A teacher explains why she gave up a career she loved

Teacher Jordan Kohanim left her school and her room with a white board that was a focal point for her students.

Teacher Jordan Kohanim left her school and her room with a white board that was a focal point for her students.

Jordan Kohanim is a former Fulton County high school teacher and one of my favorite posters on the blog because of her eloquence, her candor and her willingness to put her name behind her comments.

She quit teaching. Here, she tells us why:

By Jordan Kohanim

I have decided to quit teaching. Maybe not forever, but definitely for a year or two. This is not a decision I came to lightly, and I did not feel triumphant in it at all. To be frank, I had never felt more defeated in my life.

It’s true that I am statistic. More than 50 percent of teachers leave teaching in the first seven years. Most of those are in the first five years. This was year seven for me.

I told a colleague that I planned on leaving the profession and he told me something that really hurt at first. He said, “Your leaving won’t change anything.” Emphasis on the anything. It felt like an arrow through my heart.

In the long run, he’s right, though. That is part of the reason I am quitting. I know —ego drives us all — but I really thought I made a difference. And I did — for about a dozen or so kids, but there is no way I can make difference enough for long enough, all while keeping my sanity.

I have lost my faith in public education. That means it is time to walk away.

It started last year when I was chair of the student support team, which addresses the needs of struggling students. I watched the neediest of students get declined services, while the most deceptive of parents used their lawyers to manipulate the system into giving their children unfair advantage. I saw so many students and teachers hurt in this process, so many adults whose sole concern was not education or the well-being of children, so many lawyers and politicians who cared nothing about learning, that I broke.

I broke. No one can fix education when everyone just wants to sue. No one can fix a system where every success is countered with a failure. Where blame-shifting is status-quo. Where the responsibility for success and failure relies on everyone but the child. I became disgusted. I stopped doing the student support team and went back to just teaching full time.

I thought this last school year I would regain my love for teaching. Maybe it was too late.

My classes were too big. If I work six-hour days with no breaks, it takes 28 days to grade essays for my 159 students. That is for one semester. I am an English teacher. My kids must write. I must grade it. I actually enjoy grading, but 159 is too much,  28 days is too much.

Merit pay is coming, whether I like it or not. It is already in effect in other places. My dad says they have been threatening it for years and it hasn’t happened. Well, now it is tied to federal dollars for Georgia. So, like it or not — our kids are data points. They are numbers on someone’s spreadsheet.

Their purpose in school is not learning — it is education. And there is a difference between learning and education. I didn’t realize it before. I guess that makes me very naive.

When I coached debate my kids learned. They learned about rhetoric, philosophy, policy, government, language and discipline. I spent so many hours making sure they truly understood just how powerful those concepts are. Even that, though, was so much time. I did it alone. I neglected my family, myself.

That’s what this boils down to. My family comes first. I have given so much to other peoples’ families. I have fought so hard to always do the right thing — and to be honest, I’m tired. I can’t do this job half-way. I just can’t. It’s too important. It means too much.

My husband stood up to his boss and moved to a better company. I guess I am doing the same thing. Funny, I don’t feel as victorious. I just feel sad and a little angry, but not satisfied.

This isn’t a decision I am proud of. I will ultimately be happier for leaving teaching. I will make more money, I will have more time and I will no longer neglect myself for the sake of others’ children. I would like to go back some day when the system finally figures out how lucky it is that people are willing to teach.

Maybe I could have found a different school. Maybe I should have gone to private school. Maybe I should just move on and not look back. That will be difficult, though.

On the bright side, I have a new job. It’s actually a lot like teaching — I just educate my clients on their health and Medicare supplement insurance options. I still get to serve a group of people. They are just a different group of people. That being said, I cannot ignore that I am leaving a profession I love dearly. Everyone in my family has been part of public education. I viewed it as a calling. I guess now the call has changed its tune.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

320 comments Add your comment

Elizabeth

June 22nd, 2012
5:22 am

Bravo, Jordan.This is the best summation I have read of the defeat and and despair that good teachers feel every day. And it was not that way when I started 30 years ago. I can’t do the job halfway either. It is why I am leaving next year. I don’t want to retire. But , like this teacher, I don’t have a choice emotionally. I also teach English. People have no idea how long it takes to grade essays . It is overwhelming.One more year, and then, with 30 years, I am gone too. She waited seven years. Most good teachers won’t wait that long– when they can find other jobs, they will leave too. It will be the end of learning in our schools. All that will be left is beauracracy and babysitting. The artlcle should be entitled “Epitaph for Real Teaching. RIP.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 22nd, 2012
5:39 am

Tell me it ain’t so, JOrdan.

I left in March 2005 when, after 31 years, I “couldn’t take it anymore.”

Now, “I’m (just) mad as Hell.”

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 22nd, 2012
5:42 am

Jordan,

PLEASE e-mail me at Georgians for Educational Excellence@ gmail.com.

Peter Smagorinsky

June 22nd, 2012
5:49 am

Thanks to Jordan for giving an insider’s perspective on what the current educational climate is doing to people who love to teach, but find that under RTTT the profession has become punitive and unrewarding. Arne Duncan believes that his regime will improve the teaching force. The fact is that he’s killing it by a thousand cuts and a few major slices and stabs.

Right on point!

June 22nd, 2012
6:00 am

It is sad to see a young and talented teacher leave the ranks yet again. I am sorry that your experiences at your school have lead you to leave education but I completely understand. I have to wonder if your administrative staff (i.e. principal) might need to change in order to improve the climate at your school.

seabeau

June 22nd, 2012
6:09 am

My daughter will be finishing her education in the fall. She is taking a position as a teacher in a private school because she and many of her peers have realized the utter futility of teaching in the public schools.

Aquagirl

June 22nd, 2012
6:24 am

I watched the neediest of students get declined services, while the most deceptive of parents used their lawyers to manipulate the system into giving their children unfair advantage.

….Aaaaaaand right on schedule, the Momania blog had a long discussion yesterday on working the IEP/504 system. Including instructions to always sign “disagree” so you can go back later and fight it, and never sign the first time, make them set another meeting, and….geez.

My sympathies to Ms. Jordan. I’m glad she learned the system is about education, not learning, and has found a new job that allows her to truly teach.

Aquagirl

June 22nd, 2012
6:38 am

Correction: my sympathies to Ms. Kohanim. I would apologize for mixing up her name but it’s the servant’s fault for not fetching my coffee in a timely fashion.

Now let me find a lawyer, there must be someone I can sue for my mistake. Maureen, the AJC, my sixth grade English teacher…it’s surely not my fault.

mountain man

June 22nd, 2012
6:44 am

I commend you on your decision. It will be a lot better for you in the long run.

What it is going to take to turn education around is a mass exodus of trained, experienced teachers, along with a scarcity of new teacherss wanting to enter the profession. Until there is a grave shortage, there will never be a realistic assessment of why teachers are leaving the profession. The administrators right now just say, ” Oh well, there are plenty of teachers out there who would love to take that job.” Unfortunately, it is the best teachers who leave and go to private schools, to industry, or to other jobs. That leaves only the dregs in public schools, and the worst dregs in school systems that have chronically abused their teachers – such as APS. Good luck with that.

Public School Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
6:50 am

I completely understand your feelings,Ms. Jordan,but destroying public schools is not the answer. Public schools are over regulated by too many layers of government rules.The U.S. Department of Education should be abolished and education should be decentralized. The state government should fund most of it and develop a flexible,commom curriculum and local BOE’s should have the vast majority of the power.

Mary

June 22nd, 2012
7:02 am

Eloquently written, Ms. Kohanim. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to walk away from a profession you love, especially in today’s job market. You will be an asset to your new employer. I hope they realize how fortunate they are.

After 23 years in the classroom, I must say that the past year has been the worst I’ve ever experienced. With new administration in our building, and said administration’s nonsensical decisions and heavy-handed management style, there were many days I would have gladly walked out forever. The morale was the worst I’d ever seen it, and that was during preplanning. Things only got worse throughout the year.

I was fortunate to secure a position in another school, one in which my contributions will be valued. The teachers stay because they’re happy. The principal isn’t using her position as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things; she’s vested in the school, the students, and her staff. I hope that when you return to teaching someday, Ms. Kohanim, that you’re as fortunate. The profession needs you.

drew (former teacher)

June 22nd, 2012
7:11 am

“I have lost my faith in public education. That means it is time to walk away.”

Jordan,
Welcome to the ranks of those who thought they could make a difference, only to drown in the indifferent and nonsensical world of public education. I didn’t so much lose faith as come to the realization that the deck was stacked against us (teachers), and administrators (with a few exceptions) simply wanted to avoid controversy and provide the “appearance” of success.

I was 40 when I decided I wanted to teach; I wanted to make a difference. Like you I was naive…I thought schools were about learning, but it’s become more about numbers and appearances than learning. When it reached the point that I dreaded getting up and going to work in the morning, it was time to leave. Teaching is not a job you can do well if you don’t love it.

Teaching is the toughest jobs I’ve ever had. I also taught seven years, and when I left I told myself is was just a break…that I’d go back to it after a short hiatus. But I’ve been out of it for six years now, and have no desire to go back, particularly in the current climate. I miss the students…but that’s the ONLY thing I miss.

Good luck to you in your new endeavors. Enjoy being around adults for a change; enjoy eating a quiet, relaxed lunch; and enjoy leaving your job in the afternoon without a bag full of papers to grade. And never say never…once you’ve been out of for a while and recharged your battery, maybe you’ll want to give it another shot.

just retired NB English teacher

June 22nd, 2012
7:17 am

Mountain man is right! I spent my last four years in administration, so I’ve seen the problems from both sides. One thing I know, however – good teachers and administrators are worn out and looking for other options. I know that I am – still love to teach and looking for something to do that will allow me to use the talents and skills I’ve developed during my career.

NTLB

June 22nd, 2012
7:26 am

Bravo! What a loss to Fulton County–where “Parents, then Students Come First”.

Linda

June 22nd, 2012
7:35 am

Schools have been lucky for a long time to have talented teachers like Jordan who put up with a lot in order to do what they love. Instead of being thankful to have this talent, they demoralized these teachers They told them they are replaceable by the line of teachers who want their jobs so to leave if they are not happy (yes, in these exact words). Yes, we had better than we deserved for a long time considering the working conditions and low pay for skill and experience. Those days are ending and I am terrified. Will we enter a modern day version of the dark ages where only certain people may obtain an education? A few good teachers are hanging around for retirement, the others ARE leaving. We need to start planning for ten years down the road right now, but the egos of those in power are the roadblock that I don’t know how to move. Sometimes I feel I am the only one who understands this.

Solutions

June 22nd, 2012
7:36 am

Many schools have become day prisons for the young, little wonder the teachers feel more like prison guards than teachers. So the students and their parents get all lawyered up, just like prison! Let us limit free public education to 10 years or less, then we will generate a little urgency, focus, and effort on the part of the young to learn while they can do so for free (to them). We should also end all student loans, and make college grants dependent on academic performance and potential based on IQ tests and SAT performance. We need to identify the high IQ people and give them the best education we can, while providing an IQ appropriate education for the rest, all within a ten year time limit on free public education. Good luck in your new career Jordan!

adam

June 22nd, 2012
7:42 am

jordan !!!! If you can’t handle the heat get outta the kitchen. Teachers are paid with public tax dollars so stop complaining. If you are not teaching in the summer, you should be volunteering time doing community service. Perhaps daycare in inner city schools. Teachers need to teach and stop complaining. Do what your principal tells you to do and teach !!!

bootney farnsworth

June 22nd, 2012
7:43 am

@ solutions

that didn’t work so well under the Soviets.

Student Advocate

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 am

Ditto for me! There is an old joke about the perfect pastor and people (admin, parents) have similar unrealistic expectations of teachers. Maybe someone creative can change this to The Perfect Teacher

The Perfect Pastor

The perfect pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes.
He condemns sin roundly but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
He works from 8am until midnight and is also the church janitor.
The perfect pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car,
buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church.
He is 29 years old and has 40 years experience.
Above all, he is handsome.
The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers,
and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens.
He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor
that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church.
He makes 15 home visits a day
and is always in his office to be handy when needed.
The perfect pastor always has time for church council and all of its committees.

bootney farnsworth

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 am

@ maureen

it can’t be coincidence that education is in trouble at every level across Georgia.
something is obviously wrong down to the core.

is the AJC investigating this?

d

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 am

This needs to be sent to Arne Duncan and President Obama. They need to see what they are doing to educators throughout this country. As an educator, I wish both parties would restart the nomination process because we’re out of luck no matter which one of the candidates win in November.

Mortimer Collins

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 am

Awww boo hoo, Cry me a river! If ya cant take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Good Riddance.

Zane Smith's Teeth

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 am

I’ve taught 11 years in a public high school (going to be 12 and counting this Fall) and I can definitely see where the author is coming from in some aspects. Class sizes are larger (but then again tell me a profession that hasn’t been asked to do more with less in the last 4 years). However, I do not share the sense of despair that she felt after 7 short years. Maybe it’s because she was in a crappy school with bad administration..I can’t say. I will say that ” Only the dregs are left in public school” as one poster alluded to is not the case at my school. There are plenty of top notch hard working professional teachers that do the job everyday. Unfortunately, they are concentrated at a relatively small handful of schools (I’m just speaking about high school).
I’m a little surprised that the teacher writing this did not leave to go to a better school if they truely felt the way they did about education. If making more money and not putting up with some of the headaches associated with education was the real reason for quitting, there is nothing wrong with that; just be honest with yourself and do not overgeneralize to the entire profession.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
7:48 am

Frightening article and comments! I hope that I’m not also taking a break after seven years. I resigned from where I was last year for a lot of the reasons already listed above. I’ve not yet found anything for next year – with both math and broad field science. Maybe the admin is right that we are disposable. Aren’t they really the most important part of the system?

I wish there were private school options for me here, but there are something like three northwest of Atlanta (at least at the HS level). If there are administrators out there that want a true idealist who wants to teach and does it damn well (value added scores last year were great) let me know which rock you’re hiding under and how to identify you in an interview. Last two places I’ve signed up for, I thought they were looking for improvement and zeal. They certainly did not continue to want it when I brought it! They say things in interviews that I hear and want to do. Apparently those things mean something different than what I think they mean…

bootney farnsworth

June 22nd, 2012
7:48 am

@ d

do you really think they would care?

William

June 22nd, 2012
7:54 am

My wife has been with Dekalb County schools for 23 years. She earned her Masters, Specialist and Doctor’s degrees (from GA State, not online) during this time. She started in South Dekalb’s worst schools and finally made it to North Dekalb 10 years ago.
In the last seven years.
-Not one scheduled wage increase
-in 5 of the last seven years, her pay has been cut
-She now makes less than she did 8 years ago, and Deklab (against her contract, has ceased making retirement payments)

This will be her last year in Dekalb county. She was offered several higher paying positions in Forsythe and Fulton county over the summer, but she had one particular student that she wanted to help this year in her class. It’s sad to see this happen to the system that she has poured her life into.. but like Jordon, it’s time to move on.
My wife got 5 calls from her teachers last night, all saying they had accepted positions outside Dekalb county. She will now have to interview and place much less qualified teachers, willing to work more for less money, to teach our kids. Sad, Sad, Sad

teacher&mom

June 22nd, 2012
7:54 am

I very saddened by all of this. My district lost a record number of teachers this year. Most were eligible for retirement, too many simply walked away in disgust. The ones who weren’t eligible to retire have forever walked away from the profession. One teacher left for a part-time job. This teacher taught my own children and it breaks my heart that others will not have to opportunity to sit in his classroom.

I spent the past year trying to bolster the morale of our very best teachers. Trying to convince them to stay “one more year.” Yet, in the back of my mind was the question…..”Do YOU really want to continue?” I ended the school year exhausted and depressed.

I’m at a crossroads in my career. This next year will be a pivotal year. I may leave the profession, move into administration, or somehow learn a better way to drown out the negatives.

d

June 22nd, 2012
7:56 am

@bootney Probably not…. but I feel better having sent it to them.

HOPE

June 22nd, 2012
7:56 am

It’s sad to say Jordan is right. But there is HOPE. I have been an educator for more than 23 years and its just not the same anymore. Jordan just don’t walk away and not do anything about it. Walk away with a purpose. Organize a group to help educators and students. Get parents involved. In the long run its going hurt our children. As a matter of fact any educator who’s realizes that there is problem can organize it. Change won’t happen unless we speak out more about it. Our country is backwards. It cares more about corprations that it does about education. Write Arne Duncans your concerns. Write the state department of education. Write your local school districts. Let’s be the group of educators to make a differerence.

Dc

June 22nd, 2012
7:57 am

Bummer to ever lose good teachers. I will always contend that if the good teachers were actually rewarded with pay, bonuses, and recognition then it would be worth it. There is nothing worse for morale than giving your all for the kids and school, and watching others who dont give a darn get the same ewards. Over time it saps the life out of caring teachers.

We all need to see that our hard work is recognized and rewarded

Sam the Sham

June 22nd, 2012
7:57 am

Interestingly, 60 percent of ALL employees leave employment by 5 years, and 75 percent have left before they reach 10 years. She has her reasons, but that is true for everyone who moves on. Thank God for those who have the vision, fortitude, and perseverance to remain dedicated to their goals. Thank God for those teachers who remain dedicated to this potentially lost generation.

I_teach!!

June 22nd, 2012
7:57 am

The school-and the administration-have much to do with it.

Yes-we are being pounded from all sides…I’m entering my 16th year in GA (I taught for 4 years in 2 other northern states…wanna talk apples and oranges?)…and my current administrators work harder than we do, demand that we do our best..but support us in every endeavor.

Had Jordan had great, supportive administration, with a good parent backing? She wouldn’t be walking away so quickly, or so quick to condemn public schools in general…

Sad. But honestly? This job becomes tougher every year…you’ve got to truly love doing it to stay in it.

I’ve got 14 years to go….then I am OUT. That doesn’t mean that there are days when I think I am done that minute….I know I’ve made a difference to more than a few dozen kids; I need only to ask my sons how their teachers have impacted them (they are adults now).

If you’re in an intolerable situation? Try a new building, county, state….don’t run.

teacher&mom

June 22nd, 2012
8:04 am

@Bootney: I agree.

A. Duncan could care less and the boys and girls under the gold dome are just as bad. They would rather take advice from Rhee, Gates, and ALEC than listen to their own teachers.

Mortimer Collins

June 22nd, 2012
8:04 am

LOL!! All these moonie eyed optimist. They come in full of joy and attempt to model their hero JFK so they can make a difference. Truth be told, very few make a difference. SO, do you job, pick up your paycheck and go home.

Sound to me like the problem is this lady thinks that teaching requires too much work and she is using a “noble” excuse to garner sympathy from the uninformed, gullible masses.

“Winners never quit and quitters never win”

“Those who can do, those who cant teach” or in this case “Those who can do, those who cant QUIT”

Solutions

June 22nd, 2012
8:08 am

bootney farnsworth – You apparently know little about education in the former Soviet Union, here, educate yourself a little: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_Soviet_Union

NTLB

June 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

@bootney—most of the problem lies is that there is an absence of union power for teachers, coupled with inept cronies functioning as school administrators.

We do not have leaders in our school systems, we have bad managers and sometimes even tyrants. When Georgia’s government ceases its “good old boys” corruptive practices, then maybe we can see some light at the end of the tunnel for education.

Fled

June 22nd, 2012
8:11 am

@I_teach: to the contrary, run, flee. Unless and until people realize that all the good teachers are going to leave, nothing will change. I left Georgia three years ago, and I only wish I had left earlier. I understand where Jordan is coming from; it’s hard to give up something you love to do and are passionate about. However, education in Georgia is a dead-end–and has been for a long time. On the toughest days now, I always stop to remind myself that not only do I not have to teach in Georgia (north Fulton in particular), but that my children will never know what it is like to be subject to the school system there.

FWIW, Jordan, I also found it hard to leave, but I would never, never, never go back. If you want to teach again, look into a nice position overseas, where teachers are wanted, respected, and paid (what a strange idea to someone from Georgia).

Had enough yet, teachers? Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

learned

June 22nd, 2012
8:20 am

“Where the responsibility for success and failure relies on everyone but the child.” Truer words have never been spoken !

Jesse Jacksonn

June 22nd, 2012
8:24 am

Another person with unrealistic expectations realizes that he/she’s in the wrong career. And that the world doesn’t measure up to her childish hopes. Boo-hoo!

And I wonder how she “determined” she was such an effective teacher—at least to the handful of kids she cites. Objective criteria like achievement test scores? Or just her “heart?” ;-)

She should by the way blame liberals (a.k.a. the Grievance Industry) for long ago turning our public schools into the first battle zone for the Culture Wars ravaging society, now including even our military.

Grateful to be teaching

June 22nd, 2012
8:25 am

Thank you, Jordan, for a well written, thoughtful letter regarding your experience in education and subsequent decision to leave your job.  I hope you find peace and professional fulfillment in your new career.

After being treated poorly by the Gwinnett County school system, I, too, left teaching.  Burned by the system, ostracized for efforts to advocate for my special education students, and lied to and about by my administration, I had no plans to return to the classroom.  I found a job working in the private sector in a job related to education.  I didn’t have to write IEPs, I didn’t have to fear being sued by parents if I didn’t collect every piece of data, I didn’t have to show up an hour early for a faculty meeting.  And I was miserable.  

I knew almost immediately I belonged in a classroom, no matter the red tape, the hassles, the seemingly inept administration.  I ached to be back, to have that daily contact, to make a difference, even if it was only to one student.  Adult conversation, duty free hour long lunches, not lugging work home – none of that is comparable to the way teaching affects me.

After one year away, and numerous interviews and rejections, I found my way back into the classroom.  I landed my dream position and just completed an amazing year being the best I could be for four hundred twelve year olds.  No, I didn’t teach 400 kids, but I affected them everyday.  They saw me in the hallway, they saw me have conversations with my colleagues at the lunch table, they heard me deliver directives and lessons mandated by my administration and guidance department.  They saw me uphold the vision, rules, and standards of my school.  

They came to me when they had problems, because they heard I was a teacher who could be trusted and who would help.  Students I had never spoken to before came to me for help and guidance.  They talked about how “mean” I was about rules, but they came to me still.  Those I had the pleasure of actually teaching made tremendous gains in their grades, test scores, and confidence.  They begged me to follow them to the next grade.  And we all cried like babies on the last day of school, sad to know our time together had come to an end.

This year wasn’t without its disappointments, head shakes, and frustration.  But it was all worth it when one, yes, just one, 6th grader handed me a letter on the last day of school, her eyes filling with tears.  That letter told me I had done my job, academically and emotionally.  And I did it within the red tape that is American education in 2012.

jd

June 22nd, 2012
8:27 am

We are all at fault. The founding fathers said an educated populace would elect representatives that would be responsive or the voters would kick em out. We don’t take the time to involve ourselves — so school board elections are boot camp for aspiring C-Span wantabees… instead of good citizens who work to make a public education a true value to all. There was a time when school board members were respected. There was a time when voters took the time to get engaged. There was a time…

Don't Tread

June 22nd, 2012
8:34 am

When the teachers have lost their faith in public education, it’s past time to send your kids to private school, and institute the voucher system.

These overpaid administrators will get the message when it hits them in the wallet.

Kitty

June 22nd, 2012
8:34 am

I, too, resigned because I just couldn’t jump through any more hoops! I spent so much time documenting that I was doing my job, that I didn’t have time to teach. I LOVED teaching. I taught middle school – loved those eighth graders!

I had two principals out of five who refused to kow tow to parents and to the BOE. BOTH lost their contracts to return after a few years, even though the almighty test scores increased significantly.

Until the upper echelon of politcs can be removed, nothing will change!

Jane Dubya

June 22nd, 2012
8:36 am

My guess is she’s boring her new workmates to death with self-serving stories about her schoolmarm days.

HoneyFern School

June 22nd, 2012
8:41 am

I left for the same reasons Jordan left, two years ago, and started a school. We are tiny, we are struggling, but for the first time in a long time, I get to teach, and I know I make a difference.
We are a private school who takes everyone and charges half of what other private schools charge. Why? Because it was never about the money for me, and it was never about only having certain students.

I lost faith in public schools awhile ago but am still in education, and I am glad of it.

old school doc

June 22nd, 2012
8:42 am

Please send this to every elected local and national politician you know. This article is so well written, and nicely explains what public education for many has come to. So sad… when will we wake up and stop demanding something ( ie great teachers) for nothing ( ie low pay/low control).
We all talk a good game about valuing teachers– when will we as a country begin to pay them appropriately?

Another View

June 22nd, 2012
8:52 am

This is happening more at the university level than is being reported. Many faculty are leaving, especially leaving southern universities, for the similar reasons. Georgia is becoming a four year stop before taking better paid and better rewarded institutions in the north were research and teaching can both be accomplished.

Mortimer Collins

June 22nd, 2012
8:53 am

“I, too, resigned because I just couldn’t jump through any more hoops!”

Couldnt? Couldnt you say? Just more excuse making. You resigned because you WOULDNT jump thru more hoops. All these public sector employees think they should be exempt from hard work and/or earning their keep.

Seems we have many X-teachers/malcontents now jumping on the bandwagon. Please, no more of these pitiful storys as my tear glands are working overtime. Its a virtual waterworks over here.

☺☻Have A Smile!

June 22nd, 2012
8:55 am

Why feel bad? You are facing (to a degree) some of the same realizations that those of us working for private companies discover: management who doesn’t care, crappy employees and/or clientel (so to speak), and a lack of appropriate pay & awards for your effort.

In that case, just do like the rest of us do and move on to opportunities worth your time and effort.

