Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quitting Teaching?

The passage below was a response to Anthony Cody's blog.  Very Sad!

Ken Bernstein

9:58 AM on February 9, 2012
This morning I sat in a faculty meeting as our principal explained why we all had to be focusing on Common Core in what we do, even when our courses are not directly part of the Common Core.

I will be 66 in May. I am already on Social Security. For a number of years I have tried to stop the steamroller of education deform that is destroying American public education. I look at the students arriving at our high school who after constant testing for NCLB and narrowing of curricula to focus on raising test scores have trouble thinking clearly, do not know how to write (it is not tested) and lack basic background knowledge in American History and Civics. I talk with colleagues in our Science department who have similar concerns.

Right now I wonder why I am even trying to make a difference. There is less and less respect for what we teachers do, we are being given directions by those who do not seem to understand real learning, and what is being imposed serves to alienate further the natural learning instincts of students.

I wonder if any of the efforts I have expended outside the classroom have made a whit of difference.

I wonder why I knock myself out to serve my students both with my school commitments and my commitments to trying to educate those outside of school systems of what teaching and learning really are.

I see the unions making early endorsements of an administration whose education department has in my opinion been hostile to teachers and real education, and in bed with the corporatizers.

I feel as if I am trying to bail out a tanker that is sinking using a teaspoon.

We are losing public schools.

We are losing democracy.

At moments like this I think I am glad my wife and I decided not to have our own children.

I fear for the future of our nieces and nephews.

I fear for the future of the children I teach.

I am now very close - VERY CLOSE - to giving up on being a teacher, because it is becoming impossible to be the kind of teacher I must be to keep my sanity.

I had planned to teach at least until I was 70.

Now? Like many of my compatriots, I am inclined to take the buyout offered by my system and do something else for the money I still need that does not so much break my heart.

I am far from alone.


  1. Tim,

    So sorry you feel this way. Part of me wants to tell you to not give up, it's for the kids, etc, etc...But I don't really believe that.

    I want to give up too and I'm only a few years into my teaching career. It's too hard of a job to also suffer all the political shenanigans teachers and schools are being put through.

    I'm looking into other options. Too bad cuz I think I might've been a pretty good teacher some day. But you're right, it's bailing out a tanker with a teaspoon. The corporate education deformers won.

    Good luck making your decision about leaving. It can't be easy...

  2. Oops, I suppose I should say Ken. So sad...

  3. This same story is being played out across the country. My husband is 44 and is ready to quit as well! But quit teaching and do what? It's what he loved and what he knows.
    I am so sorry for our teachers and our children!

  4. Ken, I definitely understand your dilemma...I, too, have spent so many hours trying to inform colleagues and family members about the true state of affairs in education to little or no avail. After 33 years in education, I will be leaving within the next 18 months as my husband and I are working hard to get our financial house in order. My biggest concern is what will happen to my grandchildren as they move through the remnants of our public school system. Children and education are my passion, so we will be moving to Central America and working as volunteers in that area of the world. Good luck with your decision, mine is made :(. Donna M

  5. yes. you are FAR from alone.

    My sentiments exactly.

    16-year teacher getting out.

    Doesn't that tell the nation just how bad teaching conditions are? In a very volitile and uncertain job market you have trained and quality professionals BEGGING to get out...and most likely, as in my case, to a VERY uncertain financial future.

    THAT's how bad it is.

  6. To all the education deformers out there, so many teachers will be saying, "Teach your own kids now that you made standards of teaching that are impossible to live up to".

  7. Hi Tim,

    At least you got to teach for most of your career under a "sane" system. I have been teaching 12 years now, and with two kids, I have to ride this thing out. I can still retire at 55 in my state, so we'll see. I just hope I can survive the "purges" that are coming. This is happening all over the country, and the morale of all the high school teachers I know is very low. I have to stop reading this stuff, but I can't. Both parties are now trying to destroy public education. It is horrible, and no one seems to know what is going on (outside of education).

  8. I agree, tanker with a teaspoon. Sadly, it seems that districts prefer to lose experienced teachers- newbies are much cheaper and don't know enough to question anything. I've been in 10+ years and hope to find a way out. It's extremely sad- and they won't realize the mess they've made until there are no more students in college teaching programs.

  9. Husband came to education after career as Naval officer. Got licensed this summer to drive big rigs around the country because after 17 years he doesn't want to commit to 10 hours a week of extracurricular activities to be considered a "highly effective" teacher. Figures the lunch time sessions, the nightly calls for homework assistance and the 30 minutes before school starts are enough student contact opportunities. (homework calls come from parents as often as from kids, some last for an hour or more)

  10. After about 4 years of teaching, I'm giving my notice tomorrow. No more lesson plans, rubrics, checklists, endless data, child-like paras etc.

    1. To the ANONYMOUS commenter above:

      This is my fourth year as well, and I will not return. I am going to stay until the year is over, and then it is "goodnight on teaching" for me. I just do not have the spirit anymore for all the extra nonsense. I teach children, not numbers and this focus on data (without considering the factors that influes the HUMAN BEINGS we teach), is just disheartening! I will miss the kids more than anything. Many a day I have trudged into the building and after a few contacts with those young lives, I perk up.. Three o'clock comes and I am the equivalent of a deflated balloon. It is my hope to find a position that still requires me to help young people, just not in a classroom capacity. Much luck to you!