A second-grade teacher in Providence, R.I., has issued a very public resignation that is making its rounds online.
"I've had it, I quit," Stephen Round says in his resignation video, posted to YouTube last week. "I would rather leave my secure, $70,000 job, with benefits, and tutor in Connecticut for free than be part of a system that is diametrically opposed to everything I believe education should be."
Round first applied to be a teacher in Providence Public Schools in 1999, and "it was a great fit for several years," he says. But things started to change for the worse, until he couldn't take it anymore. Fed up with standardized testing, Round says the district's rigid structure and lofty standards created an environment where creative teaching and alternative learning were not tolerated.
"It was purely frustration. It got to the point where I can't stand by and watch kids not learn, and I have the key to help them," Round told WPRI. "They want us to follow the book to the letter."
His mid-year departure, Round adds, was the best move for his students, who were not benefiting from his gripes with school officials.
In response to Round's resignation, the Providence school district released the following statement to WLNE:
As a matter of practice, Providence Schools would not comment on the specifics of an individual's resignation letter. We regret that Mr. Round has found his recent professional experience dissatisfactory, but we thank the hundreds of teachers in our schools who continue to make learning exciting and enjoyable for their students every day.
The Providence teacher's scathing departure is not unlike another: A September post by former Boston teacher Adam Kirk Edgerton about why he quit rapidly became an Internet hit. Edgerton wrote that he was "no longer willing to operate under the old rules while the weight of our educational bureaucracy crushes our country ... I was tired of feeling powerless."
Standardized testing, especially, has come under attack as an inaccurate measure of student achievement, coupled with schools' heavy dependence on those measures to make critical decisions -- like determining teacher salaries and bonuses, as well as district and school funding.
Just last month, the American Federation of Teachers launched a campaign to end what it calls the "fixation on standardized testing" that has developed out of accountability measures required by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
In his video, Round makes those grievances against testing clear, walking through a number of points ranging from the culture of teaching to the test, to the evolution of a stringent school schedule that minimizes social interactions.
"Unfortunately, in the attempt to conform and abide by the misguided notions of educrats, the school system in which I had so much pride drastically changed," he says. "Rather than creating lifelong learners, our new goal is to create good test takers. Rather than being recipients of a rewarding and enjoyable educational experience, our students are now relegated to experiencing a confining and demeaning education."
Also on HuffPost:
To examine whether the ballooning rate of teacher hiring has leveled off since 2008 — when the economic downturn took effect — the authors studied more recent data on teacher employment that came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and from NCES’ Common Core of Public School Data. The CCD data show that from 2008-11, student enrollment in public schools continued to slowly increase, and in some fields the number of teachers also increased. However, databases also indicate that the <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">ballooning has slowed and the total number of employed elementary and secondary teachers declined by between 1-2 percent</a> over that three-year period. The researches note it is unclear from the data how much of this decrease can be attributed to hiring freezes or to teacher layoffs.
The teaching force has been getting older and teacher retirements have steadily increased. However, analyses indicate this trend is largely over, as the modal age of retirement for teachers has been 59, suggesting that the <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">number of teachers retiring should currently be near an all-time high</a>. Despite these impending teacher retirements, the authors determined the new supply of qualified teachers has been more than sufficient to meet demand as student enrollment has soared.
Most new hires are young, recent college graduates, but a number are older but experienced beginning teachers. In 2007-08, over a third of new hires were 29 or older, and almost a fifth were over 40, indicative of mid-career switching. In keeping with the expanding teacher force, numerically there are <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">far more beginner teachers than before</a>; in 1987-88, there were about 65,000 first-year teachers, and by 2007-08, there were over 200,000.
The teaching profession has become increasingly more female. The SASS data, which is consistent with other NCES data, show that since the early 1980s the <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">proportion of teachers who are female has gone up from 66 percent in 1980</a> to 76 percent in 2007-08.
The gap between the percentage of minority students and the percentage of minority teachers in the U.S. school system has persisted in recent years largely due to a decrease in the number of white students, coupled with an increase in minority students. As mentioned above, with the size of the teaching force having grown dramatically, there are <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">far more minority teachers than before</a>; in 1987-88, there were about 325,000 minority teachers — a number that nearly doubled to 642,000 by 2007-08. Growth in the number of minority teachers outpaced growth in minority students and was over twice the growth rate of white teachers, indicating the teaching force is rapidly becoming more diverse.
Consistent In Academic Ability
About a tenth of newly hired first-year teachers come out of the top two categories of higher education institutions as ranked by <em>Barrons</em>’, while around a <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">quarter come from the bottom two categories</a>. Two thirds of first-year teachers graduated middle-level institutions, a trend that has changed little in recent decades. When accounting for gender, male teachers have been more likely to come from top-ranked institutions than their female counterparts, but this pattern has become less apparent in recent years. The data also indicate considerably more male teachers come from the bottom two <em>Barrons</em>’ categories than the top two categories.
The teaching force has gradually become less stable in recent years, particularly when it comes to people leaving the profession altogether. Not surprisingly, high-poverty, high-minority, urban and rural public schools have among the highest rates of turnover. The category of teachers with the <a href="http://cpre.org/sites/default/files/other/1365_seventrendstransformationteachingforce.pdf">highest rate of turnovers is beginners</a>; between 40-50 percent of those who enter teaching abandon the profession within five years — a statistic that has been increasing since the late 1980s. It is necessary to keep in mind that since the teaching force has grown significantly larger, numerically there are far more beginners than before, thus the actual number of teachers who leave the job after their first year has also risen. After the 1987-88 school year, about 6,000 first-year teachers left the occupation, while after the 2007-08 school year, more than four times as many — about 26,000 — did so. As the report states: “Not only are there far more beginners in the teaching force, but these beginners are less likely to stay in teaching.”