Saturday, September 21, 2013

It Is the Unaccountable Administrators That Is the Problem

I've posted the link before about somebody who was kicked out of teaching at his school after just five months and wrote a book about it, but some of the comments are worth sharing here since I went through and am still going through the identical hell these teachers have experienced:

I too was a “bad” teacher although I used everything that I learned in school, life and from other teacher mentors(at other schools). It was my first full time job (after going back to grad school for a K-6 cert.) after substituting (long term and daily) for 7 years. I know the kids liked me, I know the parents liked me and am still trying to figure out what I did wrong. I walked into a room with no technology, not even an overhead projector! The files were full of yellowed worksheets from the 80′s and were not even for the grade I was teaching. There were silverfish in them! I am a creative person, I gave this job more than 100%, stayed late, came early, took three required additional grad courses and aced all of them,( I hold a 3.98 GPA- I did all this after my husband died and was raising three teenagers!) worked at the after school program and still, in March, was told that I had a choice, to resign or to be “terminated” with a poor rating because I did not meet the standards of the school district. Maybe I was lucky, since it was “my choice” but I haven’t been able to get a job since then. It’s not easy to explain why I left a job I loved. Yes, I’m older and less experienced than those who are my age, but I have years of experience in the world with children, retail, contracting and practical life problems. The worst part of this whole experience was the fact that the principal announced over the intercom, on the day that I was being observed by my entire grad class, including the person who got my job, that I was leaving and how happy they were to have so and so to replace me! I had to maintain a cool demeanor while teaching a class, while I was shaking inside. The principal was the most insensitive person I have ever met and there was nothing I could do. I look forward to reading your book Mr. Owens. The union could do nothing for me as I had the two “required” observations by the principal. Both those being bogus and fake. Yes, I was observed but the written up report was not what was happening in the room. No, I had no mentor, there was nobody to support me and I had a “quiet” classroom except for one child who had transferred from another school who started to stab people, so they had to take him away. My students blossomed (I saved many copied pieces of their writing) and cried when I told them that they would not see me again at their school. The parents were very sad also. So, I have to say, I agree that something is wrong with schools. I still substitute, but I can’t get a job, I have been blacklisted by this district. I believe that schools are NOT looking for creative people, but cookie cutter types who will not cause waves. I see so many teachers who do not teach as I was taught, and it disturbs me. I have no confidence in the school system nor the way that the government is trying to fix our schools. The administration gets paid way too much. There is no solution that I can see. Thank you for being brave enough to write your book.


One day the top administrator came into my classroom to read to the kids. He struggled through Dr. Seuss, stumbling on easy words and reading with no expression. This man earns 3 times what I do. I was sickened.

I got the dreaded U in my fourth year after a set up situation. My situation was similar to Randys post.. I was given an “experimental” class of all 1st grade handicapped kids with the mentality of 1 to 2 year olds. now granted I already had 15 years of experience with this population. the next step was moving the teacher next door who taught the 4 5 and 6 graders like mine across the campus and putting the art teacher next to me which pulled any support I had. then I wasn’t given subs for my assistants.. suspect principal told secretary to not put them in system, so I worked short handed. first evalation was a failure, was told I didn’t follow plans which was bs..I finally got reliable aide only to find her terminated at the beginning of winter break. I came back after break to find out my other permanent aide had been transferred to another school. I started the new year with NO aides, had to pull aides from other classes which didn’t help the situation any, how I found out. aide didn’t show up.. was not told I wouldn’t have an aide until I was getting kids off buses that morning.

this went on and one, second evaluation same thing I asked for a third..principal walked into classroom, I had kids ready for adapted pe which was the normal event,, she kicked the pe teacher out and told me to teach a lesson,, IHAD NONE PLANNED for that time as it was PE time.. ii winged it but was dinged for not being ready and not having materials out. that got the 3rd U that resulted in a nonrelect. By that time I saw the handwriting on the wall and was finally relieved to have a resolution. I was so stressed I had to use up 3 months of sick time over the spring semester just to get though.

The whole situation was a set up to get rid of me because I was actually teaching the kids.. and people in the system got jealous.
I took a year off, moved outta state, I am unable here with 15 years as a para and 4 as a teacher, highly trained in sp ed to even get an interview for a para job. I work as a sub ta. because of a vindictive administrator.

It took me a year to even go back in a classroom as a sub TA..I have PTSD from that year. I cope but I have no desire to go back into that war. Ive been in classrooms here that the teachers are so stressed out they take it out on the kids and the paras.. sad, how can one teach when it is a battle zone. Part of the issue is that principals have total control over a teachers job.. in my case I was an intern and interns in some states have NO job protection, union is pretty much helpless. A administrator can fire a intern and have to give no cause. I stuck my situation out to get unemployment but I paid the price mentally.

