BeckThree teachers from the Sikeston MO area will be on The Glenn Beck Program today 4:00 CST talking about the hostile work environment for teachers who don’t think common core is the best thing since sliced bread.

KimballWe posted about one of the teachers, Susan Kimball, whose testimony has received almost 46,000 views so far. Kimball is a kindergarten teacher who has been forced to read scripted lessons to her students that push them beyond their capabilities at 5 years old. The other teachers on Beck will be Tonya Pobst and Heather Drury. Teachers in this district were told not to speak out against the new standards on their social media pages and threatened with charges in their personnel files if they did.

Unfortunately what Kimball said was not unique to Sikeston MO. In the more than 120 presentations we have given around the state we have heard very similar complaints coming from teachers whose administrations have belittled them in front of other staff members at meetings for questioning elements of common core, told them not to talk about common core to parents and even told them not to attend our presentations which they would be doing on their own time. The Orwellian attempts to silence teachers from giving their professional opinion about what they are being asked to do in their classrooms every day or educating themselves on an issue is mind boggling.

Most have not spoken out because of these threats to their jobs. None of them can remember a time in the past, when new standards or policy was introduced when they were not allowed to express opinions in opposition. Many veteran teachers are choosing to leave the profession rather than endure such stifling workplaces.

Consider Mr. Parsons in Washington MO. Parsons is a 25 year veteran history teacher, beloved by his students and their parents, who was being forced to abandon the lesson plans he had carefully crafted in his quarter century of teaching, which clearly many people liked, and instead use a purchased lesson plan that he considered inferior and inflexible to the needs of his students. The district would not allow him to deviate from this program so Parsons tendered his resignation. This is what we are doing with our highly qualified teachers.

It occurs to no one in charge of education, all those people who say they want what is best for the students and that means top quality teachers in the classrooms, that very few highly qualified individuals are going to agree to work in such places. What intelligent thoughtful teacher is going to want to work where they are required to read a script and follow a rigid pacing guide? Can anyone picture “the best” teachers coming into a work place that tells them to keep their professional opinions to themselves and just get with the program?

We are heading toward a workplace populated by sheep who docilely go along with whatever management tells them to, where the average teacher has less than 5 years experience, where innovation will be dominated by for profit companies seeking to dazzle the inexperienced with their products to make the job oh so much easier. Our only hope is that these veteran highly qualified teachers will go to work for those companies. But when they die, who will have any reasonable classroom experience where they have had to educate themselves and develop customized approaches to teaching who could take their place?

Hopefully Kimball’s bravery in speaking out against the parts of common core that affect her, the parts that are the most potentially damaging (k-3 standards,) will embolden other teachers to find their professional voice and speak out too. Our quick screen of teachers last week willing to do that turned up thirty who said they were willing to be identified and speak up.  Now is your chance folks. Click on the link below if you have found your voice. We will do our best to give you the pulpit.

I Will Be Silent No More

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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