I quit my government job the other day, and breaking up is hard to do.
I quit in spite of the fact that close to 10 percent of people in our country are unemployed, and in spite of the fact that the masses are begging our government to create jobs. My job paid a fair wage, had security, a health care plan and even one of those government pensions certain politicians believe are excessive. But I was no longer proud of my job. I don't often quote Nixon, but this was going to be one public school teacher they wouldn't be able to kick around anymore.
I never thought it would come to this, I really didn't. Sitting in my college classes 20 years ago at UC Santa Cruz, I was infused with hope and idealism. We were taught we could change society for the better, from the inside out. I still remember what one of my instructors in the credentialing program said to us eager, budding teachers: "It's not your job to worry about The Test. Your job is to teach to the best of your ability."
But if you're a language arts teacher in the current climate of Bush's No Child Left Behind doctrine, The Test is all you worry about. My job description changed from facilitating literature circles and creative writing, to analyzing data generated by endless benchmark testing, and having the students memorize the state standards they still ostensibly "needed." Memorize, not learn. I was given a script to read and the children chanted the words back in unison. We teachers unfortunately don't have a Hippocratic oath, but if we did, I was sure this would be breaking it.
As I voiced these curriculum concerns, and the possibility of getting another assignment to the assistant superintendent he broke in with, "Oh, are you one of those creative types?" his voice dripping with disdain. "Good thing I wasn't your principal, because you and I would not have gotten along."