new teacher and principal evaluations, based on test scores.   I thought about my own daughter, an avid reader, being given a practice reading test every Friday, and wondered how long she would continue to love reading.  I thought what would happen to me if I decided to opt her out of the test this year and whether I could truly advocate for my own children in my current position.  And I decided it was time for me to go.

This week I let my principal know that I am looking for work outside public education.  I am heartbroken and will miss my students dearly, but I realize that I can neither teach them properly nor fight for their education while trapped in silent submission.

 

 

180 thoughts on “A Teacher Story: Why I’m Leaving Public Education”

  1. Kelly on January 23, 2012 at 12:45 am said:Wow. This is EXACTLY how I feel. Exactly!!!!!!!!! I am also ready to leave and have already updated my resume. I am avidly looking for another job, but it could take a while. It is a shame that this is what public education now consists of……test after test, merit pay, and top down authoritarian leadership. I can’t believe this is where we’re at. It’s truly heartbreaking, and I can’t wait to leave this oppressive atmosphere where teachers and students have been set up for failure.Reply ↓
    • Daniela on February 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm said:I was working as a special education assistant and also leave the public education system. Being bilingual I wasn’t allow to speak Spanish with the kids that only spoke Spanish and had no other option to communicate. the climate in the classroom was very rigid, more kids where diagnosed with emotional disabilities, some of them because they couldn’t seat still and listen, sitting long periods of times. (I assisted teachers in general education classes as well) When AIMS came the kids did not understand the questions, special ed kids had to take it anyway. and not only the kids were tortured by the test, the administrators, the teachers, the climate in the entire school changed….after the testing we had one month before summer break. One month that teachers and students had nothing to do, after all testing was over and not worries ahead. It was clear the school was teaching for the test.Reply ↓
      • meri on June 24, 2013 at 3:54 am said:Wow ! I was so glad I found this story. I was put on a Plan of Improvement by my principal. I will agree that I needed to tighten up my teaching . However, I now feel that I have become her whipping girl. I say what I think even if it is not the popular opinion. I have taught for 23 years and my heart is breaking when I think of leaving. We started a new writing program. We had no lessons. I was observed on a scripted lesson that I didn’t quite understand or follow. It was missing many important details. I was crucified on every domain. I was told by our union rep. not to write a rebuttal. Our principal has never taught in the regular classroom. However, she thinks she gets it. I teach in fear that I will loss my job if I don’t keep my mouth shut.Reply ↓
    • Lisa on March 16, 2014 at 3:12 am said:Public school teacher of 23 years who sent her children to Catholic school and now is homeschooling her youngest.I couldn’t take public education anymore. I saw myself as part destroyer of these children and after dropping 35 lbs in a year due to the constant pressure by my principal I left and tried a charter school.Working with several TFA kids in an inner city school with 10 hour STUDENT DAYS and Saturday school, I was burned out. The TFA kids also had nightly classes. They’re under even more pressure. It’s pitiful.I do concur, homeschoolers are seen as weird until you’re one of them. Mostly I think it’s because they keep to themselves because they’re afraid that their liberties will be taken away. It’s very sad. But…my third grader and I are having a blast homeschooling and he’s ahead of his grade level. At least 1/2 of the homeschool moms I’ve met are former teachers too! Crazy cool! It’s so sad. Look into homeschooling and if you ever want to talk about it, give me a call. My business now is supporting homeschoolers! http://www.AtlasEducational.org

      In addition, test the waters by joining some homeschool groups on Facebook. You’ll be glad you did!

      Most of my friends are teachers who are miserably hanging in there. My soul feels crushed for them and for the kids in the public schools.

      I’m waiting for the implosion- it IS coming and would happily go back to rebuild once it does.

      Reply ↓

  2. Michelle on January 23, 2012 at 1:25 am said:I, too, feel your pain, having left the teaching profession due to an administrator telling me “You don’t seem happy here.” Unfortunately the students are the ones who lose due to this. In my case they lost a teacher with 20 years of experience and a Masters Degree who was an excellent disciplanarian.Reply ↓
  3. C.C. Smith on January 23, 2012 at 1:29 am said:Sounds to me as if your exit from teaching had more to do with being criticized and under the gun during evaluation periods than anything. Perhaps you now know the feeling of being over observed, based on a handbook of ‘teacher expectations’~both unrealistic and unnecessary in the teaching process. I admire your critique of test scores as an evaluative basis, but would support you 100% had you more effectively taken on this administration-especially with your background as an Instructional Coach. (None of this should have surprised your, right?). Hope you’ll find your way back to teaching; those who back down and refuse to fight for educational equity need to be heard.Reply ↓
    • Sharon Huff on October 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm said:Wow! This was an amazing find. I had been feeling rather defeated until I read these entries. I left my previous position due to my husband’s promotion. (What a god send!!)With a total of 17 years in public education, I would be in error if I told you I didn’t appreciate the holiday time and summers off and how perfectly the days off matched both of my childrens’ schedules. In my community I still found respect in my profession with my parents and peers. I stayed in public education because it felt right and because I really looked forward to going back each year.I was never my principals’ favorite by any means.I was civil, but never really liked to kiss up. (We had 5 principals in the last 6 years at my school) I loved working in the “inclusion” room at my grade level where I shared my environment with one or two other professionals. I had years of seeing scores really jump up but most of the time not to the “standards” set by the PSS. Others on my grade level, with “regular” environments, would always ask me why I continued to accept this assignment every year. I would remind them that they all had “inclusion” environments and that they differentiated and accommodated every day they just didn’t always realized it. (Have I painted a great pictures yet???) (By the way, great evaluations every year!!)
      Alas, the above was really how it was for the first 11 years!! I can definitely say the change has happened in the last 6 years. Hated by admin. for scores not equal to other rooms, mistreated by peers who wonder what happened or knew me as the teacher with bad scores? I’m not sure actually. I continued PD, certificate needs, workshops, technology upgrades and training. But this past year my scores were at an all time low. ( 10 of my 17 years were in “inclusion” environments. I was shocked and amazed as I felt that every learner did their best, or as good as they could. (I was called into meetings and told by different “visitors” that I was not adapting to new curricula, new lesson plan criteria, I was told that I looked unhappy and didn’t “smile” at the person in the hall as I was leading my class to the “testing room”!!!!! Blindsided would be putting it mildly.I was offered a contract but demoted to the second grade. (I didn’t actually see it that way but others did.) As I was making plans to work one more year and looking forward to a new grade level, I was asked if I was going to return? That was curious as I was never asked this before. (I had not finalized plans with my husband about selling our house and moving as his commute was not too far. ) I was called in to the end of the year admin meeting and shown an end of the year evaluation that I will never forget. The picture painted on that form used words and adjectives I have never seen written about me before andleft holes so deep in my mind that I still cannot remember. I actually stopped breathing at one point. Here were two professional peers, one that had known me for at least 2 years and the other for 8 years, telling me that I did such a horrible job that I brought attention from administrators “downtown” due to my terrible scores. I was then told that the last day I could get out of contract and why I should jump on it. (I don’t know about you but I was being shown the door!!!) I still cannot remember everything from that day!!

      How could I possibly return with that attitude coming from my building admin.? They seemed almost “giddy” when I turned in my resignation.
      Maybe I am a “bad” teacher, but that was a despicable thing to do.

      I may never teach again, but I will always love working with kids. I’m lucky that I had the experiences that I did. I will always cherish those memories and the kids that I helped along the way. Good luck to any one entering that field of public education! It is very different now then it was when your “elders” were in. My college-aged girls and husband are proud of me and all the work, sacrifices, and money I put toward my job. I wish I could make a difference again in the same way.

