Let’s Talk About Why Good Teachers are Quitting their Jobs!
At least once a week now there is a small news story or blog post about a respected teacher quitting education or sending an impassioned letter to lawmakers about the situation in the classroom, from the teacher’s perspective. It’s not major news, yet. But it should be.
While some look to politicize the issue of Common Core, the whole thing is simply not that easy to define. And even though you see two extreme camps in the news, the “Death to Common Core” protesters and the “Take Common Core and Like it” bureaucrats and politicians, it’s not black and white. The gray divide is wide, diverse and complex.
Kids are stuck in the gray. And many are struggling or at least spending more time on testing than ever before. So what about the kids in the gray? And by kids I really mean guinea pigs.
From what I have read, the teachers who are standing up are standing up for the kids in the gray. Not because they believe testing should be eliminated. But because the constant changing of the rules is hurting kids. Because they say this new round of testing has not been properly prepared for and is being forced. Because they see what it’s doing to the kids on a daily basis and how it’s eroding those things that are still good about public education.
So here’s another teacher. This time a highly regarded and accomplished teacher who won a Top Teacher Search Award in 2014 from the Live with Kelly and Michael Show for her work. Not that Kelly and Michael are education experts, but I’m going to say they knew enough to judge this teacher one of the best in the country. And now she is leaving education because she can’t live with herself anymore as a player in the testing culture that is killing education.
“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”
A story in the Elyria Chronicle-Courier where the teacher, Stacie Starr lives, describes the meeting where Stacie announced her resignation.
The standing-room-only audience at the Elyria Public Library’s West River Road North branch was shocked. Starr fought back tears as she explained her life as a teacher.
The tests are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs, she said. And, even an individual education plan is not enough to shield students from the rigors of state expectations.
“I have faith in my students, but my students are reading at sometimes a fourth- and fifth-grade reading level,” she said. “Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know.”
Starr said she is not giving up on kids by leaving the district. Elyria has some of the best educators and students achieve on par with more affluent districts, she said.
“It’s just hard because, as teachers, we are playing a game where the rules keep changing,” she said.
If the crowd in the room was any indication, Starr will not be alone. Other teachers spoke of their desire to leave education or told stories about how colleagues want to walk away.
“I’m like you. I feel like I have to get out,” said Jackie Conrad, a third grade teacher.
This is not an isolated situation and that concerns me a great deal as a parent and as an American citizen. Certainly not all teachers can walk away. They need their jobs to raise their families so I don’t anticipate a mass exodus of teachers. But I do think we’ll lose the more experienced teachers who remember what school used to be like in the good old days. They’ll be so fed up that they will retire early and walk away. I’ve also heard stories of new teachers who can’t hack it and quit within five years. If I were the CEO of a major organization, I would see this as a pretty big red flag. Maybe “Undercover Boss” needs to do a special school series where heads of education and politicians go undercover in the schools. NOW THAT IS A SHOW I WOULD LOVE TO WATCH!
I wonder how many teachers wish they could speak up, but fear retribution?
I wonder who is representing or helping these teachers who have the courage to stand up for kids against the 100-story rushing wave that could come crashing down on them at any time. Riding that wave are politicians, reformers, textbook companies, lobbyists, “education experts” and even the National PTA who together are pushing this agenda. I’ve heard many explanations for what is the core of this agenda and I don’t really know the truth. I doubt there is one truth. But I also don’t see the genuine effort being made to hear from the teachers, the parents and the students. Just the opposite. It appears that those in power would like to squelch the rising voices. So without those consumers of the education product speaking up and demanding something different, the wave will just continue to roll the to shore and take everyone out.
If you feel moved to write a letter to Florida lawmakers who sit on the education sub-committees, click here to get their email addresses. It’s our duty to communicate with our elected representatives and it’s their job to work for us.
Opinion and Perspective by Pamela Settle, Publisher and Editor of GoodLiving Magazine.
All Rights Reserved.