It’s a lost cause when you have your heart in something and nobody cares. Why waste your time?

I had a friend who now is a teacher in a private school, and he’s really happy. Why not go down that road?

The guy who said “you won’t change anything” was WRONG. Your are changing something…you’re allowing yourself to be happy and move one to a fulfilling life. That is not something to take for granted!

Proud Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
8:55 am

To so many who are critical of this eloquent writing, you obviously have not taught or at least taught well. It’s a pity that someone took the time to teach you to read and write and forgot to teach you empathy and integrity toward education. I wonder how many of you would like to have your job rely on a group of fourteen year olds who include “children” who are sexually active in any alcove, have criminal records, did not pass a class in middle school, who will drop the “f” word over nothing, refuse to do classwork, snore in class, and crack rude jokes about anyone in the class who actually does want to learn in spite of their peers. Teachers are not public servants to suffer the ills and whims of so many rude people who hold teachers in disdain.

I wish there could be more teachers like Ms. Kohamin in our school systems. I wish the teacher like Ms. Kohamin could stay. There is nothing more rewarding that the one child from the class from hell who comes to you and says “I really liked your class. I hope I have you next year.” But one child out of 159 is not enough. Just why aren’t there more? Look in the mirror, Mortimer Collins. It’s “you” who are the problem.

Jumbo Mahone

June 22nd, 2012
8:56 am

You’re leaving over merit. I’m not teaching because of seniority. Education has been a cesspool and over time, the big chunks have floated to the top. The system needs a good clean out. A person with 30 years of diverse career and life backgrounds should be given an opportunity to earn the same salary that a stump with 30 years seniority earns now.

  

June 22nd, 2012
8:58 am

Seems we have many X-teachers/malcontents now jumping on the bandwagon. Please, no more of these pitiful storys as my tear glands are working overtime. Its a virtual waterworks over here.

Wow, way to really contribute there, douchebag.

You’re an IDIOT and contribute nothing

mark

June 22nd, 2012
9:00 am

Due to cuts in my teacher pay, I had to furlough my barber. When my principal asked if we would check our school email, “at least twice a week during the summer”, I did not have the heart to tell him due to budget cuts at my house, we are doing away with internet.

Starving Teachers Lawn Service is my summer gig, along with painting, pressure washing and another odd job I can round up. No more PLUs, no more lesson planning in the summer. I have to make money. when school starts in the fall, I will think about hands on, student driven lessons. But until then, I too have to fill my budget gaps.

Teaching is worse in FL

June 22nd, 2012
9:06 am

@8:58 sorry you took the bait…..just ignore the comments.

I took a break after 3 years and taught overseas. Made it back and taught again. If I wasn’t too old, I’d consider leaving and going back into the military……and least I was appreciated there.

I was shocked to see the largest number of retirements ever in my county-Forsyth. It’s not just a numbers game-there must be something to it.

Solutions

June 22nd, 2012
9:08 am

Oh, there is a pattern to the teacher complaints: bad students, bad parents, bad administrators, low salaries, no raises, but I was a bright spot — did I miss anything? Yet not one word on how to change the system, how to improve it, no strategic thinking, not even tactical thinking. I had hoped my suggestion that we limit free public education to no more than 10 years would spark some strategic thinking, but no. Nor was any thought given to IQ testing the teachers to screen out those with low IQ’s, or to IQ testing the students so they can be grouped for IQ appropriate education (with a provision that a student can waive the lower level education and choose to try the more difficult path set for the higher IQ children). The system is in failure mode, it is time to rethink the very concept of 14 years of free public education for all.

Lee

June 22nd, 2012
9:10 am

You know, all the years I was in business, every employee who quit ALWAYS blamed something else when the real reason was staring at them in the mirror. This lady is no different. She blames deceptive parents, lawyers, politicians, classes too large, and something that has not yet occurred – merit pay.

So, teaching was not for you. We get it. You were able to get out and get another job. Good for you. At the end of the day, your coworker was right – it will not change anything. The system will hire another warm body for the front of the class and the machine will chug along.

Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
9:11 am

“All these public sector employees think they should be exempt from hard work and/or earning their keep.”
@ Mortimer: So far I haven’t seen any of these “X-teacher/malcontents” say they quit teaching and are now sitting on their couch living off the government. They all left teaching to work hard and earn their keep at something other than teaching. Luckily there is a big world out there, and I commend all the teachers who have left the profession in order to find other work.

For the teachers still working in Georgia, I tip my hat to you. Keep working hard!

Mortimer Collins

June 22nd, 2012
9:16 am

LOL…So many of these “teachers” preaching to the choir, fanny-slapping and reinforcing their own delusions of grandeur…LOL.

This gets so old

June 22nd, 2012
9:22 am

My guess is “Jordan” has actually found herself a job at one of the teachers’ unions, cranking out endless soap opera filler for education blogs.

For union bosses and other Democrats, the battle against education reform continues—despite the recent setbacks in Louisiana and Wisconsin. Dues revenues are just too lucrative to give up. Taxpayers who expect more and parents who dream of giving their children a better chance in life be damned!

SGaDawgette

June 22nd, 2012
9:23 am

Mrs. Kohanim, please trust me when I tell you that at least one private school produces an identical environment. With a change of a word here and there, you have written my exact feelings on leaving that school and, quite possibly, the teaching profession forever. Best wishes moving forward.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 22nd, 2012
9:23 am

Jordan Kohanim

I am sorry to hear you are leaving. I have enjoyed reading your comments here, and feel I know a bit about you from what you have posted. Your situation is not very different from a lot of us, and believe me, if I had fewer years in, I would be looking into an alternative career too – and I am at a supportive school! Good luck in your new job. I hope you find peace and happiness.

I always find it odd that folks who say they want the best teachers in the classroom, seem unable to do anything but belittle teachers, even when it is obvious the teacher is one of the better ones. So much hate in the world. As my grandmother used to say, “You can’t stop the haters from hating, but you can be a light in the darkness.”

Be a light Ms. Kohanim

TeacherMom4

June 22nd, 2012
9:25 am

Ms. Kohanim, I am envious of your courage. For those who suggest changing schools, that is an option, but in this economy, open positions are a rarity. My county is not filling all vacancies, and our transfer window occurs before all openings are known. I interviewed for a job at a “better” school that turned out to be contingent upon a teacher there getting a transfer. Hers didn’t happen, so neither did mine. Sometimes you reach a point where the only way out of a situation is to quit, no matter how good you are.

Melanie Snow

June 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

I was a teacher with Jordan at the same school. Those of you that question her dedication and effectiveness as a teacher are not only wrong but are missing the point of this post. It is difficult to do our jobs when it has been decided to implement policies that do not help students learn or become better learners. For example the class size issue. Some thought cutting the budget by increasing class sizes was a good idea. It does save money by cutting back on the number of teachers needed but to what end. More students equal more grading, less one on one time, lower quality lessons, increased classroom management issues, increased safety issues (I was a Chemistry teacher), and less focus on the individual. In a 55 minute class with 32 students I physically could not give them each 2 minutes of my time. It isn’t that we are complaining that we have too much work, it is the complaint that the teaching quality is decreased because of constraints outside of our control. The frustration comes from wanting to continue providing a high quality education but that comes at a cost to us personally. Some of it also comes from the priorities of the administration. When students are pulled out of class to prepare for the graduation test it makes it clear that what I do in the classroom isn’t valued or respected. Jordan is a teacher that I look up to. She was one of a handful of teachers that I would try to model even though we taught different subjects. Only a teacher committed to the welfare of students would take on the added responsibility to run the student service meetings. Meetings where at times some teachers and even parents didn’t care enough about the student to show up. Jordan is an example of what mindless policies are doing to the classrooms in public education. Why isn’t it our priorty to give students everything they need to be successful and invest in the future of our country? If we think private schools are better why aren’t we copying that model to keep the best teachers and create the best learning environments for students? Look at the bigger picture. Do not attack this teacher but rather question what is driving great teachers like Jordan out of the classroom.

Maureen Downey

June 22nd, 2012
9:30 am

@Lee, The machine will chug along, but, as a parent, I have seen wonderful teacher leave and they are missed. We need to ask this question: Are we losing the most talented teachers, the ones who push boundaries, who make waves because they want more for their students, who are professional and expect to be treated as such? I think Jordan was one of those teachers.
When those teachers leave, we all lose. Because, as in any profession, there are only so many talented, top people. We ought to keep those people in all professions, medicine, journalism, law enforcement and teaching.
Maureen

Progressive Humanist

June 22nd, 2012
9:39 am

Solutions- Apparently you, like everyone else, whether they work at a gas station or in an office, think you’re an expert in education because you spent 12 years or so sitting in a classroom. Opinions are like a&%$*#s; everybody’s got one. The reason your suggestion didn’t spark “strategic thinking” is because it’s the kind of suggestion that comes from ill-informed people who know little about learning or teaching (like “Why don’t we just run education like a business” or “It’s simple- just pay teachers according to their performance- duh!”). Learn a little about the field of education and the extensive variables that public education deals with, as opposed to the limited, controlled variables that private schools are able to manipulate, and then come back and give us a realistic “solution”. See you in four years.

Allison

June 22nd, 2012
9:45 am

Once a man walked along a beach that was scattered with hundreds of starfish. He picked one up and threw it back in the ocean. His companion asked, “why bother? It’s so many, it won’t make a difference.” He answered, “it did to that one”.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
9:48 am

“We are a private school who takes everyone and charges half of what other private schools charge”

Yea, right, and I have a bridge in New York I want to sell you. You are comparing yourself to Public Schools? So you take everyone? You take SPED students? You take discipline cases (oh, no, you throw them out.)

I am not out to destroy public schools, but I make suggestions and no one listens. End social promotion. Enforce discipline. Enforce attendance. Grow a backbone and stand up to parents (like the father who said his son’s verbal assualt on a bus monitor was “a little mistake”). Evaluate teachers on their knowledge of the subject matter and their presentation skills, not on the “product”. End these crazy requirements of NCLB (dumbest name possible – how can you drag children along who WANT to be left behind). We see these suggestions made day in and day out in this blog, but schools always keep doing the opposite. That is why I say no high school student should EVER go to college and major in education, and certainly don’t expect to “make a difference”. You can’t. Only those who control the school system have the power to make a difference. And what you end up with there are the Beverly Halls and the Michele Rhees. Give up and find a better career path until schools come crashing down and THEN maybe changes will be made.

stainless

June 22nd, 2012
9:49 am

After reading all of these comments I think I see something that is being overlooked, in a big way. The teachers posting here almost unanimously cite the joy of making a difference as there reason for being a teacher. I’m not a teacher but I have kids. I get a sense that they are talking about that rush one gets when, with your help or wisdom, a child “gets” something complicated or counterintuitive. One can definitely get a kick out of that. I imagine that for difficult children that joy is compouned.
It seems to me that most of the teachers cite the ability to do that being taken away by bad management, administrators, laws etc.. and I think most of us whove dealt with bad management know how insidious their tactics can be and how their goals can be completely different, but abstractly aligned, with the mission statement. It seems to me that administration adds a level of chaos that should be examined more closely. Perhaps instead of paying teachers less, increasing class sizes and eliminating programs we should see if anything can be done about administrative mindset. I’ve heard complaints about teachers unions being too powerful and propping up a weak and underperforming system but how is that any worse than administrators and managers with too much power and misunderstanding or spreadsheet based approach to achieving the mission statement of teaching children well. As a very good public school math teacher once told me ” numbers don’t lie but you have to make sure you understand what they mean” I’ve encountered many managers that really have no idea how things work in the physical world but they get jobs managing things they don’t understand because they have some sort appropriate pedigree. Shouldn’t they be required to understand what they manage?

HS Math Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
9:50 am

With all the “experts” under the hood of education trying to fix perceived problems, it’s like getting a haircut from 5 drunk barbers at one time.

I fully understand this former Teacher’s exit from this mess. Retirement is near, thank the Good Lord.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
9:51 am

Ironically the ‘free marketers’ have it right. Not necessarily with ‘privatization’ (though a private consortium that could convince an asteroid to have a moment of Christ-like consciousness and sacrifice itself by imploding on every government education apparatus would no doubt be of benefit)

No Jordan leaving won’t change a thing. But the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Jordans who are exercising their ‘free market’ rights by leaving will eventually make an impact when teaching conditions become so bad that the only way to get someone to set foot in a classroom is to make it part of their probation terms.

You might even say, in some small way, good teachers LEAVING are doing more for their students in the long run than they are staying, as eventually their loss will be noticed.

Eventually.

drew (former teacher)

June 22nd, 2012
9:53 am

Maureen: “When those teachers leave, we all lose. Because, as in any profession, there are only so many talented, top people.”

And while the good teachers leave of their own accord, the bad ones cling like barnacles to a sinking ship.

Miss Priss!

June 22nd, 2012
9:54 am

Jordan, I’m feel your pain and disgust. I really do …

One day, right in the heat of a parent-teacher conference it finally happened: a mother answered her cell phone and kept talking. We all looked at each other, dumbly. I finally said to the mother, with a wave of my hand … Oh, please. Take your time.

I had a mother say to me about her son … Well, good luck with him, she said, because he’s one straaaaange little guy. He really was one strange little guy, so I wasn’t shocked at all when she muttered those words to me. But right in front of him?

The parents who complained about homework were the parents who were doing the homework.

Sometimes I gave out homework just to see the sneaky ways parents who did the homework would try to make it look like their child did the homework.

I worked for a principal once who was afraid of the parents and his teachers. He was visibly unnerved by the kids. Watching him get through the day was a source of unimaginable entertainment for every teacher in the building.

There are very few teachers and parents who are confident enough in themselves to give out tough love. The ones who are confident enough give it to themselves, too. That’s how they back it up.

Some parents are crazier than their kids. These folks have jobs and own homes and drive around in local traffic and go to Rotary meetings and go grocery shopping. You have to know the other things to look for to know they’re crazy, though. When you get good at it … all it takes is about ten seconds.

lovelyliz

June 22nd, 2012
9:55 am

I wasn’t going to be the high school math teacher who changed the world. I was going to be the high school math teacher who made a difference. I got my degree and within 5 years ended up in the military. I saw that as badly as we needed math teachers, it was all talk. When it’s cheaper to get the football coach to teach math or to increase the class size from 28 to 32 than it is to hire a qualified math teacher, that is what school districts will do.

I also noticed that while “those” kids were labeled problem children, it wasn’t “those” kids who to gave the most grief. Try disciplining a star athlete or the the child from those “good” families. You know, the ones who can run with a football or wear an outfit that costs more than you take home in a week.

Homeschooler

June 22nd, 2012
9:55 am

@ Solutions. I actually like your solution. Teach kids from age 6-16. Pre-K and Kindergarten is nice but unnecessary. Many of us learned to read and write in 1st grade and went on to be very successful academically. At 17 kids are either on the path to college or on another path (technical school, working etc..) Why wait until 18 to start working or going to technical school. At 17 you are essentially an adult. The government could pay for 12th grade for only those kids who academically deserve it. the 12 grade would be full of pre-college, bright, interested students. Right now we are paying for 14 yrs of education that could easily be taught in 11 yrs.
I’ve said before that another solution is hybrid situation for high schoolers. Kids should attend brick and mortar buildings 2-3 days a week and do the rest at home. This would instantly decrease the cost of utilities and transportation by half as well as many other costs.
Many don’t want to think outside the box or hear solutions.

More on topic I’m sorry for this teacher and wish her the best. Working for DFCS I can certainly relate to doing an undoable job. I can relate to too many people making decisions for all the wrong reasons and I can relate to your heart being totally committed to the kids and knowing that they are the ones who are suffering because you can’t do your job as it was meant to be done.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
9:57 am

“I will say that ” Only the dregs are left in public school” as one poster alluded to is not the case at my school. There are plenty of top notch hard working professional teachers that do the job everyday. ”

I am guessing you work at Walton High or Pope High in Cobb County, where every teacher would love to work – where the students are bright and dedicated and love to learn. I doubt seriously that you work in an inner-city school in APS, where conditions are just above POW camps.

Jimmy62

June 22nd, 2012
9:58 am

It’s time for a revolution in education. Students have changed, society has changed, technology has changed, the old ways won’t work any more. And there are too many stakeholders unwilling to allow the changes that are necessary. What are those changes? That’s not for me to answer, but I can tell you how to find those answers. Stop ruling education from the top, allow experimentation, allow change, allow innovation, if it ain’t broke, break it and put it back together better, and if it is broken already, make something new from the pieces. See what’s working and what’s not and let it evolve the same way life evolves in nature. The systems that survive will do so because they are better, and everyone else can copy their success.

It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be quick, but the route we are following now is also not easy, and not quick. and has the added disadvantage of having no hope.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
9:58 am

“You know, all the years I was in business, every employee who quit ALWAYS blamed something else when the real reason was staring at them in the mirror.”

Yes Lee I’m sure the people who quit working at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan quit NOT because of working conditions, but because they somehow failed to “look in the mirror.”

AlreadySheared

June 22nd, 2012
10:00 am

@Maureen,
I am a professional and I am treated like one (for the most part). Teachers are not treated like professionals.

Ron F.

June 22nd, 2012
10:08 am

@lovelyliz: that’s one of the reasons I volunteer to take all the classes labeled “at-risk”. Those kids genuinely want you to care and there is no deceptiveness in their actions. I’ve grown to love them over the years.

Jordan: It’s a shame to see you go. I’ve enjoyed your insight and perspective on this blog. In the end, you have to do what your heart tells you to do. I’m giving it one more year, and depending on how that goes, I too may find something else. It’s a scary thought, but I look ahead to the rollout of Georgia’s “new and improved” teacher evaluation model, and I get a sinking feeling in my stomach that it’s going to be more and more about the dog and pony show and less about actually teaching kids. I love teaching, I love the kids I work with, and I can’t imagine what else I would do with my life. But when the focus is on a number and a process, and not on the child, then I too have to wonder if it’s worth it.

Solutions

June 22nd, 2012
10:09 am

Progressive Humanist – I have 8 years post high school education, and multiple degrees, but I thank my lucky stars, none in the mumbo jumbo field called education. All my degrees are in the sciences or engineering, a field where we solve problems on a daily basis, hence my blog handle of “Solutions.” If we are going to solve the education problem, we are going to have to think outside the education “box,” but no one in education seems to be capable of doing so. Too bad for you and your future. The world has well over seven billion people, many of them much smarter than you, and I can assure you that some of them are thinking outside the box, they will surpass America in almost all fields if we do not change this disaster called public education. As the host dies, so too do the parasites die.

Another tired English teacher

June 22nd, 2012
10:12 am

I, too, have been experiencing the growing despair over the teaching profession. So much so, that I was shocked when one of my teenage students yelled at me, “Stop trying so hard to get me to pass! I’m going to fail!” This said despite working with his parents who were also trying to work with him. I do have much administrative support but am frustrated with most parental attitudes that if students aren’t learning it is my fault, the school’s fault, “I’ll sue” attitude. Students ultimately are responsible for their own learning. I don’t teach the accelerated classes as a choice. I teach those that don’t want to learn, yet I am amazed at the educational neglect prevalent in society. I have had several students who could not read. Once I discovered this and contacted the parents and administration to find a solution, the student was withdrawn and sent to another school, most of them were exceptional athletes who weren’t making the grade. I am finding that I cannot fix a societal ill, yet I see it every day in the classroom. I cling to the few successes in hopes that it will carry me through the continuous failures. Somedays the failures seem overwhelming, and I contemplate the rewards in the greener pasture on the other side.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
10:12 am

“With all the “experts” under the hood of education trying to fix perceived problems, it’s like getting a haircut from 5 drunk barbers at one time.”

The problem with all the experts is that they will look at everything except the real problems. It is like getting a haircut from 5 drunk barbers who think that the hair is located on the feet.

Seriously – Beverly Hall and Michele Rhee – what did YOU do to solve the problem of absenteeism? Discipline problems? Social promotion? Did you support your teachers over the Nazi parents?

Hmmm…vast silence.

No, all they did was say – give me these results on the tests…OR ELSE.

Jack

June 22nd, 2012
10:14 am

Someone above mentioned the “core” problem. That problem won’t be discussed in this blog or any other public forum.

This gets so old

June 22nd, 2012
10:15 am

Someone once described teacher union meetings as venues “where middle-aged women with broad bottoms and unhappy home lives gather to carp about the unfairness of life.”

Perhaps it’s unfair that Jordan’s grousings bring it to mind. Perhaps not. But really, she does go on a bit too much about things her co-teachers learned to successfully accommodate.

One hopes she took that lesson to her new career—whatever it is.

Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
10:16 am

@ Mountain Man: Do you honestly think that education is the only system in which the suburban areas have better conditions than inner-city ones? Yes, there may be better teachers at better schools in higher socioeconomic areas, but tell me which industry this is not true in?

Can you fault teachers for wanting to teach at good schools???

Sigh...

June 22nd, 2012
10:18 am

In less than twenty years, this state will be nothing more than a bunch of Ayn Rands and Billy Madisons. And they’ll still be arguing about how its the teachers unions (that don’t exist) and liberals (who barely exist in this state) at fault for why Georgia is falling further and further behind its peers…

catlady

June 22nd, 2012
10:19 am

Jordan, I had sensed a difference in your postings. Now I know why.

“Your kids” are going to miss you. Your colleagues will also. I am glad, however, that you have recognized the need to step back. This “job” is the most important one there is, IMHO. And you can’t do a good job half-way. Some teachers respond by pulling their hearts back, and go through the motions. You are one who cannot, and I applaud you for recognizing it.

For the first time, I am thinking about leaving teaching also. I thought I would do it forever. But I find it is making me sick, literally ill, and I may have to leave because my body can’t take it. Even more important is my heart. I am angry too much at stupidlty and laziness and folks who won’t address the needs of the students who quite obviously, if you have ever been in a classroom before, have problems that are compromising their learning, and have been for 4-5 years. Being angry is a killer also.

Thank you, Jordan. Best wishes. Please keep on responding here, as you frequently bring light to the darkness and calm discourse to the frustration we feel.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
10:19 am

Solutions – since you are an “engineer”, imagine at your job you are told to build a building, but you are only given half the amount of money you need, told you are not allowed to use any metal or wood, your are not allowed to tell your construction workers to show up or not, and you are given a blueprint that was drawn up by a TEACHER, and told you must follow it to the letter, and then told if the building is not built on time and under budget, YOU WILL BE FIRED.

Go to it, man.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
10:23 am

“Can you fault teachers for wanting to teach at good schools???”

Certainly not. Of course a lot of Education students probably go into teaching thinking “I will teach in East Cobb or in a private school”. Unfortunately, there are very limited numbers of openings in those shools and, to find a job, they end up teaching in some hell-hole of a school and then leave after 5 years. But with this seemingly endless supply of new, rainbow-eyed teachers coming out of colleges, the administrations of those hell-holes think they don’t have to improve anything. No shortage of teachers.

Jimmy62

June 22nd, 2012
10:24 am

Sigh: Right, because this is the only state where teachers get frustrated and parents like to sue. It doesn’t happen anywhere else.

Cindy Spradlin

June 22nd, 2012
10:26 am

I, too, left two years ago after 34 years of teaching. I gave up my passion – working with young people – because I could no longer stand the politics of education. It was never about the kids, they were wonderful but the adults running the system weren’t interested in students. I believed in “learning for the knowledge, not the numbers” but in Fulton County, as in many places, it’s all about the numbers. The attitude of the leaders forces those who are in the classroom to become frustrated and despondent. I taught because I loved seeing that “ah-ha” moment when a student learned something new but eventually the politics crushed my spirit.

Nikole

June 22nd, 2012
10:27 am

I will no longer neglect myself for the sake of others’ children.

I am not leaving teaching, but I am going to live by this statement. When I am with my students, they will get ALL of me. I am extremely dedicated to their learning and well-being. In the 30 minutes after they have gone, I will complete paperwork and attend meetings. And when that time is up, I will be go home.

BlahBlahBlah

June 22nd, 2012
10:27 am

In 20 years public school will be like Medicaid: used only by people who have no other option. We are able to homeschool. Yesterday my wife said a friend of hers was asking her about homeschooling because she found out her kid’s kindergarten class would be 30 kids (Dekalb County) and she didn’t see it getting better any time soon.

Those with money will go private. Those with time will go the homeschool route. There are so many resources out there that nearly anyone can homeschool their kids at least through 7th-8th grade.

BlahBlahBlah

June 22nd, 2012
10:30 am

@Sigh…

Teacher’s unions may not exist in Georgia. But the insane tenure rules exist, and it’s a huge problem.

Cliff Higgins

June 22nd, 2012
10:32 am

to adam… poor misguided fellow. Your last statement pretty much sums up your lack of knowledge on what really goes on in schools. “Do what your principal tells you to do and teach !!!” Often, principals are hindrances to teaching and not helpful. I’ve been teaching 15 years. Schools are not educational institutions. They are political institutions. At the administrative level decisions are made based on outside pressures (community, parents, state/federal government regulations, etc.). My wife works in the corporate world and all of the same things exist. The difference is that in a company, there is a bottom line, profit. In education the bottom line of student learning is so obscured that it cannot be objectively and reliably measured anymore. I am with Jordan. I resigned my teaching job this year because of a truly poor administrator. I am not willing to play the political games that my (ex) principal is. Maybe I will teach again, maybe not.

This gets so old

June 22nd, 2012
10:34 am

@MountainMan: When tuition vouchers or something very like it come to Georgia … we will see the supply of private school seats (and teaching posts) expand the way only a free market can.

And parents will be happier with their (own) choices, as will teachers. Just not so much the union bosses and their champions on this blog.

