American Teachers: Why We Don’t Quit, Why We Don’t Fight (Introduction)
I recently wrote something that was subsequently published on dianeravitch.net, called “Boston Teacher:Why I Quit, Why I Fight”. In it, I asked a question of teachers who continue to comply with all these bad practices every day & refuse to speak out & stand up against them, while knowing the harm they bring to the students they teach. I asserted that the vast majority (if not all, with the obvious exception of the teacher whose mother’s cousin is Bill Gates, or the teacher whose husband is on the payroll at Pearson, or the smattering of other teachers who somehow benefit from the privatization, the corporate takeover corruption privatization) of teachers across the nation are vehemently opposed – individually – to what’s happening, but collectively those same teachers are acting in ways that only indicate their support for these changes. The question I posed was, simply, “WHY?“
Some people may wonder why I have such a need to find the answer(s) to that question; there have been days when I have asked that of myself from time to time. When I returned to the Boston schools after a 3 year leave of absence to have my 2nd & 3rd sons, the changes that had taken place while i was home engulfed in diapers and formula left me speechless. & not just in terms of the academics, but in terms of the teacher morale and collegiality and overall mentality of the staff. The educated, experienced men & women who, like me, had chosen to dedicate their lives to educating the children of our city, had somehow morphed into these zombies who would follow any and all rules imposed by whoever it was up above imposing them, regardless of their sense and sensibility. Regardless of whether or not they knew what they were doing and how they were doing it would only prove to be detrimental to the population in front of them each day. Regardless of whether or not the mandates thrust upon them in terms of methodology and pedagogy went against every belief and understanding they’d held over the courses of their careers. Regardless of whether or not – by being so compliant and complacent – they’d allowed all of the professionalism and expertise they were once regarded as having, to be thrown out the window.
& because they did, so, too, did I. For 4.5 long years. I did this because I figured if all the other teachers were willing to go along with everything and weren’t feeling it important to fight this fight, then there must be SOME logic behind it all. There HAD to. Except there wasn’t. & so I resigned.
I resigned with the intention to put everything I have behind this fight, so I can someday find myself back in front of the classroom. My career was only halfway over; I wasn’t ready to leave yet. But at the same time, I knew I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing by being so compliant and complacent all the time. & the 1st thing on my personal agenda is to find out why my colleagues – near and far – continue to be so; I believe that question needs answering before we can make any real progress in reforming this disaster called “Reform”.
My post on Diane Ravitch’s webpage has provided some insight into 3 primary reasons teachers remain these compliant and complacent zombies; I intend to provide analysis of each reason separately on this blog. I hope I can clarify some of the errant thinking that brings teachers away from standing up for themselves and schoolchildren across the nation; maybe by doing so they could somehow possibly be lead back to remembering who they are as experts in their own right(s) & stand together, in solidarity, to again let the teachers teach.