      Reply ↓

      • K on October 24, 2012 at 3:29 am said:You were probably bullied by coworkers because you were good at your job, were given the most difficult students to teach, and you didn’t cheat (I’m sure there are people out there tweaking tests) So glad you could escape the field of education. I’m stuck in it (for now) in WIssissippi. Used to love it but the joy is almost gone. 20 % of our staff quit this year. Good luck to you!Reply ↓
        • Sharon on November 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm said:Thanks. The painful part is not realizing the bullying until the end. I know if I were in their position I wouldn’t lower myself to do such a thing. How sad as both were “ministers”!!!Reply ↓
      • James Whisenhuntt on December 6, 2012 at 2:47 am said:Sharon. I just finished reading your comments and my heart goes out to you. You were and are a success. I have been teaching for 41 years and I have noticed over the years that the value of a teacher is based on their student’s test scores. Education today is all about “grades” and “test scores” and learning is not important as long as test scores are there. You and others are given state standards that do not meet with the learning ability of the students, but the standard is most sacred and when kids do not meet the standard (even though they do not have the skills) you, the teacher is at fault. You are a success and I know that you did make a difference in students’ lives. There is no better profession than Teaching. I am a teacher and am blessed that I am. When the administration learns to trust teachers and their ability to do their job (teach) and recognise that not all teachers teach the same way, but can and are successful then positive changes will begin. Every school needs a sign on the Entrance way that says something like “Welcome to (name of school) a temple of knowledge where Learning takes place.” The active verb MUST be “LEARNING’ and not “TEACHING”. Students must come to school to learn and do what is necessary to learn the material. Many do, others just “come to school”. I wish you the best and as one teacher to another, Thank you for all the years you devoted your time, effort and love to your students and the profession. James WhisenuntReply ↓
        • Sharon on February 25, 2013 at 5:26 am said:James: Thanks for you words. I’ve been settling into my new place but the pain revisits me in waves. Unable to get a job due to the poor evaluation I have turned to tutoring which I love. You really wrote eloquently what I really feel then and now. I miss the school environment, the smells, sounds, and wonderful professional relationships with my peers, but I am healthier now and can look back with clearer vision. If there is an any administrator reading this please treat your teachers with respect. Even if they are making you look bad or causing your scores to look bad please remember they are people and deserve compassion and respect. You will notice the “younger” group coming in may know all the “latest” tech. and or “tricks” but will they work as passionately as we did? Devotion is not taught in school, it is mentored! Good luck!Reply ↓
          • Margy on June 14, 2013 at 8:03 pm said:Thanks for say how much you love tutoring. Having gotten several rejections this week from schools that loved me at the interview, then called my previous principal, I’ve been considering tutoring. The teachers in schools aren’t allowed to teach, so I can maybe clean up after that mess which isn’t their faults.
      • Fet up on January 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm said:I have been in public education for 17 years. I enjoy the children and for most part usually can get along with administration. My six year old went to my school too. Due to changes the new principal made my son was signed out every day early so his grandfather could take him home. His grandfather would sign him out and did not leave with him until bus call. My principal did not like that he was leaving I explained that he was not leaving and that was the way I had for him to get home until i would get off work. And give me time to work on classroom things. Anyway he wrote a letter to the higher ups who rescinded the decision for my child to go to my school. So right before Christmas my son was sent to neighborhood school. Hardship is getting him there in the mornings. I told my principal that my child was not missing instructional time but he did this anyway. My son is sad and so am I. My principal has no feelings once so ever and he is harrassing me. He has now decided that I need a formal observation the first week back from Christmas Break. I read in our schedules that we are formally observed once a semester . I have already been observed and now I get in an email that I’m going to be observed some time next week no date, time , subject. I really wish i could resign right now. In my 17 years of teaching I have never been treated like I’m not a good teacher and I’m really not wanted around. He even told the staff in a meeting before the holiday break that if we did not like what he was doing he would write good reccomendation letters for all that did not agree with him. I feel like this is my last year as a teacher. I want to quit! I have 32 second graders and I am the only 2nd grade teacher in the school. I have no aide and feel like this year was a set up to make me leave.Reply ↓
      • Heather M on February 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm said:Kudos to youReply ↓
  4. Linda on January 23, 2012 at 1:38 am said:What causes me the most dismay, beyond this teacher’s giving up the ship, is that administrators in her school were so despotic (hey–that must be a real word; it didn’t get underlined in wavy red!). This teacher’s experience mirrors what is going on in every public school in the nation. Never mind that Denmark, who we’re help us against, doesn’t do all this testing to get good results. Well, or course not. Testing doesn’t cause learning!Reply ↓
  5. Beth Donahue on January 23, 2012 at 1:43 am said:I agree with you 100%. Something similar happened to me and I am no longer an elementary teacher. I will never go back. I’m glad you wrote this so more people start to understand what is truly happening in our public schools.Reply ↓
    • Reba on January 18, 2013 at 8:44 am said:I have been retaliated against, discriminated against, bullied, harassed, assaulted by students, and now attacked and bitten by a student’s dog while rendering homebound services. I am on a medical emergency leave from work. My principal told me that he did not have another position for me nor could they create a new position for me. I have 2 master degrees, a director of special education, and an educational consulting certificate. I am suffering from acute anxiety and depression. I love my students and my students and families love me. But I am home feeling helpless and alone. I hate it that the district is allowed to create mental injuries and nothing be done about it!!!Reply ↓
    • need out! on February 18, 2013 at 1:54 am said:I need/want out of teaching sooo bad! I’m in my 7th year and long stories short I’m just so over it! What do all of you former teachers do now? What are some options out there for me? Advice and help please!Reply ↓
  6. Pingback: A Teacher Story: Why I’m Leaving Public Education | United Opt Out … – Angryteach
  7. Linda on January 23, 2012 at 2:11 am said:I am thankful that I am on the back end of my career after 21 years. There should be spontaneity in learning! However, that is impossible when teaching to a meaningless test.Reply ↓
  8. Colorado Teacher on January 23, 2012 at 2:52 am said:Thank you for speaking up, I feel the same way. I recently left that district in Colorado that piloted pay for performance. I walked away from one of the big raises – because I knew I would likely be fired in the not too distant future, as I have never been one to keep my mouth shut.Now I work in one of Colorado’s many “failing” districts. I don’t know how much longer I can do it. I thought Obama was going to work to change the NCLB issues, but the Race to the Top, seems to be worse.I stay for my kids. not the ones who are succeeding – but the ones who struggle, and come to me because they know I care. it is a really hard district to work in, it may be the hardest work I’ve ever done. I understand your leaving, I wish you wouldn’t but I do understand.Reply ↓
  9. Anne on January 23, 2012 at 3:15 am said:I am so sorry. I fear you will leave a hole in the fabric of good teaching. I hope you can find another way to support and help our children to learn and to love that learning.Reply ↓
  10. joahan on January 23, 2012 at 3:19 am said:Sounds too familiar sadly :(. Schools shouldn’t be ran as a business or companies,Reply ↓
    • leif on January 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm said:Actually, private schools (ie a ‘company’ or ‘business’) are usually quite successful. Because, unlike unionized, govt run public schools who have little incentive to perform, private schools depend on success to remain in business. Their product: successful students. The more they churn ‘em out, the higher they can charge for tuition – almost always considered an investment.The problem you may be trying to express is that the govt usually has no idea how to run a successful business.Reply ↓
      • bsofree on January 26, 2012 at 12:23 am said:Private schools work(not all actually do) in large part because of the family that value education and are willing to help and sacrafice time and money to provide the best education for their children.Reply ↓
      • Jackie on January 29, 2012 at 12:40 am said:Well, here’s the deal: not all private schools do actually “work”–and they can cherry-pick their students. I’d put my top public students against the top students from most (not all–there are some that draw only truly top kids) private schools any day. Bottom line: it all depends on the home. And despotic little tyrants won’t last long….they simply won’t get results, long-term.Reply ↓
        • Alicia on August 8, 2012 at 1:23 am said:I am in my last year (maybe semester) of public school. It is hard for me to teach in a failing system, and even harder to allow my own children fall victim to it. We are homeschooling, and so excited at the opportunities that await us. My oldest daughter scored a perfect score on the AIMS test. So what?! She is brilliant, yes, but should that test score really matter? NO. What matters is her love of learning, and her inner drive, which I see dwindling. It’s not about perfect test scores, or perfect attendance, or winning spelling bees. It’s about loving learning, becoming a well-rounded productive member of society. Schools don’t teach that.Reply ↓
      • Kath on July 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm said:Burn out is highest among charter school teachers due to the business approach.Reply ↓
      • K on October 24, 2012 at 3:35 am said:Then why do students who come to our public school from private schools struggle? They are often told by their private school that they are gifted and when they come to public school – they are lost. Pygmalion effect may be an awesome for them while they stay in private school but shatters when they try to keep up in the public school. Yikes!Reply ↓
      • Alba on March 4, 2013 at 5:39 am said:I have to disagree. My son goes to a private Catholic high school and I’m not impressed! He is currently a junior and I had to visit the counseling office and have him moved to a class where they actually did some writing…
        something that he barely did in a “college prep” class. Now we are having problems in his new math class (when he was transferred to a different English class, he had to change a few of his other classes) because his teacher has issues with classroom management. He ends up watching videos online when he comes home to learn what he should be learning in the math class! I will be meeting with the math teacher this month. Privatization is no guarantee! The school knows me now because I have been vocal about their lack of quality instruction. They listen because I’m paying, but that doesn’t guarantee successful students.Reply ↓
  11. Renee Anne on January 23, 2012 at 4:00 am said:Thank you.As an unemployed licensed teacher in the dictatorship of Wisconsin, I’ve been reading and hearing more and more about all these standardized tests that we’re all supposed to adhere to and if we don’t make gains, this and this and that could happen and teachers could lose their jobs and blah blah blah! I’m so tired of it that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m seriously considering not renewing my license in 2014 and looking for work outside of public education. I’ve become completely disenfranchised with public education…to the point that my husband and I are seriously considering sending our son to a Waldorf school (or a Montessori school or something like that) instead of putting him in a public education setting. If homeschooled kids weren’t so odd, I’d consider homeschooling him myself…but he’s going to be odd enough without throwing homeschool into the mix.While I understand that teachers should be paid based on merit (like any other job), the rubric is not as clear-cut. Teachers cannot be held 100% responsible for their students’ test scores and one test should not make or break a teacher’s career. Students know they can get their teachers in trouble by bombing the test and many will do just that for whatever petty reason they’ve come up with. We can show students the feeding trough but we can’t force their heads in and make them eat.This NCLB and RttT (Race to the Top) have caused all kinds of chaos in education because now, instead of actually teaching students things that are going to be useful in future education and in life, we’re stuck teaching to these ambiguous “standardized” tests that have no meaning to the students they’re trying to assess in the first place.

    Sorry, this is a topic that gets me really angry. I should stop…

    Reply ↓

    • Ingrid on January 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm said:Hello Renee – Homeschool! It is the best thing you could ever do for your child. Before I began homeschooling myself, I sort of had the same “They’re so weird!” image in my head. But – then I looked into it and found lot’s of awesome “non-weird” people who don’t want their kids to turn into robots either! And we formed a co-op. More then half of the moms iin our co-op are former public school teachers! (shocking right?!?!?) I will bet you will find the same if you look around you. :) Good luck in whatever you do.Reply ↓
      • lms on January 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm said:Homeschooled kids are NOT weird. Well, maybe my homeschooled kids ARE weird. I mean they like to read avidly; laugh reading Shakespeare at age 10; study Latin; can carry on an intelligent conversation with any age (not just limited to talking to those within 10-12 months of themselves); enjoy figuring out math on their own; and declare they are doing a history project on William the Conqueror for fun! You will be pleasantly surprised by just how NORMAL homeschool families are actually.Reply ↓
        • Steve on January 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm said:Your children are successful because you support them intellectually. I venture to guess that they would be fine in any setting. Just curious — do they have to take your state’s standardized tests?Reply ↓
    • Jen on January 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm said:Homeschooled kids are only odd if you make them odd. Besides, maybe they are odd in a good. How many colleges are recruiting homeschoolers because of their SAT scores?Reply ↓
      • karen Loe on February 22, 2012 at 6:58 am said:Another homeschooler chiming in to say that “odd” may be one say of characterizing unique individuals. I don’t mind it that I’m considered odd.
        Just today my cool and excellent children were having a very animated conversation about how glad they are to be “weird”!Reply ↓
    • Ann on October 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm said:I don’t think that most students would sabotage a test to be petty. But, I do believe that measuring teachers by student testing can be unfair because students come in at all different levels. I have students that are extremely below grade level. Or, have learning disabilities that are not being helped because we do not have special ed support at our school.Reply ↓
    • K on October 24, 2012 at 3:51 am said:Amen! I used to be a teacher and now am a counselor in WI (had to get out of teaching after 12 years due to how much time the prep work took away from my family – no thanks!) About ready to quit counseling in schools due to shear madness of crazy expectations and crappy pay. I have a masters degree with 17 years experience. Thanks to Scott Walker (and my low pay district)- I make a whopping $45,000 this year! Wow! So not worth being bashed, stressed, stomped on, and bored (standardized test curriculums and ideologies are VERY boring)! I used to like working in education but my job satisfaction has decreased by almost half in the last 2 years. The staff at my school is starting to look like zombies…”work more..work faster…raise test scores…document everything…get trained in 5 new programs/philosophies each year (by the time you really master something, it’s already been replaced by the next best gizmo!)…. Be a good example….blah blah blah! NO THANKS!Reply ↓
    • Jenny on July 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm said:Homeschoolers are not weird or odd – in fact, I would venture to say that they are going to be the most successful in the work place. I was home schooled after 9th grade. I actually graduated 1 1/2 years early so I had time to figure out what I wanted to do before going to college. I took the SAT though the high school I had previously been enrolled in. My parents used a home school program – American School – for my learning and since I was already in high school and an honors student, going through the material was a breeze (I took the college prep course). Several members of our church were also homeschooling and our moms would get us together for some very interesting field trips and get togethers; I was also very active in my church and was able to volunteer my time more. In addition to “regular” high school classes, my mom made sure I understood how to budget (my time & money), take care of family finances, I would prepare meals each week so I could learn how to cook (I actually love doing it now for my family), I learned French, Polish (my mom’s native tongue), and a little German, we traveled around the world without having to wait for a school holiday. I still went to my high schools football games to cheer friends on, didn’t care if I had a prom or not, and I think I had the best counselor in the world – my mom! The benefits of homeschooling and the products it makes for real life living after graduation are endless – I wouldn’t give it back for the world. Sorry to ramble, I just had to get that out as I despise when someone calls home schooling weird!Reply ↓
  12. Cynthia Allison on January 23, 2012 at 4:02 am said:You story is almost identical to mine. Even the “Are you happy?” Way of getting the boot. Public schools are being systematically destroyed.Reply ↓
  13. Catherine on January 23, 2012 at 4:04 am said:Scary how similar our experiences in Florida are to this teacher’s in Colorado.Reply ↓
  14. David L. Russell on January 23, 2012 at 5:57 am said:God Damn-it! This pisses me off so much, I am seeing red. I so understand your feelings of defeat and fully support your decision, as will so many of us who are facing or have faced this Gauntlet of emotional, professional, and spiritual beatings. Understand, I wish you nothing but the best in whatever the future may hold for you – may you land on your feet and once again find your bliss.What has me so pissed off is that this scenario is EXACTLY what the Oligarch’s are gunning for. Here is an experienced, caring teacher with SO much to give to the kids and her fellow teachers who is being so systematically scrutinized, criticized, demoralized, demonized, and a whole lot of “ized’s,” I haven’t thought of that he/she has finally tossed in the towel and is walking away from a lifetime of service and a career born of a deeply rooted passion for kids.This is nothing less then “teacher cleansing” where teachers are systemically targeted for professional scrutiny and punishment based on salary, political reasons, or some other arbitrary or capricious reason. As the “business model” continues to invade schools like the tentacles of a corrosive cancer, we will see more and more of this type of decimation happen among our ranks. And don’t kid yourself, as Michelle Rhee continues to successfully lobby for the removal of LIFO and tenure, we will see our most experiences (read expensive) teachers get bloodied by the very tactics our author experienced. The outcome is predictable. Toss the expensive teachers on the curb like so much trash, gather all that salary and hire short-term contract scabs and pay them gobs of bonus money for successfully teaching to the test and raising scores.We are an ARMY of teachers fed up with this! We are a sleeping giant ready to roar, claw back the oppression and RESTORE education to a colorful world where kids are free to explore the world around them in a safe and encouraging way. Fear has is paralyzed. Tradition has us waiting. The machine is counting on our passivity. And if we don’t act NOW, we too will be walking the gauntlet, getting bloodied, and being tossed out on our ear.

