Posted on | January 5, 2014 | 15 Comments
I am paid to give out gold stars to everyone so that no one feels left out, to give everyone an A because they feel sad if they don’t have one. I take the perpetual, insane harassment from parents who insist that their child’s failings are solely my fault because I do not coddle them to the point of being unable to accept any sort of critique; if each student is not perfect and prepared for college and life by age twelve, then I must be wrong about the quality of their work. I lower my own standards so much that I have been thinking my grades were generous. After years of being harangued, I gave Bs to D-quality work, but that is never good enough. All I can do is field the various phone calls, meetings, and e-mails, to let myself be abused, slandered, spit at because that is my career, taking the fall for our country’s mistakes and skewed priorities. So if you want your child to get an education, then I’m afraid that as a teacher, I can’t help you, but feel free to stop by if you want a sticker and a C.
You should read the whole thing, because part of the blame belongs to the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) legislation, which was and is bad policy, directly opposite to the conservative critique of public education. Conservatives are against centralized bureaucracy and against an expanded role for the federal government in education. The invocation of “standards” as a magic word — Abracadabra! — seems to have deceived many Republicans into supporting NCLB, imagining that standardized testing would somehow solve problems. But the problems of public education are beyond reach of such “solutions”:
Eventually, the meeting came down to two quotes that I will forever remember as the defining slogans for public education:
“They are not allowed to fail.”
“If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.”
What am I not doing for them? . . . I was called down to the principal’s office many more times before I was broken, before I ended up assigning stupid assignments for large amounts of credit, ones I knew I could get students to do. Even then, I still had students failing, purely through their own refusal to put any sort of effort into anything, and I had lowered the bar so much that it took hardly anything to pass. According to the rubrics set forth by the county, if they wrote a single word on their paper, related or not to the assignment, I had to give them a 48 percent. Yet, students chose to do nothing. Why? Because we are forced to pass them. “They are not allowed to fail,” remember?
I would love to teach, but I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible. . . .
I quit because I’m tired of being part of the problem, and as only one soul in the river Styx, it is impossible for me to be part of the solution.
Hear! Hear! More and more good, honest, decent, caring teachers are quitting the public school system. The deteriorating quality of faculty and administration is increasingly pervasive because no intelligent person would willingly submit themselves to such an oppressive bureaucratic yoke. The public education system is doomed beyond all hope of redemption, and the sooner Americans cease cooperating with the system — get your children out and support alternatives — the sooner its final collapse will arrive.