Suzi Sluyter has spent more than two decades in classrooms teaching young children. But earlier this year, she sent a letter complaining that her job had become too much about testing and data, and not about the kids, so she was quitting her position as a kindergarten teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When I read her resignation letter, I invited Suzi onto my America Weekend show to explain what had gone wrong and when things took a turn for the worse. She explained the new systems that were constantly being introduced which forced more assessments of the children, but also took her away from the classroom so much that they no longer bonded to her -- and that led to increasingly extreme behaviors by some of her students as a result of the pressure from all that data-gathering.
I asked Suzi whether this was a result of No Child Left Behind, whether the pressure was coming from parents, administrators, or politicians, and whether -- in her long career -- she'd ever had trouble assessing students' progress and needs before all this additional testing.
I have spoken to other teachers who have told me similar stories. Like Suzi, they feel their passion for teaching slipping away, and they're angry, too. When a system is so overloaded with paperwork and training sessions that teachers don't get to actually teach, the result will be that more of our best educators will leave the field. And a new generation may not be there to replace them.