Georgia Coach

June 22nd, 2012
10:35 am

@lovelyliz sometimes the football coach is a dern good teacher. Many us have the ability to relate to kids in a way that non-coaches can’t.

Nikole

June 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

OAN: I like how people have totally ignored Mortimer, adam or whatever other name this person is posting under. LOL The civil conversation just keeps moving as if he/she hasn’t said a word!

williebkind

June 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

Would it not be great if education was voluntary? Most teachers gripe and complain but it is the government involvement in schools that makes it a terrible work place. Public schools are a progressive liberals kingdom and it will never get better.

JB

June 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

I walked away from public education after being laid off every year for the first three years I taught. Never had I found a profession so against developing their employees! I taught in Chicago Public Schools and was always cut at the end of the year due to “projected low enrollment”. Some summers those turned out to be – instead of going to professional workshops and preparing for the next year, I was standing with thousands of other new teachers at job fairs, competing against them for just an interview. I was lucky the first year I got cut and was hired back by the school two days before school started. The following year…not so lucky. There were ten of us cut – I didn’t get a job until October. If I was a parent, that’s what I would be angry about – the turnover in schools, at least up in Chicago, is ridiculous. It wasn’t unusual for a teacher not to teach the same grade level year after year. I don’t know how you’re supposed to get good at your craft if you can’t go back and do it more than once! I miss teaching, and might go back, but I’m looking hard at private schools and moving to another state to do so. Large class sizes and teacher burn-out are some of the biggest challenges facing education today – it’s time teachers threw away the unions and began their own professional organization. As long as the states issue licenses and certifications, they hold the power. Teachers are professionals – it’s time they fulfilled that expectation! And Jordan – the best thing about not teaching is going to the bathroom WHENEVER YOU WANT! Enjoy it!

Rosanne O'Connor

June 22nd, 2012
10:44 am

To Adam and Mortimer…. You’re both idiots and more than likely products of a public school education. When you cant talk to a student after class without a “witness” in the room and you have to filter everything you say to students and parents under the filter of “will I get sued if I say this?”,,, the system is hopelessly flawed. We need to sweep the decks clean and start all over again. But who will do that… the scary, embarrassing, illiterate people on the School Board? God help us and our children! Jordan has left something that she loves to her core because it is an untenable situation. There IS a time to walk away and save yourself! I wish her bon fortne.

Tonya C.

June 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

Jordan, I knew it was you. Maureen mentioned some teachers leaving in another blog post and I just knew you would be one of them. Not because I wanted it to be, but I could sense your disillusionment in your posts.

You fought the good fight, and I am extremely proud of you. When good people leave any organization, it matters. I’ve been in private industry long enough to realize that. Public schools are no different. I do wish you the best in your future endeavors.

BlahBlahBlah:

I’m afraid you are right. You broke it down exactly how it will happen and no one wants to acknowledge the larger effect that will have on our populace.

Mortimer Collins

June 22nd, 2012
11:02 am

“Look in the mirror, Mortimer Collins. It’s “you” who are the problem.”

Im neither the problem or solution. My children are grown and out of this debacle that has become public school. You democrats wanted less money for defense and more for education. All you received was more fraud, deceit and lies. SO, enjoy the mess for which you are responsbile and good luck cleaning it up…LOL.

“To Adam and Mortimer…. You’re both idiots and more than likely products of a public school education.”

I cant speak for Adam but Im a product of both. When I transferred from private to public school I was Light Years ahead of my classmates steam rolled them. It was so easy. I did, however, transfer from private school, my senior year, and graduated from public school.

SO, Rosanne, lol, other than regurgitating the same tripe that fills this blog, what is your point? Do you have a point, do you know what a “point” is?

Here is an idea…lets do the liberal thing and toss more money at it/into the toilet….

BUUUUWWWAAAHHH HAHAHAHAAA!!

William Casey

June 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

I was saddened but not surprised to read that Jordan had retired from teaching. One segment from her essay captures the essence of our school problem:

“Their purpose in school is not learning — it is education. And there is a difference between learning and education. I didn’t realize it before. I guess that makes me very naive.”

“Learning” is all about opening the mind and developing questioning skills. “Education” is about “processing human resources” to fit into the work force. Pink Floyd investigated this phenomenon thirty years ago in their “Another Brick in the Wall,” but I’m sure that Jordan’s too young to remember that. IMHO, both “learning” and “education” are needed from our schools. However, in the 37 years since I began teaching, the latter has incrementally squeezed the former out of our schools. It’s an often a lonely and discouraging battle for teachers advocating “learning.”

When I began teaching in 1975, the “system” at least paid lip service to the notion that teachers were professionals who could be trusted to teach. Under the current “Wal-Mart Model” of education, even the lip service is gone. How many intelligent people are willing to be lowly “human resources processors” following lock-step the directions of “education mandarins,” self-styled experts who haven’t seen the inside of a real classroom since Lincoln was a cadet? Not many.

One thing I like about my old friend, SOLUTIONS, is that unlike many blogger/critics here, he actually presents ideas which may be part of the….. soluton. His ideas concerning limiting schooling to10 years and abilty grouping deserve investigation. They probably won’t be because they are politically incorrect at the moment. There are problems with the ideas. However, their investigation is part of….. learning.

One of my own ideas for keeping great teachers like Jordan in the classroom is to have EVERYONE in an education “leadership” position….. Arne Duncan, Superintendends, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, Assistant Pricipals, Teacher Education Professors….. EVERYBODY….. teach one class a day in a real school. No “cameo” appearances. The nice thing about this idea is that it would not cost one dime of taxpayer money.

Good luck to Jordan. She’s probably had more influence than she realizes. I keep up with hundreds of my former students and players on Facebook. I hope that she will. It’s an eye-opener.

Progressive Humanist

June 22nd, 2012
11:18 am

Solutions- So if you have studied only engineering, which has clear, well defined, mathematical answers to problems, then you likely know little about the human sciences, which have an almost infinite variety of variables that can influence the outcome. This is why the “solutions” escape those who mistakenly believe themselves to be experts and expect a cut-and-dry, black-and-white answer to reveal itself.

You seem to put a lot of faith in IQ tests. IQ scores have historically and still for the most part show clear delineations between races. If we were to follow your suggestions we’d end up with the advanced academic classes filled with Asian students, then the level right below that filled with White students, and the “lower level” classes filled with mostly minority students. It doesn’t take a genius to realize how this would be detrimental to American society.

In addition, while a high IQ is a requirement for the very highest levels of success, it is not in and of itself the determining factor. You won’t find any neurosurgeons, scientists, or astronauts with low IQs. But you will find some homeless people and prisoners with high IQs. A high IQ doesn’t guarantee success. There are other factors like industriousness, a sense of morality, and social skills that can be equally, if not more, important. And a high IQ isn’t necessary for positions that we’d consider to be below the highest levels of success but successful nonetheless.

Instead I would recommend that students are able to track themselves based on their interests, which can be a much stronger indicator of success than IQ. I’d prefer to have a mechanic work on my car who has a high IQ because he chose that route due to his interest in the field, rather than a mechanic who was tracked into the vocational program because his IQ wasn’t high enough for the academic track. The same goes for an electrician or plumber.

I’d have no problem chopping off the last two years of high school and allowing students to pursue either two more years of vocational or academic coursework, based on their interests. And it would be perfectly fine to have admission standards based on prior performance for either of those two tracks. We should probably do more of that at the college level as well and constrict the channels that lead to the plethora of liberal arts degrees.

But once you get into labeling students and employees based on IQ scores and limiting educational opportunities for the poorest people who need those opportunities the most, then you begin to reject the ideals that are at the very foundation of this country, the ideals that made this country great to begin with. No thanks. You’ve got to learn more about learning and educational measurement, and then come up with something much better than you’ve suggested, and it still won’t be a tight, neat answer that solves all the problems in education. Human systems don’t work like that.

Courtney

June 22nd, 2012
11:20 am

This is sad news, because you know there are hundreds of “Jordan”s out there. Georgia is killing its educational system and we are becoming Mississippi.

William Casey

June 22nd, 2012
11:27 am

PROGRESSIVE HUMANIST just explained SOME of the problems related to ability grouping. However, those problems don’t preclude investigating such a system. The problem with the “follow what I’m interested in Model” is (a) that no 15-year old can evaluate his/her aptitude, and (b) society simply won’t support 100 million movie stars. Perhaps a compromise?

Out of the biz also

June 22nd, 2012
11:29 am

It’s hard to believe any school system could be worse than Richmond County. Nepotism, ignorance, and “reverse-racism” are the order of the day, every day. It will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Catherine A. Rotello

June 22nd, 2012
11:33 am

As a experienced teacher and administrator, it is despairing to see where education is today in the U.S.. I had to take a position in Nigeria as Head of School and was able to make this school one of the premier educational facilities in the Federal Capitol Territory. This was the pinnacle of my career but had to return home because of my mother’s failing health. Upon my return to Illinois, it has been impossible to find any administration or teaching positions due to the fact that this state has the most credit debt in the entire country. My passion IS in education but teachers just out of school are getting the jobs as they are less expensive to pay for. I am fluent in Spanish, with a bilingual certification and endorsement for ELL, a regular and special educator with a MA Ed in Educational Leadership. It’s often not what you know but WHO you know.
The stakes are high and the priorities are scores on standardized assessments for AYP (annual yearly progress). There is little time for science or social studies and often music and art are cut from the curriculum. I have been out of a job for almost a year and don’t know where to turn any more…I understand why people leave the profession. It is not the way it used to be!

William Casey

June 22nd, 2012
11:35 am

@MORTIMER: don’t know for sure but it seems that you’re a bitter old man. As The Who (among others) put it: “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” Well, you could try watching re-runs of “Hannity.” You are his demographic.

MB

June 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

Sad, sad, but hopefully a respite for Jordan to recharge and come back stronger – and able to advocate without fear of retribution in the interim.

In a strange timing twist, from an education listserv today: a workshop on Parental Rights in Special Education. If you want a feel for what Jordan alludes to regarding parents with their lawyers, see the website for the attorney presenting this workshop.:”If your previous efforts to advocate for your child have failed, we can represent you in meetings with the school district, to bring the “heavy hitters” to the table to make sure those laws are followed.” http://www.vrolijklaw.com/

Part of the problem now is that general ed and gifted students may be, by waiver of state law, placed in classes of essentially unlimited sizes. Since students placed in special education are covered under federal regulations (mandates set by feds but funded primarily by local tax dollars), these parents DEMANDING the best for their children are depriving other children of a right to a FAPE. (Yes, I agree the federal government needs to get out of education if they don’t intend to fund what they require!)

William Casey

June 22nd, 2012
11:44 am

@GEORGIA COACH (10:35): Double amen!!! However, the problem comes when coaches are placed teaching academic classes for which they have little aptitude or interest. It happens. Some of us can do both. Many can’t. Nevertheless, you are right about the bond between player and coach.

Talktome

June 22nd, 2012
11:45 am

If any of you want to get together and start a business, something in education, I’m on board.

Goodforkids

June 22nd, 2012
11:45 am

As a Fulton county parent, SADNESS. As a watcher of education in the nation, DESPAIR! This highly skilled professional is the type of teacher we should be recruiting and doing all we can to keep in the field. Instead, we lose her.

Progressive Humanist

June 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

William Casey- I wasn’t suggesting that any of the vocational tracks involve courses on rapping, becoming a celebrity, or video games. Students could either choose from the vocational courses offered (welding, plumbing, electronics, agriculture, etc.) or they could choose from a number of academic tracks, or they could choose none of the above and to apply at the Taco Bell instead. And aptitude scores could play a role in that process just as prior achievement in school would. This might actually drum up some competition and motivation for those last two years and beyond.

Believe me, I’m well aware that high school students’ interests often fall far from the academic realm. But it also doesn’t do much good to force already unmotivated students through a college-prep track when they have no interest or intention of ever going that route (regardless of IQ). Then, when they have no skills and few employment options they go back to GPC 8 years later to learn what they should have learned for free in high school, and are not successful the second time around either. We can and should do a better job of preparing them while they have the opportunity for a free education.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 22nd, 2012
11:52 am

@Mortimer Collins “BUUUUWWWAAAHHH HAHAHAHAAA!!”

Yep. That just about sums up the level of your discourse.

Dr. Steve Herring

June 22nd, 2012
11:56 am

Well said and amen….I am 3 years from retiring from the education field and the changes I have seen in the past few years are very disturbing. It seems like the “bottom line” is- “too much politics”. We as teachers (those of us that are truly “in the trenches”) want what is best for the children. That is not the case in today’s public education.

Good Mother

June 22nd, 2012
12:12 pm

It’s a good thing when anyone recognizes that are not eqiupped to handle their jobs. Her leaving the profession is a good thing. She’s honest. She couldn’t handle the stress and she left. It makes way for someone else who is willing and not for someone to just stccik around for thirty years to collect a pension. I wish more educators had her attitude — when they recognize they are over their head — it’s time to leave.
I wish more teachers did as she has.

carlosgvv

June 22nd, 2012
12:16 pm

No supprise here – its’ trial lawyers 1, teachers and pupils – 0.

Melissa

June 22nd, 2012
12:23 pm

Bravo for staying in as long as you have. Our children were lucky to have had a wonderful teacher such as yourself. I am a 30 year veteran myself and am in a retirement program in SC. I will finish up in 4 years. Teaching has been the most rewarding of careers, but I would not be able to do 30 years in the climate of today’s broken education system. We used to teach “children”, now we teach “to a test”. I too am very sad at the state of education today. I never thought I would be excited to retire, I thought I would do this until I had to be carried out. Rest assured you are joined in all of your sentiments by a majority of your fellow teachers.

TheGoldenRam

June 22nd, 2012
12:26 pm

First, a sincere thank you to Jordan for the years she did devote to teaching. I’m not a teacher, have no desire to be a teacher, but nonetheless have huge respect for those that do the job well.
I think the hardest part for her is the dying/death of idealism. Many of us know that feeling. I think it’s better to have been an idealist, and have lost it, than never have been one at all. It makes people better human beings and it helps them bring moral value to many different environments and situations.
Jordan, a great many wonderful things have started at the moment someone ‘quit’ a bad job, ‘quit’ a bad relationship, or ‘quit’ some other endeavor that was only moving toward continued disappointment.
I quit a private sector job a few years ago that I had been in for five years. It paid great money, but the conditions were really bad and I knew I couldn’t change them. What ultimately convinced me to quit was the profound disconnect between my world inside the organization and the real world outside of it. ALL my former coworkers were happier than I had ever seen them before! That was a huge warning sign. We experienced huge turnover at this company. Our management always had excuses. Excuses would quickly turn defensive in nature. “Everyone is replaceable.” “They’ll regret that they left.” and of course, “Your leaving won’t change anything”. It’s all lies. However, to a broken and failing organization or entity, all they can usually muster at the end is some parting shot. Your leaving will change something. That being your entire life and future. You won’t regret leaving, because like all my fellow coworkers that left a bad company and my mom’s teachers friends that burned out in the system, they are almost universally more content in life having made the change. And if you were a great teacher, not only are you irreplaceable, but you’re VERY valuable to many other causes and purposes in life.
Public education as we’ve know it is irretrievably broken for a host of reasons and there is no putting Humpty-Dumpty back together. The future is charters, vouchers, hybrids and a who knows what else. The status quo is absolutely unsustainable. Bad school systems are like radioactive bombs. They damage cities and communities in the short-term and make them unlivable in the long-term. Motivated professionals, companies, families and others from the area flee from the immediate effects. New people to fill those roles avoid the area because of residual effects.
Something that is very eerie about Dekalb County, GA are all the similarities it shares with both Shelby County, TN(Memphis) and Wayne County, MI(Detroit) in the ’70s & ’80s. Those areas started dying primarily because their school systems went into tailspins. The pace of the devastation is what is so stunning. In one generation of maybe two, hundreds of square miles went from prosperity to desolation.
If people feel that they are losing their community values & assets(few things can be more important than a good neighborhood school), they are going to begin to panic. When they realize that political & bureaucratic roadblocks will prevent them from seeking local resolution, they will MOVE.
I also agree with Beverly Fraud. The longer great teachers stay in bad systems, the longer this country has to wait to realistically address the failings of this system. Or as BlahBlahBlah put it, public schools are going to devolve into being the Medicaid of Education. Geesh, that’s a scary analogy.

SadParent

June 22nd, 2012
12:36 pm

It saddens me to read this article. I was a very hands on parent when my children were in school. As a parent I became very frustrated with public eduucation. My son started school in England many years ago, their schools were so different. Once we returned to the US my fight was trying to make sure he was challenged enough to not be bored and disruptive.

I am so thankful that my youngest is going into her Sr. year of college and I no longer have to , personally, worry about public education. It’s sad when in GA your only option for a good education is home schooling or private school. Unfortunatel that aren’t many GOOD public schools left in metro Atlanta. With the housing market being as it is , buying and selling isn’t an option to get in those areas now. Besides that gets old because it did for me.

I pray this will be a wake up call to those who are in position to change this. There are some of us parents who truly value these teachers.

Solutions

June 22nd, 2012
12:40 pm

Good comments from both Progressive Humanist and William Casey, maybe we can find a new approach to education. I would not ban anyone from opting into a more advanced class if they can do the work. But the class should not be slowed down to allow them to keep up, rather they get the chance to try, but if they fail, back they go to the more basic course. It is at the high IQ end that we are failing the most, and that is the end that matters. I read comments above that some kids are only in school because the law requires it, so change the law, let them drop out at anytime, otherwise they just drag everyone else down with them. Let them keep their entitlement to 10 years free public education, so if they drop out after 6th grade, work for five years, and want to go back, they still get 4 more years free public adult education.

NTLB

June 22nd, 2012
12:50 pm

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
Albert Einstein

Michael Moore

June 22nd, 2012
1:04 pm

This is part of an op ed piece in the Savannah Morning News on Tuesday:

The just-released “Metlife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy” reveals the extent of the rapid decline of a profession. Ten years of focus on high stakes testing, tying teacher evaluations to students’ test scores on frequently-flawed and so-called objective tests, teacher reform focused solely on rooting out bad teachers and failing to develop the whole profession, budget cuts, furloughs, increases in class sizes, the stripping of the arts from the curriculum, punitive legislation has clearly taken its toll.

In just the past two years the percentage of teachers who previously reported being very satisfied with their jobs fell from 59% percent to 44%.

The number of teachers contemplating leaving the profession has increased to 29% from 17%.

Your child’s chance of having a contented teacher is less than one in two, but the chance of your child having a teacher who desires another line of work is nearly one in three.

According to the Metlife survey, teachers who like their jobs and where they work feel secure, and are seen as professionals by the communities they serve. They feel they have opportunities for professional development, time to collaborate with each other, and have support in engaging and involving parents in collaborative work. Kind of like professionals in other fields. Does this sound like your community?

Or does your school sound like this: teachers in schools with layoffs are likely to have seen the elimination of programs and services such as teacher/parent liaisons, and content and curriculum coaches. These teachers are more likely to have experienced reductions or eliminations of programs in arts, band, chorus, foreign language and/or physical education, and the elimination of health and social services.

The cumulative effects are on things only those working there notice: dirty rooms, inefficient bus scheduling, poorly-maintained technology, outdated learning materials, insufficient quantities of supplies, and a lot of people who wish they were elsewhere.

Rockerbabe

June 22nd, 2012
1:21 pm

” Where the responsibility for success and failure relies on everyone but the child.” That says it all right there. If one wants to better public education, then the politicans and their surrogates are going to have to get gone. They complicate everything, have no respect for the teachers, their work, the difficulty of their jobs and the selfishness of the parents. I wish Jordan well in her new career.

Valarie E. Roberts

June 22nd, 2012
1:23 pm

Dear Ms. Jordan Kohanim,

I am very saddened to hear your story because I also feel the very same way that feel. However, I am only staying with the profession until God moves me to another. I am currently in the formulation process of starting my own Youth Resource Center in the Henry County are because I would like to be a positive influence in young peoples’ lives beyond the restraints of the school system. I have just completed my 10th year of teaching and I absolutely love what I do. Nevertheless, I have recognized that the government and elected official only see our students as a number and not as our future. If they don’t be careful, the school systems will end up just like the prison system which has also gotten out of control because it was all about numbers.
I know that many people may not agree with my next statement, but I truly feel like when they took prayer out of schools…the devil took over!!! That is also another reason the world is in such a disarray…they are trying to take God out of EVERYTHING!!!
My heart bleeds for great teachers all over the world and also for the negative people that commented on this article. These people really don’t understand the seriousness of having affectionate & effective teachers to equip our future generations with a quality education.

God

June 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

Oh my goodness! The devil took over? Does your principal now have a tail and pointy red ears? I’ve got to get back into the schools immediately! (Of course, I’m Zeus, not your Christian god, so you may be a little disappointed.)

Ron F.

June 22nd, 2012
1:37 pm

“I wish more teachers did as she has.”

The problem is GM, they are. As Michael pointed out just after your post, the likelihood of having a teacher who is contemplating leaving the profession is one in three. That does something to the quality of the teacher and his/her dedication to the profession. That may not seem like an alarming number, but it is going up quickly, and that will only be bad for education. As a teacher and a parent, I already see the need for concern. What happens when half of all teachers, good and bad, are leaving the profession? Schools need a dedicated faculty willing to stay long term. They don’t need a revolving door of new teachers, and they don’t need to be consistently running off the good ones.

Raisin Toast Fanatic

June 22nd, 2012
1:56 pm

You know, all the years I was in business, every employee who quit ALWAYS blamed something else when the real reason was staring at them in the mirror. This lady is no different. She blames deceptive parents, lawyers, politicians, classes too large, and something that has not yet occurred – merit pay.

Yes absolutely SHE was the reason. Because she’s sick of it and has a passion for what she wants to do therefore has had enough.

Your statement is illogical as it attempts to conclude that her reasons are not legitimate and/or do no exist.

Which is clearly not the case, based on facts that 1) we see demonstrated by schools/students/administration, and 2) are widely known, often from personal experience.

Passing off her reasons as “blaming” doesn’t serve to invalidate her motivation for leaving at all. Rather, it makes you sound like a know-it-all who in fact has little knowledge of what goes on.

Unlike yourself I’m not going to play Internet Expert and I’ll give this woman the benefit of the doubt after having heard from a school teacher related to me just what kind of crap they have to deal with.

Also, a business environment has different variables than a public school. A bit of apples vs. oranges!

lovelyliz

June 22nd, 2012
1:57 pm

@Georgia Coach while it’s true that some coaches can teach very well, I’ve never known one with a bachelors degree in math much less a masters. Their emphasis and talents are geared towards coaching, usually with a staff of direct assistants behind them, not teaching and there is a difference.

Dr. John Trotter

June 22nd, 2012
2:00 pm

Good luck, Jordan! There is indeed life after teaching! The foolishness that goes on in the name of public education is enough to make someone who is conscientious downright disillusioned, but I know that you will be successful in whatever endeavor you choose. Public education will be at a loss…again. Too many good people are exiting the ranks.

lovelyliz

June 22nd, 2012
2:00 pm

Teacher turnover isn’t just a problem in public schools. My sister’s best friend would never consider sending her kids to a public school, but in they’ve been in 3 different private schools and the current facility has a turn over rate for teachers/head masters that rivals the public system.

Maureen Downey

June 22nd, 2012
2:09 pm

@Lovely, Actually, turnover is higher in private schools, according to the research.
Maureen

Mathme

June 22nd, 2012
2:12 pm

@ This gets so old – Apparently you can’t read. I can see why you’re angry with edumacations.

Joyce

June 22nd, 2012
2:15 pm

Whoever said “your leaving won’t change anything” is wrong. I know firsthand how your work with the high school debate team did change my child. She has now gone on to her college Model United Nations team and has used the skills you taught her to accomplish a great deal. What has changed is that the high school no longer has a devoted educator to lead the debate team and there will be students who are missing out in the wonderful opportunity to be part of such a team. It is my humble opinion that there is a lot wrong in the public school system because the teachers are not given the opportunity to teach. I think because the private school setting has fewer widget counters there is more freedom to teach and the bonus is you can talk about morals and values and heaven forbid “God”. There are opportunities out there for people with your skills, perhaps a home school group or volunteer tutoring.
My son graduated from your high school this year and I can tell you he had an awful English teacher. There were no tests in his class until the last few weeks of school. The teacher turned on movies and then told the students to write a paper about the movie. If your opinion didn’t match his opinion then your grade reflected his dismay. He used the same criteria for class presentations. In the last two weeks of school my son tells me he played the same movie three times! Absent from his teaching methods, the critical thinking our children must learn to compete in this complicated world.
I am confident you will find your way to making a difference in the lives of children once again. For now, rest and reflect on a job well done and ready yourself for the next opportunity.

William Casey

June 22nd, 2012
2:21 pm

@PROGRESIVE HUMANIST: I’m with you on your 11:46 clarification.

Brian Aiken

June 22nd, 2012
2:27 pm

“Proud Teacher” said most of what I would have. Those who decry the state of public education are, like most of us, products of the same system they blame for all the faults of society. I have over the span of 37 years seen about everything one can in public education. [I include a year off to get my master's degree and three years teaching 1/2 time since "retiring"]. I have also had my own business so I DO know that side of the coin as well.
Teachers teach for one reason: they love kids. Like parents, they make huge sacrifices for their students. When a teacher feels appreciated, it is almost addictive. When those efforts are met with hostility, it can be crushing. I have seen both and continue to teach because I am in a supportive school with great parents and kids.
I am saddened by Jordan’s decision but knowing the years of 70 and 80 hour weeks she has put in, I understand why she has chosen to move on. I support her in this career move.

(Side note to Mortimer: If you are going to insult someone, please don’t plagiarize. At least Adam didn’t copy someone else’s work.)

