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Florida teacher’s ‘deeply personal’ resignation letter goes viral

There’s been more than a little talk about our education system lately; parents and teachers alike are frustrated over the test-focused curriculum they’re asked to put kids through. Former Polk County Florida teacher Wendy Bradshaw is finished with the system and isn’t shy about why.

Bradshaw, who has both a master’s and doctorate degree in education, is fed up with the way we teach our children, and when it came time for her to quit, she didn’t mince any words in why she was leaving the field she loves. She shared her resignation letter on a public Facebook post, and now it’s spreading like wildfire:

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Her clearly heartfelt letter is long but worth the read. It covers a lot of what parents are frustrated about with the education system as a whole, particularly the aspect of testing, which Bradshaw says flies in the face of everything educators know to be appropriate about teaching kids.

Bradshaw begins by talking about how much she loves the field of education, and to be sure, you really must love a job that is so overtaxing and underappreciated (not to mention underpaid) as teaching to put yourself through what could potentially take a decade or more of education to do it. But in the end, there’s one thing that is keeping her from continuing in the classroom, and it would break any parent’s heart:

I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard.

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Some kids are great at tests. Some even thrive in that environment. But the majority of children, particularly at the age Bradshaw is referring to — kindergarten through second grade — don’t and shouldn’t be expected to. It isn’t developmentally appropriate and in essence sets children up to fail. At that age, school serves a different purpose. It’s for learning the ropes, for making friends and for play-driven learning, not for getting familiar with scan-tron machines and learning how to manage test-induced stress.

Any parent with a child of testing age knows exactly where she’s coming from. With so much money tied up in how kids perform on arbitrary tests, there is way too much pressure on kids to perform at an age where they aren’t equipped to manage the havoc that pressure can wreak on their little brains and bodies.

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Indeed, it was the birth of her own child that spurred her to action. In what might be the most poignant part of her letter, Bradshaw talks about the birth of her daughter: 

On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer in good conscience be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.

We ask a lot of our teachers. We want them highly trained. We want them to do what’s best for our kids. We want them to implement the best teaching practices and differentiate them to our children’s needs. So why won’t we let them?

Florida lost a good teacher in Wendy Bradshaw. It shouldn’t take the loss of skilled individuals for our schools and government to take notice, but if it does, and if they do, maybe some changes for the better will finally be made.

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Image: Getty Images

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