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Next week I will finish my 19th year of teaching.  I work with high school juniors and seniors teaching Civics, AP US History and American Cultural History.  The students are your perfect bell curve, of course, but they are easily the best part of my job.  Honestly, were it not for them, I would have quit years ago.

I had 13 days of state and federal testing this year.  Add to that 16 days of "test prep" mandated by the district.  That was one sixth of my classroom teaching time for the year.
Add to this the layoffs, pay cuts, benefit cuts, and a public very openly hostile towards my profession, and the extrinsic obstacles to teaching have been piled so high that I can no longer clearly see the intrinsic motivators that kept me in the classroom.

I'm done.  Next week will be my last week as a public school teacher.

The exodus started a few years ago.  Older teachers mostly, with enough years to retire, but who had stuck around because they still loved it, and they didn't want to abandon their students or colleagues to the onslaught of testing and "reform".  But things deteriorated, the testing got worse and less meaningful, and they knew it was time to leave. They did, taking all of their wisdom and experience with them.

Last year more of them left our district, along with some new teachers who thought maybe things would be better in another school or state, but most of whom left the profession altogether.  I think that trend will continue.  For all intents and purposes it's a slow motion purge of education's best and brightest.  (That's a disaster, by the way - almost 50% of public school teachers have less than 10 years experience)

I was offered a job in the private sector.  It's an entry level position.  Amazingly, it still means I'll make more than I do now, even with 19 years experience and a Master's Degree in Poli Sci.

I'll miss the kids, I truly will.  The classroom is like no other place in the professional world, and I do love it.  But I'm looking forward to going home from work at 5, and having my weekends back.  Looking forward to 40 hour weeks instead of 55 hour ones.  Looking forward to getting enough sleep all year around instead of just three months of it.  Looking forward to mental and physical health.  Having the time to exercise, and spending time with family.  Looking forward to picking up a newspaper or being in a social situation without having to read or listen to some uninformed person's opinion about why teachers and public schools are horrible, lazy or whiny.  Looking forward to not having a parent in my face because their kid didn't make an effort or get the grade they wanted.  

Looking forward to being a normal person with a normal job.

Of course I will miss the summers off.  But I would rather have a normal, two week vacation with enough sleep and mental health all year, instead of my just being a recovering burnout every June, July and August.

I'm not angry, or bitter.  I am a bit sad at giving up the career I loved, even a bit guilty.  But to be honest, I didn't give it up.  It was taken from me.

This is what the public wanted - the illusion of accountability.  It's what they voted for, what they supported and/or allowed to happen.

Not the topic I wanted to write for my first diary, but important enough to share I thought.

For all of you (and there are many) who championed education and teachers, voted yes on levies and bonds, and defended us in the public discourse, I very heartily thank you.  It is in no small part because of you that I lasted this long, and it has been a privilege to work with your sons and daughters.

Goodbye.

Fri May 09, 2014 at 8:17 AM PT: Wow.  I am completely overwhelmed at the response, and at being put in the  Community Spotlight.  Thank you all for your kind encouragement, and especially my brother and sister teachers.  You guys are a class act!

Originally posted to GreenDay on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (230+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Pinto Pony, slowbutsure, blue jersey mom, Leftleaner, BenderRodriguez, Pam from Calif, Thinking Fella, pajoly, Jollie Ollie Orange, rb608, serendipityisabitch, bogbud, sow hat, Dave925, Mary Mike, Jon Sitzman, Sam Hill, kathny, rexxnyc, Pilotshark, mookins, weck, Edge PA, badscience, OregonWetDog, countwebb, afisher, DeminNewJ, northstarbarn, Just Saying, Sun Tzu, dewtx, P Carey, tofumagoo, KBS666, skepticalcitizen, Catte Nappe, JBL55, pimutant, Sybil Liberty, Mr Robert, blueoasis, Polly Syllabic, sandblaster, zerelda, mslat27, Older and Wiser Now, montanajarhead, zeke7237, Cadillac64, Aquarius40, Ripeness Is All, Teiresias70, KayCeSF, METAL TREK, pucklady, Nance, jbsoul, nova602, BMScott, my2petpeeves, get the red out, not a lamb, pixxer, one of 8, polecat, rocketito, jnhobbs, SherwoodB, CJB, Al Fondy, sc kitty, cweb7, Spirit of Life, oaktav, Glen The Plumber, gtnoah, SteelerGrrl, MKinTN, ramara, Patango, cyncynical, jwinIL14, basquebob, johanus, ratcityreprobate, bleeding blue, ontheleftcoast, rodentrancher, fiddler crabby, 47songs, Assaf, Desert Rose, banjolele, SottoVoce, Mlle L, BocaBlue, Elizaveta, Sprinkles, Turbonerd, lcrp, Fonsia, Unitary Moonbat, livjack, jedennis, RJDixon74135, Friend of the court, jjellin, quill, houyhnhnm, TexH, JanL, snoopydawg, on the cusp, rapala, ModerateJosh, nomandates, rhp, George3, kissfan, Oaktown Girl, nuclear winter solstice, bkamr, allie4fairness, WakeUpNeo, northcountry21st, Byblis, vjcalaska, irmaly, thanatokephaloides, worldlotus, OldJackPine, ban48, gfv6800, chimene, looseleaf, Mark Sumner, hulagirl, tardis10, Geenius at Wrok, Koleppski, Question Authority, fToRrEeEsSt, BeninSC, Shippo1776, Joe Hill PDX, jacey, oslyn7, boji, randallt, ipaman, nirbama, peacestpete, LillithMc, Free Jazz at High Noon, 207wickedgood, Temmoku, WheninRome, smrichmond, linkage, CarolinW, sfbaytransplant, Liberal Thinking, Larsstephens, remembrance, Susan from 29, nervousnellie, thatwhichisgood, silentpawz, joe pittsburgh, psnyder, mcartri, annetteboardman, number nine dream, Windowpane, cspivey, elpacifico66, eashep, dicentra, gloriana, Dood Abides, Best in Show, eeff, IamGumby, tikkun, MHB, BobboSphere, northsylvania, Denise Oliver Velez, The grouch, Babsnc, Throw The Bums Out, Ed in Montana, Marihilda, gchaucer2, melo, Rashaverak, Sylv, StrayCat, foresterbob, qofdisks, SanFernandoValleyMom, gulfgal98, fixxit, bewild, Gorette, vahana, la motocycliste, No one gets out alive, LOrion, pdxteacher, hwy70scientist, emal, LakeGirl, leesuh, decisivemoment, Jim M, travelerxxx, Creosote, Mighty Ike, limeyswife, Youffraita, jm214, FindingMyVoice, NWTerriD, Miss Bianca, SoCalSal, Shreve, freelunch
  •  Thank you! (63+ / 0-)

    for your years of service as a teacher.

    I can sympathize with your decision; my mother was a teacher for 37 years, but retired about a decade ago, due to a family health crisis, but she's very glad that she got out before today's emphasis on standardized testing.

    May your new career bring you as much or even more fulfillment!

  •  Congrats GreenDay (46+ / 0-)

    I retired after 25 years, and I don't miss the twice yearly dog and pony show for my evaluations.  I do miss my students, however I still hear from them with updates on their lives, especially on Mothers Day.

    Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

    by Pinto Pony on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:23:45 AM PDT

  •  What makes you think... (23+ / 0-)

    you're going to have 40-hour work weeks in the private sector?!

    Anyway, good luck to you.

    I'll never understand the animosity some have toward teachers, but I guess you're an easy scapegoat.

    It's a shame good teachers are leaving.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:31:50 AM PDT

  •  This country is working hard to destroy public (55+ / 0-)

    education. All three of my kids attended our local public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. They received an excellent education. I am heart sick about what has happened since my youngest graduated from high school 4 years ago. Standardized testing is taking up more and more of the school year, and many experienced teachers have decided to retire. thank you for all your years in the classroom.

    •  I have a child graduating 12th grade and a 10th (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nance, thanatokephaloides, cspivey

      grader. I would recommend that parents who have motivated children go to our local homeschool charter school. The school offers classes at their center for higher mathematics if the student isn't quite ready for community college.

      The community college classes count for college credit and the school weights their grades for their high school transcripts. No AP testing required after killing yourself fo a year. I am watching our highest achieving students compete with the homeschool kids and there is no contest. Those kids leave high school with a more well rounded education that did not focus on test prep and  most of them have their college GE completed. They have also been exposed to more courses so their career goals are more diverse than "Engineer" which is what most of my sons' friends want to do.