BehindEnemyLines

June 22nd, 2012
2:35 pm

re: “Everyone in my family has been part of public education” … been feeding at the public trough for generations eh?

Fled

June 22nd, 2012
2:37 pm

@Solutions: Your ideas have merit. I’ve long been an advocate of joining the last two years of high school with the first two years of college. For far too many students (not all, of course), senior year is wasted time that we cannot afford.

Someone mentioned the British system, and students there finish secondary studies after tenth grade. Everyone knows what is expected through a national curriculum, and the final work is assessed by outside reviewers, putting the teacher in more of a role of mentor and guide. After that, students can leave school or continue on to college for two years before university. When British education works well, it is one of the best systems anywhere in the world.

In European systems like Germany and Switzerland, students are tracked very early into academic or vocational tracks. I wonder if such an approach would work in the lawyer-happy USA, though, because not everyone is ever seen as college material. Also, what is going to happen to all the higher education institutions, especially the ones with directions in their names, when students are no longer shuttled off to college routinely? Anyone going to be happy when West this and Southwestern that are shuttered?

One of the good things about the American system is that we give people third, fourth, fifth, even sixth chances at an education. Although I admire the system in the UK, it is also true that if you are more than 25 years old (or so), you will not be admitted for doctoral studies. Also, they really don’t allow for people to change careers by returning for further education. One shot is all you get.

I spoke with a teacher from Finland this week, and he explained that teachers there simply would not put up with standardized testing or curriculum or any of that nonsense. What he said that struck me strongest was, “When I speak to parents, they treat the information the same as if I were a physician or a psychologist. We are respected.” Any teachers in the USA feel that way?

Good teachers like Jordan have had enough. They are giving up, throwing in the towel, and fleeing in droves.

Brandon D.

June 22nd, 2012
2:38 pm

As a person in a teacher prep program in college, this is a discouraging read however I can understand where she is coming from. It all comes back to who the decision makers are in the process of public education. The decision makers are the people with the most money who have never stepped foot in a classroom and think that the only way to improve our educational system is to turn children into numbers. Why is it that when policy makers talk about changing education they talk about the children and caring for the welfare, but when it comes to putting this into action they all go where the money is? Something is wrong with that.

Then, when it comes to blame, the first and most logical choice is the teacher. “The students aren’t learning, well it must be the teacher.” How about the constant hoops and obstacles teachers must deal with before they can even think about teaching an effective lesson or offering quality instruction? In the long run, as long as the people making the decisions continue to have little to absolutely no experience in the classroom, then our educational system will continue to spiral out of control.

SBinF

June 22nd, 2012
2:43 pm

“My daughter will be finishing her education in the fall. She is taking a position as a teacher in a private school because she and many of her peers have realized the utter futility of teaching in the public schools.”

If your daughter thinks things will be different in a private school, she’s in for some education herself!

Ed Johnson

June 22nd, 2012
2:44 pm

http://www.newsmax.com/m/surveys/id/47

The above links to a one-question survey that asks: “Should Barack Obama be re-elected?”

I responded “No.” Jordan Kohanim’s decision to leave teaching and K-12 public education is but another illustration of why I say: “No, Barack Obama should not be re-elected.” (This is not to say Mitt Romney should be elected.)

An adage says it takes only one “Ah s..t!” to nullify any number of “Atta boy!” Well, my “Ah s..t!” for me, not for Obama, is that I voted for the guy. So I’m mad with me, and perhaps I’ve been taking it out on marauding gangs of gray squirrels that seem to think their incessant incursions into my pear tree is something funny. Just wait, they’ll see what’s funny.

Anyway…

If only leaders of K-12 public education would open up to learn from the late Dr. W. Edwards Deming, and similar others, they would see, for example, there is a highly economical alternative to a teacher having to “grade essays for 159 students.” And it hasn’t a thing to do with fancy technology.

But, alas, they won’t. Why? Because they are under the spell of the prevailing style of Western management that has made such deep, reductive, and heavy-handed incursions into K-12 public education, so now they think it’s funny a teacher has to grade essays for 159 students. If they didn’t think it was funny, they would be doing something about it, and they are not, except to pile on more of what doesn’t work. Just wait, they’ll see what’s funny, as Jordan is trying to tell them.

Of course, Obama and people like him haven’t as clue as to who Deming is. Could that be because Deming requires learning to continually improve over playing games of blame and victimhood?

BA

June 22nd, 2012
2:52 pm

Yup, blame it on the lawyers and parents. And no fault at all of the educators who didn’t do what they put down in writing on the childs IEP.

In our own case it was determined (and acknowledged) that when they wrote the IEP they knew they could not implement it. They had no intention of implementing it.

But it was our fault. We were the bad guys for holding school system accountable to what they had said they would do. And do you think the school system or any single employee of that school system ever apologized? No, but I’m still waiting 18 years later.

Pardon me while I go throw up.

SBinF

June 22nd, 2012
2:56 pm

18 years? Sounds like you should let it go and move one. If your child is a success in life, appreciate that he or she did it despite the lack of accommodations in school.

Tallcarl

June 22nd, 2012
3:18 pm

This is not only a problem in Georgia or the U.S. One of the things not even discussed here is Student conduct in class has deterated so much we as teachers have become rio control instead of teachers. After two years in Georgia public schools I knew that was not for me. I wanted to teach. Private schools can also be a problem in the ones I taught in Spain and Colombia because the problem children wind up there and the schools do not want to lose the income thes children bring to the school. I rack my brain in the evenings trying to find a solution but you will get no support from the Adminstrators with disapline in class and the students know it and push the limit. I teach several levels but I was train for middle school but may never return to that age group again

Steve

June 22nd, 2012
3:18 pm

I left after 17 years and walked away. I miss the students. I miss the hallway during class changes. I miss the fun of working with kids. I miss many of my that I worked with each and every day. I left because parents no longer raise kids, computers, cell phones, etc., are bought to raise their offspring. I hated that kids were treated like widgets and sent to the next grade for the umpteenth time without the background to be successful – all because of budgets (but never what was best for a child’s education). I detested the emphasis on the “test” and administrators/politicians taking the fun out of learning for self serving interests. I hated all the experts that knew what was the “best practice” but had never spent time in the classroom. I detested pacing guides as students learn at different speeds. I laugh at how coaches were selected – most were removed for failing in the classroom but the system had to find them a job and so they made them the experts by positional decree. Education is seriously broke and I am not sure the power players and decision makers have the student’s best interest at heart.

Dr. Monica Henson

June 22nd, 2012
3:18 pm

NW GA Math/Science Teacher: please email me at monica.henson@ga.provostacademy.com.

Deb Fein

June 22nd, 2012
3:18 pm

I can relate to this article too. Jordan’s point about there being a huge difference between learning and education is well taken. For years, I’ve been ranting about rote learning when my own children were in elementary school. My younger son received services mainly because the Principal and i advocated for him.

On the other hand, I was a teacher too. I worked for seven years as a kindergarten instructor in NYC. Then we moved to NJ to be closer to my parents and I had my second son. I was commuting on a good day 45 minutes – on a bad day up to two hours. I could not take the stress of it.

I have not had an opportunity in ten years to become appointed. I subbed for a while – but there was no respect from other teachers, the kids, parents or administrators. It started getting to me. Right now, about the best I can do is teaching online. I hold onto this because I do care about education and learning.

CaileighChandler

June 22nd, 2012
3:19 pm

to me, you are mrs. kohanim, my ninth grade english teacher. the first one who actually wanted me to learn the material–to get it–not just memorize it and forget it after the school year. you pushed me, to learn, to grow, to better myself. you played the devil’s advocate in debate to push me on what i truly believed and supported, where i stood on issues. up until your class, writing was a chore that cramped my hand and nothing more. you taught me to write what i know, who i am, what i believe and the world around me because without heart and a person behind the writing, why does it matter? you taught me that i have a voice–to be used, expressed, and heard–and that was something no teacher had ever shown me before. up until you mrs. kohanim, i felt like just another student whose papers and name would be thrown away at the end of the year. so many times i walked by teachers in the hallway who couldn’t even remember my face, let alone my name, but you remembered my name, and you smiled every time i said hey. you mrs. kohanim, inspired me to be more than a statistic, more than just a test score. you have me a beautiful outlet to express myself and to find who i am. all because you cared about me, not just the “education.” so please please don’t think that everything you’ve done has been for not, because you truly did impact my life mrs. kohanim, and i could never thank you enough!

j

June 22nd, 2012
3:19 pm

what faith does anyone EVER have in any public based system?
government does two things well: make war, spend money.

bj

June 22nd, 2012
3:23 pm

If only we had vouchers, she wouldn’t have to “take it or leave it.” She could go found her own school and do it right.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
3:57 pm

“YUP, blame it on the lawyers and parents. And no fault at all of the educators who didn’t do what they put down in writing on the childs IEP.”

It is to BLAME on the lawyers and parents. Why does THEIR precious child get to have an IEP? Oh, that is right, they have a “klearning disability” or they are “special”. So the school has to reorder itself around the needs of that one student, and te rest of the school children have to suffer. If your child need an IEP, you need to take responsibility, pull him/her from the public school setting , put him/her in a private school or home school him/her. SPED students is one of the things that is killing the education system. Spend $2000 per year on the average “normal” child, and spend $30,000 per year on the “special” child. When they said that the public school system had to give everyone an “equal” education (even if impossible, it damaged the public schools to an untold degreee. Private schools don’t have to do this, why do you think they are “better”. (they also don’t have to deal with discipline problems)

Brian Aiken

June 22nd, 2012
3:58 pm

Re “Job at teacher’s union” There are no Georgia teacher’s unions. Ga law prohibits teachers from joining or forming unions.Likewise Georgia prohibits teachers from striking or engaging in collective bargaining.Thus, nothing that even resembles a teacher’s union exists in Georgia.
In return for “Lucrative dues” ranging form fifty cents a day for one,to almost two dollars a day for the other, the two weak voluntary professional organizations provide liability insurance that every teacher needs and the state doe not provide. Like hundreds of other organizations, businesses and industry, they DO speak to legislators on behalf of teachers but as anyone can see, they have very little sway in that area.

Mountain Man

June 22nd, 2012
3:58 pm

So a teacher has 40 students in her classroom and 5 with IEPs and she must remember which ones are the “special” students.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
4:10 pm

Arne Duncan, are you listening?

Of course not.

It’s sad that it’s come to the point that perhaps the SINGLE best thing good teachers can do for their students is to FLEE the public schools, so that the education monolith is FORCED to change.

Good Mother

June 22nd, 2012
4:13 pm

To ROn F you wrote “Schools need a dedicated faculty willing to stay long term.”
I disagree.
I would much rather my child be taught by a brand new teacher than a burned out Betty. People in every profession get burned out and move on — teaching is no different. Many, not all, teachers just come to expect to feed on the public trough for 30 years and then roll in the retirement.
So when a teacher is burned out — leave. It’s the best thing for everyone, especially the students.

DEE

June 22nd, 2012
4:27 pm

Good luck and bye-bye. Hope your new job has no real demands. All jobs are stressful and employees are overworked. Check it out. Life isn’t perfect. You have a long road ahead of you……………..
There are openings at many private schools. Go girl!

georgiateacher

June 22nd, 2012
4:37 pm

Watch the video found here in the AJC re: the bus monitor being harassed. Teachers are dealing with this in their classrooms more and more everyday. I have experienced this first hand and I work in a Pre-K-5 school. I am so glad that only have one more year to retire at 60% of my regular salary, am not eligible for social security or Medicare because my district opted out from these without input from the teachers. For MORTIMER and others that believe we are just feeling sorry for ourselves, our degrees in education (I have a six year, ed. specialist degree) don’t allow us many career options other that teaching. And all the systems follow the same “doctrine” as dictated by the state BOE. So when we “get out of the kitchen” when it’s too hot, our options are to more to a new kitchen. Those who have business degrees, etc. can change careers in a variety of ways. Salaries at private institutions are far less than the public schools pay and the turn over for these coveted spots are extremely low. And many administrators feel the same way.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
4:44 pm

“All jobs are stressful and employees are overworked.”

And DEE? Following your logic, we should make no attempt to improve school lunches, because after all “children are starving in Africa so US children should get used it” right DEE?

Once again we get someone who doesn’t understand that without good teaching conditions, good LEARNING conditions do not exist.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
4:49 pm

Once again we see that those who criticizing teachers voicing legitimate concerns are ENTIRELY missing the point:

That point being, you can’t have good LEARNING conditions unless you have good TEACHING conditions.

Tired too

June 22nd, 2012
4:52 pm

Ditto for the teacher comments…As a second career, I’m going into year 15 as a special ed teacher. I can certainly agree with all the comments about law suits and how they are getting in the way of teacher’s being able to do their jobs, sitting in hours and hours of meetings – out of the classroom – where we are torn apart and villified and portrayed as not doing our jobs. I see attorneys and advocates demanding and accusing while drooling at the dollars they envision as they seek out and encourage parents to find a reason to call – just look at Carol Sadler’s and Chris Vance’s websites – we are the enemy!!! Carol Sadler has not spent a day in a classroom as a teacher yet she claims to be an expert in what goes on in one…NO ONE knows unless they have walked in the shoes of a teacher – I can’t profess to know what a Dr. does because I’ve seen one!!! I love teaching and believe I am making a difference for my students, but I’m also praying that as the new year starts with a record number of students in due process that I can actually do what I’m being paid to do, be in the classroom, where I can educate, enlighten, teach, laugh with, and be a part of, for a short time, the lives of my students. I’m not giving up – yet!

georgiateacher

June 22nd, 2012
4:52 pm

To MOUNTAIN MAN.( Appropriate moniker for you, though caveman would be more precise and less offensive to all those who live in the mountainous regions of GA!) Give thanks to the Lord Almighty for blessing you with healthy children who did’t need any special services at school. I’d rather be taxed twice as much to teach a class full of special needs children than 1 sassy little s**t who disrupts the class constantly and has parents who come to the school to b**ch at the teachers and administration for picking on their lil’ sweetie who is never at fault. My daughter was a preemie and has experienced learning problems. As a teacher, I worked with her a great deal, yet she still needed assistance in the classroom, Glad we don’t send “retards” to the institutions like we once did.

Raisin Toast Fanatic

June 22nd, 2012
4:55 pm

Good luck and bye-bye. Hope your new job has no real demands. All jobs are stressful and employees are overworked. Check it out. Life isn’t perfect.

Nope. My last job wasn’t really stressful, and a lot of the time I didn’t have enough work.

So there goes your argument.

QuitWhining

June 22nd, 2012
4:55 pm

She is complaining about working 6 hour days for 28 days? That has GOT to be a typo. Doesn’t she realize in the private sector these past 4 years we are doing more with less, taking pay cuts, working 12 hour days and APPRECIATE our jobs? Merit pay is the real world, not a short day, longer summer vacation than most of us have, and guaranteed raises no matter. This woman will end up “burning out” at job after job. No wonder our education system is in such bad shape!

Mom

June 22nd, 2012
5:07 pm

@Quit Whining: I think she means that if she did NOTHING but read essays for six hours every day it would take her 28 days to read all the essays for 159 students. So this is in ADDITION to her 8 hour work day giving instruction. So it takes her one hour to grade one essay, and she can grade six essays a day, for 28 days.

Bob

June 22nd, 2012
5:08 pm

@QuitWhining No, she means 6 hours on top of the 8 she puts in for 28 days straight. If you are lucky, the fastest you could grade a paper would be 5 minutes (not essays). That is the minimum time. For written work where you leave feed back, the time increases. I had a 110 kids last year at Jordan’s school. So if you do the math at 5 minutes minimum it is 550 minutes per assignment. If you assign written work 3 times a week then that is 1650 minutes per week or 27.5 hours on top of your normal teaching load. If you are grading essays and they take 20 minutes per essay, then it is around 37 hours a week on top of your teaching hours for 1 assignment. You do get 5 hours a week planning but normally you have less than that to do things like grade. So, you can see that the work can pile up. You can always tell an English teacher since they carry a stack of papers everywhere and are constantly grading. I know Jordan and this is what she and her peers do daily throughout the year. I teach biology and I know it is easy to get behind when trying to do a quality job of giving feed back and assessment. You could do less, but then you would have to lower your expectations and expect different results. Low expectations and different results are not what you want.

irisheyes

June 22nd, 2012
5:16 pm

I am so sick and tired of the statement “feeding at the public trough”. Really?? What that implies is that I do absolutely nothing and simply expect my paycheck to arrive. Now, I know some of you are going to share all of your lovely anecdotes about how ALL of the teachers your children have were basically worthless, and you had to teach them entirely on your own free time, so spare me the anger. I will ask one question. Are the police, firefighters, public library employees, prison guards, and the guys who fill the potholes on your street so you don’t break your suspension also “feeding at the public trough”? Quit comparing all teachers to pigs because all it does is show your lack of respect. I have a feeling many of you have “that child” that teachers dread to see on their lists because they know YOU will be the biggest problem.

mountain man

June 22nd, 2012
5:19 pm

“I’d rather be taxed twice as much to teach a class full of special needs children than 1 sassy little s**t who disrupts the class constantly and has parents who come to the school to b**ch at the teachers and administration for picking on their lil’ sweetie who is never at fault.”

Unfortunately, it is not just asking YOU to tax yourself, you are asking EVERYONE to be taxed more – and they are being taxed more. If you read my earlier posts, you see that I am in perfect agreement with your last two sentences – the little sh*t should be taken out of your class and sent to an alternative school and the administrators should be backing their teachers up against the Nazi parents. I am sorry that your daughter was born premature, but you have to realize that money has to come from somewhere, if your daughter takes MORE resources, it has to come at the expense of the OTHER students.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s when I attended school we had no IEPs and we had no SPED programs “mainstreamed”, but we had discipline and attendance policy and we FAILED students and held them back if they did not perform on grade level. We didn’t graduate students who could not read and write and do simple arithmetic and back then a high school education was enough to get you a good job because the diploma meant something. Now you have to have a four-year diploma to state that you have the credentials that high school graduates once had.

southernopinion

June 22nd, 2012
5:22 pm

Public schools are not for everyone. I am a teacher and have to deal with kids who come to school to create chaos, nothing more. Parents are supportive on the phone, but rarely follow through. If a student fails to obey rules and doesn’t participate in the learning process please let us send him/her packing. Fine the parents – then let them find another school – one that will put up with their son’s/daughter’s behavior. If the parents and students can’t adhere to policies and procedures then there is no place for them in PUBLIC education. This will be my 20th year of teaching, and I’m called a bitch on a daily basis, mostly from hall duty, Half the students in my school failed the CRCT. No consequences for them; they are simply passed along.

mountain man

June 22nd, 2012
5:22 pm

“Glad we don’t send “retards” to the institutions like we once did.”

A little off the subject, but did you know that the majority of homeless people in Atlanta are people with mental illness. They used to be “intitutionalized” and now they are just thrown out on the street to die. Be careful what you wish for.

Dr. Monica Henson

June 22nd, 2012
5:23 pm

QuitWhining: I think Jordan means working for 6 hours a day for 28 days grading papers AFTER putting in a full day of teaching. She was an English teacher.

Incidentally, an administrator or department chair should have provided her some mentoring on how to manage the paperwork load. That much time for grading one set of essays for 159 students is far too much. She was probably falling victim to the idea that she must mark every single item on every single paper, which doesn’t help kids improve their writing as well as one might think. Focused correction/minimal marking is a better way to teach composition and produce desired outcomes. When an English teacher marks every single error every time, it trains the student to use the teacher as a proofreader rather than learning from mistakes and correcting them on his/her own in the drafting stages.

MB

June 22nd, 2012
5:27 pm

DEE: If you think all jobs are as stressful as that of a teacher who cares – sign up to sub, why don’t you, and see if it meets your expectations?! I have worked in health care, private sector, and schools and working in the current education environment is by far the most stressful. Certified staff are essentially indentured servants in that you sign a contract with a school system giving them authority to send you to any school within the system for grade levels in which you have certification. If you want to leave a specific school, you have to sign up to transfer by a certain date, which often doesn’t endear you to your principal. Principals can also block your transfer if they feel it’s “not in the best interest of the school” for you to transfer.- or they can just give you a lackluster evaluation to keep you there. Oh, and the salary is listed, but it, as well as your job, is subject to change due to financial constraints of the system. However, if you decide you want to move to a different system, they can report you to the state with potential serious consequences, up to and including loss of your certification license. THAT is the level of stress people speak of here, combined with HR and administrators telling you that if you don’t like your situation, there are plenty of people out there who’d love to have your job. Morale is in the pits right now; these folks are not exaggerating!

Retired Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
5:33 pm

I took early retirement because my health was suffering. I quit when final exams were created by a committee of teachers who had never set foot into my classroom. I quit when I was told that I could not give “that many failures” to kids that could not pass an open book, open note test because they had no notes and didn’t care enough to open their books. I quit when my doctor told me that my job that I had loved for 29 years was killing me. And, for those who question whether Jordan is a good teacher, she knows because she knows how many hours she spends at her job. I also taught English, and I figure I read, and responded to, a 300 page novel each week. And I was a good teacher. How do I know? Because of all the former students who follow me on Facebook. Because of former students who take the time years later to phone me and tell me how I affected their lives. Because I have former students who I know love me as I love them because we touched something in each other. For all those who are questioning all the teachers and former teachers who are drained, I say, “Get thee to a classroom. Stand in front of at least 30 students per period, for 6 periods. Be at school before 7:00 A.M. so you can stand for 30 minutes of hall duty. Stay at school until 4:30 attending meaningless staff development meetings or meeting with parents or tutoring students who are behind. Take an hour or so to spend with your family before you begin making lesson plans for the next day and grading the piles of papers. Go to bed exhausted at 11:00 P.M., only to drag yourself out of bed at 5:30 A.M. so you can do it all over again.” When I married, my husband told me that I was the hardest working person he had ever met. I’m not. I was just one of many who strive to make a difference. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we just have to quit.

Kathleen Carpenter

June 22nd, 2012
5:40 pm

It’s sad that we can’t help teachers like Ms. Kohamin. I see so many who try to do best practices when the circumstances cannot support it. Reading every essay of 150+ students, while an admirable goal, is just not feasible. How about engaging students in peer review, especially since these are high school students?

My sister teaches on the south side of Chicago–smallest class of 7th graders this year was 34. 5 classes that big and bigger. She teaches writing and is getting burnt out from trying to read every kids’ journal every day. What I tell her is that she’s trying to do “perfect practice” when she needs to think about “best that I can” practice.

The locus of control for classroom teachers does not involve class size determinations or other constraints that are placed upon them. What we need to help teachers figure out is whether they can sleep at night if their lessons aren’t perfect. If not, I would argue that almost any job of worth is going to keep them up at night.

Not blaming the teachers. We need to try to help them feel at peace when they’re doing the best they can in an imperfect setting.

MB

June 22nd, 2012
5:42 pm

The point about special ed funding is that it has been maintained at the level of buying a new A-class Mercedes while all the other students are dealing with funding for a 1999 Chevy Tahoe. (I just googled Mercedes $30K and Chevrolet $8,700 and those were the first reasonable hits.)

For figures on how IDEA unfunded mandates are affecting our students NOT in special ed, see the budget presentation from Fulton Schools a couple of years ago. (Since we know our state funding has only gone down and the feds stimulus money has evaporated since then, one would think the disparity is likely even worse now…) Federal funds covered 25%, state funds 14%, and local funds 61% of the average cost of $30,323 per FTE (student). For 2010, that meant that (in Fulton Schools alone), $156.9 million was spent on 5174 students, with $96.4 million of that amount in local funds. For comparison, cost per FTE for “regular” students in Fulton was $8704 per FTE; again, since class sizes have increased for those students, would guess that figure has decreased since then! That $96 million could have been used to keep class sizes smaller for all students, rather than benefiting only about 5%. How long can this inequity continue? http://tinyurl.com/FCSSSpEd

Eric

June 22nd, 2012
5:42 pm

We ask too much of teachers to begin with! No wonder she’s burned out and left.

bootney farnsworth

June 22nd, 2012
5:51 pm

the trolls are out in force on this one.
guess they’re celebrating the demise of another “government worker”

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
5:52 pm

Jordan has done a great service to public school education by leaving. NOT because she’s most likely a poor teacher, but because most likely she’s an EXCELLENT teacher.

It may be the ONLY thing that will make the education monolith listen is a MASSIVE BRAIN DRAIN as the best and the brightest leave.

Has it gotten to the point that, if a high school guidance counselor DARE suggest to a student a career teaching in the public schools, that guidance counselor should be charged with child endangerment toward that student?

Private School

June 22nd, 2012
5:53 pm

“I have lost my faith in public education. That means it is time to walk away.”

Thank You Jordan Kohanim!! Our decision to send our 2 children to private school from K-12, especially in this godforsaken public school system, is one of the best my wife and I have ever made!!!

This gets so old

June 22nd, 2012
6:01 pm

@BrianAiken: Time for a little reminder that members of GAE are also members of the NEA — which bills itself on its own website as the ULTIMATE union? Also, where that $168 in extra yearly NEA dues goes?

ref: http://www.nea.org/home/18469.htm
ref: http://goo.gl/rtJIZ
ref: http://goo.gl/bNdPt

Reality

June 22nd, 2012
6:06 pm

Private School — “I have lost my faith in public education. That means it is time to walk away.”

The more accurate statement should be — “I have lost my faith in parent(s).” By definition, by teaching in Fulton County you were already working with 3 strikes, i.e., an environment where none of the following are valued — hard work, education, individual initiative, and a stable family life…

Anna

June 22nd, 2012
6:23 pm

@Adam & Mortimer Collins I know you could probably give a rat’s butt to what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.

