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Veronica’s Story

July 23, 2010
by

Making green eggs and ham for Read Across America week.

Today’s video comes from Veronica, a former Denver Public Schools teacher who, like me, was “non-renewed for cause” and thus banned from ever working in the district again. As you’ll learn in the video, Veronica has an impressive résumé. She is a twelve-year veteran who taught in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland before coming to Colorado. She has a Master’s degree, a principal’s license, and is on her way to achieving National Board Certification. She has taught at almost every elementary grade level, and has a strong understanding of the overall scope and sequence of the elementary school curriculum. Most of all, she’s very passionate. She has taught students of all backgrounds, but she chose to work in Denver after moving to Colorado because it’s where she felt she could do the most good. In addition to helping her students learn and grow, she developed strong relationships with their parents, thereby keeping them engaged with their children’s educations.

Unfortunately, she worked on a team with teachers who were not as committed, and was the victim of harassment as a result. When they took field trips to the pet store, she took her students to the planetarium. When they advised her to set low Student Growth Objectives, she refused. So when she wanted to push for the highest Qualistar rating, they dubbed her “the One-Up Girl” and complained about how her ambitious goals for her students and the ECE program were making them have to work harder than they felt they should. The conflict went on all year. Instead of cracking down on the bad teachers (There they were! The Bad Teachers! This principal would have had all the legal and political cover she could ever want to fire real, live Bad Teachers!), her principal skirted the conflict, made up an excuse, and got rid of Veronica–who hadn’t yet achieved non-probationary status in this district– instead. There were no consequences for this school “leader,” who chose the easy way out instead of the right way. The district looked the other way when parents complained, and when Veronica tried to counter the decision with evidence of the good job she had done.

*A little note about the video:

We were having a tough time finding a place to film, and ultimately settled on the kids’ section at a certain large bookstore chain. As a result, there is a bit of background noise which doesn’t detract from the story, but as a perfectionist, I feel the need to mention. (If it’s truly bothersome to anyone, I’m happy to post a transcript.) Likewise, the video is obviously edited, but I’m not Michael Moore-ing here! My edits were done strictly to preserve a coherent and concise narrative (and occasionally to cut out wailing babies, and book seeking kids). In the future, all videos will be shot in quieter locales🙂

[end self-handicapping]

— Sabrina

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:56 am

    Thanks Sabrina, teachers with truly high standards and not just “teaching to the test standards” are not well treated. I am so sorry for Veronica. I hope she will be ok.

    This is deja vu – what happened at Fremont High- many of the best, most creative teachers were not rehired while some good ones and many mediocre ones were. Obviously education is not the priority for many “administrators.”

  2. Aurea permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:23 pm

    Sabrina: Veronica story is the never ending “let’s kill the messenger”. I watched the movie “Stand and Deliver” as part of an Executive Education seminar hosted by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At the end of the discussion it was clear to all participants that change agents (like Jaime Escalante and Veronica in this case) will suffer the insult of the elements associated with the status quo. Not evil but truly disengaged with what it takes to be a real teacher. The villain in this drama is the School Principal who choose the path of least resistance and terminated this wonderful teacher for “cause”. And for what cause you may ask? For cementing an education experience that will serve these kids all their lives, for caring, for working her best and for trying to make a difference. Veronica, in my humble opinion, you are a success. My best to you.

  3. November 12, 2010 8:53 pm

    Truly unfair. I wish her well.

Trackbacks

  1. Accountability, Part II « Failing Schools
  2. Retaliation in Denver Public Schools, Pt. 1 « Failing Schools

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