      I hate charter schools, but our public schools are getting their asses kicked from all sides unfortunately. I just participated in LCAP meetings to design a plan for moving the district forward and at every meeting the conversation was dominated by ELD students and plans for those kids who are a tiny percentage of the population but a big contributor to test scores.

      "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

      by voracious on Thu May 08, 2014 at 12:01:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure how this helps... (14+ / 0-)
        I hate charter schools, but our public schools are getting their asses kicked from all sides unfortunately.
        I would recommend that parents who have motivated children go to our local homeschool charter school.
        This seems designed to increase the asskicking, by further reducing the enrollment of the public schools.
        •  how this helps (4+ / 0-)
          This seems designed to increase the asskicking, by further reducing the enrollment of the public schools.
          voracious isn't at fault here. (S)he needs to do what is best for hir kids.

          Don't bash the symptom. We need to bash the disease -- "Every Child Left Behind" and "Common exCoriation" at every possible turn. What we, the parents and taxpayers, were promised was: better accountability and better outcomes. What these damnable standardized tests actually got us was witch hunts and far worse outcomes.  (The loss of quality teachers being one of these worse outcomes.)

          "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

          by thanatokephaloides on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:45:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Charter School Teachers Are Unionizing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          qofdisks, Creosote

          That will start to level the playing field.  Why in hell politicians think parents want their children educated by the cheapest teachers charter schools can hire puzzles me.  

          Parents have to make sure their children get the best education possible for them. Some charters provide that and pay their teachers.  Well prepared, extremely bright, and advanced students were not being well taught in schools where inclusion was the school policy. Removing art and music did not serve any students well.  Endless unproductive high stakes testing deny weeks of real education to all students.  Those issues will need to be dealt with in the public classrooms before knowledgeable parents will return their students to public schools.

          Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

          by tikkun on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:12:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You are completely full of crap!!! Troll! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MHB, StrayCat, Maximilien Robespierre

        Public schools kick the crap out of home schoolers and charter school students if you control for economics.

        Even at my tiny high school in rural Iowa, we provide a 12 semester hours of college classes in English and a 16 hours of college level math.

        This is true of pretty much all Iowa high schools.

    •  Hang in there with us, blue jersey mom (16+ / 0-)

      Many of us who no longer have children in public schools are even more interested in the fate of the public school system than we had time to be when we had little kids.  The success of the public school system in our communities determines the quality of our lives as much now as before, from the value of our homes to our safety on the streets, we still need a good public school systems producing well-educated citizens. We're still taxpayers, and the public school systems still belong to US, not to Jeb Bush and the gang of thieves trying to steal them away.

      "Portion of the adolescent prisoners in solitary on Rikers Island who have been diagnosed with a mental illness: 7/10." Tell someone.

      by RJDixon74135 on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:52:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  GOP Wants to Privatize Everything (5+ / 0-)

      Having retired from public school 14-years ago, I can only shake my head as I watch the GOP flush public schools down the toilet.

  •  May I ask which state's students do you serve? (8+ / 0-)

    And do you see this as a national trend among your peers?

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:35:46 AM PDT

  •  I'm six weeks away... (28+ / 0-)

    from the end of a 23 year career in the classroom, building office, and even central office... and I couldn't put it any better!

    Best of luck!  Although we'll both miss the kids, I hope you feel as liberated as I do after what we've endured the past few years and reading the writing on the wall!

    "As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. " Joan Gussow http://paleoplayground.com

    by bogbud on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:51:41 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your work and dedication, GreenDay. (11+ / 0-)

    I have no doubt you'll be deeply missed.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:04:49 AM PDT

  •  Bitterness (38+ / 0-)

    I do not blame you at all.

    I can't help but feel this is the desired outcome of all these reforms -- to purge the system of longtime unionized professional teachers to make room for cheaper, more malleable new "education workers" in non-unionized classrooms.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

    •  I think you hit on it. (15+ / 0-)

        If the current public education system can find a way to purge the experienced educator - and to make the idea of public education abhorrent, so that fewer and fewer go into the field.   Then you will hear Gates, et al rev up their we have an answer...and it's cheap.   Learn at home - no over head (buildings, etc) and no degree needed to talk to kids on the Internet - because that type of conversation - aka challenging the student to think - will not be needed.  Sigh.

    •  The less teachers are paid, the more room for (13+ / 0-)

      profit and executive compensation after schools are sold to the governor's cronies.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Thu May 08, 2014 at 12:29:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tests as conspiracy against teachers??? Seriously? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward, Sparhawk, Be Skeptical

      First - a thank you to this teacher for her service and dedication, and for all the good she has done over many years.  May her retirement be happy, long and healthy.

      As a product and supporter of public education, especially the part about raising taxes to pay teachers well, and supporting unions for all workers of all stripes, I think it is ridiculous to view standardized testing as an affront to teachers and sign of an underlying conspiracy against unions.  

      The desired outcome of standardized testing is to supervise teaching effectiveness by measuring what students learn.  Simple.

      We should have ongoing debates about the tests themselves - choosing measurable learning objectives, and ensuring they map to what teachers are doing throughout the year.  But acting like teacher effectiveness is a subjective thing that other teachers can know without considering objective data collected from students is delusional and self-serving.  I know measuring effectiveness takes time away from teaching, but if the teaching isn't effective, then it really isn't teaching now, is it?  And whether teaching is effective isn't something the teacher can tell without finding out what the student has learned, which requires some sort of test.

      When teachers loose their job because there is no evidence their students are learning what the teacher is supposed to be teaching, it is a good thing for the student.  It opens space for a new teacher to come in using new teaching techniques and skills, and eventually society will hit upon a combination where students succeed.  The old teacher can move on to a new job that they can perform successfully - maybe teaching a different population of students, maybe something different than teaching, but doing something that can be proven to be effective.

      When society has to choose between the interests of teachers and students, we need to defer to the needs of the less powerful of the two - the students.  Increasingly across all professions, performance is becoming measured not by outputs (e.g., number of clinic visits) but by outcomes (e.g., whether the patient's health improves.)  This evolution is not unique to the teaching profession, and is a good thing.  It doesn't matter how much experience a doctor has if her patients don't get better, and doing tests to check patient health outcomes isn't a conspiracy against the doctor - it is elevating the concerns of the patient above the concerns of the doctor, as it should be, because it isn't about how the doctor feels about her doctoring skills - it is about her patient's health.

      I'm sorry if that makes me sound like a jerk, but I truly believe it and nobody else was making this point in this thread.  

      God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

      by Liberal for Life on Thu May 08, 2014 at 01:45:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Vastly oversimplified (31+ / 0-)
        The desired outcome of standardized testing is to supervise teaching effectiveness by measuring what students learn.  Simple.
        The concept, perhaps, but creating and evaluating a test is difficult and expensive.  We cannot operate under the assumption that all tests are valid.  Let me tell you, they are not.  Nor can we assume they measure what students learn.  It sounds neat and clean and convenient, but it is not reality.  Using standardized tests for teacher evaluation is junk science.  It's like evaluating dentists by how many cavities their patients have, while canceling their appointments for checkups.

        I don't think it's a conspiracy, per se, but I do think the testing deluge is motivated in part by for profit companies such as Pearson and ETS, and that there is an element of the reform effort that wants to privatize or voucher-ize (yes, I made that word up) public schools.

        When society has to choose between the interests of teachers and students
        When it HAS to?  You're assuming the only choice is either-or.  We're a society that is responsible to both.
        It doesn't matter how much experience a doctor has if her patients don't get better
        Because the doctor is the ONLY influencing factor on a patient's health, right?
        When teachers loose their job because there is no evidence their students are learning what the teacher is supposed to be teaching, it is a good thing for the student.  It opens space for a new teacher to come in using new teaching techniques and skills, and eventually society will hit upon a combination where students succeed.
        Sorry, no.  This is both naive and wrong.  On a number of levels.

        Your post doesn't make you sound like a jerk - it makes you sound like one of my college education profs, who were all theory and no street smarts.
         

        It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

        by gtnoah on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:09:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, Okay then (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, Be Skeptical

          How can your street smarts be used to evaluate whether students are learning, or not learning, what they need to thrive economically and intellectually?  At least my professional theories are grounded in the scientific method - your street smarts are anecdotal and subjective.  If you can provide your theories (I mean "smarts") are better than mine, do proceed with your evidence and reasoning.  Otherwise, allow me to point out that your rejection of all testing because it isn't always perfect is laughable.  And harmful to children if we go there.

