NC Teacher: “I Quit”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything related to education, but this one feels important. It’s set in North Carolina, which is an absolute disaster, but there’s a reference to the recent problems with educational funding here in Oregon, and a lot of what this teacher describes reminds me of my own mother’s frustrations with education in Texas, which drove her to gleefully retire. So this feels personal to me.

Some highlights from the laundry list of problems this teacher calls out:

I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardized test that the state and/or district thinks is important. I refuse to have my higher-level and deep thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments (like the EXPLORE test) that do little more than increase stress among children and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices.

I refuse to watch my students being treated like prisoners. There are other ways. It’s a shame that we don’t have the vision to seek out those alternatives.

I refuse to watch my coworkers being treated like untrustworthy slackers through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the hardest working and most overloaded people I know.

I refuse to watch my family struggle financially as I work in a job to which I have invested 6 long years of my life in preparation. I have a graduate degree and a track record of strong success, yet I’m paid less than many two-year degree holders. And forget benefits—they are effectively nonexistent for teachers in North Carolina.

I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which show their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary expectations of low-level state and district tests that do not assess their skills.

Is it possible to cheer for someone while simultaneously feeling heartbroken?

Diane Ravitch's blog

A letter from a disgusted teacher:


Kris L. Nielsen
Monroe, NC 28110

Union County Public Schools
Human Resources Department
400 North Church Street
Monroe, NC 28112

October 25, 2012

To All it May Concern:

I’m doing something I thought I would never do—something that will make me a statistic and a caricature of the times. Some will support me, some will shake their heads and smirk condescendingly—and others will try to convince me that I’m part of the problem. Perhaps they’re right, but I don’t think so. All I know is that I’ve hit a wall, and in order to preserve my sanity, my family, and the forward movement of our lives, I have no other choice.

Before I go too much into my choice, I must say that I have the advantages and disadvantages of differentiated experience under my belt. I have seen the other side, where…

View original post 1,450 more words

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

3 thoughts on “NC Teacher: “I Quit”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Sam. What a brave woman this is, and how sad it has come to this! Breaks my heart that education is a lot of what she describes. Many teachers long for the days when they felt like they made a difference, more than just kids passing tests, and how much they miss the creative side of teaching. Many of us tried to sneak in those kinds of lessons knowing all too well that if we didn’t do the mundane lessons to prepare students for the test they wouldn’t pass. We would be told just teach the TEKS and they will be ready for the test but so many times the test was nothing like real life skills so we had no choice but to give students exercizes that resembled the way the test would be presented. When we did put in lessons that brought about excitement to both teacher and student the difference in how the students reacted was amazing. Somewhere I hope those responsible for this mess will wake up and things will swing back to some common sense lessons that are so needed in the classroom. Sad we lost another fine individual to the fallout of all of this. I wish her well in whatever she does next in her life.

  2. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and
    without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something not enough folks are speaking intelligently about.

    I’m very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something concerning

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