No doubt that one of the primary reasons I retired was burn out. I had worked in secondary classrooms the length of my adult life and struggled the last couple years largely due to growing political pressure. You see, I bought into the idea that hard work paid off and came to realize that I was dead wrong. My hard work didn’t matter. None of my colleagues hard work mattered. My student performance outcomes, though well above the national average didn’t matter. Nothing moved policy makers except that they could hire two new teachers for the price of me, and many of my fellow staffers.
When the mortgage market imploded in 2008, Southwestern Idaho flat-lined economically. While teachers, such as myself, fought draconian budget cuts the legislature didn’t listen. They didn’t care. The brutal impact on classroom numbers and lack of materials made no difference, their ears were closed. In fact, the Great Recession instead provided an opportunity to attack our union and kill protections such as negotiations, due process, and arbitration rights. I found that regardless of my expertise and my kids remarkable growth I was handed more students in class (220 every other day) and less time to teach (down 25% a week).
When I realized I could swing retirement I took it.
I worry about what is behind me in public classrooms. There are enormously bright kids out there begging to be challenged. These young people are smart, but need skills and information to develop their optimum potential. However, as long as law makers settle for cheap, keeping salaries spartan, and classrooms packed, I cannot see America preparing for the future. The results will reflect the dismal investment.
In my state the Superintendent of Education denied that teachers were leaving education due to the perceived oppression from the legislature. And he can tell himself and the entire House and Senate that tale. It’s just not true. Teachers want to succeed, aspire to excellence, wish to see achievement among their students. That is why the miserly funding and lack of support by policy makers has had such a negative impact. No one wants to go into a job already set up to fail.
Teaching as a profession shouldn’t be done at such personal sacrifice.