Here’s another teacher resignation narrative that crawled across my feed.

I do know that it is a disgrace that we are allowing companies from the testing industry to make millions of dollars off the abuse of our public education system.

Fair enough. But what is also disgraceful is quitting mid school year. Sure, teaching can be oppressive nowadays. But oppressive compared to what, coal mining?


I’m wondering why Education Post couldn’t talk to or get quotes from actual teachers in DC.

But I’ll give them this: DC is no longer the worst of the worst. That’s plain enough. Nonetheless, a little nuance would go a long way to dispel the hagiography here. And the article does certainly read like some high school paper’s adulation of the new soda machine in the cafeteria.

During that time she inherited bold reforms that may have cost her predecessor, Michelle Rhee, her job but are increasingly accepted and even popular among teachers. Some people even suggest that the current mayor might have picked up a few votes in the recent election based on her promise to keep Henderson as Chancellor.

What reforms, and be careful when you say “popular.” Many that I know are clearly NOT popular, namely IMPACT, which I’ll get to in a minute. The author, or the Post, might do well to look into issues regarding “Extended Day” and “morning collaborations.” Don’t get me started.

DCPS is now in the middle of the pack of 21 urban districts, which is impressive, given that the school district struggled for over 40 years.

All of this for middle of the pack status? Jesus Christ, what’s next?

Seventy-five percent of the District’s teachers start with at least one year of experience.

I have no idea what this means and why it’s important. I mean, 100% of its teachers start with a heart beat, so what?

Now skilled teachers who work with the neediest children are rewarded handsomely. After four years, Kamras says, they can earn $100,000 per year.

The devil is in the details.

Another reason for the District’s improvement is IMPACT, the teacher and staff evaluation system implemented in 2009. A 2013 study revealed that IMPACT was effective in retaining talented teachers (who are rewarded with bonuses and accelerated salary schedules) while prompting ineffective ones to improve or leave.

Ask a DC teacher about IMPACT. Please, ask them. Especially ask a DC teacher in SE. The study linked above makes no mention of the Master Educator component of IMPACT, only the principal evaluations.The ME component is significant and should not be ignored. In fact, it’s what makes IMPACT unique, the reliance on outside evaluators, and really has to be explained to be believed.

It should be quite simple for Education Post to reach out to DCPS teachers to get their perspective. For any purported journalistic organization, this should be common sense.

Simple question. What do other teachers do in the morning?

Over a decade ago, when I taught fifth grade in Silver Spring, MD, I recall getting to school between 7:30 and 8:00 before my students walked in at around 9:10. For the first year at that school, I taught in a “learning cottage” out back. Conceivably, I could go the whole morning without entering the building and seeing another adult. I can’t recall any regular meetings or other activities taking place. I had the time to myself to prepare and do what I needed to do.

When I started supervising student teachers for about eight years, on the days I arrived before students, I recall teachers being in their classrooms entire mornings. There were no meetings.

In DC, we have these things call “morning collaboratives.” They are technically scheduled between 8:10 and 8:40 each morning. Language in the teachers’ contract is fairly specific on how those times are to be used. Yet a frequent bone of contention between teachers and administrators is the use of this time. Most teachers are hard at work preparing for their day. For me, I create and arrange all of my materials for centers; my para-professional is doing the same. We are always shuffling up until the very last minute before students walk in the door. When that time is taken from us, we can feel it throughout the rest of the day.

Lately, I find that these morning times are being seized from us for additional faculty meetings, “book studies,” committee meetings, and learning communities (or whatever). When morning times are all used up, planning periods are next. The vast majority of teachers cannot collaborate after school because of additional programs.

This sounds like micro-management in the extreme, as if we can’t handle our own schedules. So, fellow teachers, how do you use your mornings? Are they still yours?

Few things in any given teacher’s career will make the ceding of ground more obvious than new administration. We’ve had three principals in as many years. Our school has struggled mightily all three of those years. Each new regime promises to turn the screws on us teachers by adding new meetings or initiatives, most of which are new ways of doing the same things as before.

As the old ways are lumped together with the new, it’s not obvious at first how much we’ve given, and how much has been taken. Quick example. A huge bone of contention in our District last year was the topic of an extended school day. Leadership wanted it; teachers didn’t. Or, at least, they didn’t want to simply add more time to the school day without some guarantee that the time, our time, would be well spent. There were too many questions about the extended day that teachers, with union support, easily voted it down on a school-by-school basis.

Our school voted the extended day down because we couldn’t really get our questions answered. We were simply adding an hour to the school day and that was that. There was nothing to say about the quality of the time we were adding.

With new administration, suddenly we are an extended day school. Funny how that happens.

I get it. Teachers are very reluctant to say no, especially with how easily it is to suggest we don’t give a sh*t about our students if we don’t do a million extra things every day. So we keep giving, and giving, until pretty soon, all those inches added up to a mile. And we wonder why teachers, especially those in struggling schools, are walking zombies.

No matter how small, watch how many inches you give. That ground is very hard to get back.

The clock, via CNN.

I’m sure readers have heard about the teen who made a clock and ended up arrested.

It’s stupid, right? Yeah, it’s stupid.

I won’t twist myself into knots trying to make some larger educational point about STEM or what have you. I also think the racial implications are pretty obvious.

This, however, does not bode well for those working in the education profession. This is a very obvious and frequent sign that some schools in some places scrape the bottom of the barrel for employees.

I’m also confident that recent reforms in education, including and not limited to the unreasonable attacks on the integrity of educators, discourage many good people from either getting into the profession in the first place or staying for the long term. Many of us have our reasons for staying, and many of us have our reasons for teaching in the most difficult environments.

Inasmuch as I defend teachers, it’s incidents like these that have me shaking my damn head.

The recent attacks on teachers have culled the professional herd so effectively that many simply lack basic common sense. They rarely, if ever, question authority or use critical thinking skills. I rarely see anyone really speaking up at faculty meetings or venting frustrations, and there are numerous. When you hand them a program, many follow it to the exact letter and word.

What the hell is the matter with us?