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    • regena on January 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm said:Oh how I so agree with you. Today I am beside myself with what is going on. It was a district wide message from our principals that: If you can’t smile walking down the hallway-maybe you should quit, if you can’t this that or the other -you need to quit. At one point our principal asked the secetary if anyone had quit. I sooo wanted to stand up & say I do! This was our welcome to a new year. All I can say is God help me, I am in trouble because I’m getting ready to say something someone is not going to like!Reply ↓
    • K on October 24, 2012 at 4:07 am said:And how! Totally agree! 100,000 + weekly roared at the state capital in WI…fell on deaf ears….the corrosive corporate greed and ignorance has pretty much lowered the average IQ in Wisconsin About 30 points! Yehaw and bend over!Reply ↓
  15. Azalea C. C. Lin on January 23, 2012 at 6:46 am said:Thank you for sharing the story. What you have experienced is similar to mine and some other teachers that I know personally. Coming from a corporate background, I recognized the intents behind those initiatives, but the product of education is the growth of a person. A person has multiple facets instead of the ability to do well on tests.Now I have chosen a different field of education. I moved to Taiwan in 2010 and have been an English tutor since. I am making about the same amount of money, but with a lot of free time. Most importantly I am able to be a real teacher. Both students, adults and children, and their parents show a lot more respect to the teachers. I have not taught in Taiwan’s public education, so I cannot comment whether it is different. In general students here do spend more time studying. The “education reform” in Taiwan has also been highly criticized by its citizens and educators.Reply ↓
  16. Ray Traudt on January 23, 2012 at 7:26 am said:This is a sad state of affairs, for caring teachers, for the children, for our country.Reply ↓
  17. Morna McDermott on January 23, 2012 at 11:12 am said:wonderful story! poignant to the core and a must-read for every teacher!Reply ↓
  18. supporter on January 23, 2012 at 11:19 am said:Wow! Good for you! The stress is just not worth it. Good luck with the next chapter of your life!Reply ↓
  19. Matt on January 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm said:This is truly.an amazing story, and oddly.enough, i hear similar things in my charter school. Its truly.enough to discourage me from getting certified. Education sure has truly.taken a turtpn in the wrong direction!Reply ↓
  20. teacherken on January 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm said:too many people in positions of authority who do not understand the nature of teaching. That includes superintendents and principals. I have been fortunate in my 17 years in the classroom not to have experienced what is described in terms of the pressures, but that is in part because my kids do well on tests. Yet I am reaching the point where I am not sure I want to return to the classroom for another year. Maybe I should focus outside the classroom to try to save public education before we completely destroy it. Maybe I should finally just walk away – I will be 66 in May – and do something else part time to get the additional money I need beyond pension and Social Security.The senior teachers in my building are leaving in droves. They are the ones that made our school an outstanding, nationally-recognized school. 7 left last year. By my count at least 6 more (not including me) are leaving at the end of this year.We are destroying public education. But that’s no surprise. We are destroying our democracy, and we have already pretty much destroyed the American dream for most of our people.Reply ↓
    • Anne on June 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm said:Yes, please when you retire help America by speaking the truth (get together a group of highly effective retired teachers and go about the country speaking the truth to school boards, attorney’s, governor’s, policy-makers. Speak about evaluations that do not speak to a teachers effectiveness because we all know that different teaching styles reach certain students. “Walk throughs” see 1/100 of that teachers! The evaluations do not help our children. I have 25 years experience in public (urban, rural; large and small), private and now charter. I thought the charter was better with ethics in administration, at least for my first 2 years, but this year a new young administrator has made it her job to get rid of people who speak the truth. Anyone who speaks up to the truth in how our urban students learn best, or any teacher who asks for help with behavior is gone, fired. These teachers did nothing wrong. Their students do the best on tests and learning behaviorally. They are fired and now new teachers begin the cycle all over. Where is/are ethical accountable administrators. Needed is stability in education! There is none now! Is education just a popularity contest with those surviving are “suck ups” even though administration is hurting children – no one dare speak!Reply ↓
  21. Tara on January 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm said:Thank you for your story.Reply ↓
  22. Kristine Tolman on January 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm said:You put into words what so many of my former colleagues feel. I write former because I left the country after nearly 20 years at the same Title 1 school in Phoenix, to teach in Cairo, Egypt. And the interesting thing, while the school is private, it’s based on American public school standards and model of teaching. I can TEACH AGAIN! I don’t have to worry about single shot testing. I just worry about writing meaningful and instructive lessons. Kudos for your bravery. I wish you the best.Reply ↓
  23. Becky on January 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm said:I think this is a must read for the parents as well. I have a son with special needs, multiple diagnoses. When we sat down for his 504 plan I explained the problems he had with CSAP. His principal was awesome, flat out said, “Don’t take it” It’s not worth it for him to go through all that.Reply ↓
  24. June in Alaska on January 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm said:As a homeschooler, I praise you for your decision, to stand up and not be intimidated. As a mother, bless you for looking at the big picture and the possible implications of future decisions on yourself and your daughter. As a sister, I urge you to continue to answer to your calling. Teach those that need it, there are plenty of venues where you can do good and not compromise your values or judgement.Reply ↓
  25. Aadel on January 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm said:Thank you! For standing up to the tests, for acknowledging that learning doesn’t come from formulas, for everything in this article!Reply ↓
  26. jack sparrow on January 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm said:As a 55 yo I recently took the practice tests in science.and.math for HS graduation. I found them to be fairly easy and would appreciate if the students graduating had at least this grasp of the basics.
    If you are leaving public education over you failure to perform your responsibilities, you will be surprised how little sympathy you will receive in evaluations in the real world.
    If teaching is hard work for you, I would suggest you find a profession that you find easy. That is the profession you are competent in.
    Cheers,Reply ↓

    • Susanna on January 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm said:Mr. Sparrow you completely missed the point. You must not be a teacher.Reply ↓
      • Angie J on January 27, 2012 at 1:01 am said:Obviously NOT a teacher! He has no clue how much work and time we put into our jobs. My husband often gets mad at me about it…”put away your papers, they don’t pay you enough and your students don’t appreciate you enough either.” It is extremely frustrating to be bashed by people who think that because they have been taught in a school, they know everything about teaching. Unfortunately our WI governor thinks the same way.Reply ↓
    • kat on January 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm said:As a 55 yo I recently took the practice tests in science.(a period is not necessary here) and.(or here) math for HS graduation. I found them to be fairly easy and would appreciate if the students graduating had at least this grasp of the basics.
      If you are leaving public education over you ( it is supposed to be “your”) failure to perform your responsibilities, you will be surprised how little sympathy you will receive in evaluations in the real world.
      If teaching is hard work for you, I would suggest you find a profession that you find easy (perhaps you mean “easier”?). That is the profession you are competent in. (NEVER end a sentence with a preposition)
      Cheers,Here Jack, I edited your comment, I suggest if you want to look intelligent that you not have your snarky writing be filled with errors.A former public school teacher who has been teaching her 6 children at home for the past 9 years. I saw early on the lack of professionalism in teaching, the dictatorship potential of administrators who moved up the ladder because they couldn’t stand being in the classroom themselves, and the lack of learning that was taking place in the classroom.My kids are not odd, they don’t like to practice the piano or learn Latin and are more likely to quote Toy Story than Shakespeare, but they all love to read and can write a coherent paragraph (at least the ones over 9). I think there is a lot of potential out there with all the disgruntled teachers in the form of charters, private, tutoring, etc that hasn’t even begun to be tapped.

