Uncommon Sense: YouTube Teacher Resignation Reaches Nearly Half-Million in a Week

commonSense

“No wonder teacher burnout and turnover are at an all-time high.”

Few people turn pages of newspapers.  Fewer people flip their phone apps to the editorial button to read letters to the editor.  And the only thing smaller than the audience for a school board meeting telecast is the audience at an actual school board meeting.

But in just over a week, nearly half a million people have heard why an Illinois teacher has had her heart broken too many times by the new politics of school systems’ reliance upon test scores and disregard for teacher worth.

It’s not slick, like last winter’s Ed Asner-narrated modern fractured fairy tale that illustrated the California Teacher’s Union struggle:  

The Asner video created more of a backlash against its production value and thus fogged over the facts that were present within its narration.  In fact, Ellie’s resignation resides in its complete lack of slickness.

She is exhausted.  Since 1999, after leaving a 20-year career in advertising, she followed her dream and became a teacher.  But now she has to leave the job she loves–not because of the students, but because of the system.  She offers plenty of examples that are happening all over the country, including: 

“We were abruptly handled involuntary letters of transfer.  We were called to the office one-by-one over the loudspeaker so everyone in the whole school knew which lamb was being led to the slaughter.”

Like Ellie, I’d reached a turning point last summer.  I had every intention of teaching 40 years, instead of leaving last summer after 25.  But continual pay-cuts and a state and city who had disregarded the immense value and experience of its employees made me instead feel fortunate just to have a career option.  I’ll probably need to work an extra 10 years longer than I’d intended, but my peace-of-mind and family well-being is on the mend.

I know of ten amazing students currently in college who have decided not to become high school teachers–or teachers of any sort. “I don’t see any job security or respect for the profession.”  

These ten would have been amazing educators; they would have changed the lives of over 50,000 lives by the end of their careers.  They’ll be great parents and will succeed in anything they try, but they are being pushed out of the most rewarding job in the world.

finch

In 1976’s Network,  Peter Finch’s character screams the only line that most people know from the film:  ”I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”  The great irony of this line is that it’s a catch-phrase that is recognized and exploited by TV network producers within the movie.  It is an eerie forecast of how cable news is driven by exploitation, ratings and corporate interests.  It’s even more prophetic with the “mad” anchors who have a shtick that they continue to use and hungry audience’s expect.

Paddy Chayefsky’s script and Sidney Lumet’s direction of use of evolving media are perfectly echoed through time.  Thomas Payne knew the importance of a pamphlet with “Common Sense,” and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” convinced more people of the evils of slavery than any speech on a stump ever could.

To see the impact of 482,000 viewers of a ten-minute video, just read through the comments that follow Ellie’s explanation.

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And just one click-down…

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Education is at a major crossroad and I always want to jump ahead ten years and see how things end up.  

I’m hoping that this brief, grainy, powerful video has as much impact as I think it will.

About Kevin Walsh

Before creating MyMediaDiary.com, Kevin taught high school video productions and language arts for 25 years. He is the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at www.mmdphotovideo.com which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His text, "Video Direct," is used in 40 states. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two teenagers. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kwteacher
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6 Responses to Uncommon Sense: YouTube Teacher Resignation Reaches Nearly Half-Million in a Week

  1. Laura says:

    Powerful message, and really depressing.

  2. Cindy Keleman says:

    Sadly, we are losing our humanity. Or, are we just letting it slip away? Are we technology driven (although we need technology to advance)with our social skills evaporating while leaving those we teach with limber thumbs and a serious lack of critical thinking skills (with media giving them their opinions)? Is our administration strictly driven by numbers and mandated outcomes without seeking the higher good for students and teachers? When attending Education Nation, I was so impressed by the 400 teachers in attendance that were so passionate and unselfishly giving to their students (food, clothing, supplies, direction, support, and love)when many had little in their lives. Yet, they too were frustrated by declining education dollars and the stress of teaching to the MEAP test, while restricting creativity. My heart breaks at the thought of the absence of a creative, passionate teacher that would ultimately shape and inspire an educationally hungry student. Is science fiction foreshadowing our future? What do you think?

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      It’s very true, Cindy. The hardest thing to hear from your colleagues in a former district is, “Man, you picked the right time to get out.” We can only pray that economic times will also restore philanthropy and a sense of priorities for putting the best people in front of our children–for their holistic growth, not just their standardized growth.

  3. Dick Rockwell says:

    There is no thirst for knowledge anymore…in this information age it is quenched by a search engine with access to everything on the web . Why learn anything anymore? just find another way to package information and market it as knowledge.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Thanks, Dick. It’s been an interesting transformation of energy, hasn’t it. I think it started with the energy it used to take to walk across the room to change the channel being downgraded to feeling like it’s just to much work to click the mute button on the remote–that’s way next to me on my end-table.

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