Archive for the ‘Susan Wilcox’ Tag

Teachers Speak Out, Some Resign Over Common Core   7 comments

Photo: Is this true for you?

Jeremiah ChaffeeGerald ContiKris NielsenStephen RoundPaul Horton. Susan WilcoxAnonymous Utah Teachers.  Anonymous California Teacher. Paul BogushDavid Cox.  Chasidy White.  Pat Austin. Stephanie Sawyer. Renee Braddy. Warriors. Heroes. Freedom Fighters. Teachers.

Common Core is a tragedy.  Wake up, America.  Listen to these teachers.

Some teach now; some have retired over Common Core.  Each has spoken out and each needs to be heard. Today I want to highlight Gerald Conti, whose resignation letter was just published in the Washington Post.

It’s heartbreaking.

Gerald Conti’s Letter:

“Data driven education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core…

Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill…

…The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle…  our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students …

This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale.

The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?

… My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.

Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven…

I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

Read the rest.

Teacher Susan Wilcox – Part II: It Feels Like Communism   1 comment

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingCommon Core: It Feels Like Communism

By Utah Teacher Susan Wilcox

It doesn’t feel like the happy neighborhood schools we used to have. Principals are trained to put off parents and just stand firm on what the districts dictate. Parents have become afraid to speak, too, because they are singled out.

I came clean with a few parents at parent teacher conference and tried hard to express my discontent in a friendly way, not making the district look too harsh, but they are.

They ask teachers out of formality to make it look like they respect us, then go ahead with their own agenda.

I am glad to share – I had a lot of emotional, upset moments in the publics schools over this and held SO MUCH INSIDE. Everyone is afraid – it feels like communism, really.

Parents need to be reading and speaking up. They need to be going to EACH school board in hoards, and protesting this but there has been NO discussion amongst parents at all, no voting, as you said in the website, and we have just been told as teachers what to teach and how to teach it. That is not what any of us want for our public schools! I can only speak from experience, but at least you know you are getting one teacher’s story.

Susan Wilcox

A Teacher Talks: Susan Wilcox on Common Core   6 comments

Our Job Is Not To Indoctrinate

By Utah Teacher Susan Wilcox

We are being duped.

My trust of our district people led me to just go along with many things that I was not aware would be so controlling.  At the end of the year, while we were cleaning out things and had little time to talk, they called us together to ask if they could spend the money on SRA courses that were excellent (in their opinion) – brought NO SAMPLES, and we agreed.

— In one short moment, we had changed from our own lesson plans to nationally written materials.

When we got them during the summer, there was no training yet for using them; they were piled on our shelves and one district person said to just pick them up and get going; the other said wait for training.  (I’m not sure they even knew what they were doing.)

After being trained, I was excited at first with how well these were put together.  Then I noticed the green agenda in there and political stuff that could be controversial, and just thought I was being “old fogie” in my thinking.

There were sideline comments about extinction of certain animals.  It was the SRA Reading Mastery program, and the 2nd year we switched to another program by the same company.

It was more directly teaching reading skills.  It didn’t have a lot of writing in it, but what it had I liked.

The problem is – I was between a rock and a hard place; we, as teachers, were directly responsible for their IEP goals, and these programs did NOT serve the IEP goals for each of my students.  In my own training and part of my OWN resolve to help Special Education students, I determined to copy and read NIGHTLY their goals when preparing lessons.  I don’t know WHAT could be more important (since parents sign this document and it is a legal paper of what this child NEEDS..) than following the individual needs of a student.  I never felt there was any place or time to express these things within the district.  They just plowed forward training us.

It was kind of exciting that a course would be followed when students transferred in the district, so they would have the same course going on.  There were other selling points, but in the end there is no better course for a student than the inspired lessons of a loving eacher, who lives with that child for hours every day – even more hours than their parents see and work with them.

It is a sacred trust to me, and I was NOT happy to have that taken away.  It is the reason good people choose to be teachers.  We realize that PEOPLE are our most important resource, and we want to mold and train them to have the skills they need.

Our job is not to indoctrinate in ANY way.  That is a parent’s privilege and borders on religion.

I felt SO outcast in the schools.  Everyone is just worried about keeping their jobs and talk REALLY softly when expressing their feelings, when what they FEEL is what they should be loudly acclaiming.


Teachers have to express in private because they are afraid of losing their jobs.  I will no longer hold back, because I don’t have and don’t WANT a job in the public sector again.  I held out to help my husband get retired and pay off debt so we could free ourselves.  I hope to be of value to the WONDERFUL teachers in our schools, who need our help.

Since I taught resource, I only listened in the faculty room to teachers who were very upset, but stayed calm to keep their jobs.   They need those of us who are in a good situation to help to do exactly that.

I don’t like our unions because, at least in Utah, they have done nothing to help our teachers.  They can’t speak up because the unions have no power to save their jobs and side with the district in defending them.

But I wish the district could record faculty room talk…they would find out that most of the teachers feel pressured, blamed for everything that goes wrong with parents, and end up being the beating stick in education, when we are actually the only ones saving those students between what they need and what is coming to them.

I was told to read a script to my resource students – SRA Reading course, and it did not serve the IEP’s of my students.

I did a much better job designing lessons for EACH student as I prayed over my stewardship as a teacher.  I greatly resented being told my methods were not research-based, and therefore not acceptable.

I researched the files of my students, and I don’t know what better research a teacher could do but read the entire written history of each student, and follow through with a lesson plan for what they needed.

The direct instruction was very nicely designed.  It was easy and saved time for all the ridiculous paperwork in Special Education.  But I only taught half day and did paperwork the rest.  I wanted to be more effective to my students.

Since music is being cut, my chances were better at business at home.  I always did better at home – I got up to $6000 in grants to run a children’s orchestra over a period of 25 years from outside sources, but always felt like “WHY do I have to do this OUTSIDE the schools?” – They were my dream classes in orchestra.

The district held me back.  I am not happy though that only kids who could pay a community school fee got my expertise.  The schools should unleash teachers and their talents and stop all the accountability nonsense.  They can use those programs on teachers who have not done well and evaluate them…to help them.  These programs stops teachers from planning – and wearies their day.  It takes their attention away from planning and doing a good job. I am very against the focus on teachers as though THEY were the problem.

I home schooled, half-and-half, with my own children.  They were too smart for the wasted time in the public school.

This doesn’t feel like the America I once knew. The time to speak up strongly has come for me.  I am not holding back.  I read a lot and study the issues, but I know the feelings I have I can always trust in the situations I encounter.  I go by those…they don’t fail me.

By Susan Wilcox

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The author of this wordpress site thanks Susan Wilcox for sharing her story.

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