I participated in a PAGE panel today on education, along with my AJC colleague Nancy Badertscher, TV reporter Donna Lowry of 11 Alive and Macon Telegraph editorial page editor Charles E. Richardson. (Georgia school chief John Barge and education guru Phillip C. Schlechty were among the speakers at the PAGE program, and I will write up their comments later tonight.)
Several audience questions to my panel touched on the current state of teacher morale. When I returned to work, I found this email waiting for me in my in-box. It spoke directly to the questions asked by the panel audience.
The teacher who wrote it asked to remain anonymous:
I just wanted to express my thoughts on the most recent “Get Schooled” blog message to the President.
I am a high school special education teacher. I also work with many general education students. I have taught for 11 years and have many friends and acquaintances who have taught anywhere from three years to 20-plus.
In my 11 years as an educator, I have never seen such a demoralized group of people in my life. We teachers feel that we are under attack, that everything bad about education is our fault and that we need to change how things are done at the expense of losing many good teachers.
Many teachers would leave the profession if the right opportunity came their way — more than half. I know many students over the years who wanted to become teachers, thought it was their life’s calling, come to me later and say they had changed their mind and were no longer pursuing teaching.
Basically, this new idea that we can improve education by giving students a standardized test and use that grade to determine the quality of teaching they received is absolutely ridiculous. This idea will ruin our educational system.
Don’t get me wrong. We teachers love our job when it comes to teaching our kids. The politics of “gotcha” has gotten to the point that we have simply had enough. The politicians who have never been in a classroom or ever taught a class in their life think they know everything there is to know about fixing the problem. Ninety percent (and probably more) of teachers say that evaluating us on student test scores is not a cogent measurement. It does not predict teacher quality or student success.
Unfortunately, the time has come for many of us to look at other options. I’m not going to sit around and wait for these lawmakers to ruin our educational system by diverting money to charter schools when the public schools are strapped already and then continue to blame us for poor quality education. Charter schools generally do no better than their public school counterparts. This is absolutely true. I have the data to back it up so there is no room for argument on this one.
Anyway, many of us have gone back to school/ trade school to learn other fields of work in the event we are pushed out of education, which looks like it is about to happen. It is unfortunate as I consider teaching my life’s calling.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog