"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teachers Tired of Being Bullied to Death

We're not going to take it!

Recently, in Chicagoland, a story hit the papers about a teacher committing suicide. She wrote in her suicide note that the major reason for this drastic act was work-related. According to her colleagues, this woman took her own life because of the bullying and fear she experienced at her school.

As I discussed this event with a friend who is a current CPS teacher, he mentioned that in the comments section of the article many non-educators were shocked and horrified at this tragic happening but were also quick to assume that the woman must have been "soft" or had some kind of underlying mental health problem. But, he quipped, when many CPS teachers heard about the incident, they just shook their heads and said, "Yeah, I can see that happening."

Truth is, so could I. When I think back to my measly one year of teaching at a horribly-run CPS elementary school, I can very easily imagine that scenario unfolding with a number of my colleagues and yes, even with myself.

Did you all catch that? Suicide is not considered shocking in the realm of teaching in CPS.

And I don't think the general public understands the toll that years of working in an increasinlgly horrible environment coupled with the latest wave of teacher-bashing actually takes on the people who do the hard work of education.

Let me try and paint you a picture:

Imagine you've had one of the worst weeks of your life. You haven't slept in months, you have money troubles building, your relationships are failing, you feel unheard and unappreciated at home and at work, you worry daily about your future and whether or not you will have a job next year or even next week, and the idea of getting up to go to work the next day is practically unbearable. You need a moment to catch your breath, a moment to clear the clutter of worry, failure and fear from your clouded mind. But you don't get it. There is too much to get done. And all the while, you think, if I don't get it done, I am failing these kids. I have no choice but to keep pushing.

Now add onto that a vindictive, power-hungry boss who would fire you as soon as look at you, and colleagues at work who are themselves so tired, afraid and overwhelmed that they are one bad day from breakdown.

And then there are your students. God you love them. But some of them have problems you simply do not know how to fix. Or, even with the interventions you know to do through experience and training, you also know it will take all of your mental energy to implement them. You don't have that kind of energy left. Some of your kids are currently homeless and show up to school unbathed and with dirty clothes. Others have developed significant behavior problems and despite your best efforts, they continue to fight, curse, and act out in class. Some of them are so embarrassed they can't read that they throw books off their desks and rip up their hand-outs. You know deep down that most of the difficulties your children face arebeyond your control. But still, most days you come home and cry because of the guilt and helplessness.

You also know that your job is on the line if you don't get these kids to perform on some silly test. You know the tests are a joke, that they do not capture the intelligence, wit, humor and spark that live within your students. But still they hang there, always lurking in the shadows. Time is slowly marching until the day you must administer the dreaded test and seal your fate.

Now imagine turning on your TV or flipping through the Tribune or Sun-Times to see yet another story loudly proclaiming that the problem with America's schools is, well, you. "More teachers must be fired!" they scream. "Teachers are the ones failing the kids, we need to hold them accountable!" "Teachers are lazy and need to work longer, harder, for less pay!" "Teacher pensions are destroying our economy!" (Whoa, did I miss the part where newspapers yelled at the people who caused the financial crisis that is slashing education budgets around the country? Are the mortgage brokers, big banks and financial industries getting demeaned every five seconds? How about the corporations not paying their fair share of taxes which help schools? And don't forget the politicians and their horrible education policies. Surely no one reading the news is believing this baloney, are they?) And every time you hear the insults or name-calling you think to yourself, "Well what the heck are any of you doing to help these kids..." The unfairness of it all burns.

Now stretch that one terrible week into nine months. Welcome to CPS.

Of course, the great irony is that as the powers that be complain about "quality" teachers they create teaching environments where it becomes impossible to be great. Teachers at my old school started to look liked the walking dead as the stress and fear accumulated. The increased "accountability" robbed us all of the very qualities which would make us great teachers: our passion, kindness, drive, energy, camaraderie and humor.

And then there are people, like our lovely mayor, who seem to enjoy kicking you while you're down. Rahm would have us believe that something like extending the school day is so easy. Oh, that smurk on his face as he seems to say "How dare you expect to be paid for your extra time!" And "Sure, you've been working this whole year close to breakdown, barely scraping by, without any resources and with abnormally large class sizes, but I'm sure you can come up with 90 extra minutes of activities for your kids. Oh, and if you really cared, you'd do this willingly and for free. And stop asking for paper to make copies or books for them to read, you greedy teachers. And no, we are not going to fix your school building, give you the resources you say you need, or help you in any way, shape, or form. You suck, your school sucks, and we are just biding our time until we can shut the whole thing down."


Now, maybe not every school and every teacher has as bad a time as that, but I know I did. And I know too many other teachers out there who are experiencing that same fear, intimidation, and stress. Teaching under these unacceptable conditions has become the rule, not the exception. I recently came across a blog post which described something called "compassion fatigue" which is "a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress." The author goes on to say:

Like nurses, teachers confronting these pathologies [such as abuse, abandonment and alienation] are forced to perform triage. But teachers still have to somehow find the time and energy afterward to teach the subject matter they were hired to do. The debilitating effects on them are cumulative. It's little wonder, therefore, that teachers in inner-city schools have a higher rate of absenteeism and turnover than their colleagues in the suburbs. It's also not at all surprising that teachers who are faced with the challenge often find themselves drawing away from their students. The same sadness and despair that nurses report also affect teachers.

