Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kindergarten Teacher Resigns Over Testing

Washington Post image

This filled me with tears. A veteran Cambridge, Massachusetts teacher resigns after the district piled on the assessments year after year, starting with No Child Left Behind. More and more was required of her, taking her further away from the children's needs.

Washington Post : My Job Is Now About Tests and Data--not children. I quit.

Below is a copy and paste of her resignation letter, but click on the link above for the whole story.

February 12, 2014
I am writing today to let you know that I am resigning my position as PreK and Kindergarten teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools. It is with deep sadness that I have reached this decision, as I have loved my job, my school community, and the families and amazing and dedicated faculty I have been connected with throughout the district for the past eighteen years. I have always seen myself as a public school teacher, and fully intended to work until retirement in the public school system. Further, I am the product of public schools, and my son attended Cambridge Public Schools from PreK through Grade 12. I am and always have been a firm believer in quality public education.

In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children. I have experienced, over the past few years, the same mandates that all teachers in the district have experienced. I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them. Each year, I have been required to spend more time attending classes and workshops to learn about new academic demands that smack of 1st and 2nd grade, instead of Kindergarten and PreK. I have needed to schedule and attend more and more meetings about increasingly extreme behaviors and emotional needs of children in my classroom; I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, “I can’t do this! Look at me! Know me! Help me! See me!” I have changed my practice over the years to allow the necessary time and focus for all the demands coming down from above. Each year there are more. Each year I have had less and less time to teach the children I love in the way I know best—and in the way child development experts recommend. I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve.

I was trying to survive in a community of colleagues who were struggling to do the same: to adapt and survive, to continue to hold onto what we could, and to affirm what we believe to be quality teaching for an early childhood classroom. I began to feel a deep sense of loss of integrity. I felt my spirit, my passion as a teacher, slip away. I felt anger rise inside me. I felt I needed to survive by looking elsewhere and leaving the community I love so dearly. I did not feel I was leaving my job. I felt then and feel now that my job left me.

It is with deep love and a broken heart that I write this letter.

Suzi Sluyter


Terri H said...

I saw the beginnings of this in my short tenure as a third grade teacher. It is among the many reasons I will never set foot in the classroom as an instructor again, and I'm sure there are many more stories just like hers. So sad.

Christine said...

The 3x yearly individual testing had been a part of my classroom for about 3 or 4 years before I left. No Child Left Behind was 2001, but my district had already begun heavy assessing. So sad.

Good to hear from you, Terri. How are you and the boys?

Terri H said...

We are very busy, finishing up Co-op, Awana, and other "school year" obligations. Looking forward to being "off" for summer so we have more time for school. LOL We have loved this year of Sonlight Core B and Gabe is excited about the box of Core C books sitting in the school room. :)