Florida Teacher Hits Nail On The Head

Wendy Bradshaw is a former teacher in south Florida with a five-month old daughter and a doctorate.  She recently resigned her teaching position with the Polk County school system and posted her letter of resignation on Facebook.

What then happened is related in this article from a local newspaper.  Here are parts of the story.

So she posted it to Facebook.

Nearly 50,000 people have shared her original post now, and comments are still pouring in.

Her post, which she shared online Oct. 23, went viral last weekend and provoked an outpouring of support and opinions from educators and parents around the country.

In a nutshell, Bradshaw decided to resign because she thinks children are forced to do things their developing brains are not ready for – things she thinks school systems are demanding of students in reaction to the pressure of high stakes standardized testing – and because she realized she doesn’t want her daughter to go through the public school system.

“My first reaction was: I understand her frustration and I generally agree,” said Polk Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy. “The problem is that the accountability system is smothering everybody.”

LeRoy said good teachers are leaving because of their frustrations and said she would ask teachers to bear with them as they try to push forward.

“We can’t afford to lose any more good educators,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to our public education system if we can’t recruit or retain good teachers.”

Bradshaw’s resignation letter touches on topics that apply to teachers nationally.

One issue is that elementary-aged children are being asked to learn things and think in ways that aren’t developmentally appropriate, and teachers are asked to test them in ways they aren’t ready for.

Where kindergartners once listened to their teachers read books and talked about them, they are now learning sight words and taking reading tests. They are memorizing the answers to addition and subtraction problems instead of just playing with blocks to understand quantities.

Their brains aren’t ready for some of the things they do. And Bradshaw says that with confidence because she has studied and researched early childhood development, with the degrees to prove it.

“It makes zero sense,” she said, and is not necessary. “We got to the moon and back without learning how to read in kindergarten.”

Bradshaw wants to see tests used just diagnostically, with results delivered to teachers and parents right away; she wants accountability systems to consider other factors such as socioeconomic status; and she wants policymakers to consult with and listen to child development experts.

‘I WANT PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO BE BETTER’

Bradshaw said the attention she has gotten has been overwhelming, but she is accepting it because she wants to act as a voice for people who are not being heard.

Although she has left the public school system, she wants to help it improve.

“I want public schools to be better,” she said.

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