Now, if you've been paying attention to the education reform debate at all in recent years, you will know that this is the place in the story where the corporate reformers of the nation, you know, the Michelle Rhees, Bill Gates, Arne Duncans, and yes, Rahm Emanuels, would jump in and say something ridiculous like "no excuses" or "poverty is not destiny." They will fill your ear with talk of "the soft bigotry of low expectations" while completely ignoring the hard bigotry of poverty, racism and crippling income inequality. Their ignorance of the reality of life for students and teachers alike in the inner cities is frankly, criminal.

No more I say.

This post is for all my teacher colleagues out there. It's time for us to fight back. It's time to take back our profession. Teachers, use your natural inclination to educate and start teaching your friends and families about the hard realities of our profession. And don't be afraid to sing our praises. What we do is good work and it needs to be protected and cherished.

And while you're at it, don't forget to teach as many people as possible about the true nature of corporate reform and how it's left behind entire neighborhoods. Let people know about the ridiculous goals of No Child Left Beind and the evils behind high-stakes testing. Tell the truth about charters, that they are not, in fact, miracles. Speak up about the reality of Teach for America -- how placing untrained novices in classrooms with the hardest to educate students is unjust and wrong. Make people start to at least question the hype!

More than anything, make the act of teacher-bashing unacceptable. We know that when we are overwhelmed, upset, fatigued, demoralized and stressed out beyond our limits, we will be no good for our students. Remember, fighting for teachers isfighting for students.

So fight for the kinds of teaching environments which benefit kids. Fight for workplaces where teachers do not flee, breakdown, or God forbid take their own lives. Fight for a steady and strong group of committed professionals who actually stick around long enough to bring the slow change that is needed in our schools. Fight for the respect we deserve. Fight for the autonomy to make decisions on curriculum, implementation, and assessment that help the kids sitting in front of us. Fight for equity in resources so we have the tools to acutally do the difficult job of teaching. Fight for the mental health that we need to be the excellent educators kids deserve.

By fighting, we can beat back some of the hopelessness and exhaustion. We need to stop blaming ourselves, alone and guilty, and instead get angry at the forces that are hurting us and the important work we do. And all you non-educators out there need to get angry right alongside us. So sing along with me:

Katie Osgood is a special education teacher at a Psychiatric Hospital in Chicago. Before that, she taught in a Chicago Public School and in Japan.


  1. John Thorson8:54 PM

    My name is John Thorson. I am the father of Mary Thorson. She is the teacher who took her life because of bullying. The notes that were left in her car are six pages long. Five of those pages were about the way the superintendent and administrators were conducting business in district 169. Why did she take her life? Mary did it to bring these practices to the public. It is very clear in her letter why she did what she did. She thought that taking her life would finally bring attention to what is going on in the schools. A documentary is being done on my daughter that shows how serious this issue is, and how so many teachers are being abused by other educators. I like your video, “We’re not going to take it anymore.” I hope this is true and that all of you teachers stand up and demand to be heard. This is what my daughter wanted. This is what she sacrificed her life for.

    1. Anonymous11:26 PM

      I am so sorry for your loss! I taught for 19 years the last three schools I was in - I was bullied by principals and other teachers. This article is dead on right. I know how your daughter felt. If I had not remarried this year and the wonderful man I married saw what was happening to me and let me stop, I could have ended up like your daughter. There is no feeling like it -complete and utter helplessness. I wish there was some way to expose these principals. I went to the superintendent in my district and told him what was going on - his response - go back and throw yourself at his feet. There was no one to turn to. I stumbled on this - googling for "help". This shouldn't be allowed to happen.

    2. Anonymous11:27 PM

      John, Thank you for getting this out in the public. I have only been teaching for about 6 years now, and have been getting suicidal thoughts ever since due to the horrific abuse I have gone through at the hands of administrators, and others. I cannot quit because I have a family that needs me to work. This is a taboo subject, but Mary gave her life to get it out into the open. Let's not forget what she has been through and what she is still trying to do-Stop the abuse of power that these adminstrators think they are entitled to subject us teachers to. I need your help, and many more do, too.

    3. Anonymous5:57 PM

      Hello John,
      My name is Lisa and my husband is currently out on stress related disability for being bullied for the last 4+ years. He is currently on meds and sees a doctor or therapist 5 times a month. He has been the victim of inappropriate behavior by students who falsely accused him because they would have gotten in trouble for various things they were not to be doing at school ie talking on a cell phone etc. He was also named in a local online news site because a counsel who disliked him took the student's side and was school the school district because she said they did not do enough to punish him and she was discriminated by the admin, even though there was no merit to the student's claims. The police even appeared at his school to question him. He has tried and tried to get help from the school admin, the union, and others. He currently has been diagnosed with post traumatic syndrome by several doctors. He has filed a disability claim with his insurance and has been denied twice. He has a love for teaching that has been extinguished, it is very sad. Since he supports me is wife and five kids, the decision to not return to teaching has been very very hard for him. I pray for you and your family. In my heart I hope Mary's situation brings this problem to light

    4. Anonymous12:43 AM

      My heart breaks for your loss. I know the stress. Thankfully, my students are the positive in an increasingly punitive career.

    5. I'm reading this 8 years later. Did this story get any traction among the general public? Has anything changed?

  2. Anonymous8:01 PM

    That's why I am reconsidering my major as a teacher, teachers are so degraded, unappreciated, under paid, over worked, pension being cut, these people don't understand the value of teachers. It's very sad but I agree fight back, because a close mouth, is not heard!!!!!!!!! I believe, my coworker/teachers
    Will total agree with this article. It discourage people who want to become a teacher,smh, so sad.

