What will be difficult on Monday is looking at my colleagues. I have only one more year in my teaching career. With 32 years under my belt, and nearing 55, I can, and will, retire next year. Not because I don’t love teaching….but because I don’t love, or many days even like, my job.
What about my colleagues who have 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 30 years before retirement is a possibility?
I know for sure that many of them will stop teaching. Many of them could be forced out by this system, and the quality of their work will have had nothing to do with it. Their passion for their students and their deep understanding of their subject matter will have had nothing to do with it. The hours they have invested in education and professional development will not save them. Their numbers won’t add up. The Governor and the Commissioner will make sure of that.
The colleagues that are cynical and exhausted will be even more drained on Monday….and every day after that.
The colleagues that have been hoping that all of this would pass will be disillusioned.
The colleagues that still see teaching as a calling will learn, in a few short years, that no one in power cares if a teacher feels called to the profession; if you cost money, you won’t matter.
God bless my colleague that runs our Future Educators of America….how do we encourage these kids to follow their hearts…into a disaster?
But the real pain felt by my colleagues will be for their students, particularly future students who will suffer the most under this new system.
Larger class sizes, computerized lessons, large amounts of standardized testing, guaranteed failure for a certain percentage of students each year as determined by the state, loss of devoted and experienced teachers, loss of other staff in order to afford testing and evaluation procedures, loss of recess, physical education, art, music and more in order to achieve mandates.
All students will suffer. All of them. At least in districts that require state-funding to run. Some will suffer much more than others, but it will benefit no one.
That is what really hurts teachers, knowing that this agenda and all of its political background and ramifications, will harm the students that mean so much to us.
It’s an enormous loss and we are mourning it. We are mourning what we have already lost and what surely will no longer be. I look at my freshmen and know that their high school years will be vastly different, and far more unpleasant, than those of their older siblings.
I look at the sixth grades who actually skip through my hallway and know that very soon the things that have made school a place to look forward to will no longer exist.
I look at my work family and know that we will soon be separated, not as much by my retirement as by the enormous rift that the state has made between what education should be and how they would prefer to see others profit by it.