EDUCATION
12/18/2012 10:08 am ET

Stephen Round, Providence Teacher, Quits Over Standardized Testing In Viral YouTube Video

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."

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