    1. Anonymous11:28 PM

      Don't do it. It would be a big mistake - take it from me I did it for 18 years. Everything you wrote is correct.

    2. Anonymous10:21 AM

      My condolences to this woman's family. I pray her soul gets the rest she desired. I pray for all teachers. I know the mental stress she was under and it is unbearable. She was not alone. Teachers need a support group. I hope this documentary gets produced and gets some recognition so that we can change the national conversation and treatment of teachers. In the meantime, we need to warn anyone even considering this as a career: It will ruin your life. Not worth it! There are other ways to help and serve kids.

    3. Teaching is a big mistake!!! No matter how much you love your students or how wonderful your skills in education are, teachers are beaten down by their administration and a crushing workload. There is NO fighting back against a bad principal - they are all powerful and will say anything to make a teacher look bad if they want to. The more you "open your mouth" the faster they will fire you.

    4. Anonymous11:47 PM

      I've been bullied by my school head for 5-6 years. He used me as a tool to impress his bosses - showing them that he "bought into" their new policies. He doesn't like me due to my political stances, and the fact that I do not shy away from pushing back when he does things improper - Ex.: we have a policy against being political in school, but he open supports candidates in school, and he makes public statements against those he does not like. This is only one of many. I am being forced to resign involuntarily due to patently false allegations with completely reasonable explanations. I actually enforce the rules, and I get disciplined for doing so.
      I would reconsider a career as a teacher. We are now subject to "guilty" until proven innocent, and all that comes with it.

  3. Please view the following links in regard to the tragic story of Illinois teacher, Mary Eve Thorson. Thank you.



  4. Check out my eight minute preview to my documentary:
    Waiting for Superman: A Teacher Talks Back


  5. Anonymous9:07 PM

    I an an educational counselor in Colorado. I came to education as a second career. In my previous, 17-year, profession in IT/Telecom, I was a writer, editor, program manager, software tester, change manager, quality facilitator, and training developer. I learned a lot about leadership. But now, doing work I love and trying to help kids, I have days when I truly feel suicidal. All the anti-depressants in the world can't help you if you go to school everyday to be bullied by your administration. The direct bullying is bad enough, but in a culture of fear, everyone's behavior is compormised. Distrust, lack of teamwork, and even sabotage of co-workers are pervasive in my school. Societal and political pressures are difficult to face, yes, but these pale in comparison to the damage that can be done by a poor administration. Why are our kids falling behind in the U.S.? Maybe it's because the limited supply of teacher energy is being sucked away, as teachers try to fight for their spirit and sanity. I'm sorry, Mary Eve. The ones who should have appreciated you the most are the ones who failed you.

  6. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I am a teacher in California. It's not just the hoops we have to jump through at warp speed but also the teenagers that are not held accountable at home because parents want the teachers to raise their children. Thus, a concerned call home about behavior has the parent blaming the teacher! What is going on with blaming the teacher? Our parents have a teacher bashing facebook page! Students bullying teachers is another stress in a long day of trying to make a difference. With 15 more years before retirement I am burnt out, teaching is not what it used to be before over crowding and cuts.

  7. Anonymous3:30 PM

    I was bullied my 3 year of teaching in California, I was an intern, coming into permanent status at the end of that year. My administrator took a dislike to me, I suspect she might have been told to get rid interns as it was a big year of budget cuts. Intern teachers in California have NO legal recourse and can be fired at will for no reason given. She convinced the resource specialist I had to go but i was doing the job so I had to be set up. I was giving the districts worst kids,, my support staff pulled out, no consistent subs and a set up situation for bad evaluations. I was harassed, had spies put in my class. everything I did was reported back to her with lies and distortions. I believe it was an attempt to get me to quit but when I didn't I ws nonrelected which basically ends my teaching career. The nonrelect caused me to be dropped in the last semester of a 3 year teaching credential program in which i had been successful up to that year. The stress caused health issues and two years later I am unable to work more then two days straight mentally as a sub para and am looking at a career change. It took me a year and a move to another state for me toeven consider stepping back in a classroom.This administrator targeted people she didn't like and made life hell for them, I was lucky I had enough years in to take retirement and get unemployment. I can very well see why this young girl ended it. I considered it at times myself.

    1. Anonymous12:05 AM

      Absolutely - I had spies put in my room, evaluations given to me were poor and made up after ten years of excellent evaluations. Lies told on me. The day my cell phone was stolen by a kid that had just gotten out of reform school, and it was recovered by administration from him, they called me in and questioned me because when it was conviscated from him there was a porn site on it and they accused me of having it there before he took it- ridiculous. I was put on a plan of action - tool to fire you. Where lesson plans have to be turned in a week ahead of time and scrutinized beyond any hope of success. Basically- they set you up for failure. Bottom line for me the fat chick that had taught there for years and whose scores were good didn't like me - because I was cuter and thinner than she and therefore I didn't stand a chance. I got non- renewed - no test scores in yet to criticize- lies in evaluations- etc. Horrible experience.