      Reply ↓

      • Gina on April 5, 2013 at 2:10 am said:Kat,I love you! (And you missed “yo”). :)Why is it that every sanctimonious jerk who comments that teachers have no reason for complaining can’t spell?Reply ↓
    • K on October 24, 2012 at 4:18 am said:Instead of spending so much time on math or science, I should have focused on music and dance. Could have been a dancer and earned more money and respect than I do working in education. Snooky and Flavour Flave probably make more in 1 day than I will in 10 years! Fist pump!Reply ↓
  27. Shannon on January 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm said:Wow, thank you to this teacher for having the courage to speak out. In recent months I’ve had several conversations with different teachers who support ESL and special needs kids. Their frustration on how little they can actually support their students is intense. It amazes me how many teachers and principals actually choose to homeschool their own children. The idea behind test scores was noble but the practice is impossible. An education needs to be customized to the child in order for that child to truly succeed. If the focus is on the test, then customization is impossible.Reply ↓
  28. Shannon Wiebe on January 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm said:Have you considered coming North to Canada? I’ll admit we still at times feel like small pockets of advocates for change in teaching and learning but those are growing every year and across every province in both the public and private schools. My experience in Alberta has been one where it’s the administrator building fires under the old school thinking and encouraging, scaffolding, supporting and pioneering a move toward collaborative, differentiated, meaningful, inquiry based learning and continuum based and self-evaluative assessment for both teachers and students. Yay Canada!Reply ↓
  29. Jason Burk on January 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm said:Yep. Hit the nail on the head. It will be too late before the administrators and legislators figure it out. No wonder other ways to achieve success have been bursting from the underground education scene.Reply ↓
  30. Lisa Caufield on January 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm said:I love teachers! Are those tests optional? It sounds like they are. I would like to urge my children not to take them if possible but don’t know if they will be bullied into taking them anyway.Reply ↓
    • Tami on January 24, 2012 at 2:16 am said:I was informed if more than 5% of a school population opts out of our state tests (in Pennsylvania), then the entire school would fail. So – the gov’t supports parents having a say in their children’s IEPs, GIEPs, 504 plans, etc, but ties our hands when it comes to the state tests. As a parent, this infuriates me!Reply ↓
  31. Catherine Sansone on January 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm said:Thank you for sharing. For those teachers staying, we need to continue to fight against silent submission and speak out and speak up. Watch the movie “Walkout”, 2006, to get a good picture of the fear that speaking up for your beliefs involves. It is scary. But not speaking up is scarier. Thank you again.Reply ↓
  32. Sarah Johnson on January 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm said:Thank you so much for your testimony. EVERYONE in Ameica needs to read this and understand what is really going on in our public schools.Reply ↓
  33. Lea in Texas on January 24, 2012 at 12:33 am said:I have a heart to teach, and have always encouraged teachers, who give of themselves for others. I wrote letters of objection when NCLB was in process, as I don’t believe testing has anything to do with learning. I am thankful that Texas is a homeschool friendly state, because I have taught our 4 children at home for the last 20 years. They are well adjusted, friendly, and able to have intelligent conversations with people of all ages. They never had a standardized test until the PSAT or SAT in High School, all have done above average, two are in college on academic scholarships, and two are still at home learning. Our objective was to help them LOVE to LEARN, and we have succeeded at that, by allowing them much freedom in what they studied. The required courses were minimal, and they thrived on being able to learn everything! Now that my children are older, I would like to go work in the public schools to help children learn to love LEARNING; unfortunately I would be one of the rebels, who wouldn’t teach to a test. America needs creativity, and test taking is strangling any sense of creativity. I want to encourage you all to keep up the good work in helping children to think and learn – and love it!Reply ↓
    • DB on February 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm said:Parents, we need your help! It’s GET WITH THE PROGRAM OR HIT THE ROAD for us teachers in public schools. We WANT to help your children learn properly, and most of us know how, but the system won’t let us. The more restrictions, prescriptions, and test performance pressures are put upon us under the guise of accountability measures, the worse this gets.By the way, for schools which encourage rather than stifle childrens’ love of learning you need to look no further than the democratic education movement (e.g. Summerhill, Sudbury Valley). Our overlords have ignored this and other progressive approaches entirely in favor of being able to reduce everybody to a meaningless number so they can earn votes and approval for waving around punitive measures like school reconstitutions and massive salary cuts for teachers without ever having to actually learn one thing about education, children, or schools.Reply ↓
  34. Pingback: Must-reads for January 23, 2012 | Andrea Merida, Director, District 2, Denver Board of Education
  35. Anonymous on January 24, 2012 at 1:39 am said:I am sorry to hear about your story. You demonstrate great courage in your decision. I too would love to make the decision you have made, but the consequences I face make it impossible. If I were to make the same decision you made, I would lose my mortgage and the food I provide my two children. I am a smart person, but I would find it very difficult to find any other career that would support the what I have now. I would lose a lot and when children are involved, it makes it difficult. Be well.Reply ↓
  36. Lori on January 24, 2012 at 2:28 am said:GREAT job! Your story is mine as well. This is my first year out of teaching after 18 in the same grade, same district, same school. Devotion gets you NOWHERE! I am now writing a book about this very sad story —- our own! Our voices must be heard. I’m about 1/2 way done and looking diligently for a publisher – if anybody knows one!!!Reply ↓
  37. Penny on January 24, 2012 at 2:30 am said:Seems like too many of us have the same story. After leading the school into technology, winning many awards, and grants, in addition to teaching full time and obtaining a masters degree. I too began to speak up and was told “you need to leave, you’re causing trouble.” I walked away from a 15 year teaching career to the private sector where my stress level will never be what is was. Speaking with my teacher friends re-affirms I made the correct decision to turn my back and walk away.Reply ↓
  38. jh on January 24, 2012 at 2:48 am said:Wow. I can’t tell you how many teachers I know that feel the exact same way. I teach the ELL kiddos and feel that I am working so hard just to get them to speak, read, and write English. Should I really get worried that they don’t pass a standardized test? I want them to pass the AZELLA because it is directly related to their English proficiency. Most of the time they don’t pass the standardized test, but they grow tremendously in all other areas. Isn’t that what we should strive for? If I am going to get punished for my ELL students not passing a test, how can I continue teaching? Hopefully if they are going to keep the pay for performance, then they need to come up with a plan for those special needs kiddos that have more to worry about than standardized tests. Who is going to teach those kids if they have to worry about passing the test?Reply ↓
  39. JL on January 24, 2012 at 3:55 am said:Wow- this scenario sounds familiar. Last year was my last year as a teacher. I miss it dearly but could not continue to “fight” admin.Reply ↓
  40. Erin on January 24, 2012 at 4:19 am said:I applaud you for standing up for what you believe is the right thing and am sad at the same time that education in the US is in such shambles. I read through your article thinking “Yes! Thank goodness someone is speaking out- from the inside”. I am 100% an advocate for Opting Out as far as NCLB and RttT. I am however, a bit taken aback by one of the commenters statements. Renee Anne made a wonderful argument in her first paragraph but followed it up with an extremely discriminatory statement that literally has me fuming. She said “If homeschooled kids weren’t so odd, I’d consider homeschooling him myself…but he’s going to be odd enough without throwing homeschool into the mix. ” WOW! What a sad and uneducated statement, nevermind the discriminatory nature of it. Thank Goodness she is an “unemployed” teacher. It is for statements like this that my daughter IS homeschooled. That is the last person I would want teaching my child. I hope my daughters school life is full of unbiased, enjoyable learning that she can reflect back on and remember fondly. With our family and community as her school, I can rest assured she will never have a small minded “teacher” attempting to educate her.None-the-less, kudos to you for taking a difficult stand and being brave enough to speak out! I wish you the best in your ventures!PS- My father is a lifelong educator and administrator and I appreciate the care and respect he has for ALL persons who are able to learn in ANY environment.Reply ↓
    • Susanna on January 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm said:Hi Erin,My first reaction to her statement was similar to yours but I’ve also come to expect statements like that from mothers who do not want the “full-time” job of homeschooling their kids. It is an excuse mechanism…a cop-out if you will. Kudos to all homeschooling moms out there, and all public school teachers who love teaching and stand up for what’s right. I would like to see an alliance with homeschooling parents and public school teachers to work together without the interference of bureaucrats.Reply ↓
  41. RC on January 24, 2012 at 4:54 am said:What you describe is tough.This is a question I have always had in the back of my head…why do teachers bend so readily to authority. We have a union and are professionals. We are in a one of the most prime positions of any occupation in the country. Do we realize the amount of occupational and professional freedom we have?Your Principal seems like a douche. A goose-stepping douche. So what? He tells you you are doing poorly in your class by saying one student acts a certain way in your class than others? What is this evidence of? People act differently and inconsistently in certain social situations. What evidence does he have that this is a bad thing?The profession is teaching, not administratering. As such, administration are glorified secretaries – nothing more – they are there to assist teachers. Next time you get a negative assessment ask for the research behind their judgment.

