First I would like to make it clear that this letter is not a defense of Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks or Board Vice President Kathy Korte. Truth be told I’m not a fan of either.
The teachers who know Korte best know that her concern for us is strongest when it suits her own personal agenda, and Brooks isn’t much better. I’m writing because I am an APS teacher, and I believe it is past time that people, including the editorial staff at the Journal, start listening to the teachers.
Brooks is correct when he says that teacher morale is at an all-time low, but how dare he tell me and my fellow teachers not to “quit” or “walk out” on our kids.
Teachers are the boots on the ground for the children of New Mexico. We are their first line of defense against shortsighted, reactionary reforms that undermine our students’ education. We are the ones who spend hours arranging and rearranging our classrooms, worrying about our lessons, the standards, our lack of teaching materials, our students’ home lives, what makes them happy or sad and how we can help all of them learn and grow.
But the reality is that teaching can wear you out, beat you down and break your heart.
When teachers complain it is because we know that something is happening that is harming our kids.
When all teachers complain about the insurmountable pile of paperwork, classes that are too large, new standards we are required to teach while simultaneously making up new curriculum because the district has not provided us with one, and a demoralizing evaluation system that sets us up for failure, everyone needs to listen to us.
When teachers complain it is not because we are lazy or afraid of change because we do not want our job performance to be fairly evaluated. We complain because the insane number of hoops we have to jump through to prove that we are teaching is making it impossible for us to actually teach!
Everyone with children in New Mexico’s schools needs to be concerned with the appalling working conditions their teachers are laboring under.
Few of us would recommend teaching as a profession, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs is falling around the country. Good teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Newly qualified teachers are unlikely to last five years, and experienced teachers are either getting out now or looking forward to the day they too can do something else.
Teachers are not quitters, but we are people, and when the emotional and physical exhaustion becomes too much to bear we have the right do something else.