And we wonder why the school system is such a mess.

PTSD. I am sure I suffered from that after my illegal firing--I could hardly function for years after that bitch pulled her shit.

More comments:

This story is familiar. I did a career switch from engineering to teaching, high school/middle school math. One week into the first full time job, I wondered how I was going to get through an entire year of that. It was the classroom management thing. A month in, and I was on Cymbalta just to get through each day. Finished one year, and was moved involuntarily to the middle school. Felt from day 1 that the admin really didn’t want me there, and I basically had to create my class roster and curriculum on my own ( it was pullout intervention, no grade for the students). The admin was desperate to show improvement. My observations were these scripted things that would have made sense in a standard classroom, but not with a pullout class where you work one-on-one with students. The last observation seemed to almost have been pre-written, as it had little resemblance to what actually went on in the room that day. I was able to provide a written refutation – so what? Still got the non-renew, so I resigned. My health was more important at that point, although I wanted the kids to do well. I never did know quantitatively if I made any difference at all, as the only feedback that was given to the teachers was negative, and I got each group of students for only one quarter.

Thank god this crap is finally coming out!!!!! 14 years of satisfactory teaching at my last district, and 26 years total in education, and I find myself laid-off. Why?, for all the reasons John states. My principal filled my room with tough to handle kids, and proceeded to harass me any and every time she could about their behavior, noise, test scores, etc. Education has become a joke!!!Especially when they give someone, that has no qualifications to do so, the power to evaluate. Also, our new evaluations are all subjective…so if someone doesn’t like you…good luck!!! That being said…Ireally don’t mind not having to deal with all the STUPIDITY!

For this author, 5 months as a new teacher with no support… they might as well have just fired him on day one.

I was forced out in my 12-13th year when, after returning from a 1 yr medical leave, my previous 10 yrs of good-to-excellent evaluations suddenly disappeared and all reports became completely unsatisfactory beginning the first eval in the second week of school. I spent that year with a total of 11 85-minute evals (plus many other drop-in visits), each followed up by a meeting with admin during my planning period. Plus I was eventually required to have a once a week meeting with him to discuss my lesson plans.

When I returned the next year all these negative evals got worse and the meetings continued. But this time admin added a suggestion (read that “requirement”) that I sit in on other “good” teachers’ classes at least once a week to see how to do things right. Extra paperwork and reading assignments were given to me to complete outside of work. I did everything they asked… never missed a single meeting,, observation, or write-up of another teacher’s class.

Still, I was constantly told my class/teaching was ineffective. Ineffective despite the fact my students tested well even on tests designed by admin’s designated good teachers. On being told students didn’t understand objectives and content of science labs, I challenged the evaluator to choose any few students he wanted and to quiz them on what they did and see if they could replicate the lab without my help (this was days after that lesson). He refused.

I was eventually asked to resign or be fired for a year and a half of poor and declining teaching. I tried to appeal through my local “union” (actually an association with bargaining power since I’m in as right-to-work state). While prepping for the appeal process, I asked how many appeals had ever been successful once the “intent-to-terminate” process was started and/or sent to the school board. The answer: NONE! I resigned.

You get older, they want you gone. You get sick too long, they want you gone. You try fighting the system, they definitely want you gone.


True. You get sick and these assholes try everything they can to get rid of you, even if they wind up breaking the law.


I was in the same situation with a principal that was the highest paid in the district with the least knowledge of what the students needed. This principal claimed that she could turn the school around and still claims she did on her bio. Mostly, she made thing worse.

In the end, the school was repurposed and the staff was moved or given a nonrenewal notice. I was not able to find a contract for three years. Some staff members retired and others left teaching. The principal was quietly forced out of the district.

The students have since moved to the high school which is also doing poorly. Many of them have quit school or struggling just to pass.

Every time I think about my ex-students I become so angry with the people who have created their situation! So many people judged me and them. Constant judging and blaming with NO help from the so called administration.

I care so much about my students and it hurts me to think about what has happened to them.

The principal is losing no sleep. She is still earning $140,000 a year for poor performance.

So is my last and least principal still making an obscene salary when she should have fired for her screw-up with me. She is on her fourth position in five calendar years. I wonder if Martinez will finally do what Paul Dugan should have done years ago since her current school is now just a "two-star" school according to the district's bogus "rating" system.


