When Gerald "Jerry" Conti decided to retire from his teaching career after 27 years at Westhill High School in New York, he went out with a bang.
On March 29, Conti, 62, posted the text of his resignation letter on Facebook, along with a photo of Porky Pig saying "That's All Folks!"
The letter lays out why, after several decades, Conti believed he had to call it quits. Conti points the blame at legislators who "failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education," a testing company. He argued the New York State United Teachers union failed its members by not mounting an effective campaign against standardized testing, and said there's now a "pervasive atmosphere of distrust" preventing teachers from developing their own tests and quizzes.
"After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists," Conti wrote in the letter.
(READ THE LETTER BELOW)
So far, the post has received 86 "Likes," 745 "Shares" and more than 30 comments of praise for Conti's teaching ability, as well as expressions of sadness about his departure from the classroom, though Conti said he may substitute teach. Soon after the letter made the rounds on Facebook, the Syracuse Post-Standard picked it up. Conti told the Post-Standard his frustration isn't directed at his local school district, but rather at the "larger forces" of education reform.
"This whole thing is being driven by people who know nothing about education,” Conti told the Post-Standard. "It's sad."
Conti has some company when it comes to his dislike of standardized testing. Earlier this year, teachers in Seattle refused to administer the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, test "on ethical and professional grounds." In February, roughly 10,000 parents, teachers and students rallied in Texas for more funding and fewer exams, the Texas Observer reported.
In his interview with the Post-Standard, Conti also elaborated on his impression that testing is eating his profession, and that educating is being taken out of teachers' hands.
"Education to me is completely qualitative, it's not quantitative," Conti said. "It's about personal relationships, and it's about getting kids to be curious. And that's what I've been trying to do all my career."
Read Conti's letter below:
(h/t Washington Post)