The viral Facebook post follows the same narrative. A teacher leaves her district by and large because of the following:

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education.

Teachers like myself, especially those in early childhood, have felt the same frustrations, but can’t/won’t simply quit in the middle of the school year. I can also state, with confidence, that developmentally appropriate teaching is possible, even in this reform climate, but with some caveats. You will meet resistance and will get frustrated. Yet, nothing worthwhile comes easy.

I recall during a district wide PD with every K teacher in the city present, I declared, with audible gasps, that my students have almost an hour of free play every school day. We get back from our special class at 2:15. Typically, depending on the day and general mood, we do some silent or partner reading for 15 minutes. I then go over to the board and draw a box, the numbers 1-4 at the top and four or five choices on the left. Yesterday, the choices were tablets (pre-loaded with some good apps), the sand table, playhouse (built with PVC pipes and replete with a kitchen), blocks, and legos. The legos closed quickly because we just got a series of Star Wars figures in the mail. I limit each area to four students, and we draw names at random.

I’m not saying that free play, or choice time, is all that matters for developmentally appropriate practice. What I’ve explained above doesn’t take a lot of effort either, although it does take some additional money on my part to fund these activities. There’s no money in school budgets for dress up clothes, play-doh, and legos. We don’t even have an account from where we can order apps. I have to put my credit information in school iPads.

It does, however, take effort to carve out this time and defend it to the skeptics. It takes effort to push away impositions and mandates, or to retool them so they can take place at other parts of the school day. Most additional mandates or interventions are redundant anyway, so parts of them can be eliminated.

I see friends and colleagues who are teachers struggle online all of the time, posting narratives about the experiences they face in the same reform climate that those who ultimately resign also face. Some are likely more extreme and stressful. Some are excessed or in “rubber rooms,” fighting tooth and nail to get back into the classroom. Again, I am not aware of the specific personal circumstances faced by those that very publicly resign.

These teacher resignation narratives are becoming somewhat regular, which does say something very sad about the teaching profession today. Yet it also indicates that the teacher resignation is a newish and persistent genre in the education reform catalogue.

I want to say this, and I want to be clear: Eva Moskowitz and her ilk are garbage, they’re garbage human beings and their ideas are garbage.

I’d like to say something else, but I won’t.

You can follow the drama here. 

But seriously, with the “got to go” lists and other minutiae that came out recently, including the repeated failures of education reform policies as evidenced by the metrics that wonks tout for their success, the folks at these foundations and think tanks and charter networks are trashy, garbage human beings.

You’re garbage. Be gone. And that’s really all I have to say about that.

These pop up every so often, most recently from a teacher of the year in Alabama.

Teacher resignation narratives follow a pretty typical storyline: a “successful” or “award-winning” teacher documents their resignation because they can no longer teach in the current test-obsessed, education reform climate. It’s better to quit than to struggle from within.

At first, maybe several years ago, I was like, “Hell yeah, take this job and shove it!” But now, I’m like, resign in the middle of a school year? What good is that?

We’re all stressed and tired and at our wits’ end. I don’t know what kind of accolades are expected by these teachers that resign. Perhaps we are supposed to admire their courage; that is, in surprising contrast to their achievements, success, and passion for teaching, they’re so beleaguered by the system that the stress and its effects on their health or personal lives are simply too great to continue. We are expected to applaud their bravery, but at the same time lament that we’ve lost another “good one” to the machine.


I can’t help but wonder what kind of privilege it takes to be able to quit your job like that. I hope you’re a two-income household and your spouse makes enough money to compensate for the loss. What will you do with your time now? Will you go out there and fight for the cause now that you have the freedom? Or, will you stay quiet in anticipation of applying for another teaching job in the future?

Maybe we should do a “where are they now?” for teacher resignations and evaluate what impact their public departures have made beyond the initial act itself. Otherwise, I’m very ambivalent about the teacher resignation narrative.

We have to come up with solutions. Something.