@ Adam–Really? “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen?” Is that the best you can come up with? Have you even worked in a school setting before? I’m not going to waste everyone’s time about going on and on about how much teachers do (because EVERYONE knows how much we do)…but, yes…you’re right-tax dollars pay our salaries. But, OUR SALARIES pay for YOUR child’s school supplies when YOU don’t bring them in (oh, I’m “sorry”–I definitely don’t mean YOU specifically–it’s more a “general” comment).

@ Mortimer — I get the whole “winners never quit, quitters never win” bit. Really. I do. But, how much abuse would you take on your job (Assuming you’re not a teacher)? What if your co-worker bit you because he didn’t like the presentation you gave? And what if your boss told you to “Get over it” & entertained the idea of firing you because you were a trouble-maker? How would you like to go to work every day, get hit, slapped, punched, bit, kicked, cussed out and being told “You can’t do anything about it?” by your boss? All while you plan lessons that meet the EXACT need of every student, attend faculty meetings, create assessments, deal with crabby parents, deal with crabby coworkers & administrators, turn this IEP in, have this IEP meeting, etc etc etc. THIS is what many teachers (including myself) have gone through every day for two years. Both of you are definitely entitled to your opinion, but BACK OFF!

former student

June 22nd, 2012
6:28 pm

Coach K –
I was lucky enough to be one of the students affected by your teaching. You taught me to question, and writing that makes me sad. That I was raised in a society where I literally had to be taught to question things around me; shown how to have the curiosity that leads to learning and intellectual growth.
When I heard about you leaving, I was devastated. I knew you loved teaching. But I knew how hard it was for you. I knew how much time you devoted to your students because I was one of them.

I had a lot of wonderful teachers in high school. They were helpful, and kind. While they encouraged the seed of doubt I had in ‘the man’ and ‘the system’, you were the one who planted it, by teaching me that just because something is common practice or socially acceptable, does not make it right or just. I will forever continue to question authority, because if I don’t, I’ll stop learning.

Bye

June 22nd, 2012
6:32 pm

Total freakin’ sell out. Good riddance. Can’t wait to hear her pontifications and self-righteousness about education now that she is revealed for who she really is…someone who is in it for the kids as long as it’s convenient for her to keep her upper-middle class, white, privileged comforts.

Sell. Out. This is why there is such an achievement gap.

The Best and The Brightest

June 22nd, 2012
6:37 pm

Beverly Fraud said “It may be the ONLY thing that will make the education monolith listen is a MASSIVE BRAIN DRAIN as the best and the brightest leave.”

That ship has already sailed. There has already been a massive brain drain from the teacher rank and file and it started around the 60s when women gained more freedom and opportunities. In the last century teaching was a profession that was filled almost exclusively by women. As women gained momentum in the fields never before opened to them they had better choices and left. That is why you find many poorly-educated teachers. The best and the brightest have already left and most never had to leave — because they never started in teaching. They had more opportunities the day they entered college and chose a more rigorous curriculum than education.
My classmates are women engineers. They are doctors. They are directors and VPS in business. I had a goal in the tenth grade. I wouldn’t become three things; a teacher, a secretary or a nurse. Those were the three job choices my mother had. I had more and my children’s generation have more.
So the whole “brain drain” the sky is falling scare tactics are benign. The best and the brightest from my generation have already left the teaching profession and for my children’s generation — they never went into the field in the first place. With some notable exceptions, those women with the lowest SATs scores and those with little real education went into the teaching profession.
It is no wonder many teachers quit the first few years. They are the the lowest common denominator in the first place and would not have succeeded regardless of their chosen profession. Garbage in. Garbage out.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
6:42 pm

“Total freakin’ sell out. Good riddance”

Of course Bye. Just like the people who quit working at Three Mile Island were self righteous about the “supposed dangers” of nuclear power.

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
6:45 pm

“someone who is in it for the kids as long as it’s convenient for her to keep her upper-middle class, white, privileged comforts.”

Bye is right. All teachers should be required to live in public housing projects so they can better relate to the needs of their disadvantaged students.

Pay cuts are in order to separate those who care from those merely in it for the money.

Realistic Educator

June 22nd, 2012
6:51 pm

Jordan,
Your letter brought tears to my eyes. I felt your pain and I understood why you did what you did. Thank you for your service to our children. Now that you have gone, there will be one less bright and shining star in the nurturing universe. There will be one less true educator who cares and who is devoted to actually helping children learn. I am sorry that you did not get to know the profession that I came into over 25 years ago. I am ashamed of what public education has become. And thank you for reading those essays yourself. Student peers can’t tell me what is in the heart of a student. I can only know that if I can read their writing myself. Perhaps one day, somewhere, far, far over the rainbow…our society will once again understand the need for small classes and personal attention from human beings who are well trained, intelligent and creative and who also don’t necessarily need a script all the time. They know how to ad lib and think on their feet and alter a plan to meet the needs of real children… not statistical averages.

CY 2.0

June 22nd, 2012
6:53 pm

To all of you who insist teachers are simply whining and that “if we can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” let me be frank. Unless you have been or are an educator, keep your two-cents worth to yourself. I don’t tell you how easy your job is or how baseless your complaints are. The reality is that nearly every American is doing more work for less pay, less benefits, less recognition, less everything. You are probably overworked and stressed, but that doesn’t mean I’m not. We need to stop fighting and belittling each other and actually do something about it. Here is an article that goes into way more depth on what I am talking about: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speed-up-american-workers-long-hours

Beverly Fraud

June 22nd, 2012
7:09 pm

To all of you who insist teachers are simply whining and that “if we can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,”

What these people don’t get is that teachers ARE getting out of the kitchen.

It’s the children who are being left to BURN.

Voice of Truth

June 22nd, 2012
7:21 pm

Your departure should be an indictment against the School System, including the parents and the principal, that deflated you with such politics. Unfortunately, American Education is inundated with politics and classism so much so that the purpose of education is being lost or at least significantly compromised. The very parents that want to benefit from the educational system at any cost, immoral or legal, are destroying it by driving away really good, caring, and knowledgeable individuals from the teaching profession. The children always lose when a good teacher departs the profession. Sadly, the parents do not realize how your departure will only contribute to the demise of the American Educational system thereby negatively impacting future generations and the democracy we value.

Ellen

June 22nd, 2012
7:39 pm

Jordan, thank you for your honest and eloquent appraisal of the current education system. You obviously have the talent and dedication that is needed in today’s classroom — the profession will suffer your loss. Your words echo my sentiments perfectly. I have cried many tears over my failure to address the neediest of students bound as I have been by the demands of the SST/RTI/IEP/504 processes. Paperwork requirements, budget cuts, and overcrowded classrooms jeopardize not only the education of students who deserve the services those programs provide, but also increase the number of at-risk students who may be “falling through the cracks.” I have been robbed of the energy needed to inspire and educate, and it was with sadness that I retired this month. I will look for opportunities to positively impact young people’s lives — after all, “they are our future.”

cris

June 22nd, 2012
7:45 pm

I attended a teacher workshop this summer – for PLU’s (oh yeah, we don’t HAVE to have PLU’s anymore) because I find the area that I teach fascinating and I want to learn more about how to transfer my love of learning to my students (yeah, I guess I’m patting myself on the back a little – but I did pay for the workshop out of my own pocket). So one of the speakers had an interesting…point – he called it a “cage for every age” referring to how the education systems insists on dividing students by age instead of ability. Shouldn’t we let them progress as they are able? Sounds like a great idea! Maybe this is one of the ways we can go outside the box (is there anyone creative enough to come up with a better phrase…please?) to help solve some of the issues in education?
Wait one minute….
Yes, it’s a great idea – we’ll have students who are engaged and challenged by material that is suited for their abilities….discipline problems will dissapear, testing will become less important because students will be at a level that they are capable of working at, teachers will be able to go more in-depth on their subjects…..fabulous, right?
BUT
You have that one parent who feels that their 8 year old needs to be with their other 8-year-old friends even though they can’t comprehend that material because if they don’t get to be with their 8-year-old buddies, their self-esteem will be destroyed and said parent will be left feeling incompetent as a parent, so by God, let’s SUE the school system because my 8-year-old IS ready for 6th grade material because his/her 8-year-old buddies are and that’s where mommy and daddy feel comfortable with them being placed……
One of many great ideas that will probably never be tried because the school system can see the lawsuits coming from a mile away and they aren’t going to take a chance on getting sued. Maybe it wasn’t taking God out of school that ruined everything….maybe it was letting the lawyers in that sent it all to Hades…
Just my thoughts…I still love teaching…this coming year will be my 20th and while I enjoy my summer, I’m starting to get a little excited about the upcoming year…..I’m also really nervous about being replaced by an online program or a brand new teacher (no offense – they’re just cheaper budget-wise) so I can relate to Jordan leaving and being exhausted and feeling like you’re spending more time with/for your students than you are with your own kids.
Hope there is someone out there who can solve this conundrum….not only in time for me as a teacher, but for the thousands of public school childrenin this state.

YC

June 22nd, 2012
7:50 pm

Jordan, I had the pleasure to work with you during the 2010-11 school year and I can relate to your feelings of burn out and sorrow. I chose to leave this year as well. In the last four years, we’ve had furloughs, salary reductions and increased pressure to make miracles happen. As someone that has served five FCS in the last four years, I could not believe how some parents demanded and threatened at their children’s expense and others that simply were not involved and thought it was our job to raise their children. I wish you and your family all the quality time and stability that you deserve. THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR CHILDREN!!

Voice of Truth

June 22nd, 2012
7:51 pm

I must respond to the suggestion that we decentralize education. I must say that such an opinion is shortsighted and does not address the root of the problem with the American Educational System. America will not be able to sustain its competition with other nations that have a more appropriate political structure, or should I say, a less political structure, that lends itself to competing in a global society and economy. The American political system is over politicized and cumbersome. Other developed and many developing nations are less political in their educational governance thereby contributing to the development of their national standards years ago, higher teacher quality, competitive student achievement, and popular respect for the educational process and system. America on the other hand is severly retarded with the governance structure that includes the local Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and the Federal Government. The constitution assigns the responsibility of education to the states and states relegage it to the local governments. This structure is antiquated and is only further complicated by the politics involved in decision making as it pertains to budgets, hiring, attendance zoning, facility construction, school operations, etc. It is most unfortunate to see that the American population does not realize how the American political structure does not lend itself to streamlined decision-making related to educational decisions, infrastructure decisions, and many other areas that impact the majority of us. For example, America does not have a super railway between two major cities as they exist in China and Japan. Why is this the case? POLITICS. We have compromised obtaining advancements in technology because we have a skewed value or appetite for politics. Another example would be implementation of national standards. While we are making progress with states adopting the Common Core State Standards, the celerity of adoption and implementation has been and will be hindered by politics related to selection of standards and budget shortfalls affecting the acquisition of resources needed for a unified national implementation. Local governments, due to local control, may slice the standards to the point that national assessments may not result in the desired outcomes, and that without penalty. Our political process was advantageous during the first 200 years of our country when there was not fiscal interdependence and modern globalization. However, while we value its impact our the greatness of our nation, the same political system is now becoming an albatross. The weight of it is causing us to lose our competitive edge and hinders us from making timely decisions in the best interest of the nation. Our political system rewards those with wealth, who in term, retard the progress of those who do not have wealth. And what do Americans do? They repeatedly vote them into office since they “recognize their name” or since they claim to a member of the political party were preference. Our voting decisions are often superficial and shortsighted. The political system as it is compromises our advancement in the 21st Century and is highjacked by the wealthy who advocate free capitalism but without a sense of responsibility or obligation. In conclusion, the American Education System is severly and negatively impacted by our political processes. Until this changes, while there will always be pockets of success, the system as a whole will continue to be overcome with the cancer of apathy among stakeholders, inequity, scarcity and misallocation of resources, reduced teaching quality, and trivial debates that produce no significant improvements toward erradicating all student failure.

Voice of Truth

June 22nd, 2012
7:59 pm

Readers, I can assure you the public schools are not God-Forsaken. There are many God-Loving people called to work in our public schools. If it were God-Forsaken, God would not call God-Loving people to the field of education. Such comments are baseless and indicative of spiritually uninformed persons. Most God-Loving and God-Fearing students go to a public school. And most God-Loving and God-Fearing educators work in a public school setting in some capacity.

Interesting Observation

June 22nd, 2012
8:01 pm

All institutions are disappointing us. Take your pick: organized religion (Cathlict Priests, Eddie Long, et. al.); Banking and finance (2008 Wall St. chaos, Enron, housing crisis); Higher education and sports (Penn State/w Sanduski); Doping atheletes (steroids Bonds et. al.) Why should public schools be different? Afterall, public schools reflect the public. We have seen the enemy and he is us.

Private School

June 22nd, 2012
8:18 pm

Voice of Truth @ 7:59 — fine, substitute “dismal” for “godforsaken”…

Old Physics Teacher

June 22nd, 2012
8:22 pm

Georgia Coach,

Don’t go there; just don’t go there. I’ve spent 20 years in the classroom and 25 years as a sports official. I’ve watched you guys almost 50 years. Two of my family are retired coaches, and we constantly talk about sport0 and coaching. Your “students” don’t respond to you. They respond to the fans that cheer for them when they win. Try this: play only scrimmage games for a couple of years without keeping score or allowing fans to watch or do radio play-by-play and don’t allow any college recruiters to come by. See how many “students” still want to play and sweat and bleed for 15 hours of “home-work” a week for you. You’re just someone they have to follow, or you won’t put them on the field to get cheered. I’ve had coaches brag over and over about how well their “kids” respond to the coaches “challenges”… until… they start losing… Then the coaches move on to more talented players where they make even more money.

Are their good coaches who are good teachers? Yeah. But it has nothing to do with the “special rapport” of a coach reaching a student in a special way. That’s just you deluding yourself.

Voice of Truth

June 22nd, 2012
8:25 pm

Interesting Observation, do you know what all these institutions have in common that contributes to their demise? The LOVE OF MONEY and POWER. When there is money and power, there is corruption. It occurs in every institution. The only reason the Catholic Church covered the child abuse scandal was for the retention of money and power. Wall Street worships money and power. Government is about money and power. The love of money and power is causing our downfall. The scriptures declare that the love of money is the root of all evil.

socrates

June 22nd, 2012
8:45 pm

Well I’m not a math major, but grading 6 essays a day doesn’t sound very challenging (what are they a hundred pages each?????) an yes I’ve been a teacher, loved it but when I moved to Ga. they wouldn’t take an out of state license (years ago) so I entered another field in the education industry.And I must say after being in thousands of classrooms in hundreds of schools, there are a lot of really lousy teachers out there -as in all government sectors lots of lousy employees–that are content with a decent paycheck-lots of time off-andgreat benefits -none of which you’ll find in the private sector today!

3schoolkids

June 22nd, 2012
8:53 pm

I was very sorry to read this and wish her the best. The more I read the more I see that our educational system is very like the corporate America I experienced. I was lucky to have a direct boss that was wonderful, but upper management was quite different. Leverage the profits from this product to sustain this other product, even if we may not be following the letter of the law. This in the insurance/financial industry which has gotten nothing but a slap on the wrist from our government.

Rather like how our schools are “leveraging” special needs funding to fill the gaps left by austerity cuts. Why do you think the federal government is mandating “mainstreaming”? Do you really think all the money allocated for a special needs student goes directly to that student? Why do you think the lawsuits are happening? Do you think the parents WANT to have to sue for services? There are some bad apple parents, but they are not exclusive to the special needs community.

For all the posters who think special needs funding is not fair, what about ESL, free/reduced lunch program, transportation and gifted? Do you think that is unfair too? We are ALL paying for it one way or another-maybe we should just get rid of it all. Can’t take your kid to school because you have to work? Too bad, so sad, I shouldn’t have to pay for it.

We will keep my special needs son at home for school partly because his immune system function is not great and we won’t risk illness, but I had 2 teacher friends approach me about re-enrolling my son at his districted school last year. Why? Because they had a special needs parapro friend that wasn’t going to have a job because she had no one to work with. The irony there is that if we had chosen to re-enroll him, he would not have been placed in our districted school, but the nearest one with the special program the system said he needed (20 minutes away from home, what once was an hour and 15 minute bus ride). I would have had to fight hard to get him in my districted school with a parapro (maybe even threaten to sue). All to have him placed in a general ed classroom with the neurotypical kids-like the one who has a temper tantrum everyday at lunch or the kid who blows up in the computer lab if he has to wait, or the bad kids (my sons words) who put dirt on the slide on the playground. The kids in my son’s former special needs class were better behaved than the general ed kids.

If he got lucky and was able to eek out one year, we could apply for the Special Needs Scholarship. You know the one that takes YOUR taxpayer dollars and gives it to ME so I can send my child to any of the schools on the approved list? Even the ones that aren’t special needs schools and don’t really want special needs kids. Well I can’t afford the ones that are special needs schools, even with the scholarship. And the ones that aren’t, I wouldn’t send my child to. But I am lucky because we are somehow able to live on my husband’s salary allowing me to care for and educate my son myself. Many special needs parents aren’t so lucky.

While I sympathize with some of the posts about sue happy parents, not all of them are IEP/504 parents. We have a right to get angry anytime someone is “goosing” the system, but that honor is not solely the realm of special needs. Angry that our federal government is not fully funding Special Needs to the amount Congress is legally authorized? Contact your elected officials and demand action. I would do it myself but just like Jordan, I’m tired and would like to reserve my strength and faculties for more meaningful work-educating my son.

Whitney

June 22nd, 2012
8:59 pm

Wow. I am a 4th year HS English teacher, and this REALLY hit home for me. I have felt every single word. You have done good work for seven years. NOBODY can teach forever these days. Go, enjoy your family, and know that even if you touched one student, your work has not been in vain!

Unclefast

June 22nd, 2012
9:18 pm

Socrates, you sound like a typical “consultant” in the education “industry.” She has SIX classes, not six essays. Pray tell us what you do now in the “industry.”

Jan

June 22nd, 2012
9:20 pm

I spent 10 years teaching and loving teaching in Michigan. After my kids were raised and several moves later I taught 10 years in Fulton Co. in Sp.Ed. and I quit when I could… I so miss my students and co-workers…BUT NOTHING ELSE!!! I sat in IEPs with parents, advocates, attorneys, tape recorders, principals, County level administrators, SLPs, OTs, PTs, etc. One meeting had 14 people! But I could handle that. Parents really were happy with the progress their children made in my classroom. Unfortunately, the administration did not help teachers…They willingly caved into ridiculous demands to avoid a lawsuit. (4 different principles in 10 years!) An annoying aspect was that teachers and parapros were not allowed to leave the elementary school even during our (NOT) duty free 30 minute lunchtime! (At the nearby high school students could leave for lunch…Talk about a Lock -Down! But what really got to me was the endless paperwork! The Ga. State forms were at least bi-monthly. And then there’s the Georgia Alternative Assessment for Sp.Ed. students which was mind-boggling! I had 3 grade levels and each level had to have Georgia Professional Standards for Language Arts (2 lessons), Math (2 lessons), Science (1 lesson), and Social Studies (1 lesson) – simplified for their age equivalent grades. These “tests” were created by each individual teacher so there was no continuity among classrooms. Then 6 weeks plus they had to have similar lessons – and show improvement! Work samples, levels of prompting, setting, peers, etc., etc., etc. made a typical portfolio per student to be 65 pages!!! Just please explain to me how a 10 year old student with a tested I.Q. of 43 (or much less) could benefit from 4th grade L.A., Math, Science, or Social Studies!!! Self-help skills will keep them out of institutions! Too much time was spent on ridiculous lessons and not on beneficial learning! Yes, creativity was essential in making these tests but there still was no justification for the amount of time spent! In Michigan my school of 800 students had a principal, a secretary, a traveling nurse, a traveling Social Worker, 1 full time and 1 part time custodian, and a part-time lady who checked attendance and called parents to make sure a child was home. In my North Fulton Co. school with about 800 students, we had a principal, assistant principal, Data Clerk, Secretary to the principal, 2 full time custodians, and ? evening part-time, 2 office ladies, an IST (Instructional Support Teacher), Curriculum Support teacher, Social Worker, and a full-time nurse! Any thoughts on how top-heavy the administration is? (Oh! Also, 2 years ago I was given a broom and dust pan and told my floors would not be cleaned every night!!!) Now what about the Furlough days! Teachers cannot keep making less each year…A parapro I know said she is making less than she did 10 years ago! I hope and pray that Georgia education will change for the better! I am truly concerned for the future generations…

justjanny

June 22nd, 2012
9:37 pm

Every day people outside of the teaching profession are deciding to re-train to become teachers. One doesn’t leave something that they love, are passionate about. They find out what’s wrong, make adjustments, and continue to serve. Yes, I said serve. The teaching profession is about service, service to mankind. It’s not a government mandate; it’s a personal choice. Thank you to all of those who are passionate about the profession and are willling to continue. It’s not about the administration; it’s about the teacher changing the lives of the students. Again, I congratulate those dedicated teachers who don’t run from a little adversity! Bright kids learn in spite of the teacher; challenged kids learn because of the teacher.

CY 2.0

June 22nd, 2012
10:10 pm

Everyone seems to think they know what it takes to be a teacher. This is because we have all been taught. Great teachers make it look effortless, and so few realize just how much dedication and hard work it takes. I don’t just believe I am a good teacher, I know I am. I create every unit, lesson, activity, worksheet, test (other than standardized tests, of course), project, rubric, etc. that I give to my students. I do this because I love it and because it allows me to make sure everything is tailored to the needs of my students.

I am not going to bother listing everything that I do that makes me a good, effective teacher. First of all, it would take pages, but more than that, it won’t make a difference. Those who appreciate and respect teachers will listen to what I have to say, but others will not be swayed. For my own satisfaction, though, I will say this: 6 (or in my case, more like 12) papers a day is more than you could ever realize. It is not as simple as reading though a paper and assigning a grade. I write multiple comments on each paper so that my students know what they did well, what needs improvement, and, more importantly, how to make those improvements. Whenever possible, I meet with students individually about their papers as well. I cannot grade during class because, go figure, I’m teaching (which involves way more than just lecturing, at least if you’re doing it right). I can’t grade during my planning time because I have other duties to attend to that can’t be done at home (such as meetings). Thus, grading is left to after hours.

I am not complaining. I love what I do. You have to love it to do it, but love for teaching is not always enough. Teaching is a service. It is a calling. Even so, people stop doing what they love every day for one reason or another. It is naïve to say that you don’t just stop doing something you love. It is also naïve to say that six papers is not that many.

Someone said ealier that there are a lot of bad teachers out there, and there are, but that doesn’t mean all teachers are bad. It also doesn’t justify treating teachers like crap. There are a lot of good teachers, too. Just like in any profession, there are bad apples. You should not condemn an entire feast because of a couple bad apples.

3schoolkids

June 22nd, 2012
10:12 pm

Ahh @Jan, even in the homeschooling world the state has its regulations and I MUST teach grade level appropriate ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies AND my son must undergo standardized testing (although I get to choose which one). They don’t require, however, that he receive OT, PT or ST-although we do receive the polite county mailer reminding us that he might be eligible for those services (which we have chosen to provide privately)-but the state doesn’t check to make sure we do. This is actually a relief as we can focus on time spent strengthening specific muscles as opposed to “being able to kick a ball __ feet on a __degree trajectory”. And he gets more one on one time in speech therapy as opposed to half of it being group speech therapy (with up to 10 kids).

By the way, the Autism diagnostic criteria is currently being revamped and it is predicted that many children will no longer meet the criteria. It will be interesting to see how the federal and state goverments deal with that. However, quite a few of the current Autistic special needs kids may no longer be considered special needs. That will mean less paperwork, but also no more services or special needs funding for that student either.

Thank you for your service to our schools!

NBCT

June 22nd, 2012
10:17 pm

It saddens me to hear that a teacher that really cares so much is now another one that has left their profession. I wish our system was also focused on helping teachers and their needs. Somewhere along the way we forgot that school improvement, while focused on the student, needs to consider the teachers happiness by meeting their needs as well. I wish you well Jordan.

madaboutmath

June 22nd, 2012
11:26 pm

I’m very sorry that you had to make this heartbreaking decision. You helped me a few years ago when I had just graduated with my MAT, was unable to find a teaching job, and wondered why I had made such a stupid decision to go into teaching. You encouraged me by telling me that you could tell I’d be a great teacher and to keep trying. I did keep trying, and I was fortunate to find a great position. I realize that my satisfaction is mostly due to luck. I have an administrator and a department head who support me. I teach ESOL students who are nice children with parents who respect teachers. So thanks for your support a few years ago, and I wish you the very best.

Teadi Williams

June 23rd, 2012
12:36 am

I applaud you for all the dedicated years you put in. I came from a supportive private institution after I got my MA to the public school system. Within four years I discovered how toxic some administrators, parents, and co-workers can be. Since the environment I was in was not conducive to my well being I eventually found another school environment that was. One that is totally supportive, of teachers teaching and students learning. I can only imagine what you have been through, and how certain negative factors led you to your decision. Keep your spirits up! I wish you luck in your next endeavor, for only you know whats best for you and your family.

God Bless!

