To the Destroyers of Public Education
Anonymous North Carolina BAT
I am a 5th year teacher pouring my passion for social studies into my classroom. I am a teacher in major debt because I made the best of my college experience and earned 2 degrees. I am a published writer, having my senior thesis on Abigail Adams adopted by my college. I am a daughter and a sister who chose to leave her family, move hundreds of miles away to teach; Moved from one of the highest ranked states in teacher pay and student performance, to one of the lowest. I am a student that puts endless hours into professional development to perfect my craft. I am an advisor and mentor to dozens of students for a variety of organizations. I am a wife and friend who can barely find the time to devote to those people. I am a person, who is compassionate, dedicated, and hardworking, and yet I don’t take the time for me. I am many things, but a failure is not one of them.
According to the state of North Carolina and one 40 question test however, I am. I have always met or exceeded expected growth, and I took pride in that, it felt and amazing and it meant something. But after looking at my value added report for this year, I feel as if all of the wind has been knocked out of me, that all of my passion was for naught, and that I was a failure of a teacher. But I stopped and thought about it and realized that it was just one test; I asked myself, how much can they really determine from one test? How are students, my kids whom I have spent an entire year with, measure with ONE test? How does a test of 40 questions measure the gold heart of a child? How does one test measure all of a child’s capabilities; academic, artistic, athletic and otherwise? And how does this ONE test measure a teacher’s impact on their students? MY impact on MY kids?
The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t. It doesn’t show you all of the teachers that have been turned into smiles. It doesn’t measure the compassion and empathy that is taught to them to make them decent human beings. It doesn’t measure all of the advice given that has steer the students onto the proper path. It doesn’t show you all of the thank yous, laughs, and visits from pervious students who have come back just to see you. It does nothing to show the growth of a class, a family; or the evolution of that family from strangers to best friends that learn and cooperate together as one. It does not judge their character or measure how wonderful they truly are in every single way. And it certainly doesn’t measure the love and concern that a teacher holds in their heart for their students, their kids.
I am left asking myself; what does this test measure? What does it tell us about teachers and students as whole beings? Nothing. This test tells us nothing, except maybe which child can sit still the longest. There is nothing that measures the relationship between teacher and student; the impact of a teacher on a child’s whole being. It is then that I realized, that I didn’t care what the State of North Carolina thought about me as a teacher. In the eyes of my students, I could never be a failure and I will never count myself as one based on a number. I can only measure myself against the citizens that my students become. I can only measure myself on my passion for the subject I teach, and the love I hold for each and every one of my kids. I will not have my character judged by an arbitrary number. I will be not be defined, as my students should not either, on ONE test score, ONE number. I will not discontinue my ways; nor will I stand by as my student’s passion for learning is stripped from them. I will not allow their flame to be blown out.
Not so sincerely,
“The teacher who almost let North Carolina blow her flame out”