Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saying Goodbye: Time to Speak the Truth

by Robin Harris Newhall, a Massachusetts BAT

 

Today I said goodbye to one of the nicest groups of kids I've ever worked with. I said goodbye to a loyal and excellent para who has stood by me through thick and thin. I also said goodbye to a fantastic and energetic co-teacher who helped me bring fun back into the classroom. 

The hardest goodbye today was that of my teaching career. I resigned from the only job I've ever known. I could no longer continue the cycle of abuse I felt I was forced to implement on my students and myself. I have never been driven by salary, competition, recognition etc... I have always found motivation to succeed by being creative, passionate, happy with a job well done and pleasing my soul and that of others. 

Unfortunately, there is no longer any room for that in our public schools. It's all about an agenda, driven by data and individuals who want schools to become private corporations where billions will be made. Everyday I see this agenda and those that support it grow more and more powerful. This year, I witnessed more corruption, greed and abuse of power than I have seen in my twenty two years as a teacher. An environment that breeds fear, hostility and submission is no good for anyone, especially our children. 

I'm not one to run nor sit back and be silent. Being quiet, submissive and without tenure is what they want. Make no mistake, creating public schools to resemble that of private corporations is their exact intention. When you make no attempt as a leader to educate yourself and to make sense of this agenda, you fall victim to it. Worse, you drive it, promote it and believe it.

I want to make myself very clear, I am not leaving my peers and especially the children behind. A fight has been ignited within and I can't ignore it. The take over of our public schools and the regime of high-stakes test supporters, union breakers and unfair evaluations is a blatant and bold invasion of our civil rights and a damaging blow to the very principles of democracy! Our children are it's most tragic victims. 

So what do I say to these reformers and anyone else who has jumped on this toxic, destructive ride? I no longer have a paycheck tied to a reputation that could be slaughtered nor the fear of any other retribution. I can speak the truth freely, rally and have more time to write, research and educate. Movement, commitment, fighting this fight will make me weary, but submission and obedience would break me! I'm all in. Game on!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Robin, powerful post. As a 21st Century student I looked hard for what had such a hold on my teachers, because it didn't make sense to me that they’re held so much. Though I understand it now, I'm hoping that a system where a persons level of freedom to serve being in the hands of a leadership team is not sustainable, and that we’ll see an evolution of this. It was seeing this same thing in the ‘real world’ corporates that shocked me, I wasn't expecting such power struggles there (I'm still young, I'm still learning!). So I’m a bit displaced in the world right now, but I’m sure I’ll never have a boss again, or work under any leadership team. Although my work record inside hierarchical structures is excellent (i.e. I’ve helped managers make money and look good) I’ve called time on being told -explicitly/implicitly, with carrot & stick- what to care about. One thing I'd ask, Robin; please look after yourself. When I first started researching and writing on education my mind was working like it never had before (and I tried hard to learn like this in school, they gave me A's for half-effort). With this new level of 'thinking' I actually forgot to move and eat enough and ended up fainting randomly one morning a few months ago. Please look after yourself and enjoy the journey. My role is in connecting and celebrating educators who blog so feel free to reach out if you'd like some help with that kind of thing.

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  2. Exact same thing for me. This was my last year as a teacher for the same reasons you mentioned.

    I wish my colleagues whom I left behind all the best but many of them will have to stand and make the same decision we have made.

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  3. So... Robin, what is your course of action now? I admire you for having the courage to leave your career after 22 years. Far too many of us know by that point that, if we can just keep our mouths shut, we can retire in just a few years. I left a job of 8 years that I loved (yes, I can now say it was a "job"), one that had become much too bureaucratic because of the hoop-jumping and scrambling to get special ed students to meet AYP; the new boss that final year made the life of a formerly highly-regarded staffer a living hell because he needed to make a point about AYP. I moved on to a WONDERFUL career in an alternative setting where, yes, I need to progress monitor my students who have LD's, I spend much more time planning than ever before because my course load changes yearly as my students' needs change, and we have to participate in high-stakes testing. However, I am free to do what I know needs to be done and I do it in the way that I know it needs to be done. I am able to advocate for my students' needs as well as my own.

    Where do you go from here? Please, share your decision.

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