          God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

          by Liberal for Life on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:33:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good teaching is also grounded in science (11+ / 0-)

            and the science tells us the tests are not good measures of teacher effectiveness. Do some research. I'll give you a few names. Linda Darling Hammond. Diane Ravitch. David Berliner. Gerald Bracey.

          •  VAM is not good science (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tikkun, StrayCat, emal

            The American Statistical Association has also cautioned against using these tests to evaluate teachers.

            "ASA warns that VAMs are “complex statistical models” that require “high-level statistical expertise” and awareness of their “assumptions and possible limitations,” especially when they are used for high-stakes purposes as is now common. Few, if any, state education departments have the statistical expertise to use VAM models appropriately. In some states, like Florida, teachers have been rated based on the scores of students they never taught."

          •  There was a good system of evaluation in place (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gulfgal98, emal, DrSpike

            We have Principals.  They would come and visit our classroom a few times a year.  Watch us, give us feedback.  Educators evaluating educators.

            Doctors are certified by a board of doctors.  Police are evaluated by other police.  This might seem like a protective association to an outside observer, but the general public doesn't know how to teach, and can't measure anything outside the experience they have had with their own child.  

            A test can't measure what we do.  I'm sorry if that is frustrating, but it's just true.  Testing companies know this, but they are not going to attack their own bottom line by telling you this.

          •  PMFJI, no one advocated "rejecting all testing" (0+ / 0-)

            But two weeks of testing preceded by three weeks of "test prep" will not measure anything beyond a student's ability to regurgitate rote answers. I started kindergarten in 1945. Even in those days, we had standardized tests - a day or two a year - which pretty accurately revealed how much we had learned.

            This trend toward over-testing is not only a waste of public funds and our children's lives, but yet another insidious move toward the privatization of our essential services.

        •  Re (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal for Life
          It doesn't matter how much experience a doctor has if her patients don't get better

          Because the doctor is the ONLY influencing factor on a patient's health, right?

          It doesn't matter. A doctor who cannot heal patients is completely worthless, regardless of the reasons. They could be the nicest, most studious, hardest working doctor in the world. If patient outcomes don't improve, all of this is worthless.

          Same with teachers. Teachers are paid to turn "kids who can't do math" into "kids who can do math". If that can't be done (for whatever reason), it would be better to just spend the money on fixing potholes or whatever instead of expensive teacher salaries.

          Teachers, like everyone else, need to demonstrate their value proposition. "Can't do my job because too many obstacles in my way" usually translates into "fired" in the private sector. No reason it shouldn't be the same way in the public sector.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:52:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As usual you make generalizations about things (11+ / 0-)

            you have no knowledge of. I want you to go tell the doctors who treat ALS, pancreatic cancer, and a thousand other incurable conditions, that they are completely worthless. Doctors don't actually cure most conditions, as most common conditions resolve without treatment. Any doctor will tell you this.There is nothing your doctor can do to cure the common cold, the flu, or viral pneumonia. What do you say to the teachers who work in special ed? Some of those kids will not be able to master math. BUt we try anyway, just like a good doctor tries to help, even though odds may be way against a cure. You really need to get off your high horse and spend some time with some real people, sparky. Expand your horizons. If teachers can't do their jobs, due to obstacles, they should not be fired. They should be listened to, as respected professionals. In fact, workers in general should be listened to. it's why we need unions. It's why union shops are more productive, pay better, and are much safer than nonunion shops.

            •  Well then the solution is obvious, just (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              StrayCat

              don't work in special ed then.  Oh, and use every tactic you can to get the poorer students and those who are not well performing out of school, including working with police to entrap the students so they can be expelled and jailed.  Or perhaps even plant a bit of weed in their lockers yourself.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:43:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I was wondering when you'd show up. I think I'll (8+ / 0-)

            try another approach with you.

            How do you know the tests are both valid and relevant?  Can you show me the independent reviews that are being used to hold the testing companies accountable for the validity and relevancy of their products?

            YOU are spending a great deal of money on these tests.  How do you know you are getting your tax money's worth from the testing companies?  

            This year, the pricetag will be around $4.5 billion dollars.  

            What if the tests suck?  What if the data we're basing all of our decisions on is invalid and irrelevant?  Not only would that be a complete waste of BILLIONS of dollars, but also think of all the harm that it could do if we're reforming our school system based on crappy, meaningless data.

            Can you prove to me that the tests we are spending billions of dollars on are worth the paper they are written on?

            Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

            by bkamr on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:58:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not to mention (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MHB, tikkun, StrayCat

              ...that the schools themselves don't even know how to interpret or appropriately use whatever results and data they're getting from the tests.

              •  With the Explore test we do get question level (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Liberal for Life, Be Skeptical

                data which is helpful and we get it within a month or so.  As a teacher, I support the Explore, Plan and ACT exams.  They are useful, transparent, and timely. The exams only take a couple of days, and they aren't disruptive.

                The week-long standardized, high stakes tests?  We don't even get the results until well into the Fall of the next year.  

                Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                by bkamr on Fri May 09, 2014 at 03:48:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I was thinking (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tikkun, bkamr

                  mostly about the use of these tests to grade teachers on how well they're doing.   I noted in a comment above that the American Statistical Association has cautioned against using the tests in this way.  In some cases they found that schools were grading teachers work based on the test results of students they didn't have.

                  But on what you're saying, I asked a teacher about results for one of my child's MCAS tests (Massachusetts) and she said she couldn't tell me anything.  She didn't have access to the test questions or my child's answer and could not say why she got the score that she did.

                  •  That is somewhat true about the state standardized (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dicentra, pdxteacher, NWTerriD

                    exams, but not the Explore and Plan tests in the ACT series.  The Explore and Plan have breakdowns by content/ skill and the students get these detailed reports back within 60 days.  

                    The state standardized exams don't get returned until the following Fall!  And, teachers are supposed to even look at the questions ... while we are supposed to circulate upa dn down and all around the entire 6 days ... making sure none of the children are bubbling in the wrong sections of the exams ... while somehow not READING anything we are looking at.  If by chance we do accidently see a question, then we can not tell ANYONE anything or use the knowledge to inform any of our teaching -- or we could lose our licenses and/ or be thrown in jail.  So, your child's teacher was telling you exactly what she is/ was supposed to say.

                    If you want to see Pearson's (or any of the other test companys' high stakes state tests), you can schedule time with the state board of education, drive there, relinquish any devices, may not take notes, and will have to sign a non-disclosure, to see the test your child took.

                    Nice gig the testing companies have, isn't it?  To to the tune of $4.5 BILLION in tax dollars and NO ONE who is allowed to see their products is allowed to say one word about their products.

                    So, were is their proof that their products are valid and/ or reliable?  Who is holding the testing companies accountable?

                    No one.  That's who.

                    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                    by bkamr on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:44:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you, mostly, except (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tardis10, fToRrEeEsSt, Joe Hill PDX, MHB

          for the part where you write you don't think the post makes them sound like a jerk.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:17:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It certainly IS a conspiracy. Test scores are used (12+ / 0-)

          to close public schools and fire the ( older, unionized, more expensive ) teachers and replace them with untrained temporary staff. The purposes of the tests are to generate profit for the testmakers and to erode confidence in public schools, with private ( charter ) schools to the rescue. The stuff about student achievement and teacher effectiveness is just window dressing to make the corporate agenda palatable. I mean, they can't just come out and SAY they want to get rid of public schools, they have to demonize them first, lest the people start to think the corporatists are full of shit. To get people to turn against the schools, you use tests, which poor kids will often do bad on. When schools start to improve their performance, you make the tests more obscure and harder ( base them on common core, for example ). This is far too organized a campaign to NOT be a planned conspiracy.

        •  Nice response! (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry I came in too late to rec.

      •  Testing is NOT serving the (19+ / 0-)

        interests of students.  

        Libraries closed all year because they are being used as testing centers.

        No technology integration because all the computers are being used for testing.

        A few highly tested topics taught and everything else in the curriculum glossed over.

        A hand full of tested subjects get supported and all the non-tested subjects (like science) are neglected.

        How is that serving the interests of students?

        I'm so sick of the deformers, I just don't even feel like arguing anymore.  You all make me think of Donald Rumsfeld and his tanks strewn with roses. Go on with your fairy tales, then, and let all the evils that lurk in the mud hatch out.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:01:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is fucking brilliant. Beautiful. The comments (9+ / 0-)

          by some of the assholes on here are exactly why the diarist quit teaching. Wait til they start testing gym If a kid can't run the mile, fire the gym teacher,but wait, there's no good way to do that with a standardized test I guess. How about every kid has to draw a lifelike portrait? or compose a piece of music? This is ridiculous, and firing teachers and closing public schools and giving more tests is not going to solve our social problems. It will in fact make them worse.

