I wrote this the other day on a new genre of anti-reform exposition: the teacher resignation narrative. There are frequent accounts of teachers of all shapes and sizes dramatically and very publicly resigning from the classroom. I can only assume that, in a form of anti-reform prose, we the reader are expected to experience grave lamentations at the loss of another great teacher to the system or machine or what have you. And I only make this assumption because that is precisely the context in which these narratives are shared via social media.

In reference to the most recent case of a lauded teacher in AL, we only have the details that have been made publicly available. I cannot imagine the stress that this person must be going through right now, especially since her case is now mainstream. But an outsider might look at this and gasp that a teacher of this caliber could not be deemed “highly qualified.” I get that because the phrasing is terrible. Highly qualified, for those that are not in the know, is a completely bureaucratic term that is virtually meaningless in application. All it really means is, “are you certified?” That’s it. Even a TFA corps member can be deemed highly qualified, which is a freaking sin.

States differ in the hoops required for jumping in order to gain or maintain certification. There are different licenses for different subjects and grade levels. I can’t speak to AL. But in most cases, graduating from an accredited teacher education program and some PRAXIS scores, most likely the I and II, will get you all you need. I have heard some states requiring additional state specific tests. Those of you fortunate enough to take an edTPA will incur additional fees.

In DC, where I teach, you have three years from the day you start teaching to obtain an official license. For those three years, you can teach on a provisional basis until you’ve submitted all of your documentation, transcripts, test scores, and such. To apply, and have your application reviewed, it’ll cost you $50, on top of a few hundred for test scores. Not saying that’s chump change, but it could cost you upwards of a $1,000 to get certified as a personal trainer nowadays. That’s not including what you may have already paid for a college education, which is required in most, if not all, cases.

In the three years that my district gives teachers, you can earn a full salary and benefits, basically “uncertified.” I’ve known teachers who scramble that last year to get the test scores in and all of their other documentation. If they want to stay in the classroom, it is definitely achievable. They can become certified and stay teaching.

Again, I don’t know the individual circumstances of those that have resigned. We don’t know their personal finances or whether or not the resignation was prompted by a daunting list of other grievances, this being the final straw. But leaving a few months into the school year, or halfway through, I don’t understand why that’s the solution. I’ve known many people who’ve worked without getting paid until their payroll went through. This kind of unacceptable garbage happens in huge, clumsy bureaucracies. It’s not right, not fair, but quit in the middle of a school year?

All I’m saying is that we teachers put up with a lot of crap. Maybe teachers are going to be the least sympathetic to someone else publicly publishing their own version of the crap. And I get the irony here. But in many of these resignation cases, the crap is maneuverable. If you want to stay, you can get through it.

So, why the big resignation?

The latest from a CO high school teacher, Pauline Hawkins, that has achieved “viral” status. Is this heroic? I think that’s a complicated question. It certainly adds some drama to the destructive potential of corporate education reform. That is, veteran educators are willing to sacrifice their chosen professions in the face of being compelled to […]