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You might not remember Mark Rubio’s name in a couple of years but you won’t ever forget the name of your favorite elementary school teacher.

On October 23, 2015, Wendy Bradshaw posted her resignation from the Polk County Florida Public School system on Facebook. It went viral.

Today I resigned from the school district. I would like to share with you what I gave them. Feel free to share it if it strikes you as important.

She goes on to explain what many of us who actually listen to educators or are educators already understand—the culture of testing is bullshit in no uncertain terms, from how it evaluates students’ performances to how it evaluates teachers’ performances. Wendy Bradshaw knows early childhood development and the curriculum and the testing she must subject her students to is anathema to everything she knows about early childhood development.

The children don’t only cry. Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid’, or because their little bodies just can’t sit quietly anymore, or because they don’t know the social rules of school and there is no time to teach them. My master’s degree work focused on behavior disorders, so I can say with confidence that it is not the children who are disordered. The disorder is in the system which requires them to attempt curriculum and demonstrate behaviors far beyond what is appropriate for their age. The disorder is in the system which bars teachers from differentiating instruction meaningfully, which threatens disciplinary action if they decide their students need a five minute break from a difficult concept, or to extend a lesson which is exceptionally engaging. The disorder is in a system which has decided that students and teachers must be regimented to the minute and punished if they deviate. The disorder is in the system which values the scores on wildly inappropriate assessments more than teaching students in a meaningful and research based manner.

Bradshaw isn’t alone. The Polk, Florida Superintendent is between a rock and a hard place.

“My first reaction was: I understand her frustration and I generally agree,” said Polk Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy. “The problem is that the accountability system is smothering everybody.”
[…]
“We can’t afford to lose any more good educators,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to our public education system if we can’t recruit or retain good teachers.”

Wendy Bradshaw recently became a mother and being confronted with the reality of her child going into this system in five years brought her “dread.”

Their brains aren’t ready for some of the things they do. And Bradshaw says that with confidence because she has studied and researched early childhood development, with the degrees to prove it.“It makes zero sense,” she said, and is not necessary. “We got to the moon and back without learning how to read in kindergarten.”

The White House announcing a need to cut back on standardized testing mania is a nice thing to say and (hopefully) mean. However, the economic beast that drives this top-down, standardized testing approach must be dismantled.You can read the entire Facebook post below the fold and you can drop her well wishes on her page here.

Today I resigned from the school district. I would like to share with you what I gave them. Feel free to share it if it strikes you as important.To: The School Board of Polk County, Florida
I love teaching. I love seeing my students’ eyes light up when they grasp a new concept and their bodies straighten with pride and satisfaction when they persevere and accomplish a personal goal. I love watching them practice being good citizens by working with their peers to puzzle out problems, negotiate roles, and share their experiences and understandings of the world. I wanted nothing more than to serve the students of this county, my home, by teaching students and preparing new teachers to teach students well. To this end, I obtained my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of education. I spent countless hours after school and on weekends poring over research so that I would know and be able to implement the most appropriate and effective methods with my students and encourage their learning and positive attitudes towards learning. I spent countless hours in my classroom conferencing with families and other teachers, reviewing data I collected, and reflecting on my practice so that I could design and differentiate instruction that would best meet the needs of my students each year. I not only love teaching, I am excellent at it, even by the flawed metrics used up until this point. Every evaluation I received rated me as highly effective.

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process. I am absolutely willing to back up these statements with literature from the research base, but I doubt it will be asked for. However, I must be honest. This letter is also deeply personal. I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard.

The children don’t only cry. Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid’, or because their little bodies just can’t sit quietly anymore, or because they don’t know the social rules of school and there is no time to teach them. My master’s degree work focused on behavior disorders, so I can say with confidence that it is not the children who are disordered. The disorder is in the system which requires them to attempt curriculum and demonstrate behaviors far beyond what is appropriate for their age. The disorder is in the system which bars teachers from differentiating instruction meaningfully, which threatens disciplinary action if they decide their students need a five minute break from a difficult concept, or to extend a lesson which is exceptionally engaging. The disorder is in a system which has decided that students and teachers must be regimented to the minute and punished if they deviate. The disorder is in the system which values the scores on wildly inappropriate assessments more than teaching students in a meaningful and research based manner.

On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer in good conscience be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.

Best,
Wendy Bradshaw, Ph.D.

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One Comment

  1. I read this Mike.  POTUS said somewhat the same thing a week ago.   Alice Rollins”Power is with the person who can bring peace out of chaos!!”….unknown From: Michael1942’s Blog To: arollin9026@yahoo.com Sent: Saturday, November 7, 2015 12:54 PM Subject: [New post] Teachers Resignation-Wow! #yiv7489921989 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7489921989 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7489921989 a.yiv7489921989primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7489921989 a.yiv7489921989primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7489921989 a.yiv7489921989primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7489921989 a.yiv7489921989primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7489921989 WordPress.com | michael1942 posted: “Reposted from Daily Kos- Teacher who gets it.Thu Nov 05, 2015 at 09:59 AM PSTTeacher’s Facebook resignation post goes viral because she is 100% right by Walter EinenkelYou might not remember Mark Rubio’s name in” | |

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