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  42. tonysam on January 24, 2012 at 5:04 am said:Unfortunately, I was a second career changer when I went into education. Little did I know just how bad administrators could be, and I found myself fired illegally over a stupid FORM (but the idiot principal simply didn’t want me there) and I cannot get back on my feet financially. I am 57 years old and am sole support. I have not been able to find any kind of stable, full time work in the past four years since this happened to me.Reply ↓
    • NCSpacey on January 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm said:Move to South Carolina.Reply ↓
      • tonysam on January 25, 2012 at 3:33 am said:I can’t even begin to afford to move. I am in Oregon.Reply ↓
        • DB on February 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm said:Why South Carolina?Reply ↓
          • Sad SC teacher on June 7, 2012 at 12:12 am said:No please don’t move to South Carolina. I know you may be thinking that it is better without a teachers union but trust me… It is not. I had a very similar experience as the original author and fired basically by administration for reasons that were unfair.I even spoke up during my teacher evaluation meeting and prepared an extensive research document, including cited sources and several specific examples of instructional decisions and justification of the areas I was unfairly evaluated on. There were certain things I highlighted from the district training manual that proved why the evaluation and feedback they wrote were wrong. None of it mattered. They said they didn’t care to read it. I have now failed in the state evaluation system and was not asked back at the district.
  43. anneml on January 24, 2012 at 5:24 am said:Now the Colorado Springs District where I work is saying all kids need to go to college. Well, I have a Bachelor’s and 2 Master’s. The superintendent said that having 2 Masters is stupid. I am stupid for getting stuck in a district on a pay for performance plan. Those of us who are not on the plan are frozen on salaries from 2 years ago. Yep, the education I received means nothing to the super.Reply ↓
  44. Kristina Daniele on January 24, 2012 at 5:28 am said:This is precisely why I left teaching! Good luck to you!Reply ↓
  45. Cheryl on January 24, 2012 at 6:16 am said:Wow! This all sounds a lot like what I have experienced trying to get my child through the public school system for the last 12 years. I am a mother of a child that was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5. I have been through literally HELL for all the year’s he has been in the public school sysyem. He has attended school’s in 6 different states and knowing what he excelled in and what he didnt, the story was almost alway’s the same in each school. IEP & 504 plan’s that just simply did not work. And of course he was to be pumped full of drug’s just for him to “get through the school day” I knew that isnt what he needed (as it only hindered his brain function actually preventing him to learn but kept him in his seat so the rest of the class could pay attention) and after talking to ALL the different school staff (principal, vice principal, teacher’s, aids school counselors), doctor’s, nurses, counselors, head shrinkers of all different degrees the answer most common was that I could keep him medicated for school or else take him out of school. I havent been in a position to homeschool nor do I have $$ to send him to special school for “kids with learning disabilities” I was tied to no other option. So as he went through the school grades up to now @ 17. He has no self esteem because of the standard test’s of the public school system. Even though he was reading @ college grade books in grade school he didnt do well in math so they wouldnt let him move forward with what he was good at. Although the teachers knew how smart he was and in what areas, they couldnt do anything for him as they had to stay within the laid out parimiter set by the school system. I used to dream of opening and running a school that would cater to children that don’t “Learn the same as the mainstream” (I don’t call it special need’s) I’m not talking about children with truely mental disabilities as with down syndrom etc. Althoe if my idea was to succeed that could be a branch also. I am talking about kid’s with “ADHD” and “learning dissabilities” as the mainstream has deemed them. And hire teacher’s that flurished in an environment for teaching & learning knowing that heart felt teacher’s are some of the most creative and instinctual creatures God ever put on this earth. And that the right teachers could be patient and use their problem solving skills to enhance each child to be the best they could in whatever they excell at but also introducing other subjects without it being crammed down their throat. But in researching this prospect, I found a lot of “politics” that no matter what would be accomplished FOR THE CHILDREN that if they couldnt pass the standardised test’s that the school would be shut down. I think this is wrong and unfair. Now I see it’s on both sides too for not just the children but the teacher’s too. I wish I could open that school and hire those teacher’s who care to figure out how a child lears and run with it and see just where that child ends up in life. I dont know if my experience is off subject but I was emotionally overwhelmed with the similarities in this story. Being a Mom I am also a teacher of a different sort and made to feel like an alien by the school system. Iv known a LOT of teachers and can tell you who are true teachers and thoes that should find another position for their education. And Im seeing that the truely good teachers are suffering for the regulations being put on them and in turn our children are suffering for it.
    In case your interested, my son is now 17 and has NO self esteem and has refused to participate in classroom instruction since he was 13. He just took his G.E.D. pretest scared & reluctantly and passed it within the top 20% of high school students. The director at the college where he took it is anxious for him to take the official test to see how he scores and so is he for the first time since gradeschool. I cannot express how relieved I am for him to be out of the public school system. But feel like I am scared for life due not to the teachers but to the system regulations.
    *Sorry about the lack of correct writing, punctuation & grammer in this. I know I should be ashamed knowing Im writing mainly to teachers.* *Smile*
    *All Teachers Be Blessed *Reply ↓

    • Sad SC teacher on June 7, 2012 at 12:35 am said:Please don’t apologize for punctuation and grammar! There is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone in life has their strengths and weaknesses. I see so many POSITIVE things about your writing and am not focusing on the negative. Thank you for such a great parent perspective! Just by your comments, I can tell that you are a hard-working and motivated mother. Don’t let anyone make you or your son feel inferior because you both have many gifts. You may not think you’re the best writer in the world, but your attitude towards improving schools is something to be proud of. Your son may feel upset about this test but he needs to learn that ADHD is a gift. He’s got a race-car brain! His thoughts race so fast which allows him to be extremely creative. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but I challenge you to shift your paradigm and think of ADD as a unique gift. Yes, it makes it harder sometimes but don’t focus on the negative!Reply ↓
  46. Cynthia Herrmann on January 24, 2012 at 6:21 am said:This is exactly why so many of us have decided to homeschool. Children should be able to learn at their pace and not made to feel bad if they don’t measure up in some way.Sign up to be a homeschool consultant!Reply ↓
  47. RM on January 24, 2012 at 7:26 am said:Fortunately (or unfortunately), there will be hundreds of newly graduated teachers ready to take your place. They may be new (and usually highly energetic – even if they don’t really know what they are doing), but they also work cheap. Sounds like the principal got what he wanted.Reply ↓
  48. Lawrence Calderon on January 24, 2012 at 8:04 am said:I taught for 16 years beginning with ELL to honors Science, from Sixth Grade to University level. I was also an Administrator for six years. I became an administrator so that I could solve the ills in the classroom but all I got was more frustrated, except know at both ends. My first administrative job was at a Secondary Fundamental school in southern california. As the Dean of Students my job was discipline and trying to solve the campus gang problem. I put forth everything I had learned in the classroom and had a great first year with who I thought was the most important element of any campus, the students. The Principal was a joke and very political, in fact until we had our falling out she would leave campus and direct everything to my office. She almost ended my career before it had begun. I could not wait to get out.
    And then the best thing happen to me. I was hired at a 1500 student middle school and became a team with my fellow admin. The job normally ran 16 hour days but I had found a position that i loved, my whole life in education was re-found. While in admin I learned that about 5% of teachers are lazy and waiting for a paycheck. I call these my 20- one year teachers. They should have experience to do anything but instead they teach every year as though it is there first, except the dose of ripened bitching. I always avoided the teachers lounge it is the place i referred to as the “vipers den.” It breaks my heart to hear that the 5% still run our education system. They are bad for students and the rest of the system. I had to leave all my positions because of PD or i would still be out there raising hell at every level. Please don’t walk away from fighting the good fight there are students depending on you.Reply ↓
  49. AZ teacher on January 24, 2012 at 9:04 am said:Fed up teachers! Don’t give up the fight. This is war…if you can’t handle the front lines anymore then infiltrate the enemy’s system, I may sound naive but what if all the feed up teachers start taking jobs i’m curriculum development, test grading, test making, text book writing, dept of EDU jobs, college education course instructors, we can begin to change the attitudes and climates of others working in those organizations. Stop letting those who aren’t as qualified as you run our system! You, the ones with experience and know how should be wallslks and roves of the education system, not big corporate money grubbingReply ↓
  50. AZ teacher on January 24, 2012 at 9:09 am said:Fed up teachers! Don’t give up the fight. This is war…if you can’t handle the front lines anymore then infiltrate the enemy’s system, I may sound naive but if all the fed up teachers started taking jobs in curriculum development, test grading, test making, text book writing, dept of EDU jobs, college education course instructors, we could begin to change the attitudes and climates of others working in those organizations. Stop letting those who aren’t as qualified as you run our system! You, the ones with experience and know how should be the walls and roof of the education system, not big corporate money grubbing execs. Support the back bone still at work in the classrooms and change what you do not like. You have the most power now that you are out of the classroom. Use it for REAL change!Reply ↓
  51. Mom2Schnauzers on January 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm said:Well said!!! Thank you for speaking out.Reply ↓
  52. Cathi on January 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm said:While I am sorry for you and the others whose stories are told here, I am appalled to read through all the comments and find that most of them contain embarrassing spelling, grammar, and word usage errors (“then” for “than,” etc.). The commenters have solidified the impression that teachers teach because that’s all they can do. I frequent many teacher forums and never cease to be amazed at how uneducated teachers sound in writing.These are just not typos…they are mistakes that reflect people who either did not take their own educations seriously or simply do not care to present themselves with dignity. We can’t take you seriously if you can’t or won’t do that for yourselves.Reply ↓
    • Bhf on June 7, 2012 at 1:08 am said:( I’m sorry if I mess up my writing in this comment. I am doing the best that I can with the education I have received. I have tried to improve by checking out library books to improve my writing for college and have studied online. I’m doing the best I can.)This is why parents are afraid to say something to their critical teachers who make them feel ashamed of their writing. No one came here to be judged by others on our writing. My impression when reading your comment was that you feel the other commenting teachers are inferior to you. I am disappointed that you would represent teachers like that. Shouldn’t we focus on what our students CAN do and remain positive? Shoukdnt we recognize that we are all learners at different achievement levels? Just like in our classrooms, we need to feel safe and supported by our peers.HELLO! This is just like standardized tests. These kids feel like they have to be perfect. They are upset and feel anxiety because of this pressure from everyone to do well. These students WANT to do well. No one WANTS to fail. These commenting teachers don’t WANT to write poorly. Let’s not harp on the mistakes each other make. :( Reply ↓
    • Bhf on June 7, 2012 at 1:08 am said:( I’m sorry if I mess up my writing in this comment. I am doing the best that I can with the education I have received. I have tried to improve by checking out library books to improve my writing for college and have studied online. I’m doing the best I can.)This is why parents are afraid to say something to their critical teachers who make them feel ashamed of their writing. No one came here to be judged by others on our writing. My impression when reading your comment was that you feel the other commenting teachers are inferior to you. I am disappointed that you would represent teachers like that. Shouldn’t we focus on what our students CAN do and remain positive? Shoukdnt we recognize that we are all learners at different achievement levels? Just like in our classrooms, we need to feel safe and supported by our peers.HELLO! This is just like standardized tests. These kids feel like they have to be perfect. They are upset and feel anxiety because of this pressure from everyone to do well. These students WANT to do well. No one WANTS to fail. These commenting teachers don’t WANT to write poorly. Let’s not harp on the mistakes each other make. :( Reply ↓
  53. joseyj on January 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm said:Wow! – sounds like teacher horror stories from Jacksonville, Florida.Reply ↓
  54. bdino1953 on January 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm said:I taught in an inner-city system for 11 years. Over that time, 86% of my kids passed the state graduation test (Social Studies) the first time they took it. In those 11 years only 4 didn’t pass it. I was not an effective teacher. I didn’t follow the district’s policy for a “print rich environment” (Seniors in AP classes do not want nor need to make posters for the classroom walls) nor did I embrace the district’s policy of incorporating “urban material” into my lessons (I am supposed to be teaching HipHop instead of American History?).Each year for the past 5 years the district has adjusted its policy for a continuing contract and even though I have met those requirements for the previous year, I have been unable to meet them for any current year (Oh, wait! They don’t announce the new policy until after the school year starts… gee those 9 hours I took last summer don’t meet the new policy). So when I and 690 of my best buds got laid-off last spring I decided that perhaps teaching wasn’t for me. After all, for 2 years running I had 100% passage on the GradTest I had kids getting 3′ & 4′s on their AP tests so obviously I wasn’t a very good teacher.They talk about merit pay and teacher evaluations. I was not a butt-kisser and the principal continued to harass me about stuff that was pure BS. I obviously would not get any merit pay! The English teacher across the hall and I team taught across the cirriculum, but that didn’t matter (BTW she also had a 100% pass rate and got laid off). The only thing any one cares about is covering their butt and looking good for the folks in admin.The union is more interested in keeping benefits for those who are still working. Seniority it the only thing they care about, screw the kids! Let’s keep Ms Whitely (who is 75 years old and has been teaching for 50+ years) in the classroom, she is a good teacher. Why is she a good teacher? She has been teaching 50 years how could she not be a good teacher! So what if she falls asleep during class…

    So now there are 45-60 kids per classroom (I wonder what that will do for test scores and graduation rates?) and good teachers who still have their jobs are looking elsewhere… Why? Because the BOE is projecting a $60 million short fall for next year and teachers are going to be laid-off again this spring. This district has not asked for a operational budget increase (levy) since 1996, so you have to wonder if they really care about the kids…

    I am done, through with teaching in public schools.