Greene’s post ends thusly:

I’m a high school English teacher. I’m not wise enough to know the solution for an educational social justice solution in this country, and I’m not powerful enough to gather together all the people who could help work it all out. But I know enough to know that A) an increasing gap between rich and poor has exacerbated existing problems of social justice in our country, with those problems being reflected, expressed and sometimes amplified in our schools and that B) the charter choice system currently being foisted on many parts of the country doesn’t fix any of those problems.

To charter choice advocates: Your problem is a real problem, but your solution is not a solution. Whether you’re blinded by devotion to your ideology or your intent to make a buck or just your lack of understanding, your vision is impaired. You need to clean your glasses, take a step back, and look again.

All that I read prior to the above paragraphs I’ve read before. Perhaps not as concisely, but, like many others, I’m in a position that I’ve read and re-read these same arguments. When it comes time to define an alternative vision, we’ve been so exhausted by outrage that the handoff to potential solutions rarely takes place. I don’t think we get to do this anymore.

As my school’s union representative, I have a lot of teachers come to me with questions and concerns. My main roles are listening and empathizing. I can handle that. When teachers tell me about students who’ve physically assaulted them or tore up their rooms, response from administration tends to be, “Let us conduct more observations, establish a paper trail, collect more information.” That’s fine, probably necessary, but what can this teacher do in an hour, a day, a week, right now?

I ask Mr. Greene and others, “what can we do right now? What would your suggested alternatives look like a year or ten years from now?”

There was a time where I strongly believed that it wasn’t the responsibility of education reform opponents to envision alternatives. It was enough to provide evidence that contradicted reform, underscore improprieties and scandals, in attempts to discredit individuals and organizations affiliated with reform. I believed that, however, when I was in higher education, as a commentator about public schools. I don’t believe that now upon my return to the classroom.

In the last 2.5 years that I’ve been teaching again, highlighting the failures or inadequacies of education reform no longer cuts it. There are plenty of people out there just discovering the information that Mr. Greene and others provide. They are not as far down that path, and we must respect those that are just starting their journeys. Thus, informative, introductory pieces that critique education reform are still necessary. But once those pieces have been written, it is time for those that have advanced far down the path to begin developing alternative visions of school reform. Leave the introductions to the archives, or to those just joining us.

[I write this as I end the post here, without proposing my own vision. I’ve done this here and there over the years. Maybe later. Stuff to do.]


The most important thing that teachers must remember is that they have the power, not middle managers or secretaries of education.

Despite mandates, there are countless ways individual classroom teachers can subvert the status quo and teach precisely how they want to teach. As a white male with a PhD, I recognize that I am not the average public school teacher, let alone a traditional Kindergarten teacher. I have certain privileges. But because of those privileges, I neither let them go to waste nor do I expect other teachers to have the same latitude that I do.

I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years asking tough questions and looking critically at every new initiative. I’ve tried to act as cover for other teachers who have been less willing to stand up for themselves, promising to have their backs.

Whomever Whoever is the Secretary of Education, teachers are the gatekeepers. Education reform has and continues to do whatever it can to demolish that wall of protection. Almost like a positive affirmation, I remind myself everyday every day that I am in control of all the influence that the Secretary has over my practice.

I am fortunate to be teaching Kindergarten because I am not subject to an excessive amount of standardized assessments. Unlike other teachers, I’ve had the latitude and privilege to choose my grade level out of many interviews and assert my preference to stay in Kindergarten despite the transitions that other colleagues are forced to make.

As a result, I spend almost no time looking at the Common Core. I have no need for it. Because administrators don’t care as much about untested grades, and therefore spend less time harassing me, I can and will add additional play time, outside time, and adjust my practices so there is less seat-time overall. The research and evidence are on my side, so I tend to worry less about the consequences.

I also spend a lot less of my time complaining about the impact of reform on my practice because I am quick enough to come up with alternatives. If I can’t stand a certain strategy or new initiative, I’ll adjust it or find an alternative rather than piss and moan about it all the while attending to business as usual.

Ultimately, my students will learn and succeed on all the canned assessments that are thrown my way. I have the evidence and record to back that up. But always remember: you the teacher have the control over what extent any reform has on your practice. Try taking back some of that control and you’ll see what I mean.