Thursday, February 28, 2013

Letter of Resignation

Warning: The following blog is a personal soapbox.

                Recently, I watched what this country would consider to be a controversial documentary called IndoctriNation.  It was about the decline of the American public school system and what it has done to our children and the people overall.  I taught kindergarten for one year after I graduated from OBU and it was a very tough year, so tough that I decided that something needed to change in my career.  After taking a year off, I started the application process again.  I tried adding English as a second language to my certification, thinking that working with smaller groups was what I needed.  I tried applying at smaller, local schools thinking that the inner-city system was what made my first job so hard.  I did get a few interviews, but, for some reason, I was never offered a job over the last few years.   I will admit that I did not put a lot of effort into applying because I was not sure if I wanted to return.  I was on the fence, but I believe God has used this movie to push me over the edge, and this is why I will not be applying for a public elementary teaching position this year:

                When I was in elementary school in Arizona, I remember learning many things and never felt a lot of pressure from the teachers to do well on a test.  We learned through hands-on experiences and teamwork.  I understood math better than most of the other students, but I was not bored because my teachers offered me the chance to work independently.  There are many other examples of how the teachers I had would cater to the different needs of the students.  My experiences in Arizona planted the first idea of becoming a teacher. 

                Unfortunately, things changed a lot over the years since I was in elementary school.  No Child Left Behind was passed, and from what I’ve observed in the schools, it seems to do the opposite of its intent with many students.  Learning and teaching is not as fun anymore with all the push for testing.  At the school where I did my student teaching, I was told that I could only have 15 minutes each day to teach a science lesson to the second grade class.  Many principals whom I have worked and interviewed with have said things like: “Students will not need to learn science and social studies until 4th grade when they are tested over it,” “You can teach science and social studies to the kindergarteners through the literature you read,” and worst of all, “Those kindergarteners will not have time to play, you must focus solely on getting them to read by the end of the school year.” Now, I’m not saying that children should be running around wild in the classroom, but sometimes, learning can look like play.  Children learn best through interacting with their learning and by being given a chance to explore and discover things on their own.  Of course, the teacher is in charge of directing and guiding the children in their exploration and each child is unique in his or her pace.  I feel as though I have been told that type of learning is no longer acceptable and the teacher is expected to be standing in front of the class, holding a book.  It’s all about those dreaded tests held in April.
                I really could go on and on about that subject alone, but there are many other ways things have changed over the years for the school system.  The movie focuses on how God has been removed from the schools, and that is a far worse occurrence than NCLB.  Removing God and prayer from the schools has led to an overall disrespect for authority and a physically and morally unsafe environment.  IndoctriNation explains this and so much more and I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially teachers and parents with students in the public school system.

                At first, as I was watching the movie, I thought I should still try to teach to be a light for Jesus to my students, and I related my thoughts to one of the teachers they interviewed.  But, as they told her story, she mentioned that if she ever stood up for God in front of her students, she would be asked to resign immediately, and that is exactly what happened.  How can I be a light in a place controlled by a government that extinguishes all flames as quickly as possible?  Now I know that here in Oklahoma, things are not quite as bad as other areas, and I could talk about my beliefs in the classroom, but how much longer will it last?  Given the choice between my degree and God, I most definitely choose God.  I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  I still may not know where God is leading me, but at least I know one thing He will not have me doing. 
P.S. Anyone know of any good private schools?  Can an elementary teaching degree be used for things other than teaching?  At least I know some tips for teaching my own children someday :)

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
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