Saturday, May 24, 2014

An open letter to the state of North Carolina and all the short-sighted men who run it…

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To Whom it Concerns (and you know who you are):

Search “North Carolina teachers” in your favorite search engine, and you’ll find all the information on becoming a teacher in North Carolina, which is how it should be.  But you’ll also find a plethora of information on things like the attempt to end teacher tenure (which has been overturned, thanks to a lawmaker with some sense), and the elimination of higher pay for an advanced degree.  This information shows how the state treats its teachers, which may eliminate the need for the initial information, because no one will want to become a teacher in a state that doesn’t value them.  Potential educators think “North Carolina?  No thanks.  Let’s move on to South Carolina or Virginia.”

As important as this information is, however, it’s not what gets passed around on social media.  What grabs our attention, and therefore gets shared, are the letters.  Open letters to our lawmakers and deal breakers from teachers who are leaving the state and/or the profession.  These are young people who were hoping that with their choice of career, they could make a difference.  They are being gracious enough to let everyone know why they are moving on, because they still feel that they owe something to the folks they were determined to serve.  Despite what the powers in Raleigh believe, they still care about the kids.  (You can read one here, another here, and still another here. Oh wait….someone from another state is also chiming in on the state of NC education here.)

But my letter is a little different.  I’m not young anymore.  I’m not rearing children or saving for a down payment or having to take trips to the doctor for the usual childhood ailments or injuries—though I am starting to have those “old folks’ visits.”  In other words, my expenses are not those of the young…all I really need to take care of are daily living expenses and planning for retirement, which I thought I would be taking in six years.  Six years, despite the fact that you wanted to give me a four-year contract, at which point I would be terminated in favor of a less-expensive, less-experienced teacher. (And then there was that reference to getting rid of ALL teachers after 20 years in order to unleash a bunch of middle-aged folks into the workforce, where they would promptly find themselves jobless, as well as feeling aimless, hopeless and pointless without a classroom.)

While I cannot blame one single person for leaving the profession or the state, I am here to tell you to take heart, NC lawmakers!  I bring you good news!

I’m not leaving.

No matter how much you discourage and denigrate me--no matter how difficult you make my job--no matter how little you pay me; you can find me in room 316.  You can add to your standardized test arsenal--you can continue to use pointless teacher evaluations--you can give me a dozen more meetings to attend; I am in room 316. 

While everyone else deserts this sinking ship we call public education, I’ll still be here.  You’ll recognize me by the “Hell No!  I Won’t Go!” tee shirt and my ugly old lady shoes.

In fact, you’d better hope that I meet my maker in the summer, lest you should have to drag my cold, lifeless body out of room 316.  Because I refuse to leave.
Just remember this: if you discourage North Carolina’s young folks from teaching through your thoughtlessness, who will replace me in room 316?  You might be able to ensnare a bright, enthusiastic college graduate who will start his or her career with great ideas and great energy, but after awhile he or she will become just another overworked, underpaid zombie.  Then you’ll get another open letter.

When you do, feel free to go back and read this one.  The one where I say I’m not quitting.  The one where I say you can’t force me out with ridiculous bargains.  The one where I say that I’m like Hawkeye Pierce in the final episode of M*A*S*H; I may be crazy, but I’m still here. 
You can find me in room 316.

Sincerely,
E. Kirby Carespodi, M.A.T.
Walkertown High School




17 comments:

Eclectically Vintage said...

316 is one lucky classroom - old lady shoes and all!

Art and Sand said...

Kirby, I admire you, tremendously!

Hang in there.

Marianne said...

All classrooms should be like 316 and have a Kirby. And someone who gets M*A*S*H references. HEAR HEAR!

Kolein said...

You are on my list of brave people. Thank you, dear valiant, Kirby de 316!

laura@imnotatrophywife.com said...

Room 316 !!!!! laura

Suzan Oxenreider said...

Thank goodness for teachers that are toughing it out and refusing to be beaten down by the system in North Carolina. Many years ago I read something about the starting salary of a teacher in North Carolina and I was absolutely appalled. Stay strong and, if necessary, barricade room 316!!

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

Good for you Kirby!! You go girl!! (or I mean you stay girl!)

Feral Turtle said...

I'm curious as to what old lady shoes look like! I must say room 316 is one hell of a lucky room Kirby!

karen@somewhatquirky said...

It sucks. Really sucks.Thanks for hanging in there. How is it that education matters so little?

Andrea said...

Cheers for Kirby...and the kids lucky enough to be inspired by her!

Bliss said...

Am I too old to be in your class?

Marty Walden said...

Great letter, Kirby! You're one of the public school teacher heroines!

Andi Filante said...

What Bliss said. :)

-andi

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

I hear the school board calling...and maybe the governor. Pay attention, NC!
Go, KirbyWan!

Tuula @ The Thrifty Rebel said...

Yay Kirby! The kids in 316 should count their lucky stars.

Debbie Borthwick said...

The thing that confuses me is everyone (government included!!) always talks about how important education is to get ahead in the world as an adult. How will the children get educated if that government makes it almost impossible for people to work in the field? Good for you, Kirby!!! I've told you before, I wish there were more like you. Your students are very lucky indeed. Debbie :)

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I've been scrolling through your posts (love the neighborhood tour, by the way) and this one hit home with me. I watched a documentary about teachers in England (where they value educators) and was shocked at the difference in attitude in our own country! But let me tell you, you're not alone. It happens in other professions, too. I know that for a fact, if you get my drift.

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