      •  You are assuming the tests are valid and (11+ / 0-)

        relevant to the standards.

        But, I'm allowed to talk about the tests since I'm a teacher, and teachers have to sign a form saying that if we disclose anything about the tests, we lose our licenses.  

        During our training session last week in which we were once again told about all the awful things that could happen to us if we messed up with any of the proctoring requirements or disclosed anything about the tests, and we signed the form, again, I did ask if I was allowed to at least say, "The tests suck."  I got permission to do so (to roars of laughter and applause), so:


        The tests suck!!
         THEY SUCK!!!  THE. TESTS. SUCK!!!!!

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:20:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I taught "disadvantaged, low reading level student (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bkamr, tikkun, StrayCat

          s. Many of them would play "connect the dots" on the scan trons. They just didn't care about the tests and wanted to finish early so they could put their heads down and sleep.
          It was very, very difficult to get them to care about their scores, especially when they really never found out how they did on the tests.

          That is why the tests are meaningless and will always be so. The students never find out how they did and an attempt to explain their scores to them the following Fall was just wasted breath.

          Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

          by Temmoku on Thu May 08, 2014 at 09:11:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "to supervise teaching effectiveness", oh really?? (8+ / 0-)

        and what. pray-tell, is the role of the principal and school board?  I've seen this before, incompetent management substitutes process for oversight.  It makes management easy because they police adherence to process and policy and the buck never stops.

        So, seriously, what is the role of the principal?  Do we really need these high-paid execs to feed test scores into a plug-and-chug evaluation system?  Isn't that something more appropriate for a high-school intern?

        So yeah, you may be correct in that the tests aren't a conspiracy against the teachers, but you miss that they really just enable play-time for educational bureaucrats.  After all, with all of this testing, where does the buck stop...???

        People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

        by ban48 on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:54:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  IF... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, eashep, dicentra, IamGumby, StrayCat

        If the test truly reflect outcomes in the long term.  Your argument says that al college students need to take the SAT to determine if they have learned enough to participate in college level work.  Trouble is they do not correlate well with success in college. Interestingly, GRADES are a better marker.  YUP, that thing the teachers give as an indication of whether or not the student has learned something.  Since there is a correlation between the grades and outcomes why are they not use?  Why testing which has a far less proven correlation.

        If the data shows outcomes that are improved then we can have a conversation.  But if there is little correlation between success after school and the testing regiment then what is the purpose?  I sympathize with wanting to do what is best for our kids.  I also sympathize with getting rid of ineffective teachers.

        But the present testing regime takes for granted the tests efficacy in determining learning of the type we want, and it takes for granted a large cohort of teachers that are "ineffective."  Currently I do not buy either of these assumptions.  There are any number of excellent studies that show conclusively correlations between student success and teacher preparation - not effectiveness - but the access they have to teaching methods and support.  There are also plenty of studies that show the interface with the community makes a difference.

        The bottom line is that grades seem to give a good picture of the student.  Helping teachers understand the instructional levels and content levels across cohorts will allow them to better refine expectations and assign even more meaningful grades.  Why not just let them do their jobs instead of blindly assuming they are not doing their jobs?

      •  You are not a "product." Neither are students. (13+ / 0-)

        I have to swallow the urge to go off on your, I'm sure, well-meaning but massively clueless post.

        I know measuring effectiveness takes time away from teaching, but if the teaching isn't effective, then it really isn't teaching now, is it?

        Know these two things:

        (1) What these tests claim to measure, they do not in fact measure.  I'm not going to slather on the footnotes here, but just educate yourself. Start with The Mismeasure of Education. Then read all of Diane Ravitch's stuff. Consult FairTest. Check out any number of papers from the scholarly press from the math geeks. These tests are snake oil.

        (2) This is being driven, not by educators nor by those who are sympathetic to the cause of excellent free public education. It is being driven by Pearson et al., corporations who wish to destabilize public education in order to privatize and further profit from it.  They loot public education for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks.

        The rest of what you typed above is a level below mere ignorance; it's toxic waste, e.g.

        When society has to choose between the interests of teachers and students, we need to defer to the needs of the less powerful of the two - the students.

        Bullshit. Steaming, odoriferous bullshit. Worse; corporate-propaganda-generated bullshit.

        The interests of teachers and the interests of students are precisely aligned: excellent, free, public education in a society that doesn't whitewash its savage inequalities by blaming its structural injustice on teachers, students, and parents.

        You know what? Go work in a school as a teacher for a minimum of five years and get some clue, some peripheral idea, some hint of a grasp of what is going on there.

        Until then, I don't ask for your support. I'd simply like you to think twice before re-inscribing the poisonous lies of the greedy little hustlers that have already made all of our lives much less than they should be.

        For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

        by Joe Hill PDX on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:53:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Weird dynamic here - I don't get it (0+ / 0-)

          I think thou doth protest too much - is your outsized objection to measuring student achievement as a gauge of teacher effectiveness just an example of the old "kill the messenger" defense mechanism?  

          What is the solution here for identifying good and bad teachers?  I hear we at best should rely on the subjective judgments of principals.  How do parents know if their principal sucks?  How do we know they don't favor their friends over those who are different from them culturally?  Won't they just make judgments of teacher effectiveness based on their personal beliefs and professional opinions?  How do we know if they are wrong or right?  Where do outcomes come into play?

          Clearly, existing tests aren't perfect - some are good and some are bad.  Also, everybody knows many things factor into student success - factors within the family, within the community, and idiopathic to the students.  All need to be taken into account when measuring student achievement and linking it to teacher effectiveness.  We need to ensure all teachers receive the training and resources needed to be effective.

          Teachers better get with the program that the bottom line isn't that they're doing what they and their principal believes to be effective in teaching students.  All that matters is whether students are learning.  And society will hold them accountable in the long run, along with all the other players and forces that contribute or inhibit student success.

          Perhaps a more important discussion is how to properly address dysfunctional teaching systems in a way that is respectful and constructive for teachers whose students aren't learning.  I am hearing a lot of frustrated teachers wanting to quit the system as soon as possible, hanging on in a burned-out state.  I feel bad for them.  But I feel MORE bad for the students who are starting their lives without the basic education needed to thrive economically, socially, intellectually, and creatively.  

          I don't think we can reform our broken system of public education without measuring student achievement.  Measuring the right things accurately is a worthwhile question to explore, and let's reform those tests that have been proven to be awful .  Let's build the arsenal of evidence-based teaching strategies, such as the SAMHSA NREPP does for behavioral health interventions, and adopt them widely.  Let's retrain teachers who are identified as not able to increase their student's academic achievement.

          But please, if you are a teacher so bitter and burned out that you can't deal with the fact that, ultimately, your effectiveness won't be measured by what you do but by what you accomplish, then retire now, and make room for all those newly minted graduates looking for jobs in this horrible economy.  Yes, things have changed since the old days - which you remember fondly in spite of all the students failed in those days.  But if students aren't learning what you're teaching in your classroom, your inability to listen to feedback and respond with new teaching techniques is a disservice to youth no matter who you think is conspiring to make you change how you teach.

          And with this post, I hope to exit the field of educational advisor and wag.  I was hoping for a more enlightening exchange.  I work in the health services field, and we focus on outcomes.  I think people advocating for educational reform that includes achievement measurement are coming from where I am - we're not shills from Big TestCorp. Clearly, the KOS elementary/industrial complex (kidding) is strong and thinks measuring outcomes can't be done.  

          You've killed this particular messenger.  You proven that you can deconstruct standardized testing until the cows come home, and not learn or change a thing.  

          Good for you!  

          For students and society at large who expect demonstrable results - not so much.

          God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

          by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:47:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK. You have a lot of strong opinions (5+ / 0-)

            and I get the impression you generally mistrust teachers and schools.  

            I don't know you at all, so can you tel me how you are connected to education?  If you are a part of the profession with some inside knowledge and experience, I'm just curious as to what angle you're coming from.  

            If you're not in the profession, or haven't spent any significant time in a classroom, there's no way you could know whether testing is effective or not.  There's no way for you to even know how to measure learning.

            I generally avoid exchanges like this, but since I am leaving after next week, allow me to be completely honest.

            For the record, quotes like this one:

            Teachers better get with the program that the bottom line isn't that they're doing what they and their principal believes to be effective in teaching students.  All that matters is whether students are learning.  And society will hold them accountable in the long run, along with all the other players and forces that contribute or inhibit student success.
            are a major reason I'm leaving the profession.  since you seem to have all the answers about how to positively improve education, teaching and learning, get your certificate and get in a classroom.

