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“Letter from a Second-Year DCPS Teacher”

July 5, 2010

D.C. teacher and blogger Candi recently shared this letter she received from a second year teacher in DCPS. I find it resonant for obvious reasons, and it reminds me of one of the main reasons I started this blog: to show just how destructive the current education “reform” climate can be, particularly in those schools that the “reforms” are intended to help the most. Be sure to check out the full post for Candi’s comments as well as the letter itself.

Hi, Candi,

“It’s been a long time since I’ve written on your blog, but I read it faithfully.

It took a long time but I have to say, you and DCPS teachers have been right about so many things. At my school the teachers are very supportive of me, a still-new second-year teacher. I have struggled with writing and teaching effective lessons, managing student behavior, and organizing my classroom. However, I am new, motivated, and teachable. I left a better-paying career to teach. So you would think the administration would value my attitude and willing spirit.

However, the administration heaps criticism on me and has not offered mentoring to me, nor has it ordered coaches to come into my room to model lessons. The administration takes incentives from my students (recess, field trips, computer use, daily prizes) but blames me for having an ineffective behavior plan. Having a master educator observation has been encouraging to me because the difference between my fall and spring observations showed significant progress. However, I am so disillusioned with my administration that I don’t think I even want a post-conference for my last principal observation. The only reason I haven’t broken down psychologically is because of my friendship with God, who sustains me, and because I have seen the administration belittle and humiliate other teachers at the school so I know it’s not all about me. Teachers have walked out (and others have threatened to walk out) of staff meetings. Turnover is high. Teachers are pitted against other teachers during meetings. Teachers on your blog have been saying all along – it’s not so much the teachers as it is the parents and the administration. I once was blind…

I don’t know what my plans are for next school year, but based on my principal’s IMPACT scores, I may not be in DCPS. My heart was really set on helping the most disadvantaged students in DC.

Moving to another school system won’t be so hard for me because of my age and lack of children who depend on my income and health insurance. However, I feel for teachers at my school who are older, sometimes parents, and either leaving DCPS or considering leaving. They have told me that it is really a leap of faith.

I regret, though, having gotten my feet wet in DCPS then moving to the suburbs. The first two years are when teachers make the bulk of their mistakes. There’s a huge learning curve those two years. Now I may have to take all that knowledge gained at the expense of DCPS’ students to the ‘burbs.

I need to find this one teacher I thought was so terrible three years ago and apologize, because now I see.

(the real name of the teacher has been changed to protect her identity)
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