When the idea for writing letters was first brought up, I thought I had so many things to write about it, how could it possibly be written down in one letter. As I sat down to write it however, I realized it all boils down to a few major issues. Forgive me for being a bit scatterbrained in my writing, it’s hard to be cohesive when you are grief stricken with anger. I recently resigned from teaching, and it was only for my mental health and for my family. I am so angry I had to leave my kids mid year but it was for my kid and my health, and it hurts that it came to that because of mismanagement in this district.
- JCPS does not listen, or ask for viewpoints on the ground. The number of times I have had decisions made for me as a teacher, are too many too count. I recently resigned because I was tired of being ordered around, despite having a Master’s degree and 10 years of experience. Sure, you send out a survey, but does anyone actually listen to what we have to say?
- When I tell people that I recently resigned, people outside of the district like to blame the middle school kids, or the board, or testing, or busing, or all of the other things they hear from the news, their kids, or just assume for local political talks. What they leave out is that it is NEVER the kids that are the problem. Any real teacher will tell you that kids are pretty predictable. When they are overworked on boring tests, told they are behind despite doing their best, and given homework to do that they have no idea how to do, of course they are going to act up in class.
- Be willing to make the news for the good stuff, and set precedent. Nowhere else in the country is having kids who are not ready for the first grade repeat kindergarten. We know when we pass kids along this makes kids start a gap that gradually gets wider. Why not make kindergarten a 2 year plan if needed.
- Realize that you are playing a game of telephone with new initiatives. If I attend a conference on PBIS led by the book writers, and then come back and lead a district week long institute, which gets watered down into a 3 hour pd at a school level, and then a 1 hour makeup at a faculty meeting, the meaning has been lost. When a new teacher comes to the building and never get the training, all that gets passed down is, “Don’t suspend kids, don’t let kids miss class, and talk to them more.” What often gets left out is that a positive school culture requires kids to like school, that wraparound services are necessary, that teachers need time to give frequent feedback, and smaller class sizes are necessary to help kids not have as much peer conflict get in the way of their education. You can’t partially do things, and expect them to work in large district.
- Realize that the ONLY reason some of the schools are being successful is in SPITE of the district getting in the way. My first year of teaching was in the Jefferson County Virtual School (Now Phoenix School). We were set up to fail, with over half of the staff being brand new, and no materials for the first couple of weeks. We succeeded in part because we had small ratios, and in large part because we were determined. Imagine how successful you could be if you got out of the way?
- It used to be that teachers were expected to resign once married or had kids. When I had my child, it felt like that was still the expectation. Once having her, I could no longer stay at school until 6, and go home and do more. I started working until 4:30, and then working after I put her to bed. I started going to school at 6am so I could still get everything done, which meant waking up at 4 after having gone to bed at 11. You cannot have teachers working this hard, only to then be told that we are doing it wrong. I gladly worked hard when I believed in what I was doing, when my kids were thankful, when lessons could be fun, and I could be flexible with how I taught. When I stopped being able to do speeches for 2 weeks, take a walk outside when my kids needed it, and have the kids teach class sometimes so I could catch up (while offering feedback to them), my hands were tied.
- Look at who wins the Excel award, or school accolades, or other awards; young teachers who are lauded for spending all of their waking hours and money on school. I am so tired of the teacher as a martyr narrative. I was a professional, treated like a child by my superiors, with pats on the head for my successes.
- On the over testing Common Core standards are END OF THE YEAR STANDARDS.
Why was I expected to get my kids to proficiency immediately? I could have gotten my kids to succeed if I was given the support that I needed, and left alone to get the job done.
- You cannot tell me what to do, and how to do it, and then get agitated that I don’t get the results that you want.
- Why are we expecting all teachers to teach the same, and all students to perform the same? I HATED teaching using some of the methods that were considered best practice, and it showed in my teaching because my heart was not in it. Does that make me a bad teacher according to the new evaluation methods it does.
I don’t know what to say. This letter is awful, and my writing is awful, and my attitude is awful. I don’t know what to say that would magically make you start listening or take our concerns seriously. I was a damn good teacher with good instincts, care for kids, intelligence, fantastic work ethic and an excellent role model for how education can bring you out of bad situations.
This district ruined me as a person, and I am going to take a while to recover to see if I can do something else to contribute to our community’s children. I am scared for our children, and I am mad that a whole generation of kids have missed out on an education because too many of you are treating the board like a business, instead of seeing the kids as individual children who need support.