            Seriously.  You teach them.  Then you'll discover how uninformed you really are.

            •  P.S. There's an opening at my school (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              travelerxxx, FindingMyVoice, NWTerriD

              I'll put in a good word for you.

            •  Kinder and gentler post (0+ / 0-)

              I don't mistrust teachers or schools - I was married to a teacher for many years, greatly respect the profession and value learning above most other pursuits.  I work in the field of professional development for health services providers, and my perspective is that we monitor closely the effectiveness of training events through pre- and post-tests and subjective evaluations.  It is vital the learning is achieved because lives are at stake.  I insist that curricula include the appropriate measurable learning objectives, something a shocking number of educators weren't trained to do but can learn with some training.  I realize that it isn't the same as teaching in elementary or secondary schools, but there are similarities.  

              I never claimed to have all the answers, so frankly that is a straw man argument.  There are plenty of unemployed certified teachers looking for work right now, so you don't have to demand I walk in your shoes in order to voice an opinion on public education standards.  Plenty of people are pro-reform and ready to take up your challenge to "Seriously.  You teach them."  Quit, and they will.

              But I am not so arrogant as to think your frustration at outsiders who dare question your effectiveness through trying to measure student achievement isn't based on some really dysfunctional dynamics within the current system, and your hurt is genuine and justified.  The law of unintended consequences reigns strongly here, and until we get it right we'll get it wrong.  

              I'm just saying we need to measure student achievement, and use that as a primary factor in measuring teacher effectiveness.  How that so infuriates teachers surprises me, but that it infuriates so many reveals a lot below the surface that probably isn't really about the tests - things you allude to I would know about if I were part of the system.  The problems below the surface should be identified and fixed.  Even the tests can be fixed.  But teachers who are indignant about having their performance scrutinized, and threaten to pick up their toys and go home if they are displeased, are another problem altogether - probably not fixable.

              Happy retirement - sincerely.  I'm sure you've impacted the lives of thousands of students in positive ways, and people like you are an asset to society.  And sorry the standardized tests haven't gone down as intended - the road forward isn't always smooth and devoid of missteps and detours, but we need to keep advancing nevertheless.

              God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

              by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:59:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Kinder and Gentler, but no less condescending (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                emal, travelerxxx

                "I work in the field of professional development for health services providers, and my perspective is that we monitor closely the effectiveness of training events through pre- and post-tests and subjective evaluations."

                Health care is a mess.  I don't believe your professional development is up to snuff.  I need you to justify to me why you shouldn't be evaluated with outside measures (I'll design them) and patient outcomes.  Scratch that.  Health care professional better get their act together before the public holds them accountable in the future.

                "Plenty of people are pro-reform and ready to take up your challenge to "Seriously.  You teach them."  Quit, and they will"

                You know this how, exactly? The teacher shortage is looming.  We can't even find enough subs right now.  

                Your kinder, gentler post then tells the diarist this:

                "But teachers who are indignant about having their performance scrutinized, and threaten to pick up their toys and go home if they are displeased, are another problem altogether - probably not fixable."

                Pure condescension.  Complete arrogance.  

                I was wrong in my post above, and you were right.  You really do sound like a jerk.

                It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

                by gtnoah on Fri May 09, 2014 at 02:52:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sigh (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobtmn

                  Healthcare IS a mess, especially for the poor and under privileged.  That is why we educate providers to address health disparities more effectively, AND HOLD OURSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO THE OUTCOMES of our trainings through participant achievement testing.

                  Public education is also a mess, especially for the poor and under privileged.  That is why you should be willing to hold teachers, principals, and everyone involved in education accountable to educational outcomes through student achievement assessment. Yet strangely you don't do that.

                  You present no constructive alternatives for society to ensure that our children are properly educated in the public schools.  Just defensive vitriol.  Then you end your comment with personal insults all because I expect your teaching to produce measurable changes in student performance.

                  Yeah - I'm an arrogant jerk and you're a terrific teacher.  Believe that.  And when students don't succeed in your classroom, believe something is wrong with them, their families, or their communities. Or the test is flawed. Don't look within, and don't change a thing. You're fine.  Everybody else is the problem - especially those outsiders.  That's not arrogant at all.

                  God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

                  by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:24:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Soooo... YOU get to hold YOURSELVES accountable (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    emal, NWTerriD

                    But principals, districts and teachers can't be trusted to do the same thing.

                    Secret for you: we already held ourselves accountable.  Just not to your arbitrary, uninformed, out of touch idea of how it should be done.

                    Don't particularly care if you think you know better.  Keep on being "liberal" for life! (In between sighs)

                    It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

                    by gtnoah on Fri May 09, 2014 at 07:13:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Demonstrated objectives (0+ / 0-)

                One of the big problems is that most state curricula and most textbooks in use are written without defined behavioral objectives - i.e. what behavior will indicate to the teacher that the student has mastered the lesson? As a matter of fact, many of the textbooks and teachers' guides that I've seen are in bad condition and out of date.

                If the lesson plans, textbooks and test were coordinated so that the skills objectives were taught and demonstrated as a matter of course, the outcome would be much better and there would be no need for the extensive prepping that takes place in so many schools today. But up-to-date texts would cost money. Would they cost as much as the tests?

          •  To Liberal for Life (0+ / 0-)

            You wrote: "I was hoping for a more enlightening exchange", but the evidence tells me you were hoping for a debate. Over and over, you responded to other contributors as if they had assumed positions in exact opposition to yours (i.e. "no testing at all" versus "all testing is good").

            That's the trouble with so much public dialogue these days - it consists of people debating their entrenched views - not discussing, not learning from each other - just trying to "win".

    •  I am afraid you may be right (0+ / 0-)

      and I do feel guilty for giving up the fight, letting them win.  I've just seen too many colleagues walking out of education in pieces, physically or otherwise, and there are other things I want to do in life.

  •  My wife is counting down the years (16+ / 0-)

    Just a couple more years to retirement.  She has seen the same things you have.   She would agree completely with what you have written, and I've heard similar things from her.  Just very sad how things have changed in just the last decade.  I think many of the problems began with No Child Left Behind, but they were changing even before that.  Everything comes down to money and exactly where they can cut funds that do the least damage.  Then the next year they cut what they didn't cut the year before.  And so on.  And if the half-starving parental-abused desperately poor kids don't get a 'proficient' on their tests, then there are more cuts and more retributions.  Until Republicanism is completely swept out of this country, going into teaching is a really bad decision.

    "In 20 years, the GOP will be small enough to drown in a bathtub." - me

    by estamm on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:41:14 AM PDT

  •  My oldest niece (18+ / 0-)

    has been a teacher for 23 years (4th/5th grade, depending on which they need more) -- it's been her only career since she graduated from college. At recent family functions, she's started talking about looking forward to retirement, and she's only in her mid 40s so she's got about 20 more years ahead of her. And she's an excellent teacher; no nonsense but the type that parents ask the school if their younger children can have her after their older child has gone through the class.

    An educated populace is a necessity to deal with the problems facing us as a nation and a world. It might be up to the parents of the future to supplement their children's schooling with outside activities in order for those kids to get a full education -- and those without the time, talent or resources are going to be stuck.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:41:40 AM PDT

    •  My sister (0+ / 0-)

      has been a public school teacher for about 20 years, and before that she worked in a variety of other education settings. She is very prominent in her state's educational network -- appointed to commissions, speaks at public events, mentors new and struggling teachers, has been awarded a stipended "chair," you name it.

      By any measure you choose, she is in the upper echelon of those recognized as outstanding public educators. I always enjoy listening to her talk about her work because every story she tells reveals her mastery of her profession -- strategies, conversations, approaches that have clearly been honed to brilliance over the years. I'm a teacher too, but I'm using her as an example because I came to the teaching late and don't have the accomplishments she has.

      In a recent conversation, we were discussing how the demands and expectations placed (heaped) on teachers are changing -- every year there are more and more new initiatives and programs put on our plates, higher expectations, needier students, and fewer resources with which to meet the increased challenges. She said, "This year, for the first time in my teaching career, I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to be able to keep doing this until I reach retirement age."

      My sister is one of the best of the best. If what is happening in education is so extreme that it has driven her to question her profession, this country should be ashamed of itself.

      "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

      by NWTerriD on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:56:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You and Good Luck. (5+ / 0-)

    Yet it's sad to see good teachers such as yourself leaving such an honorable profession because of the unsustainable degradations being imposed on them and the entire public school teaching profession. I'm sure your students will miss you.