  8. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I just read this and cried. I am being bullied at my school. I have been here for fifteen years and I feel as though I am held hostage in my classroom every day. The students run this school and they know it. The administration provides absolutely no support and accepts any student or parent gripe as fact. She proceeded with an "investigation" behind my back and pulled students out to interview them. The students inevitably tell me what was asked, but say they are asked leading questions and are told not to tell me. I am unfairly targeted. I was instructed that I can not ever show a film, but other teachers can and do. I am told that I cannot use the restroom without permission, but other teachers can and so. If anyone in our epartment is unhappy at a meeting, I am told that it is because my presence makes them feel bad. However, these colleagues say that is not the case. Another teacher is moving away and the principal told me that she is leaving because I am hard to deal with. None of this is true, but she is friends with the head of human resources for the district and he comes to my school to sit with her whenever she "disciplines" me. She does not follow contract procedure and fails to tell me of the "Investigation" or of any complaint. She does the entire thing before I even know there is a problem. I am very seriously considering leaving the profession after all this time. I dont know how to start over. My health is deteriorating, I have panic attacks daily in the parking lot before work. I am not sleeping and my unstable job outlook has contibuted to the failure of my marriage. I am afraid of other teachers. I hide in my room and dont even come out for lunch. I dont attend any staff events and I am just plain tired. I am not suicidal, but I have been diagnosed with a passive death wish. This is just crazy. I have another meeting with the principal tomorrow and I cant stop crying. My union is only of minimal help. This is sad.

    1. Anonymous11:18 AM

      actually i have begun to think that it can and will only get worse for me around parental bullying. but i found a way to stop the principal from falling in with them out of her need to survive in the culture. that would be that i went above her head to the supervisor of personnel and mentioned the many meetings with her over complaints from parents and students who have taken a dislike of me. it had been quite awhile since having to meet with the principal but a child told the principal and her family that i shoved her, which i did not do. kids saw me touch her, which i did but without anger. the students all were out to foil my lesson that day scuffling chairs comments and questions, many interruptions. anyway while being interviewed by the police over this incident the principal offered some support. mentioning that the complaints were over my standards at times and she said no one can criticize me for having them. . . also, she agreed that the 5th and 6th grade students were on a mission to get me to quit or run me out of my job. At least the sixth graders will go onto middle school where i am told half of the teachers are quitting over disciplinary problems there. okay that said i want to continue my thought or solution . . .the principal was supportive this time even beginning to speak out in a supportive way during the interview. Her supervisor had 8 years experience as a principal so added to her 1 1/2 years he must have turned her thinking and backed her in an effort to help me out. . . personally i believe there was bullying starting in the classroom with the teacher there. . . no one seems to want to be accountable. before my sending copies of emails to the supervisor of human resources i had met with him asking and adhering to ten minutes of his time. he told me how an 8th grade student spit in his face and how angry that made him. i believe at this point i am being supported. today would be the day the student's class who had the police report filed on me and i chose to take the morning off telling the secretary i'd be in at noon. afternoon classes are okay although bigger brothers and sisters and parents are telling their young children to watch out for me and not to hang around after class. it's my first year.

      going over the principal's head did the trick as of this day.
      listening to myself in self care and opting to take half a day off, good choice why do i have to put up with abuse.
      it is wearing.

      my mentor says that i need to hang in there that these kids some of them have been given up on by so many adults that i should not. this is asking a lot of a stranger, even though yes i am seeing these kids 420 of them 2 times weekly for 40 minutes. i care i really do but it is taking up a major part of my life and I prefer time off so i am not awake all night as often is the case trying to work on the issues.

  9. Anonymous5:18 AM

    This bullying is world wide then, I find it hard to believe that in every country it is allowed to carry on. Currently off sick with 'stress' for the first time in twenty years after six years of constant bullying.
    My heart goes out to the family of Mary Thorson, no life should be sacrificed in this way, says the mother of four who wrote her suicide note just last week and counted out the pills.
    I have been a successful teacher for a long time, my face doesn't fit, so rather than just ask me to leave, they produce lies and allegations to destroy my career.
    We can stop this, but it would take a world wide strike!

  10. Anonymous2:38 AM

    I am a teacher in Beverly Hills, CA. While poverty is not a problem in this area, teachers are always bullied by those well off parents. They think they have money and so they are entitled to have anything they want. If you do not give their children the grade they want or you do not pick their children to be in a certain sport teams or God forbid they did not get chosen to be in a choir because they cannot sing or perform well in an audition, the parents will write you nasty email and accuse you of not caring for their children. Then they will threaten you to take the matter to the school board and get you fired. Principals are scared of these parents and they never support the teachers. We were constantly forced to go with whatever these parents say and if we try to do the right thing as educators, HR will issue you a directive and accuse you of being insubordinate. While it is always challenging to teach in inner city schools, it is not all rosy in the suburban school neither.

  11. Anonymous11:05 PM

    I am a teacher in Atlanta, Ga and have been successful for the past 14 years at my present school. Prior to Atlanta I taught in NC for 5 years. I have always worked long hours, bought supplies, and come up with creative ideas. My evaluations have always been excellent. Fast forward to this year. I have been falsely accused, lied to, and have had no support. It started when I was moved to a grade level that I never requested. Although I was disappointed I decided to look at the change as a fresh start. My new principal and assistant principal (who I had always liked until the past 2 years)called me in office and I was blindsided by accusations. When I wanted to tell my side of the situation I was denied the right. They belittled me and even said comments about a medical condition which causes slurring. As most people can attest when you are being attacked and not heard, you try to restrain yourself from saying something you may regret. They wrote the fact that I said, "I mean" and "you know" as proof that I cannot hold a thought or idea. On the flip side they wrote I have wonderful lesson plans and strong lessons. What? They had to give me a revised plan because of a mistake they had made about parent comments about me. I think they said something and I asked if they had proof. They said "yes" and I said "I hope so." You have parents that love you, or not. I have always been a very requested teacher. But there are some parents that want to blame anyone if their child does not get an easy A. When another collegue said that she overheard them laughing about me because I buy so many resources that was the final straw. If you care about the young girls starting out encourage them to go into another field.

