Fired, Gone, Locked Out

Four beloved teachers were fired two months ago. It happened after graduation and the  last day of school. Kids didn’t say goodbye, they said… see you next year.

The following week when the teachers got to school, they were locked out of their email, given two hours to pack up 5-6 years of worth of work and leave the building.We are a very small school. The decision sent ripples of horror among our close-knit community. It didn’t make any sense. Apparently it did to the school board.

No apologies, No we should have handled it better – although one or two had mentioned it to a parent. A callous dismissal. A request to leave. No recognition of their tremendous contribution to the school nor references given, no care for the struggles these women face today – paying a mortgage, issues with medical, finding employment and claiming unemployment. The teachers with the exception of one, were in their late fifties and early sixties. The school board – I know many on the board – maintains they had their reasons. Of course they do. I listened with the utmost patience to what they said. The reasoning made no sense. I also heard what the teachers said. They know a lot. It does not add up. I have no more patience.

When blog friend Colleen – Chatter Blog  wrote a post sometime ago about showing your ugly, I realized how much of that “ugly” I (finally) saw in the small school community I firmly believe fostered in my children a real love of learning. They understood the need for service, it was a place that recognized their individuality and who they will become as they take their place in the world. At this school they learn respect for the environment, for their teachers, each other and become confident, graceful believers in their ability to navigate a somewhat challenging future. Each teacher had a hand in that development, along with the values I work to instill in my children. Teachers are everything to our community. Do they make mistakes? are they sometimes unpopular with parents? Yes. If we refuse to acknowledge their dedication and genuine love for the children, how do we nurture that love of learning?

Change is difficult, but the expectation that this change was for the better wasn’t the justification most of us were looking for. The ugliness of human nature was what confounded me the most. I know we all have that potential. However, when a school is founded based on the beliefs of compassion, kindness and generosity and it’s core values no longer play an important role, there is nowhere to go, but away.

I wanted to go away.

However,

There is but a tiny sliver of hope that lies in the faith we have placed in some greatly loved teachers.

I choose to believe in my child and her need to go back in spite of losing her teacher, she has shown some marvelous resilience. Well, it also helps that she adores her new teacher. With fingers crossed, we watch, day by day, month by month. Hope is all we have.

 

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18 thoughts on “Fired, Gone, Locked Out

  1. I work for the Duluth Public Schools.
    The union is VERY Strong.
    If they are firing teachers, they must have a damn good reason.
    Enlighten me when you know.

    xx

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    • These teachers weren’t part of a union Kim. I wish they were. They signed an at-will employment contract, hoping to retire at the school. Part of the Board’s reasoning was financial, some of it was credentialing. The teachers have much experience and some even the credentialing required, while others were working on it. The teachers seem to believe it was personal.
      so sad
      xx

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      • It is Kim, some of us have been spending time with one or two of the teachers, talking it over, taking walks. One is not interested- too hurt. The other is. And there are parents helping them. My heart is just heavy but we try to go on as best as we can.
        So many of the parents have forgotten or are new and want to move on. They don’t have the same attachment we have ( we’ve been at the school since it first opened its doors)
        xx

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  2. This sounds heartbreaking, MM. I feel bad for the teachers. Of course, the first question that comes to mind is, “why?” And couldn’t there have been a more humane way to do the deed? Weren’t they at least deserving of that? Makes me very sad and I can only imagine how you must feel. Sending you a big hug, my friend.

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    • It is so heartbreaking Monica. I’ve asked myself a thousand times why there was no compassion. The teachers told us they were treated like criminals.
      The school has given many different reasons for why they were let go, the teachers say it isn’t so and even if it was a financial decision then the most recent hires could’ve been let go. They weren’t. They deserved much more than being let go this way.
      One of the teachers really struggled at first and discovered a cancerous growth right after this happened – it just about made me sick. She lost health insurance and couldn’t get Cobra because the paper work was delayed and of course you need to have money.
      It was so difficult to watch. We could only be supportive ..
      Hugging you right back my friend

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  3. I am appalled at this. As a former teacher, a parent and as a student.
    If it was a huge school district it would be one thing but for it to have happened in a small community it unforgivable.
    IF,There were VALID REASONS letting them go, it would be hard enough. They should have handled it better, Smoother.
    The children at that school deserved to say goodbye. Same for the teachers who had given their lives to teaching them.
    Some many wrongs.
    Prayers. Hugs.

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    • Sarah, so many of us feel the same way. It is such a small community. They definitely should have handled it better. I can’t tell you how sad some of those kids were. The teachers are still in touch with many of the kids, it’s nice that some of us got to say our goodbyes privately.
      hugs

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  4. 😦 My husband worked by contract and ‘at will’. I believe that many of these kinds of actions do come down to finances and “politics”. Which makes it all the ‘uglier’. Instead of valuing good works and loyalties, companies (and schools) go with get less for less. I hope the students have other wonderful teachers still there. (Thanks for the shout out!)

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    • Colleen, you hit the nail on the head. It was all about finances and politics. Although some of us know, it was a bit personal too. ‘Ugly’ is the perfect word for it. Remember your post. It resonated so deeply with me because I was holding this. Teachers give up a lot when they dedicate their lives to their vocation. My girls have had such special teachers, I think it has been such a blessing. I’m in the classroom volunteering whenever I can.

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  5. Ugh, as soon as you wrote “unpopular with parents” I felt a little sick/sad. The main reason I never wanted to teach below college level is parents. Parents are so ridiculously important, but they also need to realize that teachers went to school to learn how to be teachers. They spend a year following around another teacher for practice. Although some parents are incredibly smart themselves, quite a few are just mad and think only of their own kid. K through 12 environments are some of the most complicated and stressful places on the planet, of this I am convinced.

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  6. MM, this makes no sense at all.Sure every organization is facing financial difficulty , but the inhumane way it was done was what i cannot get over.( we are used to this is corporate but in a small close knit community?) I only hope these great educators can move on to a place they are appreciated more. Well now you know the true colors of the Administration and how ugly humans can treat each other.

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