Julie Rogers-Martin

June 23rd, 2012
1:09 am

Mortimer Collins, Adam, everyman, you espouse the reason creative, dedicated, committed teachers leave their beloved profession everyday, with hoards to follow. It’s not because of students, or the loss of passion for inspiring them to envision a world beyond themselves and dream among the stars. There will never be enough pay to compensate for that “light in the eye” look from our students’ faces that makes the 10 hour days -on your feet- with a satchel of papers to grade at home worth it. It is not that at all. It is people like you who ensure that we don’t make a difference, who constantly nag, sue and balk, without respect for those dedicated to youth and to instilling creative, passionate ideals regardless of whether it fits into society’s ill gotten perspective.
Thank you Jordan. I too left after 8 years because I lost hope that the Atlanta system had the best interests of the students at heart. It’s hard to put on armor when the battle is already won. Distrust, fear, and rancor fester. If enough walk out, people will take notice. But there is a cost. For there is nothing sweeter than a lesson well taught, and the wide-eyed wonder of a child. Take heart: there are still places where educators are seen as philosophers and saints. I have the privilege of a job like that now. Walk toward the light… Blessings and thanks for your insight, courage, and well woven words.

Been there

June 23rd, 2012
1:11 am

I guess I am a statistic too. I taught for 6.5 years and was a parapro. for two years before I returned to school to earn my bachelor and masters degrees. I loved teaching students that wanted to learn and worked very well with struggling students as well. In 2009 I was transferred to a middle school because I waited too long to take the GACE test, which I passed. I needed to be highly qualified in ALL subject areas, which I am. To make a long story short, I gave 110% everyday. I went in early and left late. Teaching is not as easy as the people who have never stepped a foot into the classroom think. It really took a toll on me and in 2010 I had a mini-stroke at home in front on my two young children. I walked away from my teaching job because I wanted to live and be there for my family. I was told by the Clayton County Board of Education (HR person). I could never work in the county again because I chose to break my contract.
Like someone in an earlier post commented. I miss some of my students, but that is the ONLY thing that I miss. I’m so glad that I left. Good teachers are worth much more than GOLD, too bad no one really cares anymore.
I lost faith in the system because it really is broken and I don’t believe that anyone really knows how to fix it. Parents, be an advocate for your children every step of the way. That is the only way that they are going to make it.

Cathy Vilar

June 23rd, 2012
1:55 am

I left teaching after 11 years and worked in the private sector for 6. Each has its own issues, but like “Grateful to Be Teaching”, I missed the kids. I returned to teach in Fulton and was fortunate to know and work with Jordan. I retired a few years ago but have substituted almost every day since. It’s wonderful because I work mostly in my field, choose which schools and classes I teach (and, yes, I do teach!), get to know the kids at those schools and am very much appreciated by the staff and students. I make $84 a day, but I leave at the end of the day empty-handed and with no parents to call or plans to make or meetings to attend. I’ve worked long-term 3 semesters running, teaching high school math and cherish the letters of appreciation from the kids and parents when it’s time to return the classroom to the regular teacher. Jordan’s school has a changes in administration every year, to its detriment. I only wish she had transferred to another school instead of another career. Her talent is a God-given gift and I pray that she will regain perspective and reenter the field. There are too many kids who benefit from her talent for her to stay away. I was glad I came back, and I have former students who let me know every day that I made a difference when they tell me how they’re doing in med school, nursing in third-world countries, teaching their own classes, and pursuing various careers. That’s all anyone can ask: to make a difference.

Cathy Vilar

June 23rd, 2012
1:57 am

(obviously, I didn’t teach English – lol!)

LIKEWISE FRUSTRATED

June 23rd, 2012
3:40 am

Thank you, Jordan!

You have just echoed my every thought! I am within seven years of retirement and trying to determine if I can make it that far. I don’t know how much more I can take, either. Teacher empowerment just is an unknown here, as is student accountability. I’ve taught for 25 years and made the mistake of neglecting my loved ones, too, and I ended up marrying but forgoing a family. Now I am widowed, physically and mentally exhausted, making less money every year, and tied to a job over which I have less and less control (because of bureaucracy)–but for which I alone am held accountable. I can’t even consider leaving because I’m “upside down” in my house. But for all of that, I’ll be paying higher property taxes this year, and making even less money because of increased furlough days. Yes, I am glad to have a job at all, but that does not negate the fact that we teachers, like other middle-class folks, are paying in a thousand ways for financial mismanagement and crimes perpetrated by other people!! And now, my students get to be responsible for a third of my evaluation, and their opinions will be tied to my pay? Do the crafters of these policies really understand today’s students, who approach standardized tests in a lackadaisical manner, entering random answers because they really don’t feel like taking the test in the first place?? Do they get that students can be vindictive, and many will relish the chance to destroy a teacher who expects them to work? Do they understand that influential parents can pressure the schools to make life too easy for their particular children?

Georgia does not have unions, and I never wanted adversarial collective bargaining. But we definitely need to stand up for ourselves when it comes to stuff like this, because it affects not only our paychecks but also the quality of education. Of course, true quality is the last thing on the minds of the powers that be; better to quell the public’s frustration temporarily by slapping a bandage of any size over that festering wound. (Who care’s if the infection spreads??)

I love real teaching, and I used to love going to work each day. And amazlingly, the less bureaucratic intervention I encountered, the more my students learned, and those who put in the effort were very successful. Now I dread the next bureaucratic policy that will suck up the little time I have remaining to give kids real help.

AND THINGS WILL NOT IMPROVE UNTIL JOHNNY IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS OWN LEARNING–AND THAT MEANS THAT IF HE IS LAZY, HE ACTUALLY MIGHT FAIL!!

LIKEWISE FRUSTRATED

June 23rd, 2012
3:49 am

Additional notes: There certainly are other things I could do, but they will involve retraining–money and time. I’ve been thirsting to go back to school to get a doctorate in my content area, after all, for many years, I worked full-time and took classes as well. And the type of degree I’m interested in also entails quitting my job and going full-tme as a TA or on a scholarship–all offers I’ve received in the past, but never a logistical possibility for me. And as a teacher, I now am left with little time for that type of coursework (because of bureaucratic protocol; plus, I now don’t have the money to return to school.

People often suggest teaching in a private school, and I would do that if I could make ends meet, have proper health insurance, and be able to sock away enough for retirement. Most people in this country don’t realize that most private schools are unable to provide much in the way of pay and retirement savings, if they did, a lot of public-school teachers would be teaching in private schools instead.

LIKEWISE FRUSTRATED

June 23rd, 2012
3:53 am

apologies for the typos

Fled

June 23rd, 2012
5:35 am

@Beverly Fraud: About the only good thing happening now is that Georgia will have the school system it deserves pretty soon.

Sad and Mad debate student

June 23rd, 2012
8:01 am

coachK, I’m so sad right now that its hard for me to even explain it. I don’t know how public school systems work, butI think you need to know the impact you had on me. I and my brothers had you in ninth grade and debate. We all still know the definition of theme and symbol and still talk at dinner about conversations we had in your class. I even got my dad to read Fahrenheit because of you!!! Without you being my teacher, I wouldn’t love all the literature I love!! My writing skills would not be there. There are so many things that you did that I cant even name. I’m not just mad for me. I am mad because the next students won’t get the same amazing teacher you are. I know you had to leave, but I hate that is what it came to. #coachK4life

Wanda Roberts

June 23rd, 2012
9:37 am

I read most of your comments and wonder why you all who are dissatisfied with public schools aren’t banning together and demanding a hearing on education. Or better yet, vote for a new president in November and demand the Dept. of Education be disbanded and give states the responsibility of handling education locally. This is insane. I was fortunate to have my kids go to public school when it was still, more or less, a good place to get a good education especially with honors/gifted classes being offered. As one parent put it, “It’s like getting a private education for free.” Anyway, instead of just leaving and complaining, why aren’t you trying to band together and demand change? I’m not a teacher but I’ve been asking for some time now why do schools need to be closed all summer. I do not understand that. Maybe close for a month but almost three months. Really?

Will

June 23rd, 2012
10:17 am

Don’t worry. When you quit and jump around a few times you realize it’s all good, new experiences, igniting new passions, etc. It will always be there if you want to go back. And teaching can happen anywhere, not just in formalized institutions (schools).

I’m taking a break from corporate software development to pursue assistive technology for speech and other impairments. Tons of learning right now, meeting new people, it’s so much fun and there’s much more passion on my part. Good luck!

Beverly Fraud

June 23rd, 2012
10:34 am

@Beverly Fraud: About the only good thing happening now is that Georgia will have the school system it deserves pretty soon.

Fled I would say it’s getting the school system it RICHLY and FULLY deserves.

@Been there: Clayton says you broke your contract when you had a STROKE?

Clayton, Fulton, APS, and DeKalb. With the Four Horsemen of the Incompetence leading the way, why would anybody expect a good teacher to stay?

Lila

June 23rd, 2012
10:38 am

@adam- Just wanted to point out to you that teachers get NO paid vacation, not the full summer paid as many assume. We are paid for exactly 8 hours per day for the 190 days a year we are officially at school. Our summer checks are derived from money withheld from each check we receive during the year. So, please stop knocking us for our lazy paid summers. Most of us give countless hours of our summers to continuing education, setting up our classrooms, planning curriculum for the coming year, etc, etc. Further, we get paid a fraction of what a babysitter would cost per each child we teach. Think about it, pay a teacher $3 per child for only the 6.5 hours she has students in her classroom and only the 180 days they attend, and for only 25 students, she’d make $87,760 a year! I teach because I love children and truly care about helping them learn and grow. I’m one of the few teachers who is pro merit based pay, anti-union, and who would have education in this country publicly funded but completely privately run. But, I’m so tried of the attacks on those of us who choose to sift through all the BS day after day for pennies when compared to those with similar levels of education in different fields. Much of the problem is that teachers, the expects in the education field, aren’t the ones making the decisions on how to best fix the system!

ScienceTeacher671

June 23rd, 2012
10:38 am

I’m sad to see that Jordan is leaving the profession, but totally understand why.

Bye

June 23rd, 2012
10:40 am

All these whiny teachers just exemplify that most in the profession are just about what is best for them, not what their students really need. If you’re not cut out to give the kids what they need, just say so…don’t blame those that are just trying to do what is best for kids, even if it’s sometimes tough on adults.
Those in the civil rights movement sacrificed their comfort for the movement. The stakes are no less high here.
Teachers are either fixing this problem, or making it worse. Simple as that. Jordan is a selfish sell-out who talks a good game and loves having pity parties on this blog. Geezus, this is the second major pity party she has held…poor thing. Wah.

glenda

June 23rd, 2012
10:56 am

I, too, quit (retired…but not ready) to run for my state’s house of representatives. I say ENOUGH! I may not have a chance to win….but it is the standing up and saying ENOUGH keeps me thinking that there is hope. Teachers need to be in legislatures! We cannot give up hope! Public education is the great equalizer in our country. It is the place where professionals dedicate themselves to every child who comes through the door, damaged or not. It cannot be swept under the rug of big business. ENOUGH!

Lila

June 23rd, 2012
11:14 am

I would like to invite all those who are calling teachers “whiny” or think having some concern for our own needs means we don’t prioritize children to come spend a day or two volunteering in a public school classroom. Mine serves 4 year olds who qualify for public pre-k by being in poverty, having a parent in jail, or being on Medicaid. They are precious, and I’m doing what I’m called to do, but if you think it is easy to helps to them on the best path for learning and success, you’ve got another thing coming. Come walk a mile. Public schools are begging for volunteers. Those who CAN teach! Trust me, I’m highly qualified for plenty of other careers. But, I do this because it care about my country’s future and our children that much!

Mary Elizabeth

June 23rd, 2012
11:19 am

I loved teaching from the first day I began working with students in January, 1970, until the day I last set foot in a classroom as a teacher in 2006, in spite of the problems in education.

I would still recommend a teaching career to any young person who has a passion for helping the young and for sharing knowledge. I remain a steadfast supporter of public education, the mainstay for public servants who wish to serve others with their lives.

Sarah

June 23rd, 2012
11:33 am

You seem to be a passionate person with a big heart and in the public school system today that can work against you as it seems to be about mandated laws. When I graduated college I knew also that there was a difference between education and learning. I knew I would burn out very quickly and therefore never attempted to teach. Perhaps I am a wimp for never trying. At least you learned a lot about yourself through the process and you know what you want for this next stage of your life!

CY 2.0

June 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

I gave up telling non-teachers to come walk a mile in my shoes. First of all, they never will. Second, even if by some remarkable chance they did, as a good teacher, I would never really give them the reins. They would not have the opportunity to create a unit and all its associated parts, utilize good classroom management skills, try and track down a parents for days or weeks, attend meetings, grade 160 papers in a couple of weeks, or truly meet the needs of every single student in my class. They wouldn’t have this opportunity because I wouldn’t trust them to take over. I am not willing to sacrifice even one day of my students’ education just so that some “mightier than thou” person can walk a mile in my shoes.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

@Bye “All these whiny teachers just exemplify that most in the profession are just about what is best for them, not what their students really need.”

Did you somehow miss this whole portion of her letter? Or did you just ignore it?

“It started last year when I was chair of the student support team, which addresses the needs of struggling students. I watched the neediest of students get declined services, while the most deceptive of parents used their lawyers to manipulate the system into giving their children unfair advantage. I saw so many students and teachers hurt in this process, so many adults whose sole concern was not education or the well-being of children, so many lawyers and politicians who cared nothing about learning, that I broke.”

You interpret her concerns as being focused on “what is best for her”? Her heartbreak over watching the system deny struggling students what they need is “evidence of being a “selfish sell-out”"? Really?

Teachers I know who are dissatisfied with their job have numerous complaints about what is wrong with the system, but do you know what is top of their list? Their TOP complaint? It has less to do with how THEY are being treated than with the fact that all the data analysis, unfunded mandates, accountability measures, loss of funding, intervention data collection requirements, etc. are beginning to compromise GOOD TEACHING.

That’s right.

We have been taking crap for a long time and shouldering the burden, doing more with less and taking on more and more (because far too many of us suffer from a martyr complex). We have struggled to keep giving our students what they need while sacrificing our health, money and family life, because our students come first. Most of my fellow educators are on some type of medicine for high blood pressure or stress…and I am now being monitored erratic heartbreak, and blood pressure issues.

However, the chickens are finally coming home to roost. Now we see our students and our teaching beginning to really suffer, and THAT is not acceptable. Too many times, I have found myself in a position where I have to choose between doing what is best for my students, and doing what the district or state demands I NEED to do to prove I am doing a good job in the classroom. Up till now, I have been able to swing both, but in the last few years, I find myself on the wrong side of that line more and more times. The demands keep in increasing, and the hours in the day do not.

This year I had eleven students on a POI. You would not know what that means, but other teachers will. That means eleven students upon which I was supposed to keep detailed records of interventions, modifications, probe results, etc. Eleven students who I was supposed to meet about monthly to discuss their progress. Eleven students I was supposed to probe three times a week on various measures and record the data. Even if I used a five minute probe, that is fifteen minutes per child (one on one) times eleven children – a week! What were all my other students supposed to do when I was testing those children? My students are too young to work independently that often and for that long. I have known teachers who had entire classes on POIs. Do you think all of those students every received the help they needed? And if you did manage to collect all the data, chances are you would be sent back to collect MORE data, agains and again just like Jordan pointed out. Services DENIED.

There are only so many hours in the day, so do you spend those hours working on filling out POI paperwork, or actually preparing differentiated lessons for struggling students? Do you spend your time preparing your sixteen page evaluation document necessary to keep your job, or do you spend it planning engaging lessons?

You can only give everything of yourself for so long before things start breaking down. As one of my fellow teachers noted this year, “The better we look on paper, the less we are doing in the classroom.” Ironically, the very measurement put in place to prove we are educating our students are undermining our ability to teach. And it is the GOOD teachers who are suffering the most, because we are striving to do everything well.

We can no longer balance the ever increasing requirements for paperwork and documentation and testing with the ability to provide a solid education. We are seeing “best practices” preached, but in reality, our ability to implement those best practices is being compromised.

Believe it or not, most good teachers go into teacher because they WANT to make a difference in students’ lives. Good teachers put students first, and when GOOD teachers start being forced to make decisions that compromise my students learning, THAT is when they start thinking about leaving. Soon there will be very few GOOD teachers left in the classroom, and all the naysayers will get just what you have been striving for, the destruction of our public schools system. Have fun living in a country with a large percentage of uneducated, poor, and angry people looking for someone to blame.

ThisHitsHome

June 23rd, 2012
12:07 pm

I sit here crying as I read this (and all the comments) because it really hits home. I’ve made the decision to leave teaching after the 2013-2014 school year. If I weren’t single, I would have already left.

My story is similar. I’ve been teaching mathematics for six years. I started out at one of the roughest schools in my district, and in my four years there, I made a huge impact. We turned that school around. I worked harder than I thought I was capable of working, was disrespected more in a week than anyone should be subjected to in a lifetime, and went home and cried most nights. No job should make you feel that way. I pour my soul into my job. I kept returning day after day with a smile on my face, hiding how I felt inside. I was optimistic that the next day would be better. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes I wanted to get in my car in the afternoons and just drive…far, far away…and never return. But I kept coming back for the kids…they needed me. My school closed due to low enrollment and now I’m at one of the best schools in my district.

My job isn’t any easier now and changing buildings doesn’t make me like it any more. My co-workers are great, so is my principal. But teaching is draining the life out of me. I work all day and then work all night when I get home. I work all day Saturday too. I work, on average, an additional 20-25+ hours at home each week. And for the past four years, I’ve been furloughed and had no pay increases, so the harder I work, the less I make. I am one of the best (if not the very best) math teacher at my grade level in my district. My data and track record speaks for itself and I have years of proven results. I give 110% in my classroom and at home while working. So though I’m over my job, I’m not slacking off. My students get the very best of me…which leaves little to nothing for anyone else. I have virtually no friends other than co-workers and haven’t been on a date in years because I can never go anywhere or do anything because I’m always working. My life revolves around my job…it has for six years now. I’m finally saying enough is enough.

Ironically, this summer, I’m a faculty advisor for three Teach for America corps members. They’re coming in just as I did…bright eyed and ready to make a difference. I wouldn’t dare share with them how I really feel about my job. I don’t want to ruin the grand ideals and visions of teaching they have…but they’ll find out in due time. Or maybe they won’t. Maybe the experience will be better for them, or at least I pray it will.

I went into teaching to make a difference. I’ve made a big difference in the lives of countless children; but at the same time, it’s not worth it. I give and give and give to others…neglecting myself. I’m going back to school this fall to earn another master’s degree so I can make the move into the private sector. I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m ready to make this move…I’ve been ready for years. So…two more years of giving just about more of myself than I can possibly give, then I’ll close this chapter of my life. It’s just not worth it anymore.

BijaPoo

June 23rd, 2012
12:30 pm

She gave up a career she loved to sell insurance? Tell me in 10 years how much more she earned than if she’d remained in a job she loved. I say good riddance. We’ve got enough people in the profession who blame everyone but themselves for the state of education today. Enjoy pitching insurance. I hope it brings that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment you lacked as a teacher. Here’s a fun fact for you. The average teacher is in the top 25% of income earners in the US today. Go work as an independent business owner, putting in 18 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week with no pension and expensive health insurance, and facing an 80% failure rate, then tell me your sad story as a public school teacher with your long days and frustration.

Once Again

June 23rd, 2012
12:32 pm

The more people that withdraw their support for the failed government system of “education” the sooner it will collapse and the marketplace can restore sanity and begin delivering a quality product. The sooner everyone faces the reality that a bureaucratic, theft based system that cares more about justifying its existence than is delivering a quality product cannot ever be fixed and will never achieve of the goals of students or parents, the better america will be.

How many more generations of childen, parents, and even quality teachers (notice that I qualified this one as there are definitely not very many of these) must be irreparably harmed by this failed system before we as a society learn from this horrible mistake?

eagle9857

June 23rd, 2012
1:44 pm

My wife teaches 9th and 10th-grade math in Gwinnett County and has talked about leaving the profession, transferring to a private school or teaching online. She generally has at least one class that’s a block (for those who have been identified as struggling in math). After many conversations with her, I’ve found that there’s a real issue with behavior problems with students. Back when I was in school, if you were a discipline problem, you got sent home and/or were suspended or had ISS. Now, these students get sent to an administrator and then sent right back to the teacher with nothing having happened. These constant disruptions by certain students distracts the learning for other students and is hurting some of the ones who want to be there.

Countless times, she’s had students not be present on test day and not make it up. But, they can’t give them a zero and move on…they have to give the student ample opportunities to make up work they missed, even if it’s in the middle of May and the test was in February. This goes for homework, quizzes, etc. Now, what are we teaching our kids? In the real world, if you miss an assignment, there are no makeups. Depending on the job, you’ll lose it when you don’t turn something in when it’s supposed to.

Kids don’t understand consequences, because they’ve never had to deal with consequences in their life. Many parents give their kids everything they want, and they expect the same of the teachers in the classroom. Most parents want to blame the teacher for their child not passing, when in fact it’s the student’s fault. But, that’s our society, it’s always someone else’s fault.

And, tests. What good are these state and county standardized tests in each subject where the curve is astronomically huge. For her Algebra I class, the EOCT had an curve of 19 points, which was lower for the students that scored higher. After the curve, the average of the class was a 76. So, looking at it, the class average was a 57 before the curve. Now, if that’s going on in other Algebra I classes, I think the problem lies within the test. Why is there a test being created that is known to be almost impossible to pass for many kids, but yet we give it anyway, saying they should know the material? If that’s the material they should know, then there should be no curve.

Kids are inundated with tests, too many in my opinion, and teachers are having to teach to the test. I took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the PSAT, the SAT, the ACT and the GA HS Graduation Test and I turned out okay, as did most people my age. So, why do we need the EOCT, CRCT, Various Gateway Assessments, and others?

The whole school system is not “No Child Left Behind,” it’s “No Teacher Left Standing.”

Prof

June 23rd, 2012
2:24 pm

Just to let folks know, an earlier blog-thread that was also about some problems with Georgia education– June 18, “Bloody Monday: Layoffs at Georgia Perimeter College”– is still going strong at 340 posts. Interesting comments that may apply outside of GPC. It’s under “Older posts.”

velma malone

June 23rd, 2012
3:07 pm

Excellent observation of the current state of public education. Great move, I also had to leave after 26yrs. Unbearable!

Tired of Teaching

June 23rd, 2012
4:25 pm

I sit here crying as I read this (and all the comments) because it really hits home. I’ve made the decision to leave teaching after the 2013-2014 school year. If I weren’t single, I would have already left.

My story is similar. I’ve been teaching mathematics for six years. I started out at one of the roughest schools in my district, and in my four years there, I made a huge impact. We turned that school around. I worked harder than I thought I was capable of working, was disrespected more in a week than anyone should be subjected to in a lifetime, and went home and cried most nights. No job should make you feel that way. I pour my soul into my job. I kept returning day after day with a smile on my face, hiding how I felt inside. I was optimistic that the next day would be better. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes I wanted to get in my car in the afternoons and just drive…far, far away…and never return. But I kept coming back for the kids…they needed me. My school closed due to low enrollment and now I’m at one of the best schools in my district.

My job isn’t any easier now and changing buildings doesn’t make me like it any more. My co-workers are great, so is my principal. But teaching is draining the life out of me. I work all day and then work all night when I get home. I work all day Saturday too. I work, on average, an additional 20-25+ hours at home each week. In the past six years I have spent an average of about $1,400 on classroom supplies so I can do my job effectively. And for the past four years, I’ve been furloughed and had no pay increases, so the harder I work, the less I make. I am one of the best (if not the very best) math teacher at my grade level in my district. My data and track record speaks for itself and I have years of proven results. I give 110% in my classroom and at home while working. So though I’m over my job, I’m not slacking off. My students get the very best of me…which leaves little to nothing for anyone else. I have virtually no friends other than co-workers and haven’t been on a date in years because I can never go anywhere or do anything because I’m always working. My life revolves around my job…it has for six years now. I’m finally saying enough is enough.

Ironically, this summer, I’m a faculty advisor for three Teach for America corps members. They’re coming in just as I did…bright eyed and ready to make a difference. I wouldn’t dare share with them how I really feel about my job. I don’t want to ruin the grand ideals and visions of teaching they have…but they’ll find out in due time. Or maybe they won’t. Maybe the experience will be better for them, or at least I pray it will.

I went into teaching to make a difference. I’ve made a big difference in the lives of countless children; but at the same time, it’s not worth it. I give and give and give to others…neglecting myself. I’m going back to school this fall to earn another master’s degree so I can make the move into the private sector. I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m ready to make this move…I’ve been ready for years. So…two more years of giving just about more of myself than I can possibly give, then I’ll close this chapter of my life. It’s just not worth it anymore.

Beverly Fraud

June 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

“The more people that withdraw their support for the failed government system of “education” the sooner it will collapse and the marketplace can restore sanity and begin delivering a quality product.”

EXACTLY. That’s why the Jordans and the Fleds of the world will EVENTUALLY make a difference. When the talent pool becomes MINIMAL and you can’t even CHEAT your way to better results…when administrators can’t RETALIATE because there is no one LEFT to retaliate against…

As someone says on Bookman’s blog, the system ain’t broke…it’s “fixed” fixed against the teacher and by extension fixed against the STUDENTS.

No doubt Jordan will be EXPONENTIALLY happier this time next year. ZERO doubt of that.

Beverly Fraud

June 23rd, 2012
5:12 pm

“I would still recommend a teaching career to any young person who has a passion for helping the young and for sharing knowledge”

Why? WHY ON EARTH would you do that to a young person who has ENDLESS possibilities ahead of them?

Daniel

June 23rd, 2012
5:47 pm

Although I never actually had you as a teacher, I am convinced you are one of the best educators to have ever walked the halls of Centennial High School. I cannot tell you how much having you as debate coach helped me grow–not only in rhetoric, but as a person in general. I am sorry about how jacked up the system is, and it sucks to see you go.

I understand that it is the path that you must follow, and I know it can’t be easy.

