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Writer. Teacher. Storyteller.

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  1. Thank God there are educators like you in this sick system. We have two children both dyslexic who have had a long journey through school. When it came time for testing they both were so stressed by the pressure from school. We always told them it did not matter how they did on the test it was not indicative of how smart they were. Our son will be going to college to study special education as he says to “fix the education system”. Thank you so much for sharing your letter! Wish you well on your next journey.

  2. Pauline, I come from a family of education professionals…which include a university dean, a special education diagnostician, and an administrator. They’ve all left for the same reasons you’ve stated. I chose a degree in economics, and practiced as a real estate appraiser for over 20 years. Once the Feds and States mandated licensing for appraisers the worst corruption in the history of USA materialized…from the top of the heap in FHA, FNMA, Freddie Mac. The more regulation, the wider the opportunity for fraud. The Common Core is using the the same bureaucratic process to funnel big gov’t money. The ACA is using the same bureaucratic process to funnel big gov’t money…such as many excellent teachers are abandoning their positions, physicians are forced to close their practices, too…the red tape is so burdensome they feel they cannot deliver a reasonable amount of care to their patients. You are not alone, and your industry (education) is not the only industry suffering. Thank you for sharing your letter of resignation. IMHO, you should name the names of those bureaucrats who are paid (by taxpayers!) to burden your profession. We are all listening……we’d like to hear!

  3. Class of 2004 Liberty High School. Hello Ms. Hawkins I took your composition class in 04. You inspired me to think for myself and supported my decisions while under your guidance. I remember your dogs name being Sadie, like the dance LOL. You treated with respect that I never got from any teacher, you would listen to me and advise me on the best way to approach a situation. You were beautiful then and even more now!!! I will never forget you!

  4. I would just like to say, as a 17 year old high school junior, everything you have been saying is 100% correct, and it’s nice someone understands how truly awful almost every student feels just having to go to school every day. It just seems to get progressively worse each year as well. I’m terrified of the future because I haven’t been taught useful life skills. There’s a time and a place for anaphoras, epistrophes, and finding x and y in the world I’m sure, but not when I have no idea how to do my taxes or how social security works or how to build my credit or how to buy a house. Those are things I actually will need in life, and I can tell you chemistry and calculus are probably things I will automatically forget upon graduation. Honestly I think the only reason I’m able to get myself up in the morning is the extra curricular activities I’m involved in. That’s seriously it. I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say mental breakdowns are pretty regular especially towards the end of the year when we really feel the pressure of standardized testing times upon us. I have more than once physically cried because of the emotional distress that school can cause, and I know for a fact I’m not alone in that one either. Thank you. For standing up on behalf of all of the students in distress. There’s a need for an extreme educational reform, and I can tell you I’m positive any student I know would support this movement. Just, thank you for understanding, for seeing it and not ignoring the issue. We are humans, not robots.

  5. Thank you for standing up an saying what so many past and present employees in District 20 have been afraid to say! I retired from D20 last year and taught overseas to only find the same type of hype going on there. This year I am taking the year off and do miss the interaction with students, but am so relieved not to be caught in the mind field of politics of education.

    I wish you well on your journey and know that you will be an instrument of change!


  6. As a prospective educator, I am thankful for your effort. I believe the problem can be fixed, from the inside, and look forward to your next opportunity to continue in a profession you obviously dearly love.

    1. Thank you, Rick! I hope you can figure out a way to stand up for what is right while keeping your job. I will continue to fight from the outside, and our efforts will complement each other!

  7. Kudos for speaking out! And good luck in your future. I was struck by the reporters comment during your interview with Fox News as yet another fabrication in news stories we have been hearing since about 1982 that have continually denigrate the American Education System with no bases in fact. She stated that so many of us grew up when the US was #1 – top in math and science test scores (was the implication). But that simply isn’t true. We never scored number 1 against other countries and we never cared as we knew we were not teaching students to successfully take tests. We were teaching students to think for themselves, to innovate, to expand their horizons and those things, in the long run, are much more important that being a successful test taker. I encourage you or anyone interested in learning a bit of the truth behind this and arm yourself with real information to rebut these types of false statements to read “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatiztion Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools”. Unlike the editorial stories our media and key political figures have hoisted upon us over the years convincing the general public that America’s schools are failing, Diana Ravitch backs her findings with real data. And the data shows an entirely different story. More teachers and parents need to speak out. Thank you for doing so!

    1. Thank you, Tracy! It was a little intimidating as this was my first live interview, and it was frustrating because her questions weren’t what they told me she would ask me, but I’m thankful for the platform. I want to change what is happening in education, I want to continue to speak out about these issues, so I’m learning on my feet 🙂

  8. You stand up for what you believe, and in a very real way. That is not only commendable, but so amazing. Thanks for your example. Blessings to you and your son.

  9. I have been teaching in China for the past 3 years and it drives me UP THE WALL that I have to teach to the test. This has been their system their whole educational history so as much it pains the students and stresses them out, they must do it. If you only graduate from high school, you can barely get a retail job. If you don’t finish high school, then you will most likely become one of the street cleaners. Now, I am trying to transition back to the states as a teacher and I am petrified! I am not sure I want to teach in a state that supports Common Core and the Standardized Tests. So I have been actively trying to find states that are not doing that and applying because I cannot bear NOT being in the classroom. Thank you so much for your heartfelt letter. I pray it touches the heart of those who created this system and who are responsible for implementing it. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”—Malcolm X

    1. Celeste,
      Thank you for your comments! I understand how you feel. I cannot bear not being in the classroom as well, but I feel driven to fight for my students from the outside–that is until we can change what is happening. By the way, I love that Malcolm X quote! It’s on my wall in my classroom 🙂
      Thank you for your support!

