Ever since I started my blog (exactly!) 2 years ago, I have been told a number of times:
- Stay away.
- You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
- It’s not what you think it is.
In the past few years, there have been a handful of “Why I Quit” articles and essays, of exhausted–rightfully so–teachers resigning. I give these teachers credit for publicly announcing their reasons for resigning.
Their actions illuminate the detrimental direction our current education system is heading: increase of high-stakes testing, schools looking more like business-models, loss of creativity, never ending disrespect geared towards teachers and their unions, severe educational inequity–yes, their actions speak volumes and are undoubtedly very brave. Your resignations reflect a lot of the anger and frustration hundreds of teachers across the country also feel today, and have given many teachers this sense of, “Phew, so I’m not alone” reaction. With no doubt, knowing you’re not alone can do wonders in this fight.
Yet, honestly, I am fed up.
The most recent article I came across was, Diary of a Student Teacher: Why I Quit.
I know we are stronger than this, and there are more powerful ways to make our mark than simply quitting. There are more powerful responses to the poor reforms and policies being forced upon us. Just look at the action of the Seattle teachers who boycotted the MAP test–and won!
Yes, I know many of you are thinking: You have no idea what it’s like though in the classroom. You’re not even an actual teacher yet.
Yes, that argument is valid, and I whole-heartedly agree with you.
Yet, you have no idea what it is like as a student going into teaching seeing so many educators simply just give up. It is frustrating to see one movement of teachers taking powerful actions of resistance, and another who decide to quit, and even worse, tell future teachers not to go into the field. One recent example was published in the Huffington Post: A Warning to Young People: Don’t Become A Teacher. In this former English teacher’s warning, he lists the number of problems teachers are facing today e.g. high-stakes testing, Common Core, etc. and asks: Why would anyone willingly sign up for this madness?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue saying it until this war is finally won.
When you see something you love being attacked, you don’t run away and hide. No, you stand up and fight like hell to protect it.
To all of the doubters, all the teachers encouraging us not to enter the field. I promise you, that is the worst advice you could be telling our generation. You are completely ignoring the fact of who experienced the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era directly.
Please, stop underestimating us.
I will admit, there was a long period of time where I felt alone in my anger towards the direction of the education. Yet, more and more, I am meeting future teachers who know exactly what’s wrong with the current direction of education under elite, wealthy, out-of-touch politicians and corporate education reformers. What sparked this post was actually a Facebook status by an old high school classmate of mine who I haven’t talked to in years. She posted a link to an article regarding Chris Christie’s proposal for longer school days.
Genuinely curious who decided that extended school days would be beneficial to anyone. With the education system in its current state I’m almost positive that extended days would actually have nothing but a detrimental affect on student’s learning. Perhaps if the extra time would be spent allowing students to actually explore their interests and creativity it would be beneficial, but as someone who spent over 120 hours in a district with extended hours last semester I feel confident (and sad) to say that obviously won’t be what the extra time is used for. The extra hour or two a day is spent for, what do you know, MORE TEST PREP. I spent 120 hours watching FIRST GRADE students spend their day focusing solely on math and english/language arts. There is no social studies curriculum and science is a second thought, “Maybe we’ll get to it,” essentially. These poor children walk in the building at 7:30AM and are already asking me if it’s time to go home; school is not somewhere for them to enjoy, it’s somewhere for them to work.
Christie described the proposal as a “key step to improve student outcomes, and boost our competitiveness.”
That is the sentence we need to focus on because what he is saying is that this is a step to improve student’s test scores. Not a step to improve student’s critical thinking, or student’s creativity, or student’s desire to learn. TEST SCORES. period.
And the number of critically conscious future educators I have come across does not end there. If you’d like me to connect you to them, I would be more than happy to do so.
This fight against harmful, corporate education reforms will not be won with more teachers quitting. This fight will not be won by telling future teachers–who are going into the profession with the right intentions, with the proper more-than-5-weeks training–not to enter the field. We will win by working towards educating more future educators of what is happening. Rather than telling them to not go into the field, and instead discussing ideas on how a powerful resistance can be built together. Imagine young future educators coming across articles titled: “Why I Revolted, “Why I Resisted,” or “Why I Was Fired for Not Teaching to Test,” rather than the ever so common,”Why I Quit.”
I know that many of the current teachers encourage us not to enter the field because they want to protect us. Thanks, but no thanks. We don’t need your protection, we need you to stay strong and stand up for what you know is right. We don’t need your protection, we need you to stand up for the future of your students, the future of our profession–and thank you to all of the current educators out there who have been doing this tirelessly. We need to know when we enter the classroom, you will stand fearlessly beside us.
We don’t need your protection, we need your solidarity.
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Calling future teachers!
Another future teacher and I are working on a project regarding this very issue. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at: SRRivera92@gmail.com.
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The response I’ve received to this post thus far has been incredible. Thank you to all of those who have read and shared this post. I also thank those who have shared words of encouragement, and also those who have challenged me by sharing why you still insist teachers stay away. One of the greatest responses so far has got to me the amount of other future teachers who have contacted me expressing the same sentiments (and please continue doing so! SRRivera92@gmail.com). In addition, bloggers have also been sharing their posts. There are other educators who have written about the same issue! What a shame they are drowned out by “Why I Quit” articles. I hope we can change this. Please check out:
- Paul Bogush’s, “Why I Continue Teaching“
How does a quiet person lead a revolution?Not by quitting teaching or saying I will never take another student teacher, but by assisting people to become a part of a system that is hell bent on creating an educational genocide
.I will quietly continue doing what I do in the classroom with both kids and student teachers, I will go to conferences and lead sessions that are quiet calls for disrupting the system, I will quietly mentions things to teachers in the hallway, twitter, and email. My hope is that someone much louder than I will ascend to power and lead the revolution. It will not be me, but I hope that I can help in their training.
- Dale Rogers’s, “Mr. Rogers Meets Charles Dickens
While all of the wisdom of the research is being ignored and the foolishness of politicians, philanthropists, and corporations is being praised, teachers feel attacked, disrespected, and undervalued. What can teachers do? Teachers must seek total solidarity. Teachers must remain vigilant knowing that they have the facts on their side. Teachers must make every effort to push back against the foolishness. They must counter the attacks rather than retreating. They must realize most of the disrespect only comes from people that don’t know them or don’t have a clue what they do. They must value themselves and each other.