Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today I QUIT!

Less than six months ago, I packed a bag and headed to Houston, TX. New job, new school, new rollout. I was high on the “new car smell” ecstatic to join an obviously forward thinking school/organization. They had been awarded a Race to the Top District Grant and were using the funds to go 1:1 for 6th - 12th grade. Wow! What an opportunity! There was a device to decide upon, thousands of miles of travel, endless hours of PD, families who would finally have technology in their home. Suddenly, bam! The iron fist came down. The bright, exciting tomorrow suddenly turned cold and grey. So it IS true…. all that glitters isn’t gold. 

Below is my resignation letter.


Dear Colleagues, friends, and others,

As I walk out the door today, I feel you all are owed an explanation for my sudden departure.

Today, I quit my job. I turn my back on the 25,000 families and endless community members this school touches. I walk out, deserting thousands of new colleagues and friends. I simply can’t do it anymore.

I will not participate in the perversion of educational goals that were so promising. The awarded Race to the Top Grant recognized that “through creative and innovative uses of technology… students will publicly share their work… ensuring an authentic and meaningful context for deep student learning”. This is a complete and total impossibility when the devices are not permitted during regular class hours. One of the reasons listed for this restriction is that the devices don’t fit into the curriculum or the scope and sequence. That is counter-intuitive to an organization that claims in the grant to “emphasize 21st century skills that students will need”. Why would a curriculum be in place that could not use any number of tools available? If the curriculum is truly “inquiry-based and student-centered”, then how does the introduction of a tool negate that? Technology is another tool to be utilized in the classroom by professional teachers. Why restrict it?

I will not be associated with an organization that refuses to trust educators or believe in students. The grant plainly states that “Teachers wanted to use technology to scaffold support for each student… They wanted more technology in the classroom.” This was delivered in the 1:1 device initiative. Over the summer I had the incredible opportunity to meet many of the passionate teachers who come to work here everyday and I found teachers who were excited at the new medium of instruction and creation that was coming to their classrooms. Many work ten hours a day or more and go home and work some more. They give up summers, weekends, and sleep to ensure the success of their students. The message they receive in return is that they cannot be trusted with the internet or their own professional judgement. They’ve been told that they haven’t received “training” to be able to use the devices in their classrooms. Lessons and ideas they had created with apps and collaboration are now forbidden. The apps taken away; the collaboration pieces of the devices now blocked. According to the grant, “Students wanted access to technology in the classroom and beyond schools hours and wanted technology as an enabler to make the topics they are learning in the classroom relevant to them”. This too has been stripped from the students. They bring a device to every class they are not allowed to use. They take home a device that is so restricted with a proxy, they can’t even access basic news. Their excitement and joy? Now extinguished.

I will not work for an organization knowing that they believe control and restrictions trump learning and opportunity. As more and more teachers, students, and parents have contacted me about the restrictions on the devices I took a deep look at them. The proxy file in use blocks everything from the words “girl” and “doctor” to Facebook and YouTube. Students may not access Doctors Without Borders, Girl Start, or education Facebook pages or educational YouTube clips. It’s an Orwellian rule hiding behind CIPA. I encourage you all to read the article Dispelling Myths About Blocked Websites in Schools. CIPA doesn’t encourage or promote these restrictions.

I will not condone this.
Today I quit.

27 comments:

  1. Kristy-
    This story broke my heart when you shared it with me a couple of weeks ago. You are such a bright and innovative educator. I knew you would not stay in your current position for long. I don't understand how a district with so much promise could mess things up like this. I cannot imagine that parents are happy about this. Just remember that things happen for a reason. There is a school somewhere that is looking for you.

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    1. Thanks Beth. All day I have been repeating season, reason, lifetime. I know I made the right decision but my heart still breaks for those left behind.

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  2. Unfortunately the day you did PD in El Paso I knew the ending to your story. You showed too much faith in the promise of a 1-1 changing an entrenched paradigm. I was in Floydada TX when they launched theirs and was on the ground floor of the train wreck that followed. Since I am now at Harmony obviously I wasn't able to survive that situation either. But it was a wake up call and I realized that I couldn't change idiotic attitudes with logic. Take a deep breath and good luck to you.

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    1. My optimism allows me to keep going and fighting. It disappoints me that fear and ignorance win.... At least for now.

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  3. I felt this in the pit of my stomach in every word. I admire your bravery. You are such a champion of students, teachers and learning. Your next venture won't be without hiccups, I'm sure. However it won't be THIS. I can't wait to experience the next chapter with you! Onward, my dear! Onward.

