‘Everything I love about teaching is extinct’

The following was first published by Kettle Moraine Publications on the Federal Observer on May 27, 2013. It has proven to be timeless – and pointed. The author’s feelings have been felt by many in her profession. If your child’s teacher feels this way – what is it telling you? ~ (Ed.)

Emotional video resignation by veteran teacher slams ‘depressing gradual downfall of public education’

An impassioned video resignation by a teacher with 15 years of experience blasts the state of public education in the US, which she claims is now more focused on tests than children’s welfare.

Ellie Rubenstein, who taught fourth grade in Highland Park, Illinois, posted the emotional speech last week after hearing that she was going to be transferred to another school against her will.

In a ten-minute footage, posted on YouTube, Rubenstein claims she had to ‘get out before her sense of self and self-worth was completely obliterated.’

The former teacher says: ‘Raising students’ test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal, and in order to achieve it the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated.

‘Everything I love about teaching is extinct,’ she continued. The video has since had nearly 335,000 views.

Rubenstein starts the video by explaining how she left a business career to earn a master’s degree in education at night school while bringing up twins in order to ‘do something meaningful.’

She adds that she now feels like she is now ‘not being allowed to do anything meaningful’ but is ‘instead forced to act as as cog in a wheel that is turning in the wrong direction.’

Later in her resignation the tearful woman admits she is ‘backing down with a sad and heavy heart.’

The final straw for Rubenstein was a dispute between her (along with three other teachers) and the school administrators.

According to Highland Park News, the teachers were given mandatory transfers to other schools in the district on May 16.

Rubenstein told the paper: ‘This is a total kangaroo court, a retaliation against four teachers who are quite vocal in advocating for their children.

‘We are at the forefront of speaking our minds and at the forefront of advocating for our students.

‘We are all being falsely accused by the administration and some colleagues of doing things we have never done, and saying things we have never said.’

Administrators told Highland Park News that transfers were not used to punish teachers and worries about the ‘school climate’ instead led to the decision to change the staffing in the district.

But in her highly popular video Rubenstein says: ‘The truth is, I am just not a ‘yes’ man. This inhumane and insensitive transfer is an attempt to silence my voice.

‘Unless you are a ‘yes’ man, you will soon find out your only choice is to become one or leave.’

On Sunday Rubenstein added another comment to the YouTube post, expressing shock at the reception for her personal resignation.

‘The outpouring of love and support is overwhelming. I originally intended for this video to be watched by my administrators and my community; I had no idea it would reach so many.

‘The thousands of stories already shared with me from around the globe that mirror my own are both critical and heartbreaking.

‘I cannot change the system from within, so I leave to allow myself to continue teaching in my way, on my terms. I never planned on giving up, and I never will.’

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