  10. If you ever become an administrator in a school that supports our thoughts as teachers on this issue, I would love to work under you! Cheers!! Hugs for the little guy!

  11. Dear Ms. Hawkins,
    YOU are a courageous and brave individual, with wonderful convictions! I understand your letter perfectly…I was a teacher for 36 years, and forced out for my creativity and because I cared about students. The same has happened to many of my colleagues. Our educational system is being ruined by a think tank larger than us, who are ultimately concerned with mind-control and do not want people to think…to create…to be individuals! Blessings to you!

  12. Wow, finally someone can read and speak what is on my mind!!! I want to work for (with) you too!! God bless you ( and yes, I said “God”) lol, for taking a stand for our children and for educators that want to make a difference. It’s sad that our voices go unheard, just because we are a part of the crooked system. Educators are led to resign from their positions just to voice their concerns. I pray that more educators like you, can follow in your footsteps and open the eyes of the ones that are in control of this failing educational system. Thank you!

  13. You speak to my heart! I have been teaching for 16 years and I am so sad at what education has become…not in my classroom, but in government and politics. They have forgotten about the whole child. Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking. Best of luck to you. I am going to stick it out and be the salmon going upstream for now, but I too am not sure how much more I can take, especially after giving the SBAC this week…don’t get me started!

    1. Shelley,
      Thank you for your support! I admire you for sticking it out! If I weren’t moving to be closer to my family, I would probably stay as well, but I would be making an exit plan.
      I hope I can make a change from the outside.

  14. This website and the numerous posts have a common and disturbing theme – to “fix” public schools in America. This is not only unattainable, it is undesirable. The “system” is not some temporarily misguided benefactor. The system IS the enemy. Fixing public education means eliminating public schools.

    I know this is probably antithetical to many posters, but public education is NOT the same as public schools. There are many ways to provide publicly funded education – charter schools, private schools, home schools, etc. Building and operating public schools is the worst, most expensive way to NOT achieve education in America.

    Think carefully before you deify public schools while demonizing their natural consequences.

  15. I support & back you in your journey ,it will be tuff ,Im fighting corruption at the local level !

  16. Dear Pauline,

    It was so very refreshing for me to see that you young teachers share my sentiments! I retired one year ago because I could at 65. But had it not been for the unnecessary and unrealistic demands, I would still be teaching at the elementary level in 5th grade. It was just getting too hard to fight the system, when the ones who needed to listen to you, viewed you as a troublesome wave maker. My reason for quitting wasn’t about the kids, their parents, or my coworkers being uncooperative. It was about the ways I was being forced to teach. Your letter gave me hope for the future of our children. There are many others like you, and I hate to see you all give up because the world needs good teachers!!!! Those students who are negatively affected the most by NCLB are the elementary children who are being forced to learn things they are not developmentally ready for, not being allowed to be creative or artistic, nor being able to explore through experiential learning. Another thing parents don’t know is that they have the right to refuse to have their children take these state tests. Schools don’t want you to know this, and teachers are expected not to tell the parents. Why? The scores of the children who do not take the test are marked down as a zero, taking the schools scores down. It is NOT to have any affect on whether a child passes or not. So maybe if enough parents refuse to have their children take the tests, the people in charge of this madness of test taking will wake up to the reality of what they are doing to our children. There is a movement of parents who are doing this and their numbers are growing. Way to go parents! I encourage parents to Google “parents refusal of standardized tests” and see what other parents have to say. I do believe in the MAP achievement testing at the beginning of the year and end of the year as it does keep a record of improvement in skills and gives a detailed account of things students need to work on. These types of tests are assessments to improve learning, NOT assessments to evaluate learning. It is a great way to show progress. These tests are designed at more appropriate developmental levels by people who understand this concept. This allows for individuals to feel good about themselves when they see their improvement over the course of the year. A good teacher will give her/his own assessments to see what skills students missed and reteach as necessary. A good researched-based textbook such as the Pearson Reading Street series can be a valuable tool if used properly. There are many fine book companies that provide computer activities to enhance learning, along with the textbooks. A computer should be a tool, not a one size fits all curriculum. Some students actually like the feel of a book. It is hard to build relationships with a computer as opposed to the real thing…a human being…a real teacher!!! I sense you are one of those. Don’t give up!

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for your support, Carolyn! My heart hurt while reading your description of what is happening at the elementary level. Thank you for your service to your students and your community!

  17. Pauline,
    Your cogent missive to administrators and superintendents is misdirected and will fall on deaf ears. The education establishment (educrats), along with elected policymakers, either believe in ignorance or hope in vain that Common Core Standards and attendant strategies that reduce the historic role of the teacher to a mere facilitator are the panacea to the current failure of public education. However, also culpable are tens of thousands of our colleagues (and our unions) who lack your courage and wisdom to resist, forcefully and publicly, the deleterious impact of Common Core upon not only academic disciplines but also the teaching profession and, most important, students. To avoid a doomsday scenario, teachers need to unite in defending the integrity of their disciplines and of their profession by shouting the truth to authority.

    1. Excellent points, Drew! We also need to add parents and students to the group. If all of us unite, our voices will be heard.
      However, I don’t believe my letter fell on deaf ears. When I wrote this letter last year, my main goal was to write a resignation letter for my administrators and superintendent. I won’t pretend that I had an inkling of the impact my letter would make, but I did want my district to start fighting against this legislation. Nothing happened last year in my district, but I am hearing from my former colleagues that administrators and the superintendent are starting to push back on the mandates. Also, A superintendent from a district close to mine tried to opt the entire district out of Common Core and standardized tests this year. The state disallowed it, of course, but he gave parents and students permission to opt out on an individual basis. If people, no matter their position, have the courage to speak out against this educational “reform,” there is no telling what we can accomplish.

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