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.