You told me a long time ago that the only way to liberate yourself from “The Cave” is to teach. Too bad The Man doesn’t want that to happen. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you thank you for everything.

Daniel

Todd

June 23rd, 2012
5:49 pm

I am a second career teacher. I came to education because I love working with students and I trul enjoy watching the light go on for a student. I spent my first two years teaching in a public school system which over-tested its students and beat teachers with bad test data and pass/fail ratios. Nearly every teacher in my department was working for a student loan forgiveness program and planned on leaving as soon as they reached the magic number of years. I left before I quit teaching. I now teach at a private school where I can teach content and not a test. I felt guilty for leaving at first, but in my heart I knew I could not change the system and would only be used and abused. I love my new job, even though I now have four preps and a coaching job on the side. Having educational control in the classroom and parental involvement (the right kind) is huge. Jordan, consider private education when you return from your hiatus.

Cathy Vilar

June 23rd, 2012
6:00 pm

Teaching has always had its trials. I’ve kept a file over the years and was re-reading many of the articles from when I started teaching in the mid-70s. It’s amazing how similar they are. Without the date, you would be hard pressed to determine whether it was or was not current.
The classroom has changed. The purpose has changed. The families have changed. But politics are politics and you just grin and bear it. It’s the same in private business, but the politics are more in-house. However, good teachers teach because they love teaching, if not school.
On the positive side, I believe more of today’s teachers are good or excellent than in the last 50 years. Why? Because they now CHOOSE to go into education, not (as another writer pointed out) because that was one of the few options for women (secretary, nurse, homemaker, teacher) and less accountability. Many whom I have had the pleasure to teach with, including Jordan, are very intelligent and talented and could take their pick of professions. But their passion lies in reaching kids and providing hope, which is why administrations/politicians/taxpayers feel free to cut teachers’ pay and working conditions – they know many good teachers will stay regardless.
When I started teaching I had 40 students in each class, was required to eat lunch in the cafeteria with my class during the entire 22 minute period set aside for that purpose, sat in the hallway between classes to make sure kids didn’t smoke in the bathroom, stayed overnight when snow prevented the buses from running, and was expected to visit every student’s home (mostly in the projects). What I did not have was the endless paperwork, micro-management of my instructional style and content, fear of lawsuits, and lack of respect; misbehavior? take a paddle to them in the hall. no supplies? hit local businesses for donations. small paycheck? most teachers had their kids on reduced lunch, mine included. From ‘85 to ‘91, when I had left teaching because of burnout and needing a bigger paycheck as a newly single mother of three, Joe Frank Harris raised our salaries by double-digits and Zell Miller gave us respect and hope. I left making $11,000/yr and returned 6 years later (even without full credit from “out-of-county” experience) and made $27,000/yr. But the smaller classrooms required more work to individualize learning, higher salaries came with suspicious taxpayers and more accountability, misbehavior involved vague and fearful handling, and duty-free lunches came with a working-lunch label.
Okay, so one set of problems was corrected and another set came along. I still loved teaching, knew I could reach kids and turn over their fear of math to a love of math. As in any business, you have to play the game. It wasn’t until the NCLB (yes, we’ll have everyone with 20/20 vision, olympian athletic abilities and ready for college by 2012. Right.) and the new, shallow, rigid, cookie-cutter math curriculum came along and the exams were written for me by faceless bureaucrats that I again cried, “Enough!” and took retirement a couple of years early. I was no longer allowed to be a creative, passionate force in my own classroom. It was being a world-class chef being handed Weight Watchers Cookbook and told, in no uncertain terms, to prepare dishes exactly as written. End of story.

Kathy

June 23rd, 2012
7:21 pm

I just retired with 24 years in a system outside of Atlanta. Your blog could be my words entirely. I am Nationally Board Certified, and I could not take the public school system any longer. I loved all of my kids, but I was worn out with being blamed for their mistakes as well as their parents. We were not allowed to give a student their actual grade earned, and if a child received a failing grade, we had to justify the reason for it. It wasn’t the fault of the child’s. I don’t know where public schools are going, but I am very glad that my children are grown. I don’t have to worry now about the ineffectiveness of the system anymore. Notice that I said “system” – not the teachers who are no longer allowed to educate and create wonderful minds. Nowadays, anyone can teach…so sad. But I am now out…worn out with doing what I loved but no longer able to create a love of learning, moral judgment, and the consequences of certain behaviors.

Mary Elizabeth

June 23rd, 2012
8:00 pm

@ Beverly Fraud, 5:12 pm

“Why? WHY ON EARTH would you do that to a young person who has ENDLESS possibilities ahead of them?”
=================================================

Because I still had a passion for teaching, even in 2006, when I was 64 years old and had taught school for 35 years, in all kinds of difficult situations, including being an SST Chair for 20 years, altogether, in two different schools. I received as much from students as I gave to them. Teaching was life-giving Io me. It was, and is, in my blood. I cannot imagine any other profession better suited to my particular talents than teaching. My paternal grandmother had been a teacher, who had started her own school, as had been her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, before her. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, had also been ordained Baptist ministers as far back as the early 1800s.

If the love of teaching, and of giving to others for their betterment, is within your soul, that gift will remain with you throughout your life, and you will feel stunted in your own development if you are not able to have expressed that gift. I feel blessed that I was a teacher, as well as having served as a teacher within public schools, for 35 years of my life.

I am not saying that teaching is a profession that everyone should pursue simply because I had loved it throughout my teaching career. I am saying that I would continue to urge those people, who have a passion to give of themselves to others and to share their knowledge with young people, to choose teaching as their lifelong profession.

Brittany S.

June 23rd, 2012
8:17 pm

Mrs. Kohanim made a big difference for me, and I’ve missed her since graduating a few years ago. I still remember her, and every time I visit the school I hope to see her. If only she could read the papers I’ve been putting out lately, . . I would not be half the student I am today without her influence.

Brittany S.

June 23rd, 2012
8:40 pm

Thank you for everythink, Mrs. Kohanim! I only had you for one year but you forever changed me. Thank you.

Thankful for my public education

June 23rd, 2012
8:53 pm

I was educated all 12 years in the state of Georgia, and I can tell you that many teachers had a profound impact on my life.

Teachers had impact in the way they were consistent throughout the year. But there were also the times when a teacher would talk to me individually and tell me something: a word of encouragement, a kind word. I can remember things my second grade teacher said to me. I remember a Social Studies teacher in 10th grade telling me that I really could do better. I remember a Humanities teacher that seemed to open up the world of art, literature, and music; and tie them all together.

I went on to college and later to graduate school. I was given the tools to continue the process of learning the rest of my life.

I am so saddened to hear of the loss of so many wonderful teachers. I pray that changes will be made, particularly in the state of Georgia, so that public education can be fully funded. We truly are in a crisis situation. And it is “WE”. Lack of good teachers in proper ratio means lack of properly prepared students. Ill prepared students are ill prepared to face the challenges of the working world. Communities cannot function well without people prepared to face life’s difficulties.

gone2

June 23rd, 2012
9:28 pm

Just left for many of the same reasons. Making a difference is still possible in public schools, but much more difficult in today’s education climate than, say 10 years ago. Discipline- or lack of its enforcement by administrators- coupled with paycut after paycut and out-of touch bosses – I just pray the rest of the working world functions better than public schools at the moment. My former system’s motto is: “Investing in futures ” ( But, as I have always said, they just don’t tell you WHOSE futures they’re investing in!!!)

N. GA Teacher

June 23rd, 2012
10:52 pm

The author’s letter certainly rings true with a tremendous number of us. I applaud her for the courage to try something else that she was lucky to get. Most teachers are NOT competitive for private -market professions because our college educations were not in area like law, business, hi-tech and medicine. I am stunned by h0w naiive many non-teacher bloggers are. Many say “why don’t you go teach at a private school?” as though this is a totally viable option. It is NOT. First of all, there are far fewer privatedschools. Second, most do NOT have pensions. Third, only the elite privates, such as Pace, Woorward, etc. pay salaries competititve with public schools. Fourth, the elites often expect teachers to live on campus and be dorm wards or be coaches. Elite private schools have strong tendency to hire their own graduates or friends of top administrators. They seek people who certainly are good teachers but who are also steeped in upper-class sophistication. Few public school teachers have a doctor, lawyer or corporate executive as a spouse, but many elite private teachers do.

I am quite bit older than Jordan, and my question is that of many other boomer teachers: why did we change for the worse a profession that was so good a generation ago?

Ed Johnson

June 23rd, 2012
11:06 pm

@Jordan, @Mary Elizabeth, and other teachers:

I do believe this will resonate, deeply, very deeply…

http://www.worldpeacegame.org/world-peacegame-foundation/keynotes/item/john-hunter-s-keynote-at-the-2012-martin-institute-conference

Unionize now

June 24th, 2012
2:56 am

We need a movement. How can we take action to change the laws that are in place to have a true representative union that will protect the interests of professional educators? Forget all you naw sayers claiming unions are the enemy. We need protection against the political tyrants who think it is right to treat us like this. This country wastes and mismanages so much money that could be allocated directly to teacher compensation that would satisfy teachers everywhere in the U.S. improving morale in return helping students. Anyone well versed in politics/law that knows if is it possible to unionize(GA) , what the first steps would be? How big of an obstacle would this change be in this Republican driven state(nothing against the party, but GA is rep)? Georgia has thousands of educators who can make change if we can step up together. We need a movement.

Mary Elizabeth

June 24th, 2012
7:21 am

@ Unionize now, 2:56 am

“Anyone well versed in politics/law that knows if is it possible to unionize(GA) , what the first steps would be? How big of an obstacle would this change be in this Republican driven state(nothing against the party, but GA is rep)? Georgia has thousands of educators who can make change if we can step up together. We need a movement.”
============================================

The first step is to persuade all teachers in Georgia to join the Georgia Association of Educators, which is a branch of the National Education Association. Both of these professional organizations offer teachers legal counsel. Neither is an official union with legal collective bargaining rights for teachers, but both professional organizations have some degree of political persuasion with state and national legislators. When you join GAE you become a member of NEA, also.

I would imagine that legal counsel within the NEA would be able to advise members in how to form teachers’ unions in the South. At the present time, Georgia’s right-to-work laws would have to be changed to allow for teachers’ unions in Georgia.This possibility is not likely to happen as long as Georgia has a majority of Republican legislators (and Republican governors who can persuade through their political power) because Republicans, for the most part, oppose teachers’ unions. Democrats support teachers’ unions, for the most part. Thus, public school teachers in Georgia should vote Republican legislators, who are against teachers’ unions, out of office this coming November, and teachers should also join GAE and NEA, immediately. Those are the two best, practical steps public school teachers can take in Georgia to insure that their teaching jobs will remain viable and that they will, also, remain impacting enough to offer positive results in the lives of their students (and themselves). Teachers should become politically active in Georgia by persuading others to elect Democrats who support teachers’ unions in November. They should, also, pay close attention to what is happening in national politics to thwart teachers’ unions, such as what has happened recently in Wisconsin to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker who opposes teachers’ unions having bargaining rights in Wisconsin. (Republican power players outside of Wisconsin contributed millions of dollars to keep Walker in power as Wisconsin’s governor in this recall election.) Teachers should become aware of how ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) operates stealthily throughout the nation, through Republican state legislatures working in concert with leadership of some major corporations to achieve their ends. Coca-Cola has recently left ALEC. ALEC does not support public schools but has, instead, offered legislation to use vouchers to privatize education. Public school teachers who believe Republicans presently have your best interests at heart are unaware of political truths, in this regard, imo.

http://www.nea.org/home/2580.htm

Brittany Snyder

June 24th, 2012
8:15 am

Mrs. Kohanim made a difference for me. I’ve missed her since graduating.

Peter DeDominici

June 24th, 2012
8:28 am

Congratulations, Jordan, for having the integrity to say ‘enough is enough.’ I am leaving my position as a principal for much of the same reason but with additional aggravations. The state testing mandates are now driving what is delivered in the classroom. I’ve begun to wonder how much students are really learning when everything comes down to the test. I had to let a wonderful, caring teacher go a while back because her test scores were not good. The kick of it is, those students, when tested in the fall, had ‘regained’ all the supposedly lost gains they’d made in the spring. How valid was that test? By my standards, not very. There are a whole lot of other reasons that led to me finally saying ‘I quit’ to being a principal but this is the end for me.

elvee

June 24th, 2012
10:10 am

I am glad to see that most of the comments here are empathetic and encouraging. I definitely understand your situtation, Jordan. I just finished my 18th year of teaching, and it was the toughest ever. I taught 650 kids, and had to give each 7 grades each quarter. I taught fewer concepts, but I taught them more deeply, so now I am more accountable. I go to work with my blinders on. I know there are test score and evaluation hoops to jump through, but other than that, I evaluate my work based on my own standards. If I am told to do something with which I don’t agree, I do my best to meet that expectation. I can’t look at the big picture, or I would walk away, too. I have managed to find a job where there is a little left of me for my family. It’s not enough, but it is significantly better than it used to be. I have fought very hard to be emotionally and mentally strong enough to stay, and when I leave it will be on my terms (i hope), and I will know when it is time. I have left twice, and come back.

Realistic Educator

June 24th, 2012
10:14 am

This has been the most interesting of the AJC “Get Schooled” blogs that I have read. Some of us will continue to struggle with the teaching profession because we feel that maybe we will get great administrators, supportive parents, meaningful resources and motivated students who have great home training and know to respect adults and not be disruptive in class. We will only have 45 hour weeks and will be free on weekends to spend all of our time with our families and/or pursue other interests. We won’t have to take work home. Most importantly, we will continue to struggle because we love teaching and we want to make a difference in the lives of countless students. However, some situations will be so untenable that it will force even the most devoted of us to leave the profession. And when the last of us leaves. teaching as a profession will have ended. American education will have suffered irrevocable harm.

mountain man

June 24th, 2012
10:45 am

“Countless times, she’s had students not be present on test day and not make it up. But, they can’t give them a zero and move on”

There you go. A prime example of why our education system is in the shape that it is in. Bring back the zeros and the “F”s. Make students (and their parents) responsible.

Matt Davis

June 24th, 2012
11:16 am

I understand people’s frustration, but I still love the profession. I work with a team of fellow teachers to try to make the most effective lessons we can. The problems in education really are not new, though they have shifted. I am sorry to hear you are leaving. I feel fortunate that I continue to have the privilege to stay.

Unionize now

June 24th, 2012
11:37 am

@Mary Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for that information. It is a shame that politics play such a huge role. I will look into the GAE and NEA. Oh, and what a bummer for Wisconsin. I could not believe he was not recalled.

Realistic Educator

June 24th, 2012
1:02 pm

And the beat goes on…educators forever.

Mary Elizabeth

June 24th, 2012
1:12 pm

@Unionize now, 11:37 am

Thank you. Keep faith and keep trying to get teachers to join GAE and NEA, as a very first step. Stay politically active. I am grateful for younger people, such as yourself, who have not given up the fight for the success of public education in our nation.

Walker was defeated in Wisconsin because of the shrewd tactic used of “divide and conquer” the middle class. The U.S. must remain a democratic republic which serves the interests of all of its people, and not simply the interests of the rich and powerful. All citizens must be well educated to secure our democratic republic’s future, as designed by our founders. Every vote should have equal weight in America. Public education is key to America’s idealistic concepts continuing to be maintained for future generations of Americans, and as a beacon of light for others to emulate throughout the world, as Lincoln gave his life to secure.

Good Mother

June 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

Mary Elizabeth is right. Teachers should unionize. Get out the picket sign and protest and unionize and so should all workers. The lack of unions in the South is a disgrace. We need unions to teach and grow skilled tradesmen and to protect wages and benefits.

Ed Johnson

June 24th, 2012
2:42 pm

Speaking of the NEA, it is greatly encouraging to know they have been working with Daniel H. Kim, co-founder of Pegasus Communications, Inc., in exploring the question “What is the purpose of a public education system in a democratic society?”

Because he knows I am a proponent of systems thinking in K-12 public education, a former president of a local GAE affiliate and now NEA board member tells me Kim will be working with the NEA board, directly. That is such great news!

What’s the Purpose: Transformation or Tinkering?
http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=12878

Daniel H. Kim on Education (2:22)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR0T8TEg9aQ

Mary Elizabeth

June 24th, 2012
3:41 pm

@ Ed Johnson, 11:06 pm, June 23rd
“@Jordan, @Mary Elizabeth, and other teachers:
I do believe this will resonate, deeply, very deeply…

http://www.worldpeacegame.org/world-peacegame-foundation/keynotes/item/john-hunter-s-keynote-at-the-2012-martin-institute-conference

=========================================================

Ed, thank you so very much for sharing this video with me, Jordan, and other teachers. It is a wonderful video and you were correct in thinking that the video would resonate very, very deeply with me. John Hunter’s speech is outstanding both in content and in manner. Although the video is about 30 minutes duration, the viewer becomes mesmerized by John Hunter’s manner and by his words of wisdom. He has captured the essence of what being an outstanding teacher is about. Anyone can dispense knowledge, as he mentions, but to give students an understanding of how to apply knowledge, with heart, is the key factor that will see them through into an unknown future, after their teachers and mentors have passed. Hunter speaks with much love in his heart.

I remember the best teacher I ever had – Mrs. Mitchell, my high school English teacher for two years and the teacher sponsor of the high school’s newspaper, of which I was a part. Mrs. Mitchell went on to teach college students after I had graduated from high school. Through my teaching the English skills she had taught me and others, with commitment and care, Mrs. Mitchell has also left a positive influence in the learning of every student I ever encountered over a 35 year period. As John Hunter mentions, a teacher’s influence can have impact three generations later, and more.

I hope that every reader of this blog will take the time to listen to the link that Ed Johnson has provided, above. You will be greatly rewarded, if you do so, and I hope that present day teachers will be encouraged, through Hunter’s wise words, to stay in education, to fight for its betterment and for the respect it should be afforded by the society-at-large, if you have the stamina and heart to do so.

Finally, this video presentation reminded me of the movie, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which I recently saw in Midtown Atlanta. It is a heartwarming and, at times, humorous story of how the DNA in salmon will ensure that they will turn upstream, generations removed from their locale. If your DNA is to be a teacher, you will have gone against your basic life force if you do not continue to “follow your bliss” by teaching our young. Try to stay and fight to make education better, if you have the strength to do so. Ed Johnson’s video link will inspire many teachers to stay in education, I believe.

Btw, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is coming out on DVD in mid-July. I hope that many readers will see it. It is inspirational.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wOF_7JMy5U

Jarod Apperson

June 24th, 2012
4:01 pm

Jordan, I am sorry to hear you will be leaving the field of teaching. You sound like a very thoughtful and dedicated person, and you are a good writer. Your schools students will miss out. Hope you enjoy the new career.

[...] Jordan Kohanim is a former Fulton County high school teacher and one of my favorite posters on the blog because of her eloquence, her candor and her…  [...]

Jennifer

June 24th, 2012
5:17 pm

This story is very similar to my story. Just substitute the words English teacher with special education teacher and job duties; it’s the same story. I commend Jordan for writing this story to help explain what some of us have been through.

Ann Green

June 24th, 2012
8:49 pm

Oh…poor baby, You work 6 hours a day with no breaks. Those of us in the real world work 10-12 hours a day. Lunch at our desk if it’s a good day. AND we work 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. Not to mention email, phone calls, reports, etc. at night and weekends. We get 6-8 holidays max. We don’t get a couple of months in the summer; spring break. 2-3 weeks at Christmas, Thanksgiving “week” etc. etc. Merit pay…you betcha. You don’t do your job well, at best you get no raise. More likely you get fired. I am so tired hearing your whining teachers and tired of coughing more and more tax dollars for the failing schools. Do the job you were hired to do and act like the professionals you want to be called.

Prof

June 24th, 2012
9:16 pm

@ Ann Green. Jordan Kohanim means 6 hours a day grading papers in addition to her regular workday of 8 hours. Don’t you understand what you read?

Teachers don’t get paid for the summer months when they don’t teach. And they don’t get “merit pay.” They haven’t had any raises in 5 years, but they’ve had “furlough days” when they aren’t paid at all. But why go on?

Mrs Z

June 24th, 2012
10:03 pm

The article was well written. I am a new educator who did not get a contract due to budget cut in Clayton county. I enjoy the teaching career. I believe that our voices must be heard. We must keep the faith that a change will come.

Former DCSS Teacher

June 24th, 2012
10:25 pm

Bravo, Jordan! I just left Dekalb schools after 23 years for another system – a smaller system that values students over the possibilities of litigation. As @William also stated, Dekalb has cut our pay for the past several years while adding students to the classrooms and also refusing to contribute to our retirement. Dekalb is losing a record number of teachers this year, and I am certain Fulton and other systems are, too. The cold, hard facts are this (and I was told this by my own supervisor) – if you lawyer up in any major county (and especially in Dekalb), you can get anything you want. Anything. Everyone knows how to play the game, and the students who need help the most are left without options. What a shame. Good luck, Jordan.

Soccer Mom

June 24th, 2012
10:39 pm

@Ann Green – I beg you, PLEASE find a high school teacher working in an overcrowded school and switch jobs with him/her for one week. Just one. Plan and implement all lessons (5-7 periods per day, with differentiation for all students), attend all meetings, schedule/attend/document all parent meetings, grade all papers/homework/ tests and enter the grades into the grading system, hold student conferences, and then come back and talk about whiny teachers. I dare you. You wouldn’t last one day.

Truth in Moderation

June 25th, 2012
1:23 am

Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if all teachers quit on the same day and all parents home schooled (or private schooled) next year? The corruptoctats would be sent packing. The party would be over. The good guys would win. Children would be educated. Teachers, think outside the box.

Dawn peragallo

June 25th, 2012
8:48 am

Jordan know that you are not alone- masterfully written! You are lucky that you can take this “break”. I have been searching for another job that would fulfill that teaching need for years and I am still teaching in the broken system! Good luck with your endeavors!

Tom

June 25th, 2012
8:57 am

I’ve been in the classroom for over 23 years. I have taught 9-12 and 6-8. I taught all of the sciences. Concurrently, I had a 25 year career in the US Army. I will say this, if I were offered the opportunity to go to work for the defense industry, I would leave the classroom. Part of my military duties were teaching and training soldiers. It’s so much better to teach people who CHOOSE to be there rather than people who HAVE to be there. So, I would definitely walk away. Too much politics, too many liars fluffing their own cushions, not enough acceptance of personal responsibility.

Raisin Toast Fanatic

June 25th, 2012
9:02 am

Those of us in the real world work 10-12 hours a day. Lunch at our desk if it’s a good day. AND we work 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. Not to mention email, phone calls, reports, etc. at night and weekends. We get 6-8 holidays max.

“Those of us” do not work 10-12 hours a day. I don’t; I only have unpaid extra hours dearing deadlines/etc.

I don’t know what kind of job you have, but clearly not a great one. Yours is an exception, not typical. Therefore your comparison is invalid.

And who the h3ll are you to put down teachers? As if you have real, first-hand experience?

Yeah, right.

B|tch, please!

Debbie Ruston

June 25th, 2012
9:10 am

Everything we do is a stepping stone. When someone like Jordan leaves, it is often because they see a better way. We can take everything we have done (skills, experience, knowledge) and take that to create something new, meaningful and improved. That is not failure, that is progress.

JHCS Tutoring Services

June 25th, 2012
2:07 pm

WOW!! What a story you have to tell! Yes, you have been CALLED BY GOD to teach. You are and will always be a teacher! Have you ever considered TUTORING? Johnathan’s House Christian School has been in existence for 20 years and will be opening its first Tutoring Service in Fayetteville, GA on July 1, 2012. If you are interested or know someone who is, contact the Receptionist at 770.371.5009. Leave your name and number and someone will contact you with more information. May God be with you and Bless everything you do!!

Eyes straight ahead!

June 25th, 2012
2:48 pm

As I read your editorial, “Why I Left Teaching” to my husband this morning, I was deeply saddened by “this” teacher’s words. When I discovered it was written by you, the flood gate of tears began. I am sad for you, and for most teachers who want to make a difference in our society and our world, but are over loaded with unrealistic numbers and expectations.

I am proud of your courage to bring your discouragement into a wide open space where it can be talked about. Your story was deliberate and needed to be told. Although your experiences and feelings are shared by many other educators, it is still considered taboo to talk about them. We need to have open dialogue in order for changes to take place. Your story is so well written. It is raw and your observations and feelings are real. Thanks for giving us your perspective.

Your students are very fortunate to have had you for their teacher. It sounds like you enjoy your new job. Good luck, and let all the good circle and come back to you now. Remember – Head up, shoulders back, and eyes straight ahead!

MB

June 25th, 2012
6:41 pm

@SoccerMom: You need to give Ann Green full disclosure that she may still eat her lunch at her desk as a teacher but she’ll likely only have 23 minutes to do so AND, a biggie, that she will only be able to visit the bathroom a couple of (pre-set) times during the day, so she’d better figure out in advance how she can stay hydrated standing in front of the class without needing to use the facilities. (Oh, and she won’t be able to take or make any phone calls except during lunch/planning and then only if her cell phone works in her room OR she goes to the planning room or front office.)
Also remind her that some of those parent e-mails and phone calls will be made from her home as she won’t be able to reach the parents in the afternoon and they will e-mail her back after 7 or 8 pm.

Also, I’d say she should HAVE to commit to be there the full week. When she crumbles after the first day, she’d say it was just an unusual day so she should have to observe the rest of the week. (And do car rider duty in the morning and bus duty in the afternoon.)

