Teacher Retires and Posts a “Sad Long Letter” Lamenting the Demeaning of his Profession!

Dear Commons Community,

In what he calls a “ sad long letter,” Gerald Conti, 62, notified the Westhill School District last month that he will retire when the school year ends. Conti said he’s leaving two years before he is eligible for a full 30-year pension, because he can no longer stomach what’s going on with the educational system.

“This whole thing is being driven by people who know nothing about education,” Conti said today.”It’s sad.”

Conti is concerned about the emphasis being placed on standardized tests and the data they create versus creativity, teacher autonomy and innovation that excites students. Below is an excerpt:

“Essential Learning,  creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill. A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle.  Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. ..

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of  lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.”

He placed the letter on his Facebook page, and since then it has taken on a life of its own.   Another teacher earlier this year posted a video upon his retirement in Providence, Rhode Island, that went viral expressing many of the same sentiments as Mr. Conti.


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