I know that many teachers are demoralized. It is not just because I read your comments every day, but because national surveys by Scholastic/Gates and by the Metlife survey report that this is so.
Some of the newbie organizations founded and/or funded by Gates (like TeachPlus and Educators4Excellence) think this is wonderful. So does The New Teacher Project (TNTP), founded by either Wendy Kopp or Michelle Rhee, depending on whom you believe. They see a new day coming, when teachers who don’t care about a pension or job security, who want to be evaluated by test scores, will fill the classrooms of America.
I say all this is nonsense. Ten years from now, the teaching corps in most districts in the nation will be drawn from the same pool as now. It is an absurd goal to want to push out or drive out experienced teachers and rely on a group of young people to change teaching into a job for short-timers. It could happen, but if it does, it won’t be good for students or for the quality of education.
Short term, there is good reason to be demoralized. Long term, I am convinced that the destructive trends of this era will pass. Failed ideas eventually are recognized as failed ideas.
That is why I urge everyone to stay and fight for what they know is right for their students. Signs of resistance are growing. The test boycott at Garfield High School in Seattle is the first sign of spring. There will be many more.
Here is someone who disagrees with me, or made her decision a while back:
“Maybe the greatest act of defiance is to stay and fight for what is right.”
Diane, I believe most teachers who have decided to leave the profession felt that way years and years before they left. These changes have been a long time coming. The writing was on the wall years ago and most teachers hunkered down and got the job done anyway. They stood up to bullying principals and insane edicts, more paperwork, much more testing, and more decisions being made by people who never taught a day in the classroom. They fought hard and were belittled, ignored, or forced out.
There comes a day when it becomes impossible to stay, when you feel you can no longer be a part of something that is directly harming children and that takes a little piece of your soul each day that you continue to play by someone else’s rules. I know because I was one of those teachers. I taught for 20 years and the district offered a buy out, hoping to get rid of their veteran teachers so they could hire cheaper, more pliable, younger teachers. That was almost two years ago, and most of the teacher friends I left behind are retiring this year. Like me, they reached a point where they had to leave.
Even though we’re no longer in the classroom, we continue to fight “from the outside.” Thank you for everything you do.