When I wrote the book INVISIBLE CHILDREN a few years ago, I interviewed teachers to get their insights into working with difficult children under the No Child Left Behind act. One of the saddest interviews I’ve ever conducted was of an art teacher (Marge) I sat next to (by chance) at a Mayday parade in Minneapolis. She told me why she quit and she cried while she talked.
Marge talked about how her workmate teachers taught the all important measurable skills (language, history, math, & science) where testing and assessments drive those teachers to exit the business. Their gripe she believed was twofold; 1) learning for children was now only a tiny part of the data collection system that had become education. 2)The lack of IEP funding which would allow special needs kids to get the help they need, forced these children into crowded classrooms where teachers would find themselves spending 90% of their time managing dangerous behaviors of a very few needy and troubled children.
When Marge got to the part about what it was like to run an art class of 45 children, of which half or more were special needs kids (many on psychotropic medications) she started to cry. Her story was that she adored children, loved art, and had hoped to bring learning, beauty, and sensitivity into her community through her teaching.
She found that the administrators filled her classroom with troubled children because this classroom had no need for the No Child Left Behind assessments. All her time was spent managing very troubled children that could not cope with life. This was not her skill or passion. She could not take it any more and she quit. The letter (from the Washington Post below is the resignation letter of another educator who quit. It tells the story much more eloquently than I can is valuable for it’s critical insights into our education system.
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