The more I talk to teachers around the country, the more I am convinced that School Reformers and Government Officials are making a systematic effort to drive the best veteran teachers out of the profession, both to save money and destroy the historic memory of a time when teachers had real autonomy and input into decisions about pedagogy and curriculum. The harassment and micromanagement such teachers experience is sometimes subtle, sometimes vicious, explicit and direct, but it is taking place in almost every school district in the country. If you are such a teacher, and the harassment has not yet reached intolerable proportions, I have two pieces of advice for you:
- Start identifying lawyers in your area who handle employment issues, in case you need to retain one.
- Start cultivating a political base among your former students ( if you teach in high school) and parents of former students (if you teach in elementary school or middle school) who can get involved in putting pressure on the principal, the school district, and the press should you come under attack.
The latter strategy is one I have followed in my University ever since I began teaching there in a field (African American Studies) that administrators didn’t respect and it has helped protect me, and my Department in very difficult moments. Of course, universities are not directly comparable to public schools, but having a team of supporters ready to come to your defense is something that I think teachers have to do in this toxic political climate. Many great teachers already have these connections so I am not asking you to reinvent the wheel. Just prepare to use your networks to prevent cynical administrators from driving you out of a job you love. Mark Naison With A Brooklyn Accent