How to Create a Negative School Climate 101

Creating a Negative School Climate

Dear Mr. Gates and Mr. Duncan,              

I thought I had better get this to you now while it is still on my mind.

At the end of the last school year, I was informed that I would be teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts instead of the specialized, reading program I had taught for six years.  The reading program was highly effective, yet the administrator decided it was better to move me to regular Language Arts.  I asked for materials to study over the summer to prepare for my new assignment.  I was given nothing.  I started school with nothing. I had no textbooks and certainly no teacher’s editions to reference.  I had no technology available in my class.  Four weeks later, I still don’t.

The second day of school, I was evaluated based on the VAM system in our state.  I had 30 students in my tiny classroom at the time of evaluation…day two!  I was “red flagged” in three areas.  I had students sitting on the floor.  I had requested more tables and chairs or desks, not once, but three times.  I was told in passing to “deal with it”.  My small room can sit 18 students safely.  I had 30.  Once again, I was told, “deal with it”.  I was “red flagged” for not knowing the names of my students….ON DAY TWO!!  My third “red flag” was for not using technology in my lesson.  I did not have access to a smart board, student computers, or the internet.  I had requested technology assistance…three times.  I was told this was not a REAL evaluation, yet it was typed and I was given a copy.  I insisted that the administrator write down all my “complaints” and I refused to sign it.

Since the evaluation I know all of my 90 students by name, including 15 that are special education.  Although at week four I have no IEPs, I do have tables and chairs for all my students.  I purchased all their school supplies out of my own pocket.  It’s a good thing too as I was evaluated yet again this week.

Is this what you envisioned when demanding all teachers be evaluated?  You have no idea how this makes my stomach churn.  After ten years of  NCLB I have jumped through all the hoops and have been deemed “highly qualified.”  What more do you want?

Two weeks into the school year I was told that a parent was concerned that I was not rigorous enough in my lessons!  I was not informed which parent, so I could not discuss the issue with them.  My response was that I was following the lessons to the absolute best of my ability given that ALL other Language Arts instructors have textbooks, teacher’s editions, a smart board, and access to the internet.  I was told to “deal with it.”

Three fellow employees have asked, “Are they trying to get rid of you?  You only have two more years, until retirement.”  Can you imagine how this made me feel?  The stress is literally killing me.  The stress has brought on horrible problems with fibromyalgia and other illnesses. I have recently been diagnosed with a potentially fatal infection in my digestive system.  When I discussed my illness with my administrator I got no reaction, no offer to assist. I only have 6 sick days.  I should not even be working according to my doctor.  He does not know how I am capable of functioning, much less able to teach.  I am afraid to take any days off.  I fear for my job.  I know so many schools are pushing older teachers out in order to bring in younger, cheaper ones.

Mr. Gates and Mr. Duncan, I finish this in tears.  I am hurt, scared and angry.  Is this what 23 years of dedicated service gets me?  Common Core and your cruel teacher assessments are destroying lives.  They have given administrators permission to be evil and vindictive.  I pray you are never treated so poorly.



About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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9 Responses to How to Create a Negative School Climate 101

  1. cmt152012 says:

    Dear Barbara,
    The situation you describe is impossible and inhumane. Please take care of your health, and call your union representative and a lawyer immediately: No matter what heinous results Arne Duncan and Bill Gates intend, you have rights to due process and to the treatment accorded a professional!

  2. Kelly M says:

    Send this letter to NBC’s Education Nation, too – PLEASE!

  3. ann says:

    I agree go to the union.If you have to go to the media.The only way we will win the war on teachers is to continue to fight back.

  4. Karen says:

    Please go to your union. That is what they are there for, and that is the reason I pay my union dues. You have the right to be treated with fairness and respect, and not have your life made a living hell.

  5. Jo says:

    I think is I were to add anything to this, it would be about student loans and pay of teachers. I have been teaching special education math classes for 20 years, and I cannot pay off my student loans. I can get a forbearance, and, of course, I had to do just that. I now, because of interest, owe over $100,000. There is absolutely no hope of ever paying these things. I missed the deadline for forgiveness by a couple of months. So, in summary, I can relate to not given veteran teachers the attention and benefits they deserve.

  6. liz smith says:

    I wish everyone who says that teaching is a “easy” job could come for just an hour…

  7. liz smith says:

    I was written up more than once when I was moved schools by the principal for not using the curriculum materials….I kept informing them that I did NOT have the materials – this was in Sept. of that year I got the materials in late February. I was given 12 books for my reading library – no math manipulatives – no classroom manipulatives – no guided reading materials….. yet I am expected to teach! I got moved grade levels this year despite not wishing to and again have been given NOTHING!! My internet does not work – computers do not work – suppose to watch school news for messages and dismissal yet tv does not work, do not have materials, do not have books…and parents seem to think everything is MY fault!!!

  8. Madame DeFarge says:

    why on earth do you not wish this on Dunkin? He speaks poorly, has a lisp, has only a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Is this the man that a serious, intellectually oriented society would make the
    Secretary of Education? No, this is the society that would have Penny Pritzker as the
    Secretary of Commerce. Read all about her, she’s obama’s fairy godmother.

  9. Pingback: How to Create a Negative School Climate 101 | Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates | cika

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