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Teachers: The Story Behind A Very Public Resignation

image from a0.twimg.comLast week, middle school teacher Kris (@klnielsen74) Nielsen resigned from the Union City public school system in a very public way, posting a long list of complaints that has so far garnered more than 500 responses and 150,000 views on Diane Ravitch's website. 

No doubt, Nielsen's missive has hit a nerve, and reform critics like Ravitch have seized on the opportunity to use Nielsen's anguished missive as an illustration of concerns about standardized testing and good teachers being forced out of teaching, etc. (Not that there's any real evidence of an exodus from the profession before or since Nielsen's announcement.) 

But the story isn't just about a frustrated teacher quitting.  As Craig Jerald pointed out on Twitter, the story is also about seniority-based layoffs, which Nielsen experienced in his previous teaching job. A two-year teacher, he was laid off along with 30 or so others, and a frustrating job search followed. 

And, Nielsen's decision turns out not to have been one based on lengthy experience with the Union City system.  The district confirms that he submitted his resignation to them, effective immediately.  Nielsen had been with the district only since the beginning of the school year.  Perhaps he was just experiencing a particularly harsh version of "Shocktober," the traditional month of disappointment and frustration that many teachers experience during many if not most school years.  Here's his website, where he continues to write.

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Yes!!! Check out his blog and his goals, starting with:

1) Opting Out of State Tests

If he plans to campaign against seniority, I missed that. As much as I respect Jerald, his twitter seems to typical of reformers who only see what they want to see. And, if reformers had been collaborative in tackling the flaws of the seniority system, it would have been easy to mend not end that system. Seniority is our First Amendment, and as such, reformers should stand with us to preserve it, as we tackle job #1, the destructive use of high-stakes tests.

Perhaps "Shocktober" should be debunked, since I am so much further-thinking" than that. :)

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