To the Editor:
I just wanted to tell you how much the articles on teacher burnout resonated with me, especially “‘Disrespected’ and ‘Dissatisfied’: 8 Takeaways From a New Survey of Teachers” (April 15, 2022) and “The Teaching Profession Is ‘Crumbling’: What Can School Leaders Do to Help?” (May 20, 2022).
I taught for 25 years and became a leader in sociology. I was a co-author of the National Standards for High School Sociology and facilitated professional development across the country for sociology teachers. However, I am sad to say that May was my last month teaching.
I don’t feel like the pandemic caused this, but I do feel like it highlighted what were already growing obstacles to a sustainable career. Over the last decade, protections and professional discretion for teachers have precipitously declined. Perhaps it is the growing threat of lawsuits and the counsel of lawyers that has fueled this, but I do not feel supported as the professional in my own classroom. I feel increasingly controlled in terms of what I teach, how I teach it, and how I assess it.
Sadly, dozens of my students said that school—where I spent 23 years of my career—will be worse because of my departure. I was a teacher they trusted. My sociology class made them feel like they belonged and mattered and leaned into difficult issues such as race, gender, and stereotypes. Students have said that they felt my class made them understand the world and current events better and that it made them more introspective of their own lives.
Unfortunately, my administration has taken away so much discretion that the job is not tenable. I feel like public school in America is broken.
Thank you for shining a light on this!
A version of this article appeared in the August 17, 2022 edition of Education Week as Validated by EdWeek, Not by My Administration