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  55. Lua on January 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm said:my story exactly here in Oregon. Not only did I leave my job at the end of the year, but my concern for the condition of education compelled me to homeschool my 6 year old son.Reply ↓
  56. LjD on January 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm said:I am not a professional public school teacher but come from a long line of educators – you could say it is in my genes – which is why this site caught my attention. While I cannot comment specifically on the points raised in this essay, I feel compelled to offer my opinion on what I see as a disturbing trend in how professions are using “science” to regulate and judge competency in its field.I work in health care, both in providing care and educating future physicians, nurses, lab personnel, etc. Our new dogma is “evidenced based medicine” which has become, to me, a catch-phrase to mean that individual responsibility for evaluating the patient in front of you has been replaced with the expectation that you use “medical profiling” to determine what is best for your patient. Your mention of “research based” methods seems to me to be the education professions version of “evidenced based medicine”. As soon as I read that, I knew exactly what your frustrations most likely are. Like evidenced based medicine, the individual is sacrificed to the god of statistics: if you fall into a certain pre-determined category (age, sex, race for example) then you undoubtedly need “x” care, regardless of your symptomology (or lack), your family history, your lifestyle and / or outright wishes. If you refuse or request modification of the accepted medical algorithm you are told you are not a “good fit” for the practitioner and to either conform to the requirements of your medical profile or to drop out of the medical system altogether.It saddens me, but does not surprise me, that every profession is being subjected to this false idea that best practices is based on dissecting the individual into bits and bytes which somehow allows categorization aimed towards making a subjective evaluation into an objective one. One which is supposedly “fair and equitable” to both patient (student) and health care provider (educator), but ends up being nothing to anyone. The loss of meeting individual means does not mean that everyone is treated the same or fairly. We seem to have accepted the fact that egalitarianism means seeing everyone exactly the same way instead of seeing individuals with unique and specific needs. What one person needs to succeed with life is not what another may need. And isn’t providing each person the chance to that meet that need a more fitting definition of treating all equally?I oppose “evidence based medicine” because it is medical profiling and reduces the individual into a statistic; I sense that this “no child left behind” scenario is the same insidious approach to education.

    it is time reassert the value of individuality – to recognize that you cannot take a complex entity (a person) and break him or her into “atoms” for the purpose of objective evaluation to ensure across the board fairness.

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  57. Thomas on January 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm said:Thanks for sharing. Reading your story, I thought, “This is exactly what my wife says all the time!” She is also a teacher in Colorado, and she often comes home with tears in her eyes. It’s not just the outside pressure (I guess some administrators think if they can just drive their teachers like pack mules, they can raise scores; and the parents and the media like to blame teachers for everything), but she is also so hard on herself. It doesn’t matter that her students actually perform pretty well on the tests, the constant stress is wearing her down. After only 5 years of teaching, I don’t know how much more of this she can take.I applaud you for walking away from a winless situation. I hope if enough teachers walk away, if the system will eventually change…Reply ↓
  58. Judy on January 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm said:Perhaps you could earn income by acting as a tutor for homeschooling students. There are many parents who run into “snags” along the way; especially in the areas of writing and mathematics…and from what I’ve read in your post, your educational philosophies and goals for instruction are very like-minded and coincide with the majority of homeschooling families. Just an idea I wanted to share as this would be a way for you to continue in the “education field” and so what you love most: TEACH.Reply ↓
  59. Jen on January 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm said:Thank you for writing this. I’ve been teaching for 14 years in Michigan and it sounds like the situation here is similar to Colorado. I’m afraid this will be my last year as a teacher as well (if I can make it to June). I feel very much as you do. And as you do, I have children in the public school system and I worry about the quality of their education. My son figured out that if he got the questions wrong on the computerized MAP test that the program would kick him out and he could be done! So, that’s what he did…and he scored in the 10th percentile (even though he’s at the top of his class). The teacher and principal were none too thrilled with this and we were both called to the office! I had to laugh (privately, of course!).Good luck in your endeavors.Reply ↓
  60. NCSpacey on January 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm said:I am retiring in June after 35 years in the classroom. I will really miss the students, but not the BULLSHIT.Reply ↓
  61. Cathi on January 25, 2012 at 3:20 am said:Yes, I figured that my comment would still be “awaiting moderation.” Teachers can’t take a single bit of observation that they might be the least deficient. This proves it. Congratulations on your open-mindedness and fairness.Reply ↓
    • DB on February 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm said:Moderation takes time (my comments still await it, too — but then I only posted them today;-)As to us teachers seeming touchy, there is something to that. Before I became one myself, many teachers looked a bit stiff, cliquish, and touchy to me, too; and merit based pay sounded reasonable. Well, since I became a teacher myself (thinking I could do better), I have learned a few things:(1) Teachers get challenged by so many students every day that a certain automatic defensiveness develops. That’s just a survival skill, a professional hazard, so to speak.(2) We teachers are truly beleaguered in our jobs — from all sides: students, parents, administration, school boards, superintendents, politicians, the media… everybody. Naturally, that leads to a degree of paranoia and the sense that only other teachers can understand your troubles. Usually only other teachers can. Our own spouses (unless they work in a school) are often quite clueless. Teaching in our public schools is one of those things where you just have to have been there to know what is going on, or to believe it — a bit like war. You don’t see this if you just visit, nor even when working as a substitute. Presenting a caring and friendly face to the outside world is one of the things schools do well. (because they have to)

      (3) I worked for twenty years in a number of careers in academia, the private sector, and also for government contractors. I had high and low jobs, and I experienced a lot of hair raising things. But none of these work environments was ever as hostile and inhumane as I have discovered today’s American public schools to be.

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  62. iLean on January 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm said:As the Race to the Bottom soars, keep up the good fight! I have taught for 40 years: preschool, primary, and secondary. Only 8 years were in public school and 2 more as a substitute. During 2 years of teaching primary in public schools near Albuquerque I frequently spoke out, against NCLB, and questioned publicly why teachers’ lunch duty included serving the food. I thought I had nothing to lose; the career teachers were too afraid. I was sternly interrogated because my 1st graders were below the expected reading score by October. The final straw was when I told the principal: ‘In teacher education we encourage teachers to make their own decisions about curriculum and methods’. I resigned after 2 years. My evaluation was scathing, loaded with insignificant incidents masquerading as ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. For most of my career I inspired teachers to help children learn the ‘old fashioned’ way, using The Project Approach, integrated curriculum, the philosophies of John Dewey, the Reggio Emilia approach, and that 4-letter word, play. I mention these because they are all contrary to testing frenzy and competitiveness. In the early 1990s I sent a memo to my boss, an Assistant Superintendent at the State Board of Education explaining why early childhood educators were opposed to standardized tests. He was an ‘administrator’ not pleased with my memo. High stakes tests for children and teachers are now a part of public school prekindergarten programs. I often wonder what happens in ‘principal training school’ a.k.a. Administrators Academy. People who appear ‘normal’ before the training come out with psychological bull whips, snapping teachers in to compliance with threats and manipulations. Have you ever observed an administrator change his/her mind? If you do not speak out, only the choir will understand your agony. If you do resign, consider speaking out, only after your final evaluation is signed. An ‘occupy’ is a good idea. Unions have been bought out, but if enough of you join the opposition, you might triumph. Keep letters like yours in the faces of: the public, the parents, the press, professional journals, the legislators, President Obama, Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, not to mention the non-teacher- educated Arne Duncan. It’s hard uphill work, but you just might save the children.Reply ↓
  63. Natalie Paesani on January 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm said:I am not a teacher. I am a 40 year old single mom of a gifted child that has an IEP for PTSD. I was VERY lucky- I went to a GREAT school where I was able to learn, encouraged to suceed, rewarded for being an individual, and where my teachers loved their jobs. Because they loved what they did, I had the joy of loving to learn.My son, who is 10, has skipped a year and a half of school. His schooling has been a nightmare. His teachers have not cared about him as an individual, nor in my opinion, have they cared about teaching. After moving across the country to find better schools, I have decided to homeschool due to not being able to find teachers that care about their students.The final straw for public school is when we “dropped by” school during exam time- and found the teachers giving the answers to students to boost scores. That was his last day in public school.I wish he would have had an opportunity like mine.

    Thank you teachers that care, that try, that do not get paid hardly anything, that have a ridiculious workload and class size. I thank you for instilling in me the love of learning that I continue to share with my son.

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  64. Patty on January 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm said:I feel like you are describing everything I have felt for the last 3-5 years. I am in Illinois and decided that after 13 years of being a public school teacher, that I no longer feel that this position fits who I want to be. I am currently looking for work outside of education as well. I have heartbroken, discouraged, and generally disappointed in the lack of humanity that has come into our schools. I no longer feel like a human being preparing other humans to be ready for the world. I no longer feel like a teacher, but a robot who is given orders and carries them through. Thank you for everything that you said and for speaking out (like myself) when others were too afraid.Reply ↓
    • Gee on January 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm said:And the guy who pushed the destruction of public schools in Illinois, the “Chicago Way,” now is the Secretary of the Department of Education to do the same to schools nationwide. We see the result of that in K12 education nationwide, already — and now, those principles are being pushed for higher education, as well. The devastation spreads. . . .Reply ↓
  65. Aubrey Valencia on January 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm said:OKAY, OKAY Perhaps what we should be doing is speaking out about all of this instead of whining and bitching on the internet and in the teachers lounge. Teachers it is way, WAY past the time to speak up. We all know the situation in public schools is dismal and giving up and walking away is not the answer, it may reduce your personal stress but in the long run giving up adds to the problem. There is power in numbers, teachers before us knew this and it’s the only reason we even have the pay or benefits we have now. Get off your duff and get active. Stop blaming parents and partner with them. There are more of us than there are of them ( the powers that be) but if we allow ourselves to be intimidated and silenced nothing will change. And in the meantime millions of otherwise bright kids full of potential will languish. RISE UP TEACHERS RISE UP!!!!!Reply ↓
  66. 26yrs on January 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm said:Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, formally known as teacher retirement.Reply ↓
  67. Debra on January 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm said:Lots of discussion of tenure and unions…I just want to add that in AZ, teachers do NOT have tenure and our union is incredibly ineffective, our district’s chapter is well-known for hosting once-a-month margarita nights and little else–in the midst of a RIF two years ago, our representative went before the school board and said, ‘Yeah, um, we’d rather you didn’t lay off nearly 300 teachers. So, thanks for listening.”I have no rights. If my principal doesn’t like me, I lose my job. In a few years, if my principal doesn’t like me, I lose a large percentage of my salary.This year, my principal has declared war on kindergarten, and I am caught in the crossfire. He has made it clear that despite my very high scores (among the highest in the district every year), my insistence on doing “real teaching” and regularly going off-script makes me a rebellious threat to children. Recess is a waste of time. Letting children choose their own books to read is insane. Why am I wasting instructional time putting on Band-aids and tying shoes? Free Play is out. Why do you still have dolls and blocks in your room? Why aren’t your kids reading, yet?It doesn’t help that his old friend, who doesn’t like me, is our “Reading Coach”, a despical human being that gossips and lies and causes as many problems as possible, when she’s not holed up in her office on ebay, anyway…I don’t stand a chance…

    The lack of job security, as well as a pay freeze that has had me at the same salary for the past 6 years…well, add that to the constant “You are a horrible person” and the occasional angry parent “Why are you picking on my kid by making them behave?” phone call…The writing is on the wall and I am GONE.

