A public School Teacher’s Distress
Washington Post, November 8, 2010 By Valerie Strauss
Here is one of the many desperate emails and letters from teachers that education historian Diane Ravitch, author of the bestselling book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, receives every day.
Ravitch has emerged as the country’s most prominent independent voice in opposition to the current wave of “school reform” that is supported by the Obama administration, and as a result, public school teachers by the thousands have written to her.
The letter below was written by Toldeo public school music teacher and author Robyn Hage, who gave me permission to publish it. In June, I published a letter by a Florida teacher who wrote that after more than three decades in the classroom, he was experiencing the worst year in his career because of a string of “reforms” that have foisted a mountain of standardized tests on his students and a phony accountability system for teachers.
I occasionally publish letters sent to Ravitch because they come directly from teachers and they tell us what is really going on in our public schools.
From Robyn Hage to Ravitch:
“First, let me apologize for contacting you and adding to your burden of reading yet another email from a discouraged teacher. However, after the events of this week my thoughts turned to you since you are in a position to affect change on the future of education in our country. I read your book in the spring and emailed you then to thank you for your efforts.
“For the second time in the past six months, voters have turned down our school levy in the City of Toledo regardless of the fact that our school district has already imposed drastic cuts. Transportation has been eliminated, sports have been slashed and teachers with many years of seniority have been laid off.
“I find myself in a position of being laid off for next school year despite having 19 years of seniority. It used to be that entering the educational profession, which despite little pay, at least offered a promise of job security. Now even that small reward for public service is gone.
“Worse yet, the electorates in the State of Ohio voted for a full slate of politicians who are not friendly towards public education. Whereas Ohio is recognized as a bellwether state for politics, I believe the same holds true for education. We have some of the highest number of charter schools in the country. [Some of ] our charter schools are in such disarray that this past spring, the governing boards of 10 Ohio charter schools actually filed a lawsuit against their charter school operators. With their continued infighting and transfer of public funds into private hands, I do not understand why they are not being held to the same standards as public education.
“I do not fault the citizens of Toledo for voting down our school levy. From 2000-2008 Toledo had the 3rd largest household income loss in the country which was 14.3%. The burden to educate our future children cannot fall on these same people time and time again.
“Change in funding must occur immediately if public education is to survive.”