I feel this intense sadness as I sit here, right now, listening to the rain beat on the roof of my school. The sadness comes from many corners of my emotional life; the loss of a best friend in November, the many issues at my school that all stem from a lack of organization and care for its most vulnerable children, the process of clearing and sorting and packing and selling of my home so that we can relocate. Grief is complex, and for me, extremely so.
Yesterday I sat here, in my office, and asked myself why it is so hard to let all of this go (the job), even though I have already resigned and am content (if not happy) with that decision. A friend of mine told me it is because I care so much, and that is most likely true. I wonder if caring so much is a bad thing when one is in the midst of a perfect storm of state-sponsored destruction of public schools, high poverty, a pool of inexperienced or low quality candidates, and district-level administrators who are cut off from the issues at the campus level.
I don’t know.
As the end of this year approaches, and fast at that, I find myself again in a position where I feel I know less than I thought I knew before the year started. I always keep the faith that people truly care for children and know how to treat and interact with them. I have learned this year that that is not true. I always keep the faith that people in positions of power and influence want to exert that power and influence to better the lives of children and improve the outcomes of schools. I have learned this year that that is not true, either. Sometimes people get in those positions simply because they want to be in them, whether it be for money, title, or lack of responsibility/accountability.
Working within a system that has no true sense of accountability for employees coupled with a lack of incentive for improvement can lead to pits of complacency. This feels especially true in schools and districts that are under-resourced and have parents who are less involved. Parents often trust the schools entirely, or distrust them entirely; there is little in between. Unlike wealthier districts in which parents feel entitled to advocate for anything they feel like they or their children deserve, districts that are under-resourced do not have demanding parents hammering at the schoolhouse door; they therefore can hide many things from parents who really need to know that there is no research-based curriculum, ineffective district-level administrators in programs like special education and bilingual education, lack of effort toward building inclusive, positive campus culture, responsive education, and trauma-informed practices.
I am about to step away from public school, again. I did this once before in 2012. Here I am again in 2023: time for a break. Time for some reflection and repair of my heart space. So many times this year I have felt my heart break, for different reasons. I have felt my soul tug at me; saying, what are you doing here? I am thankful to say that I have a new opportunity at a wonderful, small, experimental, place-based school where we are moving. There is a stream through the property, a learning forest, a barn in which middle schoolers learn, and a view of the ocean.
Time to heal, to read, to write. I wish Texas schools all the best.