    1. Anonymous11:24 AM

      Don't you get it? They want you to retire? You're being overpaid!

    2. Anonymous9:25 PM

      I had 7 years in sarasota fl with great evals. Then an admin who just hated me. Got poor evals, investigation looking for anything, the union was useless, then just when I started calling national labor relations board about the union, the admin was transferred to a different school. Things were better after. Now this year 17 years, I'm being poo on again. This time transferring troubled students out of other classes & into mine. Nine in one month. I told my admin but "balancing numbers"? Well dear, I do get it. I just wish I could work to full retirement. It's true. They're forcing me out by making my life hell. I work 6 am to 8 pm & I'm always behind on paperwork. Document this kid, did you call parents? Pay for it yourself because when you filled out the grant app you had 87 students but now you have 113 because admin transferred . . .I get it ��

  12. Anonymous11:42 PM

    So ... SAD!!!!!!! This garbage has to STOP!!!!!! ALL TEACHERS need to pull together and start informing parents and school board members about the TRUTH!!! That the teachers are working their butts off for the sake of kids and doing what's right without the resources and support and respect they need and deserve to be successful!!!! Educrats, politicians, millionnaires, and abusive bully administrators who are making a ton of money just pretending they know how to teach and bullying teachers are destroying our educational system and pushing our excellent and devoted PROFESSIONAL and experienced teachers right out of the field and discouraging any potentially good candidate teachers OUT of TEACHING!!!! Maybe we should put more money and attention to our educational system and what teachers really need rather than all the money and attention that our ATHLETES make!!!! AND WE NEED TO ASK THE EXPERTS.... THE TEACHERS FOR UNPUT about HOW TO REFORM OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM!!!! ESPECIALLY elementary education where the teachers work the hardest, teach the most subjects, have the least amount of respect, resources, and plan time and these are the teachers who deserve the most money, respect and support!!!!!!

    1. Anonymous12:09 PM

      Teachers will not band together because they are too busy bullying one another. Why? Out of fear. If bullying is allowed, and it often is, they are afraid that they will be NEXT. They do not support one another, they live for themselves, so that they will be protected, and so that they can make it to work every day to do this difficult job. While someone else is suffering, they are only relieved that it is not them, and they often join in.

  13. Anonymous11:12 PM

    I have been a teacher for 35+ years in high schools and colleges in Kansas and now at a middle school in Texas. I have seen many changes in education and the dreams people have created for their future of our kids. All of them call for accountability of students and teachers. I have not known many teachers that do this job for the money--it has never been a money-making proposition and we knew that going into the profession. But these kids are our future. We have a vested interest in them. So why are we being lambasted for an education system that is being "reformed" by people that are not even associated with it? Parents are demanding more rights for their kids and their educational opportunities but are unwilling to be part of the solution to the problems we face on a daily basis. They want their child identified in some way so they can get "extra assistance" for their child when all they really need to do is be a parent. Teachers have earned degrees, attended workshops, received training, and have mentored one another to improve their skills and become more effective in the classroom--all without receiving additional compensation. Is that what happens to other professionals--doctors, lawyers, etc. that are able to set their own rates? We would like to go home to greet family and friends only to realize that we have meetings that run till late, have lesson plans to write, grade the papers from the day, and still try to have some personal time with family and friends. I would like to call for accountability of our parents, the public,and the government to step up and do their part for our kids. Testing them to death is not the answer--it only shows how good we are at teaching to a test that someone made for students throughout the U.S. without taking into account all of the differences we as teachers see every day. It is like telling people that you all will wear the same size shoe--it doesn't matter how big your feet are. Just make them fit.

  14. Anonymous9:47 PM

    I agree with this article completely. I taught fin 10 years and in various schools and states. I have been bullied by administrators and parents. It was this reason that I left teaching. I loved teaching and being with the students, but after constantly being beaten down and belittled my spirit and motivation was completely depleted. My mentor gave me the advise when I ever woke up and regretted going to work it was time to get out. That moment came when my administrator refused to help deal with a disruptive student in another teachers class and said it was my problem to solve.

  15. Anonymous6:49 AM

    Oh the stories I could tell! - If only I had the time and inclination (and memory - so many stories, it's hard to remember them all) I can so identify with this article and all the comments. My story is similar to the others'. I learned very early in my teaching career that administrators don't care how good a teacher you are - or - how bad a teacher you are. All that matters is if they like you or if they don't like you; can they harass you enough to make your life hell! During my 17 years of teaching, I had 3 wonderful administrators, several who were relatively harmless and incompetent, but many who were downright evil - especially the last one! Education has big problems and things are going to get much worse before (if ever) they get better!

  16. Oh the stories I could tell! Think about this…why is almost every educator's tale on this page signed by Anonymous? Has anyone thought of that? I was bullied, belittled, and I should add, an excellent teacher. I quit. The only thing I miss is my class. Aside from my father's death, it was the saddest day in my life.
    Jennifer Madrid Stop! being scared! Believe it or not, teachers are humans, too!