This thread brings back memories that hurt just as bad today as they did 3 years ago when this 3 year special ed teacher was thrown under the bus for the assistant principal and a student’s GAL. The offense was “failure to report”. They took me out on administrative leave, but were unable to substantiate the allegation. The HR lady was angry at me because I got a little snarky with her after 1 hour plus of 3 on 1 bullying. She kept saying she had a letter of complaint by social services. No letter was ever found and they non renewed me “for cause”. This seems to be perfectly OK in Colorado. I was now forbidden to work for Denver Public Schools ever again. The non renew has prevented me from getting a job 3 years latter. The 2 years I worked for DPS I received a glowing performance review and all my students were progressing. I was replaced by a Teach for America candidate in my cognitive special ed classroom. He was just back from Iraq and had never spent a minute in the classroom other than as a student. They were paying him something like $25,0000/year. I am still brokenhearted 3 years latter. Most of my student’s parents are still in touch with me.

All this happened because I made the HR lady mad and she decided to take me down. The Vice Principal jumped on board. This was because she was afraid of the HR lady and was covering her butt because she is the one who failed to report. The GAL also failed to report (Auntie was selling pot). There was no evidence other that a student with an IQ of 40 and was a known pathological liar.

I think another reason this happened was in 2010 there was a big who ha about eliminating tenure for teachers here in Denver. The Union here is useless. You can decide if you want to join and those that don’t are still getting the benefits w/o the cost. I am pretty sure there are not really any benefits as I believe the union is snuggled up pretty close to the district. This scenario is also true for hundreds of teachers across the district that year. As you can see, I am still deeply impacted by this as I thought I had found my joy:) I have never been so happy and motivated as I was as a special ed teacher in “The Hood”. I left an extremely lucrative career in telecommunications designing data networks, for a job where I am required to do hours of professional development on topics that just don’t apply to the SPED population. This was on top of the 22 IEP’s I had to collect data for and design an individual plan for each student along with a meeting. Last but not least on the priority list was teaching every subject to 22 cognitively low teenagers. Oh well I am still very sad about what I lost. I was so disappointed in the public school system. I would start my own school if I had the dough.

After 14 years, I was forced to retire early due to a principal (and administration) or be fired for charges such as allowing a student, who was not suppose to be in my class, get me a cup of coffee 7 years ago; putting my grades in late (before computer grade books) a day late; etc. In 09 I received my MA with a 4.0 GPA and received a Star Teacher award for the second time. In 2010, my primary class was eliminated without any discussion by any principal. Then without any warning I was put on a PIP. Mid year of ’11, before contracts were out, I was called in with my two principals and a letter ending with I didn’t take my job seriously was put in my file. My response letter, addressing each allegation, ended with any teacher that stays 10 hours a day takes her job seriously. The building principal just replied things had better improve or the next step would be taken. The end of the year showed improvement so I signed my contract.First day of ’12, I was ordered to report to administration with no explanation and was given my 30 day warning letter from the new HR (who we hired from an unaccredited district) and was told this was the first step at releasing a tenure teacher. The charges, including the above, were addressed one by one by my union reps at scheduled after school meetings. None of their comments were included in the principal’s minutes.

Surprised observations came 2 or 3 times a week, with negative reviews (and nothing regarding what I was teaching). The only “scheduled” observation was rescheduled for later that day, when the HR could unexpectedly stroll in, visit with the students while I was lecturing, and after the building principal and students left, strolled up to me and asked how I thought it went. When I told her I thought pretty well, she proceeded to tell me she didn’t understand anything I said, students weren’t listening (even though some answered my questions) and that “. . . we just don’t want you here.” That took place the day after my union reps submitted a letter to them from my doctor stating that they were affecting my health and all I wanted to do was teach.

With 157 accrued sick days, I was advised by a union lawyer that no company was required to give you EARNED sick leave once they’ve determined to “relieve” you. In order to receive leave under FMLA, I had to sign a “settlement” with an intent to retire, and agree not to sue them. Once I signed that, the HR said I would be on sick leave through the end of the year and I could then apply for Medicare. I had to tell her I wasn’t that old.

My union rep told me afterwards, not to take it personally, they were doing it everywhere. Enjoy my retirement. I was replaced with a part time teacher.

Over the past summer the building principal mistakenly sent out to the entire high school (obviously meant for administration) the high school teacher evaluations by ranking with (misspelled) comments such as “lazy”, “too old to observe, retiring soon”, “doesn’t know what he’s doing”, etc. The new “hit list” puts older, tenured teachers on the bottom of the list.

Even with a vote of 65% of no confidence by the teachers, he is still there.

If he is still there next year, I’m withdrawing my life time NEA membership.

To all those that have and WILL experience this, my advise is–don’t take it personally.

Pretty hard not to when you are the target for removal.

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