After three decades in the teaching profession, my sister recently resigned from her position as a public middle school English teacher.
She’s had enough of “teaching to the test.” She’s had enough of dealing with undisciplined students and their equally uncaring parents. She’s had enough of her administrators not allowing her to teach as she knows best. And she’s had enough of going along to get along. She recently qualified for retirement, and, to preserve her health and soul, has done just that.
She’s a proud and passionate teacher and because of that pride and passion she can’t take any more of the automaton culture that has invaded American public schools, where she says teachers are urged to be mere “managers and monitors of information.”
I’m proud of her sticking to her principles, rather than taking any further orders from her wayward principals. She’s put in her time, as they say, and now she will switch to teaching at a private school or college, where she can be free to be a creative and engaging teacher.
As we wind down another school year, the next two editions of Here’s Something will turn the metaphorical pen over to my sister, who will go unnamed to spare all involved. What she says about her public school district can be said of many public school districts because all, or nearly all, have signed on to national standards-based curricula, which require extensive testing, especially in English and math.
Thanks, Sis, for letting us all know what’s really going on behind those taxpayer-funded school walls. This week, she’ll share her Top 3 reasons for tendering her resignation. Next week, she’ll dive into more specifics regarding standardized testing, which is the bane of English and math teachers everywhere:
“Why am I leaving my current teaching position? First, the administration is focused on money. It has lost sight of the purpose of education, which is to instill a love of learning in adolescents.
“As an example, we have one of America’s Top 10 high schools in our area, and our school district forbids those students, many of whom are alumni of our school, to come talk to our students. The reason? For every student that leaves, our district loses $6,500.
“Our job is to educate, not to seek awesome standardized test scores. Students come to learning in diverse ways and at diverse times in their adolescence, and administrators need to focus on the love of learning and not on money.
“Secondly, we need to do away with educational ideas forced on schools by doctoral candidates. Our school became an international prep academy for no apparent reason. Our administration continues to pay millions to implement an experimental school idea that has failed drastically elsewhere. As a result, more than 20 teachers have left our building in the last three years and parents are taking their children to other districts.
“Thirdly, the lines between parent and teacher have been blurred. There is an expectation that teachers act as a parent. If a teacher is acting as a parent, they are not the teacher.
“For example, I remember a student who earned an all-day, in-school suspension. When the principal fetched her, the student told the principal she would not go. When the principal told her he would be calling her parents, she said, ‘Go ahead. They can’t make me do anything.’
“I love being a teacher, but not in my public school district. My main reason for leaving is that school is no longer about education.”
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.