  17. Oh the stories I could tell! Has anyone noticed something? Almost every educator has signed Anonymous. Why? I was bullied. I was treated terribly. Once I let it be known I was a human with empathy and ideas, trouble was coming for me. I quit. Nothing will ever, ever change. It is written all over this page in one word-Anonymous. Too bad, I loved my students and can honestly say I was a great teacher. Jennifer Madrid
    Jennifer Madrid

  18. Anonymous1:08 AM

    I hope that every state will adopt the Healthy Workplace Bill. The teachers unions need to get on board and support it. I am so sorry to hear about teacher suicides that never should have happened. Please get help if you are being bullied. Read Rosalynn Schnall's book, "When Teachers Talk," and know that you are not alone!

  19. Anonymous9:03 PM

    I too have been mistreated for years by the administration at my school. But, all teachers who are not part of the butt-kissing elite are also targeted for abuse by the answer-to-none administration. The things that occur at Grangerland Intermediate, the worst school in Conroe ISD, is shocking and often illegal. Grades are routinely fixed for report cards, SDC teachers of emotionally disturbed and violent students are told not to call the admin for help, special ed students often don't get their accommodations except on paper, and kids at a 2nd or 3rd grade level are expected to pass their 5th-6th grade courses with flying colors - or teachers are punished. Staff turnover is 20-30% yearly, but the superintendent never looks into it. Teachers at Grangerland receive ZERO support from any of the administration in a school with a 70% poverty rate and teachers are set up to fail. Sadly the "leaders" never face any repercussions because Dr. Stockton and company don't do anything because there are always new teachers they can hire who don't know they are walking into Satan's lair.

    1. Anonymous2:01 PM

      Don't know who you are but I too work at Grangerland and have witness the most shocking behavior by school administrators in my teaching career at this school. If parents knew half of when on the school would be under investigation, weapons brought to school and hidden by the administrators, sexual abuse by students, fixed grades, zero discipline. Due to the high teacher turn over it is clear that the higher ups in CISD don't care as you said. Nobody should ever work at this nightmare school, led by horrible passion-squelching administrators.

  20. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Thank you for this article and all your posts. I don't feel as alone now. I have been teaching in the inner city for sixteen years. It has been too much. The bullying has also been too much. I haven't decided if I am going back for my 17th year. I am. 44 and hate to start all over, but I can't bear what I have to face if I return. I have been threatened by parents physically and a counselor! What is wrong with people? I just wanted to teach! I really didn't know what I was getting into. I don't advise young people or anyone to go into the profession. It isn't normal. I have to give so much time, pay for supplies, deal with bullying and feel guilty that I didn't do a good enough job. It is too much.

  21. Anonymous11:21 AM

    America's priorities are misplaced which is evident in the fact that a "stripper's" annual income can far exceed a teacher's, police officer's, fireman... You get the point. They're not interested in truly educating children in this country. I've got a Master's degree, 28 years of teaching experience and can't get a job any where in the country doing any thing. I've submitted so many resumes and applications in the past year that I'm suffering with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These corporate recruiters fail to look at a person's overall work history and assess soft skills that are transferable to the job being applied for. Hell, I taught your damned kids for thirty years! Clearly, I'm not an idiot.

  22. Anonymous12:00 AM

    This is my last year as a teacher. It has been a poor fit and I am finally well enough to enter the job market. There was a long time when I was so accustomed to an endless cycle of prep work and focusing on proving myself to keep my teaching position by avoiding a possible bad review, I was a walking dead person. By that time, I had wanted to leave the field but was very easily discouraged from a rejection or a question from an interviewer that I viewed as brusque.

    I have sought and received help. It is worth the time and money because my mind is clear and I am giving my notice in Tuesday.

    So, this is it. I start cleaning my home office, applying for other jobs and temping.

    There is another side to all of this regardless of what you decided to do with your career. You can find help.

    Besides, you can always apply your teaching to many things in the work force and still feel like a teacher.

  23. Look up Clint Smith's Ted Talk Silence. Why do we have anonymous teachers and educators? We will never get our small start on educating the public if we don't speak up. You are your own person. Your ideas count. Let your concerns be known as by you. Share your stories. Please share real suggestions without bitterness as well. Look up Larry Kramer. He never hid who he was during a very hard time for gay men-the AIDS crisis. He had a big mouth. He didn't hide. He was hated. He got things started. Please be proud of your name and views. Nobody owns you.

  24. We have to hise. Our superintendent is extremely vindictive. He threatens teachers, parents and students, trouble is he gets away with it, using the school counsel like a weapon. None of the teachers are allowed to help one child for instance, bullied almost to death. Not by students, by the administration! We know him as a child with some disability. We heard he was diagnosed with a disorder, nothing else. Word went around there was to be no contact, the boy was on Homebound. Next we heard there was legal problems so we asked.

    Mom said they're up to 10K in legal fees, who knows what the school spent. Her son gave the school the medical diagnosis, clearances, 3 medical opinions, the school threw them out and went for truancy. Our student attempted suicide. He's out of the hospital we hear. The school threw that out too. Mom says they are still bullying this sick kid. We can't do a thing. There's another big meeting we're not to know of, the mother said the administration is tryig to ' undiagnosed ' their son. Her words. Their specialist must attend this meeting where they are begging for a limited school day and tutoring or cyber.