    I hope with all of my heart that I can find a job working somewhere that will treat me respectfully and professionally, with an instructional leader who has an understanding of the very special needs of early childhood students and educators, and believes in treating ALL people, big and small, with dignity and respect. I don’t want to give up teaching, but I can’t do this anymore, the stress and worry and frustration are KILLING me.

    I’m afraid that if the teachers who truly see teaching as both a science AND an art abandon the profession, all that will be left are those satified with reading the script and treating children like little robots instead of human beings, and blindly doing what they are told instead of doing what is best for kids because they really don’t care…and then what?

    I really have a heart for public education. I believe it has been, and should be, a great equalizer. Everybody gets a chance, everybody learns…My mother and my favorite aunt were teachers for upwards of 30 years each…But the kids in my family aren’t going anywhere near a public school, we’ve decided as a family to go the homeschool route.

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  68. DivineMissM on January 30, 2012 at 5:36 am said:Thank you for sharing your story. As I plan this weeks lesson plans I am disheartened that my bellwork is the benchmark test for the week. Projects that allow all students to showcase their talent and develop research skills (wow, a real life skill) are being dropped for drill and kill instruction. Not coincidentally, this is also the first year I am contemplating life outside of public education. The “we” of my classroom and school has become an “us” and “them” differentiated by test takers.Reply ↓
  69. Antoinette Simmons on February 1, 2012 at 5:17 am said:As a parent of a daughter who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma 2 years ago, I think the tests are overated. My daughter had a learning disability before cancer and because she missed alot of time from school, she lacked in all area of school. We spent countless day in the hospital administering chemo and other bad drugs into her little 7 year old body. To make a long story short we were made to feel as if the time missed from school as well as her learning disability was her fault. I was once told she did not pass the task test (now starr test) and that made our scores as a whole drop. Are you kidding me. We struggled and we still are to get her caught up. During chemo she had a homebound teacher for 2 – 4 hours but she would get ill in the middle of it and we would have to stop. This is so frustrating to me and my husband. There should be a special school for kids with major illnesses to attend after they are on the road to recovery because public school is not for those who are recovering while attending school. Can you imagine being told by a student “I am going to kick you in your broke leg” (the leg that is in the healing process). Frustration is what I am and still praying for God to deliver something that she will benefit from while in the process of learning 3rd-4th grade work, still struggling, while in the 5th grade modified class. School will handicap her with all the modifications that they allow. Its as if they are saying we dnt know what to do with you so here play with this while you attempt to learn. School is not the same anymore they are not teaching cursive writing and this new math is terrible. Well my list goes on and I do what I can do and I know God will bring us through. Thanks for allowing me to vent a little bit my list goes on and on.Reply ↓
  70. karen Loe on February 22, 2012 at 6:59 am said:I am sad, truly, that the really good, creative, invested teachers are being edged out of “the system,” to the detriment of the kids IN the system against their will.
    I hope you find a path that appreciates you!
    Peace.Reply ↓
  71. Alan on April 11, 2012 at 3:54 am said:I also agree that this is the end of public education. It is sad. Most of my colleagues and I are simply waiting for retirement. We have to get out to save ourselves. I didn’t get into teaching for all of these standardized tests, the results of which we cannot control. I am not optimistic. There are too many forces arrayed against us, and it is just the teachers fighting to save the system. Even parents are cheering these new reforms. Sadly, most Americans are not very intelligent, and they don’t understand anything about education. (sad but so true!) We allow billionaires to dictate what teaching is, etc. This could never happen in Germany or Finland where the “rich man” would be laughed out of the country. This is also a sure sign of decline. America is in decline, and this attack on the teachers by corporate elites is just going to make everything go down that much quicker. I would tell the young people thinking about teaching to forget it. This career is becoming mission impossible with unsupportive parents, uninterested students and impossible test scores to achieve. They simply want to “churn” the teachers and pay them nothing. Then wealthy people can keep more of their money instead of paying higher taxes. These are dark times, and I don’t see us going back. It took America 200 years to build up our public school system, and a few months and a stupid movie to destroy it. Isn’t that fitting.Reply ↓
  72. Anonymous on June 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm said:Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you to all of you for sharing your comments. Much of what you said has related to my situation, and I am also leaving the classroom. It was heartening to know that I was not the only one who was asked by administration: “Are you happy?” I am an honest, hard-working person who believed in my students and in doing my best to help them succeed, and I will take that with me into my next job. I support you, teachers! Be strong. I will be thinking of you.Reply ↓
  73. Tracy on July 16, 2012 at 12:58 am said:These are nearly identical to my feelings, my students however are subjected to at least 5 tests per year and they hate them. I’ve taken them to see what they are like, and I hated them. I think daily of leaving my current position and attempting one in a public school before leaving education altogether. I not only want to walk away, but I want to pull my own children and teach them in a more comfortable, less stressful way at home. I do not doubt my ability nor theirs to be successful with homeschooling, the current issue is financial, can’t walk away from a job, when you need to put food on the table. Any suggestions to types of positions that will take you seriously when you are looking for employment outside of education?Reply ↓
  74. Marie-Rose on August 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm said:I appreciate your article and I find that what stands out to me is the ineffectiveness of the administration. Leadership is extremely important to the success of schools and their seems to be a vacuum in this area. I do believe that your principal could have worked to find a compromise had he valued your expertise as a teacher, however, that is the problem isnt it? What is valued? Unfortunate, I too am leaving, and I am an art teacher who helped to transform the arts program in the school, but like you, I cant sit back and watch everything become watered down and standards completely lowered because the focus has now become “test scores.” Its too bad because its mostly the weaker teachers who go along with anything and play the “politics” game with administration who are favored no matter how mediocre their standards; its the students who ultimately suffer. I wish you all the best, I am also looking in other areas of employment that will take me out of the public education system.Reply ↓
  75. Another anonymous teacher on August 18, 2012 at 1:20 am said:As with many others here, I share your pain. I have a masters degree in reading (which my students desperately needed me to have) and many years of experience. After moving to another state for my spouse’s career, I am finding it difficult to secure employment as a teacher. It comes down to two things: 1) that masters degree and 2) HR questionaires. The questions are all open-response, as I am sure most of you are aware. MOST have little-to-nothing to do with how I teach, what is being taught, or how students learn. I have adopted one of these HR questions for my own (do you have any questions for us?): “which is more important to you: the students, the teachers, or the administration?”. As a teacher, I would EXPECT the answer to be “the students”. Sadly, after over 100 interviews, it is not. It is NOT about the students. Our precious children are losing out in a multitude of ways. I no longer teach to the test, for the money the district might lose, or for pay. I taught because I loved teaching, building a better tomorrow for our children, and because the children’s futures depend on it. Now I’m searching for a position as an aide, a factory worker, a clerk. To get out, to break away, to stop lying to myself about the future of our children–who will have no future at all.Reply ↓
  76. Bethany on August 24, 2012 at 6:03 am said:I just graduated with my Masters in ESL this May. I have been going to school since I graduated HS is 2000 with one year off in the last 12 years. In that time I have worked as a teacher’s aide, done plenty of student teaching and observations and for the last four years substituting. I will say although I have not had my own class I have seen first hand what these teachers go through and the kids. I tutored 5th graders this past school year and during testing one kid broke down at the start of his tests and another got sick all over the place. And yet they still made these kids take the test after composing themselves. The teachers stay at the school.
    until evening ours doing I don’t even know whReply ↓
  77. emj on August 28, 2012 at 11:18 pm said:How about how many endorsements teachers need to obtain before we can continue to teach? This is so expensive. I will be teaching Colorado from Chicago Public Schools. I was denied an ESL endorsement in Colorado although I had one in Illinois. In order to obtain an early childhood sped endorsement I will have to spend $13,000!? Crazy!!! For What? We spend so much of our own money in the classrooms. We never get reimbursed. No one can be afford to be a teacher anymore. The pay is only OK. No teacher can laugh all the way to the bank!Reply ↓
  78. JustQuitTheOtherDay on October 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm said:As my name obviously states, I just quit the other day after 4 years. I’ve had enough with all of the USELESS paperwork. Data reports, assessment logs, rubrics, etc are draining beyond words. Anyone considering this “profession”, RUN THE OTHER WAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!Reply ↓
  79. Anonymous 2 on October 27, 2012 at 5:19 am said:Thank you everyone for your comments. I am not alone. The person who mentioned that teachers are bullied was right. I figured out that I have been bullied and I have been putting up with it for 6 years. I don’t know how long I can hold out. I am an older teacher and I really don’t have many options. But everyday when I go into the classroom I do my best for the students in my class.I have turned the last 7 years over and over in my mind. I wonder whose toes I stepped on. I used to teach in a Title One school and my kids, as I bet you can guess were low. We usually got 1/3 of our class as proficient or above. I can’t tell you how many interventions I did on my own time. I can’t tell you how many parent conferences I held. I worked and worked and didn’t see a gain. Other teachers in our school had the same results, even the popular ones. I taught 5th grade at that time and every year there was either a 4/5 combo or a 5/6 combo. And the combo teacher was always a 4th or 6th grade teacher. I was getting burned out. Fifth is a tough year for kids and every year [in a low income area] my class was concentrated with the “challenge students.” So after a few years I raised my hand. I asked for the combo class. I was told I couldn’t have it because I was teaching 5th and that just wouldn’t work. I told the principal that I was getting burned out. My class was always loaded with challenging behavioral cases. I needed a break. But I didn’t get one. That year I had a class of 31 students, 10 were extreme cases, 10 were semi-difficult, and 11 were fine. I had four anger / aggression problems alone. I cried everyday after school and sometimes at lunch time. Then I would pick myself up and go in and teach for the rest of the day. At the end of that year my evaluation said that I need to improve my classroom management! Really? Really? I didn’t have any problems until you threw me to the wolves. The teacher before me got a bottle of campaign at the end of the year. I got a kick in the pants. So, I asked for a transfer since I heard that I was going to get the next big problem student who was on her way up. Alas, I was too late to ask for a transfer, but in the end, right before school started a transfer came through. Mind you, this was right in the middle of a wave of pink slips. Actually, I have been teaching for 12 years and have been pink slipped for 10 of those 12 years. I guess I am supposed to just go back each year kissing their feet, happy that I had a job. Now, mind you my earlier evaluations were just “meeting expectations.” [I was never in the "in" crowd, who our principal partied with on weekends.] But I knew I did more than other teachers. For example, in the area of parent communication: I translated everything into Spanish, I created a Spanish Math book because I couldn’t get a Spanish copy for my level. I sent home a weekly newsletter with grades, behavior, and what we learned that week. I had our assignments on line, and posted them in my class window, and made sure my students took home an assignment calendar daily. I posted my grades on line. I also made each parent a frig-magnet with all my contact information on it and yet I couldn’t get an “excellent” in parent communication.So I left to the other school and I went from the frying pan into the fire. On my very first day there I knew everything was wrong. I was told by my new principal that I couldn’t have anyone show me around the school. I was told three times in the first month that he was. “Giving me a chance to make friends.” I never figured out what that meant. He told me which way to set up my class, facing the white board that was ruined. When I asked to have my good board placed where the bad one was, he told me he wouldn’t write a work order. I said I didn’t want a new board, but just to get the good one moved to where I could use it. Nope, no way. So, since I knew people in the district, a carpenter saw my problem and he said he knew where a good board was in storage. He replaced it for me on his own time. You have to understand that my class was asking if that was a decimal or a scrape on the board. Well, you can imagine how angry this principal was when he saw my new board. He made me stop doing lit. circles. He didn’t like my math posters on the wall. After the first trimester he took my Below Level ELA class away from me and gave me the Basic class with no explanation. When I mentioned that the average growth of my students was 18% and I had some as high as 33% it didn’t seem as if that mattered. It was like he was just out to get me. When I did the GLAD unit he wanted to see, he told me I did it wrong. I said that I asked the GLAD coach because I wanted to get it right. He looked surprised but wouldn’t change his comments. He gave me an evaluation where I was bad at everything but discipline. Funny, the one thing she told me I was bad at, he said I was good at. In my evaluation meeting he even told me that he couldn’t find the rulers in my classroom. [Can you believe it!] I just couldn’t do anything right. That year I did have a 5/6 combo class. Seven of my 17 sixth graders went on to high level math at the Jr. High. Can you believe that a bad teacher could get those results? Me either. That year I had four parents write the office to tell them what a great teacher I am. [And you know that never happens.] Because of his bad evaluation I was put in our PAR program. How humiliating.So the next year I moved to another school. This school was not a Title One school and had pretty good scores. I taught 2 years there as a team teacher in a second grade class. The “mentor” teacher that I had, had nothing but good things to say about me. She loved my lessons so much that she used many of them herself. I was always willing to share. Our kids scores were great! My team teacher and I rejoiced. Yet, in the end I was told I didn’t have any assessments. I figured the one thing she couldn’t say wasn’t proof of my teaching ability, was their grades. Then she told me they weren’t my grades because I was a team teacher! So for this principal I couldn’t do anything right again. My voice is too loud. I do the same thing all the time. If I had the kids working in teams, they should have done it alone. If they worked individually, then it should have been in teams. They told me how to have my desks, they told me where to stand, they told me how to talk. After one year at PAR I was told that I didn’t quite pass, I needed another year to “journal” about my lesson plans and how I could adapt them. No matter what I wrote, it was wrong. They wanted me to “reflect.” So I used the word “reflect” in everything I wrote. After my second year I got this letter that told me they saw “some change in my practice” they saw me using some of the ideas they offered. Actually, I did almost all of them already, I just couldn’t say that because, remember I was the one who was the bad teacher. In that letter they told me that “I had to want every child to succeed” and that ” I needed to develop a positive relationship with me students.” Now I would like to know how you could judge those two things? I judged them in hugs. I got a million hugs a day. I, again, had parents writing the office to say how much they like me at that school. I figure that was killing my new principal, since she had nothing good to say. In my second year there she actually asked me why I continued to teach? And that I should think of leaving teaching. I was told that I had to have my standards posted for each lesson in the room, which I did. Now that doesn’t sound like much, but that is something on the level that all the staff does, or no one does. I went into the other rooms and no one else had them posted. [This is an example of the many things I was told.] So I do this math lesson for her and I not only have the standard posted, but I take it down and read it with the class. We talk about what “inverse” means and then I put it back on the board. In the worksheet we do, the standard is also at the beginning, and I read that with the class. Then, in my post observation meeting I am told that I needed to do hand movement with the word “inverse” and I should have gone back to the standard 3 or 4 times during the lesson to review what they were learning. After that, I didn’t hear anything else that she said in the meeting. When I told me mentor what she said, she was shocked, she said no one else does it. But I am held to a different measure. At another observation my kids were just angles. I was told that two kids were humming [I didn't hear it.] And one girl who was low was drawing on a white board, but the principal mentioned that she was hiding it under her desk when I came over so I couldn’t see it. Now, I took that board away from this girl all the time, but my buddy teacher was giving it back. So I had no idea she had the board. Can you believe ….. “2 kids humming!” In that observation they did a beautiful vocabulary lesson. One child paraphrased instead of copying exactly. That one paper was pulled out to my attention. In that class I had a boy who was very low. They wanted to hold him back in K and 1. I worked with him one-on-one. I worked with him on the computer, and did memory games with him. I had him try to learn Dolch Words. I went through the SST process with him and his parents wouldn’t attend any of the meetings. I waited in the parking lot to pass SST paperwork through the car window, and in the end they did meet with us when my buddy teacher and I said retention paperwork was being processed. And then I am told that I have to want every child to succeed! Really? I also make sure that my high students are challenged, giving them advanced reading and math. So when the teachers who know me, and my mentor, read what the district said about me, they were astounded. They couldn’t believer that I was being punished for just the things that I excelled at. I am back at the same school this year. And because I got 9 “U”s” on my last evaluation, I am in PAR for a 3rd year. Oh, you need 9 “U”s” to be considered for par. Interesting that I had just the right number. In my last post observation meeting I was told that she worried about my class, and that I was a bad teacher. So far out of 31 students I have 27 that are A and B students in math. I do all the EL support, Board Math, and Interventions that I should be doing. While my grade level buddies aren’t doing any of that, but they are the excellent teachers! I was told at the meeting that I shouldn’t have been doing sequencing with my students, it’s not a 6th grade standard. I was sequencing so we could use that as a framework for writing summaries. But I knew she wouldn’t listen. I did story boards with the class on the folktale we were reading. She said that a story board was not 6th grade work. I said I got it out of a Reading Reminder book written for High School students. She waved that off by saying she didn’t know high school standards. She told me that the inferences that I was questioning them on weren’t good inferences. I got them right out of the TM text. When I said that, she said that the district was moving away from the text and toward core standards. I guess I am to infer that this means shouldn’t use the text. She told me that I should have had my high students working alone on combining sentences and not have them do it on the overhead with me. I said that I was reviewing it because they didn’t get it in the test and they needed the support. [But I am not a data driven teacher.] So I asked her who I should do that. She didn’t know, She said she wasn’t a 6th grade teacher. Thanks! She told me that I had to connect with my students and “suggested” that I give up my lunch once a week to eat with them. [So I did.] She was surprised when I said that I went to the local 6th grade party day, just to be there for them. I was the only teacher there. But that wasn’t connecting with them, it had to be done her way. At the observation, not enough of my students were raising their hands. Two put their heads down. These two students that did that are listening. When called on them they can jump right into the conversation. I know and understand these students. I was given an article to read on what fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students are like. Like I don’t know! When I spoke with my class about her observation of them, I told them that I knew why they didn’t raise their hands. One boy asked “Why?” I told him that it was because I use the cold call method a lot and so I figure, they figure, why raise my had when she won’t call on me anyway. That boy said that he thought I was the first teacher that he had that really understood her students. [And I am the one given the article to read.] Another boy asked why I didn’t explain that to her. And I told him that there were some things that people just weren’t going to listen to. He is the one who said. “save your breath.” That day, two 6th grade girls hugged me good bye. But, I am the one who needs to connect with my class.

