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?


Pauline Hawkins


Pauline’s first book, Uncommon Core, is available for purchase here. If you would like a signed copy, please email Pauline at



556 thoughts on “My Resignation Letter

  1. I am homeschooling my children because of the miserable failure of the public school system where we live in Georgia. Both of them are adopted, so we are dealing with some things that are a result of neglect and abuse as well as medical problems My daughter is developmentally delayed and non-verbal due to several different disorders. The first week of school I got a note from her teacher that we needed to be “working on” her oral reading skills to prepare for an upcoming evaluation. Really? She is NON-VERBAL, that means she CANNOT communicate effectively. Yes, she can say a few words, but to read orally, that is beyond her physical and academic capabilities. Then, she started bringing home math and reading homework (“first grade” work). Occasionally she would get the idea and we could use blocks to figure 2+2=4, but more often than not, she just looked at me. Because she can hear, she is not eligible for ASL instruction, IF we had a deaf educator in our school. She would have to go 20 miles to another school for that… As for our 10 year old son, he also has a grocery list of problems, ADHD, major depression as the results of being beaten and locked in a closet at the age of 3. Because he is bright and usually very articulate we have had to fight for everything. We asked for an evaluation which was denied because at that time he was ahead of his class. We asked for one a year later when it was obvious he was falling behind, denied because “he’s not a behavioral problem”. When I saw the material he was being taught in 3rd grade I decided that enough was enough and we made the decision to home school them both. He is now halfway through 4th grade math and just finishing 2nd grade reading. His favorite reading material is the Chilton Manual for my husband’s 1999 F-250. When he took it to school for free reading time the teacher took it away from him and told him it wasn’t appropriate reading material and gave him a book about the Watts riots. Our daughter doesn’t NOT need to know who lives in Atlanta, what Congress is Supposed to do or the water cycle. She DOES need to know how to ask for help, how to care for herself – grocery shop, do laundry, make her bed and basic cooking. The schools are no longer allowed to teach any of that to SpEd kids. She knows her name and address, most of our phone number, our names. She sorts all the laundry (and does a better job than her dad!) and puts it in the washer. She folds and puts away all of the towels without help. She can get a peanut butter sandwich without help, open a can of Ensure and sit at the table and eat. Her ASL vocabulary is approaching 250 signs, we are learning together. This is not the life I envisioned. We sold our beautiful house that we had custom built and moved into a lovely, cozy little house that fits our now one income life. We are living the life God wants us to have and we couldn’t be happier!

  2. “a sense of pride in WHOM they were”??? And you’re an ENGLISH teacher? You need to learn the difference between subjective and objective.

    1. Neil,
      I will never understand a person’s need to do what you just did, but okay; let’s have the discussion. In your understanding of the object and subject case, what is the object of the preposition “in”?
      And while you are responding to my question, can you please tell me what enjoyment you get out of being rude?

      1. Nitpicking is a vain attempt to shift the focus from your well written assessment of our educational system.

  3. Not sure why so many teachers vent and project their frustrations on the system. Every teacher understands the career pays low and has unique challenges. Teacher unions are not the answer. The unions create a climate of low teacher moral, lousy teachers, and are ineffective in promoting quality education. Teaching will never change if new teachers line up for the job. I’m sure your admin team read the letter and moved on with a stack of resumes from excited new candidates. A local school district posted three positions and had over 500 qualified applicants apply. The only way pay and benefits will increase is if teachers say NO to offered jobs. FYI, the average teaching salary is significantly lower than those with equal degrees that do not teach. Many teachers become frustrated over the years. Add this to the fact that it is very hard to fire any teacher. You can see why most admin teams could really care less or be moved by a resignation letter. As stated before there are plenty of applicants to replace you. In addition, they cost less and are less disgruntled.

    Just calling it like I see it.

    1. Bryan,
      From your comments I can guess that you are not, nor ever have been, a teacher. I do understand how those on the outside, with their limited experiences, can assume what you have assumed; however, much of what you said is not entirely accurate. First, I am not so much disgruntled as I am saddened by what is happening to our children in education. That was the main point of the letter. I was asking my district to stand up and fight for our children. Although teacher pay is one of my concerns, I would still be teaching in public schools if that were the only issue. As you stated, which is not new information to me, the average teacher pay is significantly lower than those with equal degrees. That is something that our country should be ashamed of. The other issue that you may not be aware of is that enrollment of education majors at colleges and universities is at an all time low. Pretty soon there will be fewer and fewer teachers applying for those positions.
      As far as you believing that my letter was a waste of time, let me point out that you read my letter 14 months after it was originally published on my blog. How did you find it? Why is it still circulating? Since the day I posted this letter, I have received over 700,000 views on this letter alone. It has struck a chord with many people. The views alone do not give it merit though. There are many things that happened after I posted this letter in the surrounding Colorado districts in 2014-2015 that do. Students began standing up for their rights and boycotting tests. School superintendents began movements to opt out of Common Core and state tests. Parents formed an opt out movement. Although you are correct in stating that my district was not moved (as far as I’m aware) by my letter, many in the surrounding areas credit my letter as the catalyst for their movements.
      The other result of my letter is that I continue to fight for public education; I write and speak on behalf of children and education in many forums. I am also still teaching but at the college level, which is significantly lower in pay but with none of the issues I outlined in my letter with public schools. I love teaching and could not imagine my life without being in a classroom.
      So even though you called it as you saw it, your view is limited.
      Thank you for reading my letter and sharing your perspective.

    2. I find it amusing when people try to sound intelligent but then give themselves away with poor grammar and spelling. Teacher moral??? I won’t blame it on your English teacher. Either you didn’t pay attention in class, or you just haven’t realized that faulty language skills can really knock down your credibility.

  4. I think that there will be less teachers needed due to technology advances and that teaching can and needs to become more effective at teaching ALL students to raise themselves to the levels of THEIR POTENTIAL – versus to the potential of the lowest common denominator- which unfortunately seems to be what is happening in today’s classrooms.

    We need to teach students how to think and to become involved, self-motivated learners who self propel themselves in wanting to learn.

    And we need to teach all students with the cognitive abilities to do so, to learn how to read and write fluently and proficiently.

    And for those that are non-verbal, we need to use technology and ASL to help them reach their potentials just as much as those that can communicate verbally.

    Finally, standardized tests are not the problem.

    The failure to teach the 3 R’s (Reading wRiting & aRithmetic) is though, imho.

  5. Resigning from any job is a serious decision to make and shouldn’t be based on emotion, especially for a teaching position. It’s important to write a teacher resignation letter that is dignified and professional. A teacher may resign for several reasons such as moving to another city or state, finding a non-teaching job, or to stay at home with young children. Whatever the reason, the way in which a person resigns from one job may have an effect on the next job. If a teacher resigns in a fit of anger, it will reflect badly on their character, which can be extremely harmful if they ever want another teaching job

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