    I am proud to be able to say that I got the chance to vote for Ann Richards for Governor of Texas, twice!

    by dewtx on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:43:34 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    For your service. I'm sorry for the nonsense.

    Why have more than one standardized test? I understand wanting to have some measure of students progress but why so many?

  •  Excellent first diary (4+ / 0-)

    It sounds to me that leaving is the right decision for you and I wish you the best of luck in your new job.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:56:13 AM PDT

  •  Super 1st diary by the way (4+ / 0-)

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Thu May 08, 2014 at 12:32:10 PM PDT

  •  Well said. (9+ / 0-)

    "I didn't give it up.  It was taken from me."

  •  Your diary almost made me cry. What is (10+ / 0-)

    happening to our schools is a tragedy of huge proportions. Thank you for 19 years of your life doing good work, and for your important diary. Enjoy your weekends!

  •  Don't know where you teach (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, thanatokephaloides, linkage

    but I know you will be sorely missed.  My son (finishing up 10th grade) has had a mix of teachers over the years, some wonderful, some just okay, and thankfully only one or two that he really did not care for.  His absolutely worst experience was in grade school (4th or 5th grade) with a teaching intern - someone on the cusp of entering the profession.  She really was a terrible teacher - played favorites, yelled at the kids (but only when the actual teacher was out of the room) and for the final half of the year (when she was basically in control of the classroom), I considered it a complete waste of every student's time.  

    Teachers who have stuck with the profession because they believe in the kids and in the original goal of teaching are fading out.  I don't blame you for moving on.  On behalf of my son, I thank you for giving your all and wish you the very best in your new career.

  •  Great first diary (6+ / 0-)

    Good luck with the new job. I'm sure you'll be missed and pretty darn sure your experience will be sorely missed.

    We have one child, who is in private school, and it is a situation I never would have guessed we would choose. There are good reasons (health reasons) why we went that direction with her but - I have to say - her neighborhood friends who attend the public school tell me that they hate school. (3rd grade - mind you!). When I ask them why? To a child, they tell me they hate the tests. My response has been to commiserate with them and tell them to get used to it. It's not going anywhere anytime soon!

     I've also heard private school parents use it as an excuse for their decision to avoid pubilc schools and whether that's true or not I cannot say. At this point, it does seem to be a valid point no matter what side of the issue you land on.

  •  Also in Washington - and I understand, my friend (5+ / 0-)

    If only I weren't so damned stubborn I would follow your pathway out of teaching as well.  I know quite a few people in my district who made the same decision for the same reasons.

    Sorry to lose you, but appreciate your service and sacrifice, colleague.  All my best to you in life after teaching.

    It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

    by gtnoah on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:01:27 PM PDT

    •  If possible, try to wait until you are eligible (6+ / 0-)

      for your pension. In many states, you can retire on full pension after 30 yrs or at age 60 if you have more than 10 yrs in by that time. Georgia teachers cannot collective bargain and that state is awful for teachers in that most have to pay a lot of their benefits out of pocket in the past few years.  But my sister waited it out until she could get the full retirement package while many of her colleagues left one district for another and then another..and found the grass is not always greener on the other side.  She said she was determined to try to stay in her particular high school where she had a nice classroom, faculty who were also friends and a supportive and good principal. She had it good there, but if they had tried to transfer her, she said she would have taken early retirement.

      For those that can tough it out, it is possible to retire in your 50s on full pension in public schools if you can get the yrs in or retire at 60 etc.  

      My sister did not want to have to leave teaching and be forced to get another fulltime job so she waited it out even though the last few yrs have been tough on them with the  teachers pay and benefits being cut.. But then again, my sister is single with no kids and just herself to support in retirement, makes a big difference too as she needs less to live on. Plus single people living alone have to try to stick it out in any job as long as possible as they have no safety net, nothing or no one to fall back on.

      Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

      by wishingwell on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:35:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The only reason (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        travelerxxx

        why my wife has not left the classroom already is her pension. She has about 10 years left now, and has spent her entire career in Title I schools. I would like to see her spend the remaining years of her career in a more mainstream school but I doubt that the atmosphere will be much better in one of those. The conditions that the diarist has described are, purely and simply, the results of an ongoing systematic effort to de-professionalize public education. It's working. They're winning. We're losing.

        •  Yes that is why my sister decided to tough it out, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MHB

          stay put, get through the rough times and plug away until she got her 30 yrs in and now she can retire completely with full pension at the age of 55.  So few can do that.

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

          by wishingwell on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:40:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wishingwell

            My wife will also be lucky enough to retire while she's still young enough to pursue something else if she chooses - something more fulfilling without the money pressure. Sadly, I don't think that will be a reality for many teachers younger than her.

            •  Yes and in my sister's case, she wants to move (0+ / 0-)

              back to the northeast near family after living down south for 30 years. Then she says the pension at least pays her bills until she decides where to move and gets settled. Then she may decide to a part time job that she can do more for enjoyment and a little extra money instead of having to work fulltime.

              Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

              by wishingwell on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:32:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Congrats on your 19 yrs and retirement from public (6+ / 0-)

    schools. Thanks for your hard work and dedication. My sister retires this year after 30 yrs. She is only 55.  She said she will not return as a sub to the same school as that would be too hard, to see someone else in her classroom. She says she will really miss the kids, the faculty, even the administration as one of her best friends became Principal a few years ago. They were fellow teachers and he was fortunate enough to get the principals job in a school where he was well known and well respected. She had a very good thing going there and she loved it at that particular school.

    But she also did not like all of the testing and how things had changed but not for the better in the past 30 yrs.

    Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

    by wishingwell on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:15:58 PM PDT

  •  Wow is your new position in a private school or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, GreenDay

    college?  What state do you live in , if you are ok with telling us? I was wondering because in my state, public school teachers still make more than a lot of associate professors at colleges around here and they make a lot more than private sector educators of any kind.

    I was offered a job in the private sector.  It's an entry level position.  Amazingly, it still means I'll make more than I do now, even with 19 years experience and a Master's Degree in Poli Sci.
    I was curious because in my state, teachers still earn a better salary and workers a better salary if they are public and/or state employees. That of course will change if we do not get a Democratic governor again here soon.

    Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

    by wishingwell on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:19:59 PM PDT

    •  My new job is not in education (0+ / 0-)
      •  Ok, now I understand and that makes sense as (0+ / 0-)

        here I thought it was in private sector educational job of some sort.  The pay for private schools is just awful, i tried that years ago. I loved working in adult education but that also paid considerably less than public school teaching.

        But private sector outside of education, that explains it and I wish you the very best. I hope you like and enjoy your new job. Best wishes !

        Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

        by wishingwell on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:42:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My 1st diary still awaits, but TY raising the bar. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, tardis10

    :-)

  •  Your story brings tears to my eyes. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, thanatokephaloides, GreenDay

    I also thank you for your work as a teacher and feel sad the teaching profession is going to lose you. I'm a retired teacher myself, but only because I had to retire a couple years earlier than I wanted because of medical issues.

    I wish I knew what the answer was to this problem. I do not think the answer is to divide children up into chartered/privileged schools for the sake of, well,  dividing children by class. If anything, inclusion has a better chance of educating more.

    I miss the children, too. Watching them interact was a treasure. Being witness to their progress within a school year is a teachers reward. It's what keeps you coming back, if you can.

    Best of luck to you, dear teacher. I have a feeling that even in your new private employment, as you have done today, you will continue to educate.

  •  I'm retiring in 4 weeks after 30 years. (10+ / 0-)

    I could have gone a couple more years, but the work that I loved so much has become burdensome and the policies are wrong headed. As everyone says, I will miss the kids, but I won't miss the BS.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:32:50 PM PDT

    •  2 more years for me. (7+ / 0-)
      I could have gone a couple more years, but the work that I loved so much has become burdensome and the policies are wrong headed. As everyone says, I will miss the kids, but I won't miss the BS.
      This is how I feel.  I've been at it 38 years.  I simply love the kids and my content area.  It seems I spend a lot of time on requirements that aren't really meaningful in terms of the kids really learning.  My administration treats me with respect, but the public bashing does get depressing.  I hope to go 2 more years so I can collect Soc. Sec. as my pension is not sufficient to live on.  

      Counting down the last 5 weeks of school so I can recharge over the summer and learn some new tricks of the trade.

      Thank you, Green Day, for the diary.  I think you speak for a lot of us here!

