Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Teacher: Why ‘I just can’t work in public education anymore’ - The Washington Post

Teacher: Why ‘I just can’t work in public education anymore’ - The Washington Post:

Teacher: Why ‘I just can’t work in public education anymore’

Stephanie Keiles has worked as a public school teacher for a dozen years in Michigan. She loves her students — but she just made what she called “one of the hardest decisions” of her life: to quit her job and start teaching at a private school. In this post, she explains why she feels like she has been driven out of public education. Her story strikes the same notes sounded by many other teachers in public schools who are finding their jobs being made increasingly difficult because of school reforms that have limited teacher autonomy, over-emphasized standardized tests and underfunded public education. A version of this first appeared on the webpage of the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, and I am republishing it with permission.
By Stephanie Keiles
I am sitting here in my lovely little backyard on a beautiful Michigan summer day, drinking a Fat Tire Amber Ale, and crying. I am in tears because today I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I resigned from my job as a public school teacher. I didn’t want to leave — but I feel like I had no choice.
First, a little background. I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a math teacher until I was 28. As a kid, I was always told I was “too smart” to be a teacher, so I went to business school instead. I lasted one year in the financial world before I knew it was not for me. I read a quote from Millicent Fenwick, the (moderate) Republican Congresswoman from my home state of New Jersey, where she said that the secret to happiness was doing something you enjoyed so much that what was in your pay envelope was incidental. I quit my job as an analyst at a large accounting firm, determined to find my passion. I floundered for a while, and then eventually got married and decided to be a stay-at-home mom until my kids were in school. Then I would need to find that passion.
I was pregnant with my oldest child, sitting on a sofa in Stockholm, Sweden, when I had my epiphany — I would be a math teacher. A middle school math teacher! I thought about it and it fit my criteria perfectly. No, I wasn’t thinking about the pension, or the “part-time” schedule, or any of the other gold-plated benefits that uninformed people think we go into the profession to receive. Two criteria: I would enjoy it, and I would be good at it.
Nine years and four kids later, I enrolled in Eastern Michigan University’s Post-Baccalaureate teacher certification program, and first stepped into my own classroom at the age of 40. I was teaching high school, because that’s where I had my first offer, and I was given five classes of kids who were below Teacher: Why ‘I just can’t work in public education anymore’ - The Washington Post: