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This is a letter that I received:
I have been following you for the last 10 years and am in awe of your continued efforts to turn public education in the right direction.
I read your article this morning about a teacher who had had enough.
It could have been my story.
I am a retired NYC Department of Education pre-k teacher in an under represented community. I taught pre-k for 16 consecutive years in the same school. I was fortunate that I was able to introduce many innovative programs to support my students not just in academics but the more important social/emotional piece that schools often neglect.
I brought to my classroom American Sign Language, Yoga, Mindfulness, Cooking and Baking, Caterpillars into Butterflies and as much art and music as I could fit in a day.
My students thrived. Sadly, each year it became more and more difficult to protect my students from the “rigor” and academic push for 3 and 4 year olds.
This past year, I was evaluated by not just my supervisors but from NYC Instructional Coordinators, a Social Worker who came once a month and no longer worked with students and their families, but was there to teach me classroom management, and an Educational Coach who came to help me learn how to better assess my students.
In addition, NYC has contracted ECERS:
Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale.
The Instructional Coordinators returned to review the ECERS report on the premise of helping me attain a better rating the next year. They removed my television which I used to play videos for yoga and ASL for my students so they could see children their own age doing yoga and ASL.
They said ECERS did not allow more than 20 minutes a week for technology.
I tried to explain that the television was not technology but the television was removed.
They removed my oven because they believed it to be dangerous.
They removed my students yoga cushions because they said they were not sanitary despite the fact that they had washable covers.
The final blow came when in the ECERS report it stated that I had an inappropriate book; The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.
The ECERS evaluator said it promoted violence and bullying because the grouchy ladybug wanted to fight.
Either she had never read the book or had read it and did not understand its value.
I no longer had any autonomy in my classroom and I could not in good conscience do what the IC’s and other outside people wanted me to do with my children.
It was a very difficult decision.
I had legacy families where I had taught 7 or 8 members of extended families.
Many families started teaching their children how to pronounce my name as soon as they were able to sit up.
My story is just one small grain of sand but I am confident that it is being replicated all over the country.
I left not because I was in an under represented community and not because many children had challenging issues but rather because the lack of support and understanding about what it means to be a teacher was draining the life out of me.
I am hopeful to continue to have a voice for children, particularly the ones that few want to teach.
If you post my story, please do not use my name.