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:09:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very sad story; I'm sure you were an excellent (6+ / 0-)

    and dedicated teacher.

    Cynical profiteers view public education as a ripe target for privatization.  To that end, they sell the public relentlessly on the false notion that the people to whom they entrust their children are greedy, overpaid, and lazy.  They eliminate music, art, theater, gym classes, field trips and other humanizing and enriching experiences that enhance student interest and outcomes; in favor of endless testing that is making big money for the companies that market and grade the tests.  

    Like other work that has been stolen from experienced, unionized, dedicated, local professionals, a for-profit model will turn students into commodities to be exploited for dollars.  Under-qualified people will be paid little and with insufficient supervision or guidance will be put in charge of larger classes.  I predict a lot of turnover, and a huge loss to our children.  

    Once people realize what we have lost it will be next to impossible to reclaim our public schools.  A very sad situation.

    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    by SottoVoce on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:43:35 PM PDT

  •  13 days of standardized testing? (7+ / 0-)

    I'm not a teacher, and I have no kids, so I had no idea that testing had gotten that ridiculous.

    Could you (or any other teacher posting here, for that matter) give a list of the types of tests & their duration that you have to administer in a typical year?

    When I was in school (many moons ago) I can't recall having more than the PSAT during my sophomore year and the ACT & SAT during junior year.  But then the ACT & SAT exams were all-day Saturday tests, so we didn't sacrifice actual class time.  Maybe we had state-level testing in certain grades (4th? 8th?), but I don't really recall this in high school.

    I'm asking because guys like me typically don' t think the testing issue is all that big of a deal, but the "13 days" figure made my jaw drop.  That's ridiculous and just awful.

    •  Well, I guess it's okay to just list all the tests (5+ / 0-)

      the kids have to take:
      - 2 days EXPLORE Test  (8th and now, 6th graders, too)
      - 3 days of STAR testing (1 at the beginning, 1 in the middle and 1 at the end of the year - math & reading tests)
      - 3 days of Scantron testing (math, language arts, and reading tests)
      - 5 days of state standardized testing.
      Total = 13 days of standardized testing = 7% of the total instructional time

      Oh, and THE TESTS SUCK!

      Testing Cost?  As best as I've been able to figure is that it is at least $75 per student for just the Explore and state standardized tests.

      My budget to run a science class at the 8th grade level is 89 cents per student per YEAR.

      My science textbooks are 13 years old. (If you think we should/ could go digital, not all the kids have devices and our bandwidth can hardly support 25% of the teachers using the internet at the same time.)

      That's a pretty messed up situation IMO.

      That said, we have a terrific school, judged to be one of the top 10 out of 2000 in our state, last year. :)  BTW Test scores were only one way we got in the top 10, but our scores are very good. (Our Free & Reduced Lunch population is at 40% and this demographic regularly scores well above national avg. for all students. This is unusual, and is one of the reasons why our scores are so high.)

      Why are we succeeding? Lots of things:
      - We have an arts program that is simply incredible.  65% of our 1300 student body are in the band, orchestra or choir.  We have a full orchestra, 6 regular bands, and a jazz group that is wonderful.  
      - We have Pep Rallies for our Academic Teams and our sports teams -- all of which win most of the time.  Our Robotics Team won state, and it goes on and on in terms of winning teams.  This is where our PTSO and parents come in.  They are fantastic supporters.  
      - We can do these things because our kids sell everything from bread to mums, I think our principals spend 1/2 their time begging money from local businesses/ writing grants, and too many of our teachers spend upwards of $1-2000 out of our own pockets on supplies/ lab materials.  
      - EVERY teacher in our building has at least their Masters degree and we averaged 16 years of experience, last year. 15% of our faculaty are National Board certified.  All of our science teachers have a BS in science. About 1/3 of us worked in private industry in science before becoming teachers.
      - In addition to an hour of the standard subjects each day, our kids 1 1/2 hours of unified arts classes per day in things like art appreciation, music appreciation (if you're not in an insturmental or voice class), drama, dance, Spanish is required for every student 6th - 8th, horticulture, PE, health, literary analysis, and on and on.  We're also organized into the Middle School model of core subject "families" of students with the same 4 core subject teachers, so our 1300 student school feels like a small school for students and parents.  

      So, it's still doable, but it is getting more and more difficult.

      Our school district is an entire county, and I think part of our success is that from our Superintendent and Board on down to our Principal, they do everything they can to shield us from as much crap as they can and scrape together whatever they can in terms of resources. As teachers, we pretty autonomous and work closely with our cross family teams to crete strong relationships with our students and their parents.  We collaborate closely with content team members to share the load on designing and developing good lessons to implement the curriculum standards.  For example, we've already fully shifted to the new science standards in the first year.  No one micromanages us within our classrooms.  Our Principal's belief is: "Try your best to hire the best and get the hell out of their way."

      In other words, except for the freaking 7% of instructional time we have to spend on the tests (THEY SUCK), we're pretty much operating like school used to.  Hmmmm.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:34:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm on a PTA board for an elementary school (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bkamr, StrayCat

        in Seattle and I see the same thing at our school.  

        Even at the elementary level we have more standardized testing than I had in high-school. The 3-5 graders just had state level testing (I could be wrong). It's computer based so we can only do one class at a time in the library and it takes 3 weeks to get through it. For 3 weeks no library, no talking in the halls, no recess on the lower playground. Then there is the 3 times a year MAPS testing for everyone.

        Our PTA raises the funds for music, arts, tutors and we also give all of our teachers supply money ($500/year/classroom). It's been getting progressively harder for us to raise funds. More competition for grants. Businesses are getting hit by everyone.

        It's all a set up for failure!!
        1. Insist the public schools are failing
        2. Take money away from the teachers so they lack resources to teach.
        3. Give the money to the testing companies so we can prove that the schools are failing.
        4. Blame teachers for bad results.

        Thanks for sticking in there for so long.

        •  You forgot: (0+ / 0-)

          5. Set up charter schools that get state funding PLUS beaucoup bucks from the billionaires

          6. Don't require the charters to take on special ed, students with behavioral issues, etc., but give them the same level of state funding anyway (in addition to the billionaire bucks).

          7. Exempt the charters from the testing mandates imposed on the public schools, so there's no real basis for comparing results.

          8. Cherry pick statistics to highlight any charter school successes while ignoring the failures

          9. After you've cut education funding every year for 5 straight years, blame the public schools for their "failure," and impose the "remedy" of closing down the public school and sending the kids to charters instead, because charter schools are so much more "successful" than the public schools. (Have I mentioned lately how loathsome the Obama administration's education policies are?)

          None of this helps the kids, but it does meet the 2 primary goals of current education policy:

          1. Spend less money educating kids of the non-elite.

          2. If we do have to keep putting tax dollars into "government education," then at least get as many as possible of those dollars into the hands of for-profit businesses.

          "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

          by NWTerriD on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:16:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Who is doing this to you? (0+ / 0-)

        This is a real eye opener for me.  I had no idea.

        Are all these tests mandated by the state, or does the school board impose some of this on you?

        Do you know if private schools have to do these tests as well?

        Also, do I understand you correctly that all 8th graders have to take all of these tests?  Wow.

    •  This year's testing included (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      travelerxxx

      Three separate RBAs - Reading based Assessments

      One WBA - Writing Based Assessment

      These were taken by the entire 5th - 11th grades.  We will never see the results, nor do we even know where the results went.

      The SBAC - new "Smarter Balance" testing,  This was district wide.  It is an all online test.  The state's computer system crashed the day we were to take it, so it had to be rescheduled and we lost another day.  On that day, the batteries in the iPads used at younger grades went dead before the test could be completed.

      ASVAB - Armed Services Verbal Aptitude Battery

      PSAT - given to all juniors.  Takes four class periods.

      I know I'm forgetting some.  It was a blur of tests this year, spaced out in such a way that we could rarely get an intact week just to teach.

      This in addition to all of the days students miss for EVERYTHING else.  Sports, assemblies, class meetings, field trips, illnesses and family vacations.

      For those who still support testing as a tool to evaluate teachers, understand that we don't have our students in class regularly enough to establish a rhythm, or to teach what the Common Core calls for.  Think about it, you're testing more, and teaching less.  What do you expect to happen?

  •  I'm a volunteer in two public schools and have (5+ / 0-)

    great respect for teachers. One has become a good friend, and appreciates me as a colleague. I tell them all that I do have a credential, but haven't used it in many years, but I've wound up being an "auxiliary teacher" anyway! (I run a schoolyard habitat on two campuses and act as a naturalist aide/docent for kids and teachers.)

