The following letter was sent to the Education Achievement Authority administration by a teacher who very recently resigned. In it, they describe additional outrageous conditions inside the EAA. Since providing me with this letter, they also informed me they were contacted by a teacher who told them that students are being prepped for the forum at Eastern Michigan University today. They were being coached on what to say. This is exactly what takes place when visitors come to the building, they told me.
Here is their letter of resignation/exit interview.
There are a myriad of reasons that lead me to the decision to resign from [school name redacted]. The first reason is the dishonesty of the principal. On January 17, 2014 I was asked to sign an “observation form” that clearly stated it could be used as documentation for punitive purposes. It contained nothing but negative comments/remarks of what could have been made out to be my performance. The following week, we had a staff meeting. In that meeting, I was informed in front of the staff that my principal would “shred” that document because it was the incorrect document. Instead, two days after, the principal came to my room and explained in under two minutes that it was just a guideline and would be placed in my file. It was the original document I signed on January 17, 2014 with my signature in red ink still. I asked for a copy. They never supplied me with a copy. Again, I was told in front of staff it would be shredded, but then told later it would be placed in my file. That was dishonest and seems manipulative. I cannot work for someone who I cannot trust.
The second reason is the lack of curriculum available. In my interview, I was told the Buzz was a fully loaded program. I was never told I would have to design curriculum for content areas I am not certified to teach. This lack of curriculum is not in the best interest of students. In addition, curriculum design is not something someone who has no experience or educational background in should be attempting. Furthermore, Buzz is a pilot program at this point and we are being made to create content to load into a third party software with no copyright privileges of our own as authors of the content. That is unethical and a cheap way to get around hiring experienced curriculum specialists to complete the program. I am not comfortable with this practice.
The third reason is the blatant violations of IDEA law as it relates to servicing children with IEPs. Since my arrival, not one of my five special education students have been serviced despite claims to the contrary. They have never left my room except with a paraprofessional. It is also important to note that the work the students worked on with the parapro was created me. It is not the general education teacher’s responsibility to provide the special education teacher with materials for the purpose of working with the students to meet their IEP goals. Parparo service hours do NOT count as service for the IEP. All of the IEPs I have state 3-5 hours of special education services. None of them have received this to date. The way IEPS were re-written and students who should be labeled Cognitively Impaired and are now SLD is not in the best interest of the students, but was done to boost numbers in enrollment. Placing CI students in a general education environment with no transition services or plan first is not in the best interest of students. Two of my students cannot learn in a general educational setting.
The fourth reason is the lack of due diligence on the part of administration to ensure that minor children do not have access to pornographic websites. Whoever sits on any educational foresight committee should have anticipated the behaviors of middle school students when it comes to computer use and before eliminating all textbook-based curriculum and had firewalls in place to avoid this. I do not wish to be a part of something that has knowledge of these behaviors and continues to allow students access. As a parent, I would pursue whatever action would be necessary to make sure my child was not exposed to such unrestricted and inappropriate access for a minor child. It is highly unprofessional to allow these things to continue with no plan in place. It makes managing behaviors more difficult as it stirs up their adrenaline and hormones through exposure to sexually explicit material. They make a mockery of any adult authority knowing they can manipulate the computers to feed their adolescent desires and there will be no real impacting consequence for this. This, in turn, makes the school the enabler for such behaviors. Of that, I am embarrassed to be a part of. I am a professional educator and these things have never been allowed in my classrooms or in the computer lab that I ran in a previous district that did have firewalls and security in place to avoid these incidents.
The fifth reason is that this model will not be effective for this demographic unless it truly embraces blended learning. The students are crying for books to learn from. They have expressed the desire for more direct instruction and more books to show them since Buzz does not work effectively. They are frustrated with the lack of computers available, the network server issues, and the way Buzz does not work properly most of the time. If I can do one thing for them as I leave, it will be to give them this voice and put in writing their desires for a more blended environment. They are discouraged and confused. When will someone take notice and start thinking of their needs? It pains me to be here hearing these things from them.
Lastly, this is the most hostile working environment I have ever been exposed to. The staff is over-worked and truly treated poorly. Their opinions really are not valued over that of administration. Directives are given with little input from the staff. There is little structure. Changes to schedules for visits to put on a show for visitors come without regard to any planning the staff may have. It is apparent that the appearance of success is more important than how the school functions on a daily basis. Why not let the visitors see what takes place every day rather than curtail their observation to a controlled viewing? Also, while here, I have had staff speak to me in some of the most unprofessional manners. I have been yelled at by a parapro with no chance to speak to the parapro and work out the differences professionally. There is no real respect for administration among staff and since it is the responsibility of administration to set the tone and culture in the building, their lack of respect and trust is a direct result of how they are treated.
I am sure there will be a spin to ensure I am viewed as ineffective and unable to control a class that was without a teacher for five months prior to my arrival. That is expected. However, let me leave you with this: If the students had more administrative support during those months, would the behaviors have been so out of control that they felt comfortable visiting pornographic websites and playing on Youtube rather than learning? That’s what I walked into and what continued. No one teacher can change those habitual problems without clear administrative support. No real solution was ever given to this issue other than a request for a firewall software from the district. That simply is not enough. The situation with this is also building wide and based on reports from staff, it has yet to be dealt with.
Please allow this to serve as my exit interview.