    I’m sick of it. And I want it to all go away. I’m a good teacher. I care. I want each of my students to succeed. I bring in regalia, and extend lessons. We have poems written all over our back wall. Boys writing poetry, in 6th grade! Wow! I have a huge stat. background, so looking at data to drive instruction is second nature for me. And I am told I don’t do that either. I love my class but I am tried of being beaten up. What saved me last year was finding out that Teachers are a Target for Bullies, from parents, students, and administrators. I read that often the best teachers get bullied. And that fit what I was experiencing. I knew I was doing more than most, yet everything I did was wrong. When she told me last year that my lessons were bad, I said that was funny because all the other teachers want to use them. Then it was changed to: not my lessons being bad, but the way I taught them was bad. Really? Then how come my kids are doing so well. So, everyone out there, say a prayer for me. I always felt that good vibes can work miracles. I want to “smoke” the competition this year. I want to have scores that are out-of-sight. Just so I can go out holding my head high, and feel the pride that I know I deserve.

    Reply ↓

    • Sharon on November 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm said:I feel ya! But, alas, it will not do!! It is not us! The admin. must have something or someone to pin their “weaknesses” on and it is us!!! Was I bullied? Yes!! Would I do it again for those wonderful kids?? Yes. I miss them with all my heart but not the BS that was eroding my life!! Think about it! Good luck!Reply ↓
  80. Human Rights Activist on November 7, 2012 at 9:41 am said:I know the situation of a teacher who last year left the teaching profession in part because she was being assaulted by some students and not only did she get no support from the administration (who were known to be prejudiced against certain teachers), but the administration actually said that she deserved it. Saying that this particular administration is twisted is an understatement.Reply ↓
  81. krs on December 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm said:i am leaving the profession after 12 years. many people think that teachers have it made;every job has its positives and negatives. the micromanagement, behavior problems and crowded classrooms, the requirements for teacher evaluations thats coming and the unmentionable list of things that cause this job to consume your life are just some of the negatives. a job should not consume your life. taking work home everyday because time is not available during the day is not enjoyable. so many other things i could list but wont. lets just say i am going to the profession i was called to do. i was crazy to do this one. thank the lord i have something to fall back on.Reply ↓
  82. guest1234 on December 9, 2012 at 3:27 am said:This is my first year of teaching. With this new common core alignment for students with special needs in nyc, I am completely stressed out with the modification of lesson plans and worksheets, data, assessments, IEPs, evidence of proof for the common core, and making ends meet. My weeknights and weekends are mainly lesson planning. The administration lacks support and I am feeling closer and closer to ending this profession. Because I am a new teacher, I felt like I did get bullied too. Out of all of my colleagues, I got the hardest group of kids with behavioral issues. If anyone I know that wants to become a teacher, I suggest you to find something else.Reply ↓
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