    It always bugged me when I heard teachers being criticized in that kneejerk way we often hear.  

     Thanks for your "pedagogy," and good luck, friend.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:53:17 PM PDT

  •  Thank you! (6+ / 0-)

    As a teacher for 25 years, I understand completely.  Thanks so much for your years of service to the kids.

  •  I am completing my 18th year (11+ / 0-)

    and while I have resigned from my current district I have signed to teach another year in an adjacent district, and realistically, even though I turn 68 two weeks from tomorrow, I honestly expect to teach for another 5 years, even more if I can do so with integrity.

    The testing is insane.

    We are now at the end of four solid weeks of testing

    - two weeks of APs
    - one week of Maryland High School Assessments
    - one week of senior finals

    as of Monday, May 5, we realistically saw meaningful NEW instruction coming to an end, even though our seniors remain in school through May 29, and our underclassman through June 18 (because of days added to end of year because of weather, even though tests except for underclass finals did not move).

    too many tests

    too much time on preparing for, taking, and reviewing tests, including "benchmarks" designed to give "data" supposedly to guide instruction, realistically to guide test prep.

    Here's the odd thing -  the test including AP are not really an accurate indicator of what students know and can do - no test relying upon multiple choice items can ever fully be such.

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:53:56 PM PDT

  •  Goodbye? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, boji, GreenDay, jedennis

    I most certainly hope that "goodbye" was to your beloved students and not your fellow Kossacks.

    I, for one, enjoy having you around hereabouts.......

    :-)

    "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

    by thanatokephaloides on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:37:44 PM PDT

  •  How do we stop the attacks on teachers? The common (0+ / 0-)

    core is going to be the whipping boy for this election. Like anything, it has its good and bad things. If we lose it as a tool, we have lost billions of dollars in concerted effort because of the testing companies.

    Students and teachers need to have effective, cheap, and usable assessments that allow us teachers and parents to determine if students are learning.

    Teachers care, so punishing or rewarding teachers based on student test scores is ridiculous. Great research shows that this type of pay structure leads to losses in education, and it has for 200 years.

    Tomorrow is the last day of Teacher appreciation day. Please, go thank a teacher.

  •  I retired early, 10 years ago. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenDay

    It was time.

    I miss the students and still plan lessons in my dreams.
    I do not miss all the chickenshit.

    I love how everyone "pretends" that testing shows what a student can do, or that it is an "indicator" of a student's ability or potential. Everyone should be lucky to teach Low Motivated students and then explain to me how their test scores reflect their learning. Especially after watching them connect to dots on a scantron or finish an hour test in less than 5 minutes without reading the questions. Going over and erasing the answers and making the student do it over does NOT work.
    Neither does a snake at half-time or a candy bar to everyone who takes the test seriously....they know how to play the ganme and they know the scores does not affect them in the least because they don't ever learn their scores ....not really, because the teachers don't get the scores until the year ends and the parents don't get an idea of what their child scored until the Fall Parent-Teacher Conference. And the results are  meaningless to them anyway.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Thu May 08, 2014 at 09:24:01 PM PDT

  •  Teaching and learning have lost their joy. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Windowpane, GreenDay

    When I was a girl in the 1960s and 70s, I loved going to school, loved learning, loved seeing my friends everyday and thought the world of my teachers (even the overly perfumed teacher who looked a lot like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke).  I did well in most subjects and struggled in others, but at no time did I feel excessive stress or anxiety about school, homework or tests.  If my grades dropped, I worked harder and my parents and teachers helped me.

    What I see now with our child is frustration and worry about how he will do on the MSP tests.  He's ten and his grades are fine, but the preparation and drilling for the tests are wearing.  One night he woke up in a panic, came to my side of the bed to tell me he thought he was failing.  He's ten!

    We are fortunate to have a teacher with over 25 years experience who met with us and him to reassure him.  She has also done an amazing job finding a balance in the classroom so he still enjoys going to school and learning.  I am concerned about his future when he has a teacher with less experience or worse still, one who has lost her/his joy for teaching and my son knows it.

    Thank you for your diary.

  •  Leaving a public university after 21 years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenDay

    This is my last month. I have no doubt that being a primary/secondary educator is more difficult than working at the university level, but what you describe is also happening at public universities. Your statement: "Add to this the layoffs, pay cuts, benefit cuts, and a public very openly hostile towards my profession" sums things up quite well. I am essentially being forced out- if I stay past July 1, I would lose 25% of my retirement because of a new law passed this last December in Illinois. So retiring early and I have a private sector job waiting if I want, that will pay more with less work, but I also have to give up my lifetime of research and the coursework I had developed here, both of which was highly regarded. This all happened so suddenly. Ah well, more exercise and sleep also coming my way soon! Wishing you the best GreenDay…..

  •  The only way to fix this (0+ / 0-)

    Would be to have the Teachers Union announce a Nationwide Strike the day after election day if Republicans win.  Shut them all down everywhere and let people deal with all the kids being off indefinitely.

    •  except for all the right to work states (0+ / 0-)

      Where teachers can't strike

      “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

      by vickijean on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:37:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Holy shit.... (0+ / 0-)

      This is exactly the reason the public believes that teachers unions only care about teachers.    

      Teachers unions lost public support because they harm the powerless in order to protect their own interests.

      It reminds me of the Bundy Ranch nutcases saying they are going to put Women in the front lines so they would get shot if the feds used force.

      Go ahead, call a nationwide strike.   Remember Patco?

  •  Thank You (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Windowpane, GreenDay, travelerxxx

    for the 19 years you spent in the classroom
    One day this country will wake up.
    Will it be in time to save it?

    Good Luck with your new occupation !

  •  I left the classroom after 25 years... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Windowpane, GreenDay

    ...but I still feel a strange urge around mid-August to start scouring  our local chain stores for cheap pens and other  miscellaneous school supplies.  I  get reminders of the annual stage fright I always experienced before the first day of the new school year. It's primal, almost instinctual.

    I retired around 2000 because of some health issues, but got involved in the education justice movement here in Chicago during the run-up to the historic Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012.

    Now I satisfy my classroom cravings by attending meetings and protests sponsored by the Chicago Teachers Union, Action Now and the many parent and community groups who are battling for quality education against the corporate behemoth trying to dumb down our nation.

    I take photographs and write blog posts  straight from the battlefields of today's education justice movement. These appear in the Daily Kos, ZNet, Socialist Worker and The BobboSphere (my personal blog).

    I'm still teaching, just not in  a classroom. I guess it's "Once in. Never out."

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:03:47 AM PDT

  •  The Value of One Teacher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    travelerxxx

    I was saddened and cried reading about decision to leave public education.

    I want to tell you a story I heard on public radio many years ago. An Iowa teacher was telling her elementary school students about discrimination. In the middle 1950's Iowa was 99% white and Christian. Maybe even higher. Her students in rural Iowa were having a hard time understanding racial prejudice and bigotry.

    If you never meet anyone who is different from you racial prejudice and bigotry is a difficult concept for a 10-12 year old to grasp.

    Fortunately, these children had a very caring and bright teacher. She devised a plan to enable her students to understand and feel prejudice and bigotry.

    Starting on Monday all the children with brown eyes had the right answer. The children with all other eye colors were told their answers were wrong.  On Tuesday only blondes gave the right answer, If you were not blonde your answer was wrong. On Wednesday, only the tall kids gave the right answers. The kids were really confused...On Friday she told her students what she had done.  

    There was great fury and anger directed her by parents, fellow teachers and the school board. They demanded her immediate dismissal. Only the eloquence of her principal saved her from being expelled from the profession she loved.

    Fast forward twenty-five years to the high reunion of that class of middle schoolers. They all remembered that week.  Many had vivid memories of that week. Out of 25-30 students there were several doctors, a few lawyers, two or three PhDs. The proportion of of students who graduated from college was 4 or 5 times the expected number as was the number with advanced degrees. Many of her former students were active in the civil rights movements.

    I do not recall if their teacher was alive to experience the fruits of her hard work and risk taking. I hope she was.

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your years of silent inspiration.   You have touched many lives - many you know you did and a few that you don't know.  My kids are still benefitting from public education and I am forever grateful to you and those in the teaching field.  All the best to you....you have a great legacy!

  •  What is the purpose of the testing? (0+ / 0-)

    Is it to properly assess student achievement in order to adapt the curriculum as needed, is it to assess the skills of teachers, or is it to provide a database of detailed records on what will be nearly every citizen of the United States?

    These are questions that need to be asked and answered. The silence is deafening.

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