Good Mother

June 25th, 2012
6:44 pm

To Truth in Moderation, you write “Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if all teachers quit on the same day…”
Seriously, why don’t you?
With all the forced cheating and all the claims that “the super made me do it” why weren’t teachers picketing in huge numbers? Whey didn’t they protest?
WHY Don’t teachers FORM A UNION in the South?
For all the angst, the treacherous working hours, the horrible conditions, the terrible pay, the complete lack of respect and all the ills….why are teachers in GA complacent? Why don’t they form a union to protect themselves?

Taxpayer and Teacher

June 25th, 2012
9:22 pm

@SoccerMom and @Ann Green-Especially when students curse you out daily (you heard me correctly) and you are either told that it is part of their disability and that’s what you went to school for so handle it OR you call the parents and they confirm that they curse them as well and advise you to do as they do and just say “Shut Up.” As a former corporate employee, that kind of nonsense in the so called “real world” is not tolerated. I would love to see Ann teach in one of these situations. I would like to see just how long you would stand a let a 13 or 14 year-old student, call you a b…., say F….when you ask why their homework was not turned in or better yet, KMA when you tell them to get to class on time. You would be on vacation all right, over in the county jail! Our scripted response is, “Hello Mrs/Mr So in So, Joe is having a bad today. He/she can’t seem to focus and is disrupting class. Would you mind speaking with him/her about proper classroom behavior? Thank you for your time. Oh and by the way he/she hasn’t turned any work in all semester and it’s almost Christmas. I’ve asked him/her several times about its whereabouts, but he/she says that athletic practice is more important, especially since they will be going to the NFL.”

bpk

June 25th, 2012
9:26 pm

Jordan, you could’ve done what my son’s english teacher did. She assigned 8 papers throughout
the semester and only graded ONE of them. She ended up just giving out A’s!!

Saronda

June 25th, 2012
10:31 pm

Across the country in MO, I feel you, understand you, and am near my breaking point. Having worked public, charter and private in MO and GA, I can’t stand what I see and I can’t stomach the leadership cow-toe anymore. Instead of addressing the brokenness of the system, they all try and psychoanalyze how I am “not ? enough” to see the sickness. As educators, we all see it but too many turn a head or fall into the sickness too. I know one leaving doesn’t change the system, but my hats off to you, Jordan Kohanim. If everyone took a stance of some sort, something can & will change!

H

June 26th, 2012
1:30 am

Thanks for reminding me why I will be homeschooling my children. I think the quote about public schools emphasizing education over learning says it all. And its so true.

Joanie

June 26th, 2012
1:32 am

“Jordan, you could’ve done what my son’s english teacher did. She assigned 8 papers throughout
the semester and only graded ONE of them. She ended up just giving out A’s!!”

Aaaand this is why there are a bunch of illiterate, bimbo young adults out there who cant write a paragraph to save their life. Really, she just gave out A’s to everyone? Does anyone else find this outrageous? No wonder this country is filled with a bunch of idiots.

Mary Elizabeth Kelly

June 26th, 2012
9:23 am

I wish you well. I thank you for your service. Education is not in trouble due to a monolithic cause. The causes are many. I left after 30 years and I still miss my students. I loved every opportunity to work with them. I also worked with some fabulous administration over the years, but toward the end the lack of leadership was one of the major factors in my leaving. I truly feel that I made a difference in the lives of children. Children also influenced my life in positive ways. Mortimer Collins, you are a sad example of our society. You hurl insults behind a fake online name. I will be happy to arrange a week for you as a substitute teacher. All day, every day for a week. Bus duty, lunch duty, you name it. I will also be happy during your week to provide you with every negative comment, news article, blog post, movie etc., to help build up your morale as you do your work. You can thank me later. Of course, you will have to use your real name.

Sandy

June 26th, 2012
10:54 am

Funny thing about the political system in schools, the grown ups have forgotten their are children in those rooms. No matter the age, height, nationality or culture children should not be used as pawns in a financial chess game, but it happens everyday in public schools. I know I blew the whistle on some horrible politics and suffered greatly for it.

The public school system was never designed to teach, we are using a historical model that was specifically designed to indoctrinate and sort. We need a whole new model.

HS Math Teacher

June 26th, 2012
1:09 pm

Good Mother, for once I agree with you. I’ve never thought much of unions, but this state sure as hell needs one now. There needs to be some major pushback, and sling the slop bucket back at the pinstripes & wing-tips making lives miserable by the minute.

Lynn Briggs

June 26th, 2012
1:14 pm

http://money.msn.com/personal-finance/the-unhappiest-jobs-in-america Teaching ranks #3

After 16 years of teaching, I left Georgia five years ago for Idaho. That choice was for my family, not my career, but I enjoyed the protections of a negotiated contract in my new position. They almost made up for the significant pay cut. Last year, Idaho teachers lost most of thier contract negotiation rights and job protections, but employed teachers with three years experience or more were grandfatherd and got to keep their status. I have not chosen to leave my profession, but I am no longer giving it 100%. My own choices would be very disturbing to many as well. I teach part time and my kids qualify for medicaid and reduced lunch. My income is low enough to qualify for utility assistance. This year I made a decision to NOT apply for a full time position in my building that I wanted because I would have given up all of my contract protections and become an at will employee who could be let go as late as October 31 without warning. So, I stay on welfare. One child gets SSI. I get EIC. All 3 kids get medicaid and reduced lunch. And why did I do this? Becuase 3, 4, and 5 years ago my middle child’s mental health benefits were covered at only 50% and I was paying $9000-$12000 a year after insurance to keep him in meds, therapy, and in the hospital twice. He is stable now, the youngest starts first grade in the fall, and the changes in health insurance laws mean that my out of pocket cap on expenses would apply to mental health as well as physical health. So, it seemed reasonable that I go back to work full time and pay my own way in the world again. Fear and the security of “entitlements” keep me underemployed.

Good for my family? Absolutely. My three kids have me at home before school, after school, and on school breaks.
Good for me? There are ups and downs. I am virtually cut off from professional growth in a career I love. I can’t contribute to my school in the way I want. I have the best part time schedule a mom can get. I travel 38 miles 1 way because my building is such a great place to work and the teaching load in an alternative school, even for a 2/3 day at 1/2 pay is more managable than the load I would have in any other situation. There are 2 full time English jobs available in the small town where I live. I would double my work hours, triple my student load, increase my pay by only 30% IF the district could afford to hire me, pay more for health insurance, and have little to no job security.
Good for schools and state budgets? I don’t even know where to begin with the math. I don’t make up in benefits what I would earn in pay, but it’s fairly close. The district covers 2/3 of a teaching day for half the pay because I don’t earn a planning period. What I do know is that we need to really look at a lot of things in education and social welfare programs. In my small town teachers take their children to the free summer feeding programs for lunch. Like me, I know they could feed their kids, but it is hard, very, very hard. They make only the state base, have had pay cuts and increased insurance expenses every year for the last 4, and if there is only 1 adult working in the famliy or they are land rich, cash poor farmers, they also qualify for reduced lunch benefits- even with a full time teaching job. Somthing is very, very wrong.

I still have the idealism I had 22 years ago when I began my career. I just don’t have the energy, and I can’t afford the price of living out my calling as a missionary. I applaud and admire the Mother Teresa’s, the Martin Luther King Jr’s, and the many martyrs in education. I just can’t be one, and we shouldn’t expect it of the good people who spend more waking hours a day with our children than many of us do.

Nancy

June 26th, 2012
2:47 pm

Jordan…
You are one of the best teachers my son has ever had! He was inspired so much by you that he came back to your class, 2 years after he had graduated, to glean from your whiteboard talk. He learned, grew as an individual, and was challenged to think, process, and effectively debate – all which led to gratitude and satisfaction regarding reward for his hard work. You did not dumb down the material. Instead you challenged the students to think for themselves and to aspire to become more than they believe they are capable of. This is who you are!!
Adam, Mortimer and others have no clue what they’re talking about when they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” They speak out of ignorance. They must not have had such a great teacher as yourself…and surely don’t understand the loss of one such as yourself!
I beg to differ with your colleague when they said, “Your leaving won’t change anything”. It leaves a hole in the already broken system, of one who teaches with excellence. It deprives the future students of an educator who makes a difference in the lives of the students who walk through the doors of her classroom. It takes away one who changed the hearts and minds of more than “a dozen” students…plenty more.
The system has truly lost an amazing teacher!! You will be missed, Jordan!

Mary Jane Clements-Abbott

June 26th, 2012
7:51 pm

Jordan I remember your passion. This post brought tears to my eyes. I too am a statistic. When I had my son I left teaching as well. I also had to put my family first. I desperately miss teaching, but I will never miss public education.

MB

June 26th, 2012
8:17 pm

Did anyone else notice, buried in the article about tweaking RttT, (http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-wants-to-tweak-1462226.html ) that the state is asking to revise the teacher evaluation process so that “all surveys that are part of the system, including teacher and staff surveys on principals, be informational — meaning they wouldn’t be used as part of the formal evaluation process.” The article is directed to the fact that a second grader would not be a very valid evaluator (correction in class vs happy face sticker), but doesn’t address the part about teacher and staff evaluations of administrators.

Does this mean that teachers, with an administrator’s observation report as a significant component of their evaluation, should have no input on that administrator’s evaluation? That school faculty and staff are no more reliable than a K-2 student or an adolescent? Certainly there would be teachers under fire who would give principals negative ratings, but couldn’t you determine outliers? And if a faculty and staff gave majority poor ratings, shouldn’t that be used for more than information? (As in perhaps that administrator should be observed and, if found lacking, given less credibility in their teachers’ evaluations?)

So how did they move from “”The [technical advisory committee] questioned the use of the k-2 survey due the fact that: (a) it will likely be highly positive and therefore not discriminating; (b) it will likely have low reliability given the ages of the respondents; and (c) it is highly susceptible to corruptibility” to removing teacher surveys as part of administrators’ evaluations?

Does anyone have any other information on this?

@Maureen, can you check into this after your vacation? Thanks :)

Anonmom

June 26th, 2012
9:52 pm

I can’t read all of these comments… this was a wonderfully sad piece and my reacations were (1) teach in private school and (2) we really do need vouchers… sorry folks but I really do think it’s the fast way to get the money flowing in at the bottom level and get it to the classroom for the benefit of the kids.

Anonmom

June 26th, 2012
9:55 pm

fyi — I heard a story about a north dekalb hs english teacher — he/she had the students take their papers to 2 adults in the neighborhood for grading and they were to return them graded already….. A friend (doctor) told me that she had been asked to “grade” the paper for this senior student and that was when it became very clear to her that her own 8th grader was going private for high school.

Cobb History Teacher

June 27th, 2012
8:41 am

I’m sorry to see you go Jordan. I have struggled with whether I should find a new career myself, but at 43 I’m a little too far across the pond. I agree with your statement about class sizes and grading papers. If I bring home 100 papers and spend 2 minutes on each one (which is hardly enough time) that’s a little over 3 hours…so the question is how do I do that and still have a family?

The other problem is when a teacher makes a statement like this we are almost always assailed with the comment “well at least you get your summers off” like that’s a consolation that pays the bills. No one will hire you for 6 – 7 weeks for anything near what you make per month as a teacher. The only reason I a break is necessary in my eyes is to give students a break from the teachers and teachers a break from the students (yes familiarity breeds contempt).

Yes, merit pay may be coming but I don’t think it will last as most school systems are not balanced. What I believe will happen is, teachers in affluent areas will reap rewards and those in the lower socioeconomic areas will not. This will chase off (or they may be let go for not getting results) more than a few teachers. Then there will be the hue and cry of teachers calling for a rotation from affluent areas to the lower socioeconomic areas which will chase off more teachers (those that are comfortable in the affluent areas and don’t want to leave) and finally the powers that be (the ones who sit behind mahogany desks and make decisions about education without any real experience) call for a return to the traditional pay scale.

Merit pay will not work until discipline is returned to the school system, class size is reduced, the hoops are gotten rid of and students realize what we do is important to their future and that it is not just state subsidized day care.

Cobb History Teacher

June 27th, 2012
8:53 am

The problem with vouchers is that it will bring good private schools to the same level as the struggling public schools. It seems everyone wants to blame the problems with public schools on “other kids.” “My kid would never misbehave, my kid wouldn’t lie etc. etc. etc.” Yes for the most part they won’t in front of you the parent, but when in a group of their peers you’d be surprised what they might do. I’d love to have a way to allow parents to observe their students at school without the student being aware that the parent was watching. I think more than a few parents might be surprised.

On the topic of vouchers what do people think these magical vouchers will do? If I give vouchers to all the parents in my school now and they move across the street to the private school will it change things? If so how? That’s like saying if I take a congregation of hate filled fear-mongering worshipers to a new building they will change their ways simply because they’re in a new building. Why not simply let the public schools be run like private schools wouldn’t that solve all the problems?

Mary Elizabeth

June 27th, 2012
9:12 am

For those teachers who still may be reading this thread, I want to encourage you to remain in public education and become active politically to help sustain and improve public education, by safeguarding it from forces without which desire to dismantle public education, as well as by improving it from within.

Every teacher has to make his or her own personal decision regarding whether or not to remain in teaching, or even in public education, and I do respect that individual choice, such as the choice made – and so eloquently expressed – by Jordan Kohanim in her article, above. However, I believe that, if the majority of teachers will choose to remain in public education, they have the opportunity to be happier in the long run because, together, they could secure for themselves, and for other teachers, more job satisfaction and a more fulfilling working environment if they would join their professional organizations, such as GAE, NEA, and their local branch which is affiliated with GAE and NEA, and become politically and professionally active teachers.

When great stress is thrust upon one, it is a known psychological fact that the one under that duress will either fight or flee. I urge teachers to stay in public education and fight for its continuing viability, and for its continuing improvement, for the following reasons:

(1) If public schools are, in large part, dismantled for private schools, or for public charter schools which are run by private corporations, children will ultimately be used for profit purposes and teachers will be controlled as commodities to ensure that that profit continues to exist. That means that teachers will have reduced salaries and benefits such as retirement security and health insurance benefits because teachers’ welfare will not be a primary goal of that educational industry, profit will be its overriding goal. (I realize that there are also non-profit schools.)

(2) There is value in being a public servant instead of being simply a small part of a much larger corporate conglomerate in which the primary focus is on profit. Some elements of government service jobs must remain viable in order to emphasize to the nation the value of public service, which is not for profit, especially since a dominant political movement has been forged against the value of the public servant, for decades.

Please consider staying in public education, joining GAE and NEA in Georgia, and becoming politically active in support of public education, along with other teachers. There is power in numbers. Who knows what might be the end result of that combined effort? A teachers’ union may even, finally, be established in Georgia which would secure teachers’ professional rights and status, and in so doing, help to improve public school environments for students throughout Georgia. Nothing transformational occurs without, first, having a dream or vision for that future change, and also without exercising the will to make that dream become a reality. Would not it be a wonderful legacy for teachers in Georgia to have been the initial force through which all Georgians were able to break free of a long-standing societal paternalism which has curtailed any unions from existing for the average worker in this right-to-work state through a political power system which has been based on that paternalism?

Ashley

June 27th, 2012
12:25 pm

Is this really what teaching is like? I found this article very sad.

The statistic of 50% of teachers leaving in the first 7 years is scary. Something should be done about this.

“I watched the neediest of students get declined services, while the most deceptive of parents used their lawyers to manipulate the system into giving their children unfair advantage.”
-This is horrible and should not be happening in the school systems. NO matter what the income is of your students, they should ALL be given the same advantages and services.

Anonymous for now

June 27th, 2012
6:18 pm

Wow. My feelings exactly. I changed professions several years ago to become a teacher, and it’s been one heartbreak after another. My last job was a total joke. Inner city, therapeutic day school. Graduating seniors who read at a 9th-grade level. Passing EVERYBODY regardless of grades or effort. One 9th-gradrer reads at a PRE-PRIMARY level, and passed all of his classes, including Geometry, where he did NOTHING. Teachers under pressure to never fail a student, because “it reflects badly on you as a teacher, and I can have a hundred resumes in my computer in an hour.” I’m looking for a new job, but in my old profession as well. I hope I get as lucky as Jordan did.

Anonmom

June 27th, 2012
9:58 pm

My thought about vouchers (even if just restricted to public school) is that it breaks the billions of dollars into ten thousand dollar increments and infuses it into the bottom layer of the system and into the hands of hundreds of thousands of “players” — in the current system, the billions of dollars feed downwards and they never make it that far — they stay at the top and get skimmed off into programs and “friends and family” — if you feed the dollars in at the bottom layer in tiny parts and let them work up, it will be harder (not impossible) to skim them off — the money is more likely to see its way to teachers and students. Secondly, it would force parents to become active participants in actively choosing where to spend the voucher and if they don’t like how the school is using the money that the voucher is attached to, the parent has the ability to take that voucher the next year and move its somewhere else — the schools with no students would be forced to close so there is an incentive to provide “service” and an incentive (requirment) to participate. I see the system as completely broken and corrupt — like a small third world country, taking as much money as possible for the adults in charge in some fashion or another and I see vouchers as a way to get the money that we are already spending into as many hands as possible to feed in at the classroom level for the actual benefit of the chilren in order to have it feed upwards into administration instead of downwards into the classroom (which it isn’t seeing at the moment). My idea may not work but truthfully it really can’t be much worse than what is currently taking place… Georgia has been in the bottom 5 nationally for over a century and we are poised to do worse. And taxpayers are really spending billions of dollars a year to get here. The rub is that the kids who aren’t getting their educations, who aren’t receiving “life skills” to gain useful employment, are landing on welfare, on the streets and are furture criminals who are not going to make for a society we want to live in down the road. This is nonsensical on so many different levels. We need a new paradigm.

Rebecca

June 27th, 2012
10:21 pm

This is sad. Sad for society but not for you. It sounds like you served your time. My problem was that I was teaching in Hell with no support. Gangs, fighting… I even had a student that walked out the door one Friday afternoon and shot a classmate. And guess what? The superintendent of the District made us feel that it was the school’s fault. Not the communities ’s or societies. Charleston County, SC. I took an early retirement. There are other things to do. I see great writing skills here. Think about freelance. That’s what I am doing. I love it!

Anonmom

June 28th, 2012
8:19 am

another thing, cynically, I’m reminded of, is the expression “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” — and setting aside our “policy debate” and the history of public ed in our country (and yes, I am all in favor of an educated public because I am not interested in a repeat of WWII or Stalinist Russia) — I wonder if forcing the issue and taking the government out of education all together is, really, a better answer to actually get all of our children educated. I actually think that most Americans really do want the kids educated and I think that, given the level of spending on education at all levels (federal, state and local) — if all those resources were to be restored into “original hands” and education were to become something to be “fought for” rather than just “there for the taking” and parents had to get kids kids placed into schools and schools could boot kids out; I wonder if the entire dynamic would change and if would would get a much better product all the way around and if the end result would be many, many more kids actually learning from their teachers in the classroom and fewer of these “games” with the trillions of dollars that are being spent trying to make kids learn as we play “let’s educate.”

Cobb History Teacher

June 28th, 2012
8:31 am

@Mountainman
I agree some schools have a policy of giving no lower than a 60. I understand the logic behind this as it keeps students from giving up because their grade could never be brought up, but I’d like to find a job where you can do nothing and still get 60% of your pay and benefits.

Jane

June 28th, 2012
1:41 pm

Amen, and brava to you for having the courage to tell it as it genuinely is. Our schools are no longer places where children who wish to learn are given a good education; they have become storehouses for children whose parents don’t want to raise them. Schools can’t teach any more; they have to feed, clothe, babysit, medicate, placate, and prove to the government that the students are at least exposed to standards made up by old white men whose memories of “trouble in school” consist of gum and untucked shirts. Entitled, elitist families sue at the drop of a hat for anything and everything. Curriculum is so dumbed down, it’s become a joke. Our best and brightest kids sit and wait. And wait. And wait, until Billy in the back finally “gets it.” Or, worse, our G/T kids spend their school day out in the hall, tutoring, instead of being encouraged and enriched and allowed to spread their wings and soar. Soaring is politically incorrect, as it makes the slower kids feel bad. I’ve had middle school classes of 46 students. 7 academic classes daily. 23 minutes for lunch. No break, because subs cost too much and we had to fill in. If teachers didn’t love kids and teaching and seeing learning bloom, we’d ALL walk away. What other professional would put up with these conditions? I walked out after 26 years, from a school and kids I adored, because the peripherals were just too awful. Now I teach developmental courses at a community college, where many of my students consist of kids who got short shrift in the public school and need some serious remediation before they can tackle actual college courses. My students are not slow; they were never taught and allowed to actually learn the basics because all their teachers had time to do was review for and give standardized tests, which measure nothing but how well a person can take a standardized test. But now I’d best stop before I write a novel here.

P.S. Nobody who knows anything at all about children, education, and learning would disagree with this post. It’s spot-on. I guess you had to BE THERE to understand.

Mary Elizabeth

June 28th, 2012
4:23 pm

I’ve been there for 35 years and I understand. That is why all students must be taught on their functioning instructional levels, whatever their grade level, whether they are in third grade or in a community college, functioning below freshman level in college.

Don’t “flee” from public education, teachers. I urge you to stay and “fight” for the viability of public schools and for the success of all students within them through programs which implement strong instructional programs, as highlighted in my first paragraph. Join GAE, NEA, as well as your local affiliate, and become politically active. Make positive change happen. Don’t become defeatist. Stay and keep faith that you CAN make a difference. Join with other teachers for moral and pragmatic support. I kept faith and made positive change happen, and I was sent a personal letter of appreciation from my system’s Area Superintendent of Schools, when I retired in 2000, because of my commitment to students and my belief that positive change can happen if we make it happen, working with administrators and parents.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

pinksuz

June 28th, 2012
9:14 pm

Thank you so much for writing this article! Teaching has always been my passion, but last year was a trial with 39 children in my 4th grade classroom, all the grade level special ed, ESOL, 10 gifted, and the remainder in the RTI process. I spent more time in meetings than in my classroom teaching (or should I say collecting data). This is the first summer in my teaching career that I have not been busily preparing for my new students in August.

Anonmom

June 29th, 2012
7:59 am

I think in 10 or 15 years we, as a society, are going to very short on both doctors and teachers, particularly very good ones. These are professions with “long” entry “systems” — you can’t snap your fingers and be able to be in a job as one the next month (slightly easier with teachers than doctors, but not for someone to be really good)– it takes a solid 8 years, at least, to be a physician — we, as a society — are being very short sighted with many of our current policies and we could find ourselves looking a lot like a 3rd world country in 20 or 25 years if we’re not more careful.

Betty Cloer Wallace

June 29th, 2012
11:32 am

[...] Jordan Kohanim is a former Fulton County high school teacher and one of my favorite posters on the blog because of her eloquence, her candor and her…  [...]

ldew

July 5th, 2012
5:41 pm

I know what Jordon is talking about, I am there but I’m to close to retirement. I have two years left to teach. I still love to teach. If the state would stay out of education we would be better off. As soon as I can I will retire, even if I’m not really ready.

ellie

July 6th, 2012
10:17 am

When I read these comments that say “boo hoo, etc.” it makes me so angry. I have been teaching too long to get out now, I work 6 hours straight, no break, not even a lunch break, and I have to eat that in 20 minutes, being told where I have to sit. There has been times when I have had to stay 10 hours because of meetings, not by choice. But that’s okay because I have to work a MINIMUM of 8 hours, so they can keep us as long as they want. What other professional would put up with that? I love teaching, love my students, I am successful, and have the test scores to prove it. You would think we would be treated with respect, instead of being intimidated, threatened. We all complain, but yet take it. Someday maybe teachers will band together and say we have had enough. A school system is only as strong as it’s teachers. Why don’t they realize that? The quality of a system is based on test scores, teachers get those scores. Our pay keeps decreasing. Remember the saying, “you get what you pay for”.

Schltchr

July 7th, 2012
9:25 am

I applaud you, Jordan for your candid commentary, too. Do not feel frustration or guilt. Do what you must to maintain your sanity. You are a teacher as is evidenced by your new found occupation. Continue to perfect your craft and support the educaton of others. That is what teaching is about. Being a teacher is not attached to a location or physical building–note online education for all levels, home schooling and tutors in public libraries, etc.

Keep your head up and your heart, too. TEACH MY FRIEND, TEACH! Best wishes to you.

#deantwalbc3@aol.com

Rebecca

July 9th, 2012
2:30 pm

It is sad that education has come to this. I took an early retirement. Not as much money but a lot more happiness. Enjoy your new job!

[...] I was saw echoes of myself in this (now-former) teacher’s story in the AJC, and I thought about my decision a little more. I taught the same subject, at the same grade level, [...]

Al Nosidda

July 10th, 2012
2:46 pm

Wow! To know that someone else shares the same sentiment is amazing! What’s disturbing is that we have to and are willing to make such choices because the personal sacrifices are no longer compensated by the intrinsic reward of loving to teach, which many great teachers used to motivate them year after year since external rewards were few and far between. Needless to say, I am not endorsing merit pay or some other system for assigning trophies to those who need the criteria for great teaching. Really, all we want is the respect that’s shown in truly acknowledging that today’s classroom is vastly different than years past. Increasing class size and teacher expectations while
decreasing resources and student/parent expectations is unreasonable, disrespectful, and a disservice to those of us who are “called” to teach. It is why Jordan physically left the classroom and why many others have mentally checked out as well.

Randy

July 22nd, 2012
3:45 pm

We (the soldiers in the field) classroom teachers and building level administrators must work to educate the GENERAL PUBLIC … our schools are in CRISIS. We need more time, resources, technical support, social work assistance, clerical help, etc … when our military did not have the resources necessary to succeed it was a CALL to ARMS …. we need that same public support.

Randy V.
35 years in the trenches