    Bullied to death, there are teachers and students. No one knows what to do. The parents have been bullied into a corner with threats, their son a wreck, teachers frozen out. In Pennsylvania we've given all the power to non-professionals without drawing rein. Result is despots. They need another lawyer specifically to sue these people. We don't know how to contact them to tell them their Civil Rights are trampled.

    Nice family, great kid.

  25. Hello John, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for wanting to make a difference in the lives of those that somehow manage to survive the ordeal of being bullied by administration and teachers. My most recent episode of being bullied actually happened the third day into the new school year. I was so excited to begin the year. I had so many good ideas and was proud to have achieved the ranking of a highly effective teacher. I worked hard for it and was truly rejuvinated. I have been teaching for more than 30 years and loved my job until today! I have always deflected the attacks by teacher bullies,but when teacher bullies and a principal bully become partners then a deadly combination develops. I was told that I wasn't allowed to speak out of turn while the teacher bully monopolized a meeting with misinformation. EvertimeI tried to interject by saying,"but" to add clarity to situation for the other teachers oresent, I was stopped dead in my tracks by my principal who told me it wasn't my turn to speak
    My heart began to pound so hard I thought I was having either a heart attack or stroke. A teacher last year actually had a stroke after being bullied by this same principal. In any case, after the meeting was adjourned I was asked to stay. My administrator told m e that I was "not listening" to the teacher 's inaccurate information, and that my interruptions were rude and bordering on insubordination,and I had a tendency to throw other meetings off by my interjection of information. Meanwhile the bully teacher is truly rude and disrespectful and is embraced by the administrator for it! Needless to say I am heartbroken discouraged,and dissapointed at the disrespect I was shown and I know this will continue no matter what I do. I have choices however, the choices should be mine not imposed imposed upon me by someone that wants to abuse his power.Perhaps he wants a younger teacher,so added to bullying is discrimination. There are many good teachers both young and old that are victims of bullies. Administrators that side with teacher bullies to attack other teachers are flying under the radar without any accountability. This topic must not be overlooked or understimated. It takes lives and livelihoods. It strips a teacher of their dignity,credibility,and happiness. It is emotionally and physically damaging. Thank you for shedding light on a subject that is still in the closet! Peace and Joy to you and your family.

  26. I believe that if thirty million plus people have watched Sir Ken Robinson's Ted Talk about creativity and nothing has changed, what is it going to do it? I have my own tutoring business, and I'm booked. I think that is sad. I am so over trying to understand the bullying that happened to me. I always say, "Having to find out I had cancer was easier than the bullying I put up with." I'm moving to Finland.

  27. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Bullying by a principal where I work is a daily routine. This administrator decides she doesn't like someone male or female and badgers until they transfer or resign. She even forces teachers to privately tutor her son after school and get paid nothing for it. I have seen her yell and scream in the halls at other teachers in front of students and parents and apparently that's ok. Some teachers hire a lawyer, some resign, and some transfer but the principal stays in place and continues to do the same thing.

  28. Anonymous9:02 PM

    I am a Teacher Assistant-Paraeducator that feels she is being bullied by the some Sped teachers and the school administrators and some paras. I have more to be responsibility for the Sped students more than other TA's and getting paid less even though I am not the last one hired. There is one TA in particular takes off for stupid stuff and gets permission to be off more than any other TA. She mostly asks for Fridays or Mondays off she is friends with the administrators and most of the special students parents( even though it was told to us that we could not talk to sped parents she does).I have another TA that always get to take breaks and her lunch half and hour off I don't think it is fair. I tell my lead teacher but nothing is being done about it. I makes life hard when we should all be working as a team. I cringe going to work they accuse me of things and never let me tell my full story.

  29. Anonymous2:13 PM

    This article is spot on about what it is like to teach these days. I have been teaching for over 15 years with outstanding evaluations. However, this year my principal is suddenly giving me developing ratings. Why? Why is this happening? I truly believe that the "business model" of churn and burn is fully taking place in the education profession. Veteran teachers are "too costly" and are thus being bullied out of the job.

  30. I am a school nurse in Pennsylvania and have met the same fate as many teachers. After 15 years, I am suddenly being targeted and am trying not to let it affect my health. It's difficult to say the least. I am being targeted for being vocal about safety issues and health office staffing concerns. Parents have no idea what is going on. I intend to push back as long as I am able. Fortunately, I am planning to retire soon and don't have much to lose. The union is ineffective. I am seriously considering taking legal action against the school district. Yes, it is that bad. Bullying by administrators is systematic and pervasive. Bullying by parents is commonplace. School employees need to stand up for themselves in order to foster change. I would never, ever encourage a young person to go into an education profession!

  31. Anonymous3:53 AM

    I would put my own name to this, but I am starting the grievance procedure and I do not wish to jeopardize it. My classroom was interrupted by an assistant principal who scolded me for my lack of timeliness in not buying expensive classroom equipment with my own funds. This person also mandated that I come in during the summer with no compensation and also called an administrative meeting during the summer with only 2 hours notice ( I refused). This person also blew up my cellphone with texts rather that use the school email- again outside of the contract year. I had to block this person from my phone when it got out out of control. I believe this is in retaliation for my calling attention to gross violations of student safety the year prior. Wish me luck guys! I've documented everything but if you feel like your Union is slow or not returning calls, you have to keep calling. All the time. Have documentation and keep notes, right? The good news- I'm well liked by parents and students. The night staff always has my back ( I work pretty late and they are great friends to me). Hoping for a solution and trying to stay positive. Whenever I get overwhelmed by it all, I try to focus on the kids- even if a poor achiever can get a better attitude then that's a success I try to take home and keep my perspective. So that's how I'm coping. Thank you for giving me a place to get this off my chest. It's been a veeeery hard year!

