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Why This National Board Florida Certified Teacher Quit Her Job

After 16 years in teaching, Janet Allen, a 41-year-old National Board-certified English teacher, has decided to quit this year. A Florida educator with a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Allen has been rated ‘highly effective’ by administrators year after year, with her advanced placement students scoring high on Sarasota County exams. .

But once politicians began to micromanage teachers and shun their knowledge and experience, Allen was out.

New education laws instituted by conservative Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in July – including the controversial Parental Rights in Education Bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Act, and the Stop WOKE Act – have alienated and angered many teachers and students. . Allen tells Scary Mommy that these laws “seek to satisfy the battle cries of politicians’ voter base culture” and have seized the autonomy of teachers in their classrooms — and she’s fed up.

“For years, teachers have been able to meet the needs of their students, help them master the skills required by high-stakes testing, and maintain the county’s Level A status by designing personalized lessons for the students before us. . But with these new laws and policies, teachers will be too afraid to meet the needs of their students with their creative expertise. You might as well have robot teachers instead,” Allen tells us.

DeSantis’ legislation prohibits certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom and prohibits the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in schools or workplace training. He also told school districts to ignore new federal government guidelines aimed at protecting transgender students from discrimination.

“I see this as just an initiative to empower bigots,” says Allen, who founded and sponsored the first Venice High School Gender and Sexualities Alliance amid Donald Trump’s controversial presidency.

The new laws also give parents greater control over what students learn and discuss at school, allowing guardians to push back their children’s schedule and continuously monitor their private conversations with school staff. LGBTQIA+ advocates, like The Trevor Project, are concerned this could lead to students coming out to family members without their knowledge or consent, according to CNN.

Opponents of the legislation also believe that allowing parents to sue a school district for potential violation of its rules would open educators to a pile of litigation — something Allen had tasted before leaving the field.

“Last year, I was supposed to remove from the shelves of my classroom library books by black authors that were favorites among students, such as I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou and The bluest eye by Toni Morrison. I was warned by other teachers on my team to avoid teaching Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to my 10e students because it could be interpreted as CRT, but it was the first unit of our new textbook and I taught it anyway. I was also warned not to teach Their eyes looked at God by Zora Neale Hurston to my AP English students for the same reason,” Allen says, adding that Hurston’s work ended up on the AP exam in 2022, so she was glad she taught it.

Allen says the administrators got many calls from parents about the novels, but she didn’t “break any rules” because she let them know what their children were reading on her program.

“I felt like I was doing something wrong and complicating the work of my administrators, which is taboo in any school community and causes tension,” she says. “[Partisan politics] divides school communities, causes unfounded mistrust of teachers, diverts focus, attention, and funding from the real tools and resources that drive student success, and ultimately makes one of the toughest jobs even more difficult and stressful.

Some Florida teachers were trained in DeSantis’ education program over the summer, which includes observing Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Day,” in which high school students will receive lessons in anticommunism. (“Alarmist ridicule and propaganda,” Allen insists.) The presentations also reportedly included slides titled “Qualities of a Righteous and Desirable Citizen.”

Allen and others question how students are supposed to be “desirable citizens” if they are protected from the experiences of people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community in this country.

“Simplifying the American experience by erasing and watering down the complicated truth of the nation’s founding and founders is much easier than considering the history and persistence of systemic racism embedded in our system of government,” she says.I don’t know how you can become a “desirable citizen” later in life if you’ve only lived in a bubble. »

And in addition to how it affects children’s overall view of racial equity, in practical terms, Allen says it will keep Florida students from competing on the national stage when it comes to college acceptance. due to an inadequate program.

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Teachers across the United States are leaving their jobs in droves due to everything from lack of support, low pay, mistreatment and mistrust from school communities. But particularly in Florida, this new curriculum makes it difficult for educators to resist any longer, as highly partisan government leaders are in charge of day-to-day learning.

DeSantis apparently isn’t worried: He’s recruited retired police officers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and firefighters with bachelor’s degrees to fill the job — bribing them with bonuses and foregoing fees for the state certification exam. It also encourages veterans and their spouses, without college degrees, to apply for temporary teaching certificates to fill the gap.

“They don’t want a critical-minded electorate that understands that the American experience is complicated, uncomfortable, and far from perfect,” Allen concluded.

Currently, she is busy volunteering as chair of her local library committee and room parent for her daughter’s grade one class, crafting with the children and hoping to participate in story time, fairs books and educational outings. She also writes short non-fiction works and quilts, and has nearly completed construction of a commissioned piece. Allen is catching up on lost time with family and friends, considering taking classes that pique his curiosity, and dreaming of opening an Etsy shop.

As for teaching, she would be happy to be a substitute, tutor or part-timer, but she needs to get away from her beloved profession right now.

“When a politician with no classroom teaching experience micromanages teachers and shuns the expertise, knowledge and experience of professional educators who love their students and their content, he is showing distrust of the workforce – many of whom actually support it – sows division in school communities, which ends up distracting from teaching and learning to a toxic degree and making it untenable for some of the most passionate, talented and dedicated to continue.

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