On Refusing

Please accept this letter as evidence of my refusal to accept the employment offer at East High School for the 2015-2016 school year.  I am declining for a number of personal and professional reasons and would like to be very clear about my decision to do so.

On April 27th I was invited to a meeting with XXXXX concerning my application and future position at East. XXXXX began the meeting by indicating that  I, “By all accounts,  am an exceptional teacher.”  XXXXX then very clearly expressed his or “the hiring team’s” concern over my “…like for social media”. XXXXX also stated that I “…have been publicly critical of the UR/East partnership”. When I asked for an example or if XXXXX had read any of this to further explain his concerns XXXXX told me “I haven’t read any of it, I don’t have time for that stuff.” XXXXX also explained to me that my habits wouldn’t be tolerated in other districts as well as that I should “… think long and hard before pressing send in the future”.

I have never been anything but extremely transparent about what I post on the internet. I write a blog about teaching ESL in an urban environment, manage a teacher Facebook page (where my students and parents  can look at current and past assignments as well as turn in work) and manage a personal Facebook page. I regularly contribute to multiple newspapers and educational journals.  My students manage a Facebook page called Grown in the Concrete that is a place where people can share their positive experience of urban education. I also regularly critique multiple local news reporters for weak and biased journalism as it pertains to the city and our students.

In all of this work, I have never openly criticized my school, my school’s administration or the UR/East partnership. I believe in my leadership team and also in the teachers who work here.  I believe that all of our staff work extremely hard in an education system that is in shambles. I believe in public education and that we can be instruments for social and educational change.

I also believe that the media, traditional or otherwise, is instrumental to this process. There is a reason why the false rhetoric of “bad and failing” teachers exists. In many cases, the media serves only to perpetuate this myth. Many news outlets have forgotten that their purpose isn’t solely to sell newspapers, but to hold systems accountable to the public. I believe that until we stop hiding and start inviting the public to see what happens in our classrooms, then this false rhetoric will continue.

I know that I am an exceptional teacher. My graduation and exit rate of ELL’s is exceptionally high. I have never received a negative evaluation from one of the six administrators I have worked for.  I know I’m an exceptional teacher because my students love to come to my class and I love to be there. I am saddened that this was overlooked because of my “like for social media”.  Although many of the administrators I have worked with haven’t loved everything I have to say, they have always respected me as a professional. They have respected my work, my passion, and my commitment to not only the kids in front of me, but public education as a whole.  I am disappointed that my professional work doesn’t speak as loudly to the U of R hiring team.

I wish you all of the luck in the world and hope that this venture succeeds.

Respectfully,

Kelly LaLonde

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2 thoughts on “On Refusing

  1. Pingback: On Leaving | urbanesl

  2. I would love for your administrator to respond to your letter–even orally. But he or she won’t. Most, when confronted with someone speaking truth to power, are in the final analysis cowards. This person is a coward because his/her power is only used to shut up those who dissent instead of asking why there is dissent in the first place. Good luck and, by the way, my former school is in need of a really good and talented ESL teacher.

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