My Resignation Letter

Dear Administrators, Superintendent, et al.:

This is my official resignation letter from my English teaching position.

I’m sad to be leaving a place that has meant so much to me. This was my first teaching job. For eleven years I taught in these classrooms, I walked these halls, and I befriended colleagues, students, and parents alike. This school became part of my family, and I will be forever connected to this community for that reason.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve my community as a teacher. I met the most incredible people here. I am forever changed by my brilliant and compassionate colleagues and the incredible students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching.

I know I have made a difference in the lives of my students, just as they have irrevocably changed mine. Teaching is the most rewarding job I have ever had. That is why I am sad to leave the profession I love.

Even though I am primarily leaving to be closer to my family, if my family were in Colorado, I would not be able to continue teaching here. As a newly single mom, I cannot live in this community on the salary I make as a teacher. With the effects of the pay freeze still lingering and Colorado having one of the lowest yearly teaching salaries in the nation, it has become financially impossible for me to teach in this state.

Along with the salary issue, ethically, I can no longer work in an educational system that is spiraling downwards while it purports to improve the education of our children.

I began my career just as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was gaining momentum. The difference between my students then and now is unmistakable. Regardless of grades or test scores, my students from five to eleven years ago still had a sense of pride in whom they were and a self-confidence in whom they would become someday. Sadly, that type of student is rare now. Every year I have seen a decline in student morale; every year I have more and more wounded students sitting in my classroom, more and more students participating in self-harm and bullying. These children are lost and in pain.

It is no coincidence that the students I have now coincide with the NCLB movement twelve years ago–and it’s only getting worse with the new legislation around Race to the Top.

I have sweet, incredible, intelligent children sitting in my classroom who are giving up on their lives already. They feel that they only have failure in their futures because they’ve been told they aren’t good enough by a standardized test; they’ve been told that they can’t be successful because they aren’t jumping through the right hoops on their educational paths. I have spent so much time trying to reverse those thoughts, trying to help them see that education is not punitive; education is the only way they can improve their lives. But the truth is, the current educational system is punishing them for their inadequacies, rather than helping them discover their unique talents; our educational system is failing our children because it is not meeting their needs.

I can no longer be a part of a system that continues to do the exact opposite of what I am supposed to do as a teacher–I am supposed to help them think for themselves, help them find solutions to problems, help them become productive members of society. Instead, the emphasis on Common Core Standards and high-stakes testing is creating a teach-to-the-test mentality for our teachers and stress and anxiety for our students. Students have increasingly become hesitant to think for themselves because they have been programmed to believe that there is one right answer that they may or may not have been given yet. That is what school has become: A place where teachers must give students “right” answers, so students can prove (on tests riddled with problems, by the way) that teachers have taught students what the standards have deemed to be a proper education.

As unique as my personal situation might be, I know I am not the only teacher feeling this way. Instead of weeding out the “bad” teachers, this evaluation system will continue to frustrate the teachers who are doing everything they can to ensure their students are graduating with the skills necessary to become civic minded individuals. We feel defeated and helpless: If we speak out, we are reprimanded for not being team players; if we do as we are told, we are supporting a broken system.

Since I’ve worked here, we have always asked the question of every situation: “Is this good for kids?” My answer to this new legislation is, “No. This is absolutely not good for kids.” I cannot stand by and watch this happen to our precious children–our future. The irony is I cannot fight for their rights while I am working in the system. Therefore, I will not apply for another teaching job anywhere in this country while our government continues to ruin public education. Instead, I will do my best to be an advocate for change. I will continue to fight for our children’s rights for a free and proper education because their very lives depend upon it.

My final plea as a district employee is that the principals and superintendent ask themselves the same questions I have asked myself: “Is this good for kids? Is the state money being spent wisely to keep and attract good teachers? Can the district do a better job of advocating for our children and become leaders in this educational system rather than followers?” With my resignation, I hope to inspire change in the district I have come to love. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “All mankind is divided into three classes: Those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” I want to be someone who moves and makes things happen. Which one do you want to be?

Sincerely,

Pauline Hawkins

 

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331 Responses to My Resignation Letter

  1. Graham Lear says:

    I applaud your stand on the teaching ethics in your country. My wife who was once a teacher in math in England left her chosen profession 15 years ago for the much the same reason as you are doing. It seems that both our countries are having the same sort of problems now in the teaching profession and I find quite that quite disheartening for both the child and the teacher. I also know much like you do that its affecting the moral of many teachers who know they can do better if the system would just allow them to teach and guide the child properly.