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  4. Wow! What courage and grit to stand up for what you know in your gut is right for not only kids and their families, but also true-educational opportunities as a whole. Good luck to you in your venture forward. I know we will see amazing ideas and innovations. I can't wait! Godspeed.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Certainly my journey will continue.

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  5. Wow. I'm so sorry to you're in this position, but so proud you took a stand. Hopefully, this will help give them the message they need. In any case, your talent and dedication will be of great value to another district. As Rafranz said, it won't be perfect, but I can't (don't want to) imagine anything of this magnitude again. I have no doubt you'll do well, kid. No doubt.

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    1. Thanks Adina!
      There is a big meeting today (that had already been scheduled) and I really hope that it is brought to the table at least to start a dialogue. I may never know what effect (if any) this has on that organization but I really hope and pray it is a positive one.

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  6. Your presentation at the Area 7 conference this summer out singling out the audio and video as separate pieces is still one of the best PD sessions I have ever been a part of. I'm sorry this happened but any district will be blessed to have you. Best of luck.

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    1. Thank you! Rafranz was the first person outside of my district to see that presentation and she loves it. I think I may even submit it to ISTE. Thank you so much for your kind words. That you remember it all this time later really means a lot!

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  7. I am sorry this happened to you, I met you at the DENSI 2013 institute and I was amazed at your ideas. I appreciate you being able to post this though and share your experiences with others and still seem so positive about the battle ahead. Best of luck with your future goals!

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    1. Thank you! I had actually been really fighting to keep DE at that district. They failed to see the value in it either :( I'm all about sharing and sometimes it is the ugly with the good.

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  8. Wow! So courageous! Our district is rolling out 1:2 ipads 7-12 this month and what you have described is what I fear will happen there too. I am losing all hope that they will ever make it to elementary. When the superintendent holds up.a mini ipad during convocation and announces that "this is a money-saving device that will replace textbooks", you gotta wonder if anyone in power really gets it.

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    1. If there is even an inkling that someone gets it, keep fighting. When it crosses the line beyond moral/ethical/logical/legal... it's a hard decision to make. As an education community we are further now than we were five years ago.

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  9. I admire your bravery to take such a bold stance. I was really hoping that by the time I read to the bottom of your post that you would say, "October Fool's Day!". I have read too many posts like this in the past couple of days. It saddens me greatly. Too many fabulous educators are going this route. Is this the true future of education? Your (recently) current district's loss will be another district's gain. Good luck to you!

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    1. Thank you. I have to wonder if we are reading more about it because more are sharing it or if it really happening more. Either way, I think this is happening too often. I call it the ostrich effect. Seems like some administration believes if they stick their head in the sand, time will stand still.

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  10. Kristy, I am so so so sorry. What a nightmare! Prayers for you, friend! Hang in there...

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    1. Thanks Sandy! Miss your smiling face. Hope to see you soon.

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  11. Kristy, I admire your courage and bravery. Imagine the difference in the world if everyone did one brave thing each day. What a great example you are to others. It is important to align our actions with our beliefs. Best of luck to you.

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    1. Thank you. I wish that this "act of bravery" wasn't the result of something that adversely affects so many kids :-(

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  12. All the power to you! Hopefully as these organizations lose the good educators and see what a loss it is to them..they will change their ways. Just remember you are not alone in your struggle!

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    1. The amount of support I have received has been amazing and humbling. It is sad that I'm not alone. We will continue. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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  13. Kristy,
    I know it had to take a lot of courage to do what you did. I admire you for your beliefs and standards, not settling to compromise those. I guess I may be in the minority in letting my teachers use any device available (cell phones, iPads , etc.) and allow them to "go out on a limb " with their use of tech.
    Hang in there, ther will be a district that is fortunate to see what you have to offer. You are in my prayers.
    Hal

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  14. Two of my three children attend Harmony Science Academy in Austin, TX. I can't help but wonder if you're talking about the Harmony system after the roll out of the kids' new Chromebooks. My husband has nearly 20 years in IT, much of it working with internet security, and the methods used to "protect" our kids from the internet at Harmony are exactly what you describe in letter. My daughter, who attends Harmony, actually emailed me a link to your blog with the subject line "For the love of God". My husband and I are keenly disliked by the authorities that be at the kids' school, because we simply won't sit back and be quiet. However, I am regularly reassured by the teachers, the "troops on the ground" as my mother (also a teacher) calls them. Many people here have recognized your bravery, which is remarkable in this day and age, but more than that I see you as continuing to teach with your actions, and for that I am truly grateful.

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    1. I'm currently a student at a Harmony school in Austin, and have heard from teachers that this is about Harmony

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  15. And so the revolution begins......

    Someone has/had to be the Lone Nut. Proud it was you.

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