The Non-Reasons I Am Leaving Education

I’m not disillusioned by the institution. I actually see public education way more clearly than when I started. Everyone knows that schools are important, but no one wants to talk about why they exist. It’s a simple problem to solve, but the political will and public attention span may not be strong enough to engage in the kind of principle-level conversation that’s required to forge a unifying purpose for public education on a local or national level. So, individual teachers and the occasional stand-out school will continue to expend heroic effort for immediate impact, but sustainable change will continue to elude the pundits and politicians.

I’m not leaving for more money. Actually, I’ll make about the same amount of money as we made with all of our jobs combined. It will be salaried, however, and it will increase annually if I can make my goals and add value, but that’s all uncertain, much like my teacher salary from year to year.

Teaching wasn’t too overwhelming or difficult for me. I had some rough years, but I figure that’s part of any job. Once I found my rhythm as a teacher, my students were able to run most of the classroom procedures. It turns out, this is just good management.

There was no fall out with my district or other teachers. The administrators, teacher’s union and indivdual teachers in my district seemed to get along fairly well on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis, especially considering recent budget troubles. Everyone demonstrated a real commitment to students. Unfortunately, that commitment doesn’t address the question of why schools or even a school district exist. That’s a question for a different post altogether.

1 Response to “The Non-Reasons I Am Leaving Education”

  • I think you managed to get it just right when you mention a “principled conversation” about a “unifying purpose.” However, I don’t think it’s as simple as you made it out to be. I think this is a problem because we must first begin to answer the questions “Who’s principles? and “Who’s purpose.” I really believe that a major obstacle, and maybe the major obstacle, to successful public education is the tremendous diversity of values, beliefs, and lifestyles that must be represented, validated, and compromised. Now I do believe diversity can be a strength. The trouble with education is that in practice it tends to be a battle over the fundamental principles that guide our lives, buried within the minutia of testing scores, homework completion, and achievement tracking. By definition, “standardizing” education irons out the complex social and society differences, some of which we claim to value and others we claim to abhor. For instance, we love the notion of ethnic minorities maintaining a strong cultural identity, but we hate the dissociation from academic performance that comes along with it. That’s just one of a multitude of issues that our diverse, post-modern, “I’m okay, You’re okay” society is just not willing to look at. We’ve moved towards, and may even be entering a time when it simply doesn’t mean anything to be a American and so our nationalized system of education is displaying that trend.

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