  2. Michel R says:

    Hi, it would be so hard to understand your resignation for someone who has no clue about your Educational System…

  3. Joan says:

    Kudos to you!!! You have hit the nail on the head! I taught 5th grade for 22 years and then was a principal for 12 years. Just retired in August of 2012 because I just could not continue to stress emotionally, physically, and mentally over how our children are being treated in our educational system. It is truly sad, as I, too, LOVED education. It was and continues to be my heart and soul, but I got worn out with all the mandates and watching kids stress over testing. I applaud you for writing this letter, and would love to help you with your “fight” to make things better for kids!

  4. Alice Palmore says:

    This is ungodly the best thing I have ever heard about being done for our kids and our Public Education system . It does seem like you said it all when you work for them you can’t say anything because you will loose your job, well you went to college and chose this profession for the Love of children and making a difference and these children are tomorrow’s government and they can make a difference but yet you are not allowed to teach them seems like to me there is a double standard Somewhere here kind of Damn if you do Damn if you don’t.
    You seem to be the One to Stand Up and make a Difference our Kids need you and I am sure you will have plenty of support once you get started more will come.
    It’s like once you build it more will follow,,VOICE be heard. Great Job lady!!!!!! GOD BLESS!!!!!

  5. ndianeh says:

    I admire this move, and you make many valid points. I myself feel a similar frustration with all the standardized nonsense being pushed. There is no such thing as a standard child, so why should we be trying to create what nature has avoided? Everyone is unique and has their own strengths, and that is why our society was able to reach the high points it has in the past. If I am ever able to be in a situation where I can “make things move” I will do what I can, this is a battle that needs to be fought.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a teacher resigning for the all the same reasons – in CO also. I do not know one teacher who is happy with the state of things. I wish everyone could resign or stand up to all that is going on. It is the only way “they” will listen to us.

  7. devinash says:

    I just stumbled across this but it strikes me how much the education system you describe is beginning to resemble the Chinese system. Teaching in China, I meet students everyday who can pass any exam you put in front of them, but can’t function in day-to-day life.We are re-creating a system that has already failed and I think it’s great that you’re encouraging people to continue to talk about it!

  8. Carrie Hill says:

    I resigned as an educational interpreter because of same sorts of situations! My supervising teacher hated her job and didn’t care at all about the special needs students in her classroom. She basically sat on her iPad and wasted these children’s day away! Literly! I complained to principal, superintentant, State Educational Board, my employer Board of Coroporative and was told to keep my mouth shut or lose my job! So I resigned with a similar letter to all above as well as the student I worked for parents. Still NOTHING has been done! Poor child still has no interpreter (certified) and hasn’t for two years since my resignation! Also Supervising teacher has now retired like she was some sort of saint! Disgusting!

  9. Amini Mills says:

    Hi, I’m a parent that has been telling any-and everyone that this system is anti-education. My feelings echo yours, and it’s comforting to know that a professional sees the same delinquencies. I also think that there is no coincidence that the education of our children has become marginalized and detrimental to them, while the prison industry is now a booming financial enterprise. I’m sorry that you had to leave your position but I understand your frustration and truly appreciate your stance.

  10. anonymous says:

    Your letter took the words right out of my mouth. I am hoping to retire this year from Colorado schools for all the same reasons. After 25 years in teaching, all these news laws, regulations, testing, and ridiculous requirements have sucked the passion and energy right out of me. I have developed health problems, and I can no longer stand to watch these poor little kids lose hope because of the emphasis on testing. Teachers are hesitant to take on the most needy kids with their huge challenges because they can lose their jobs if these kids don’t show huge growth. I am glad my own children have finished with their education, but I certainly worry for my grandchildren. All the teachers I know are angry, disgruntled, and defeated. It is sad, very sad.

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  12. Ben Chandlee says:

    I applaud your letter and found it inspiring as I can identify with the same compelling thoughts and feelings on these matters. Your motives and courage to do the right thing is inspiring despite the unknown possibilities that lie ahead. The founding fathers would be proud of such an example and I believe this thought is felt by many but practiced whole-heartedly and lived in truth by few. It takes courage to do the right thing. Whats right isn’t always easy. Thank you for your inspiration and for your sacrifice. All the best to you.

    Sincerely,

    Ben Chandlee

  13. alison wakeman says:

    Its the same in the UK, I am just writing my own resignation letter now and that is how I stumbled upon yours. Good luck with everything.

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