A Future Worth Fighting For

My goal for my blog has always been to put out positive thoughts, ideas and experiences I have had as an educator. I focus on the positive and move beyond the negativity. However, there are somethings I can’t move beyond. My mind has been rolling over my thoughts, letting them fester for the past 5 days and it seems the only way to move on is to voice my outrage and support my colleague, my friend.

One of my best friends  has been working towards earning his teaching license tirelessly for the past 2.5 to 3 years. He has run into hurdle after hurdle. From having a program he was enrolled in cut, to finding out the program he enrolled in as an alternative would not actually lead to him receiving his preliminary license. Through these hurdles, among many smaller I’m sure he did not share with me, he has remained positive, dedicated, enthusiastic, and passionate in his desire to help make the education and lives of his students better.

He had figured out a plan, had flexed and went out on every limb, so that he could be working with students, taking classes, working a second job, and student teaching this spring. All in the hopes of that his hard work would soon pay off receiving his teaching endorsement in time to apply for jobs for next school year.

Last Friday he was given the option to resign from his position as a para-educator or be fired. His principal told him that he was not ‘contractually obligated’ to provide a reason. These were his choices.

Via online messages and status updates I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what at the time. I was already going to Boston to visit him and other friends and found out from a third-party about the situation later Friday night.

When I saw my friend Saturday I could tell he was crushed. It was more than just losing a job. It shattered his dream, a house of cards he had worked so hard to build, all tumbling down. Just sitting with him, having him talk through what happened, I could physically feel the horrible feeling weighing down inside him building within my own stomach.

The only idea he had about any cause for the cut was that his supervising special educator had complained previously about lack of communication, but he was under the impression they had talked and come to common ground. *Note the two people working under this supervisor last year were also let go at the end of last school year. (Maybe a leadership issue…)

I have known this guy for 7 years. The entire portion of my life when I’ve had a well-developed frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in judgement and good decision-making. Trust me, my life has only been better from the second I made the judgement to stick around this guy. Since his decision to become an educator having conversations with him about the students we work with, our passion, and our goals has becoming a common conversation every time we are together. Providing another thread that has strengthened our friendship. I would vouch for my friend in a second and know that all of his actions in the classroom are based on improving student learning.

I do not know all of the details. I do not work in his school. Still the idea that such a smart, passionate and hard-working individual could be put through what he has experience outrages me. In a field that is filled with aging professionals, on the verge of retirement when 401Ks rebound, many of whom are willing to change with the times, but some that are not so willing, how can we treat young professionals like this.

We need to foster a professional field that helps an individual succeed. A baseball team wouldn’t cut one of the best players in their farm league without due process and a good reason. So, why in education would we cut someone who is on the verge of moving from being a para to a licensed teacher, especially without a reasons. How can that person learn from a mistake, if there was one, if he doesn’t know what it is. To me it seems like bullshit (apologies) school politics that he was at the wrong end of. Maybe there is not legitimate reason, maybe his hard work makes someone  higher on the food chain look bad and they don’t like it. So, administration hides behind the contract, to soothe the squeaky wheel and making my friend the collateral.

I can’t help. I can’t change a thing. I wish I could, he deserves better. All I can say is buddy, get back on your horse and clear this hurdle and your time will come, it’s not our way of life to give up without a fight.


3 responses

  1. I am truly sorry to hear about this. Education drives out too many talented people within the first 5 years. The reasons are not always clear or legitimate, but losing talented educational leaders is a hole that the United States needs to fix.

  2. You know what? This man is a soldier. I have faith in him that he will become a revered teacher someday. The way this is written got me so emotional, but I couldn’t cry because I was stuffing myself. Personally, I wish that teachers had more respect. I mean, they’re creating the new generation! What they do is priceless! The part where you mention the lack of general agreement over disposing of a teacher just kills me. It’s just not right that the institution that promotes “fairness” doesn’t actually follow it’s beliefs. I’m sure that he changed the lives of many students and again, that he will succeed. He just cannot be brought down without a fight, not after all that he has been though.

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