  32. Here's a good question. My cancer is in remission, and that is great. The problem is that I quit my teaching job out of pure frustration. I feel like a thrown out piece of worthlessness as far as ever teaching again goes. Am I still a teacher if I can't get a job? I will never take a class again. I am a reading specialist, and I would like to work around four hours. Then I wonder-Do I really want to be on a campus at all? I don't think a school would even take me because I quit in a storm of fury. In my town, I have burned bridges for sticking to my guns.
    Jennifer Madrid

  33. FOUR years later and this is still going on. I understand Mary's feelings and her ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, this barely causes society to pause. It does; however, cause other educators to pause as many of us are Mary and struggling with all the same issues. Workplace bullying should be an illegal offense. I'm so sorry for your loss. She was an angel. xx

  34. Anonymous4:14 PM

    I too have been harassed and bullied by administration. I was an excellent special education teacher for over 15 years. I became sick with a neurological issue but still had doctor come in to the school to say how important it was for me to keep working and to try some mild accommodations. At home I had two young children, a failing marriage( due to my health), and a neighbor who was stalking me. That year they made it so difficult for me, yelling at me, profanity, accusing me of video taping lessons, and writing poor evaluations( even though a witness was in the classroom during lessons to say they were excellent). I was finally pushed into leaving. I still have anexity over all this today and it still hurts badly that I had to leave since I am not a quitter...I loved the kids and teaching.
    Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I really thought I was the only one.

  35. Anonymous9:38 PM

    I was also bullied at Grangerland Intermediate in Conroe ISD. After I filed a grievance against the administration for mistreatment and requested to be moved to any other campus in CISD, I was fired for poor job performance despite stellar PDAS reports and zero write ups. HR did nothing to assist me as has been the case for many of my colleagues that have had to endure the brutal treatment of the administration. The worst was that I was being sexually harassed by the 6th grade assistant principal! She has a long reputation for "coming on to" teachers. I never knew if it was true until I became targeted. I talked to the principal several times about her sexual comments and staring at my breasts, but she ignored the situation.

  36. Anonymous9:38 PM

    I was also bullied at Grangerland Intermediate in Conroe ISD. But even worse was that I was sexually harassed by the 6th grade assistant principal! She had a long reputation for "coming on to" teachers. I never knew if it was true until I became targeted. I talked to the principal several times about her sexual comments to me (behind closed doors) and staring at my breasts, but the principal ignored the situation. I'm sure the fact that they have been friends since childhood didn't help. When I told HR about it they said they would look into the matter. Nothing was ever done however.

  37. Anonymous11:46 PM

    I am a single mother..and was assigned to this new school...he is a first year principal. I have worked in great schools. He is a horrible human. He puts massive amounts of "extra" work on me..including co-teaching 3 EC classes...I've never had any inclusion classes..and our max is supposed to be 2. He knew what he was doing. I work in a minority school. I saw that the few white students were lost-major absentee issues..and I told him..he exploded. "Do you want to resign today?" Ever since that day-it's been so hard. I developed a heart condition due to the stress. I continue to apply to positions outside the school. Our turnover has been astronomical. Of the 6 teachers on my hall..3 left. They are done. Gone. And the district does..nothing. The school is bleeding teachers. He is ruthless. How does a single parent just get up and go...when you have 2 precious boys to take care of? Well...moving forward, my contract has not been renewed. And as of June 7..I won't be employed by the system. But you know..it has given me back my power. Institutional Bullying is what it is called..and when I meet with Central Office next week, they will hear all of it. I honestly feel like I could sue the system with evidence I have...I'm gathering recommendation letters from co-workers; former principals; former students; from the schools I've been at in our county (they don't know he has taken such drastic measures to "get rid of me"...he bullied the social studies teacher on our team to resign at Christmas) to !. Get a new job (NOT in education). 2. Make sure these go in my file 3. Pursue litigation if I need to.. But if I DO..what happens? What do I sue for..and will my future anywhere be affected? That's the only thing that hold me back..and what would my children's classmates say to them? Those are two huge factors. Otherwise, it would be full on.

  38. My condolence to Mary's family. I am a. Teacher and have been bullied for the last 5 years with bad evils. In my experience ,when you are targeted by one principal it goes viral and no matter where in the district you teach ;the karma is known by the administration. I have battled for years and I have a patiala. Pension. This will help me pay my homeowners taxes to fuel the tyrant school district to bully more Teachers. I will try and find another job because I hold a BA in Sociology. I am not saying jobs are easy or that I will find an utopian job. I came in to the Teaching profession because I followed my hart and it was good but Teachers are now evaluated on an impossible rubric that gives the power to administrators to welcome you or destroy you on any given criteria. After so many bad evaluations you. Are placed on a CAP corrective Action Plan which basically labels you an F' up and further more it is impossible to win a CAP because it is too meticulous to win,thus you end up failing anyway. I am a person who knows some wisdom because of my age. I say ride the wave , do your best, and if You fail don't sweat it, because it is your life and you lose anyway. Keep smiling ride that ugly wave!