High school teacher Josh Waldron made the tough decision to leave public education "for good" after six years. But he did not walk away quietly.
Instead, he wrote about his reasons for departure in an impassioned blog on his website, which was also posted on Newsleader.com, with heartfelt pleas for changes.
Waldron worked with teens at Waynesboro High School in Virginia in what he described as "one of the most meaningful jobs anyone can sign up for" but ultimately became disillusioned by a system "so deeply flawed that students suffer and good teachers leave (or become jaded)."
The Advanced Placement U.S. history teacher was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2014 by the Waynesboro Rotary Club.
His first year of teaching coincided with the Great Recession, which meant budget cuts, frozen teacher salaries and slashed spending. He says economic woes followed for the next five years.
"Over this time, I've lost my optimism and question a mission I once felt wholly committed to," wrote Waldron, who also worked two other jobs.
Waldron feels that to improve the public education system, five major areas must be addressed, including the need for simpler metrics, future planning measures, fair compensation, community investment and less emphasis on standardized testing.
"For six years in a row, we've cut, cut, cut. And for six years in a row, students and teachers have paid the biggest price," Waldron said.
He asks schools to stop focusing on what he calls our "obsession with flawed assessments," adding that Standards of Learning tests are inherently unfair and burden teachers and students.
Perhaps the most personal element is his detailed account of his financial struggles during his teaching career. "I'm not the only educator who manages extra work to make ends meet," he said. He and his wife bought a fixer-upper house, rarely ate out, had one car and never took vacation to make his job work.
"A love for students and teaching drove me for the past six years. Now I'm watching my own kids grow up and am starting to think more and more about my own family."
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