A ‘Dear John’ letter to Florida — from 2010 state Teacher of the Year

Megan Allen (Center for Teaching Quality)
Megan Allen (Center for Teaching Quality)

Megan Allen is a veteran English teacher who was the 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher. But she left Florida with her morale extremely low because of a series of reforms that she felt were targeting teachers in ways that unfairly hurt them as well as their students.

Florida has been at the center of corporate-influenced school reform that uses standardized test scores to evaluate students, teachers, schools, etc. In a Web post, she explains her reasons for leaving the Sunshine State, where half of a teacher’s evaluation comes from student standardized test scores (called “value-added measures” or VAM).

Last year Allen testified before Congress about how high-needs students would be affected if Congress allowed budget cuts to go through that would affect education funding.  She served as a  teacherpreneur at the nonprofit Center for Teaching Quality,  teaching in a hybrid role in one of Florida’s highest-need schools while also advancing Common Core and teaching evaluation reforms that make sense for students and the teaching profession that serves them.

She is n now on the education faculty of Mount Holyoke College where she teaches a new course — Teacherpreneurs and Teacher Leadership: The Changing Role of Educators.

This is what Megan Allen wrote on the Center for Teaching Quality Web site (and below is her video):

I made this “Dear John” video last summer, before I left Florida and moved to Massachusetts. In the seven months since I’ve left the state:

  1. I’ve realized there are states and places that fund education well and have policies that support teachers, not break us down. It has been unexpectedly refreshing to get to know the education systems in New England. They are not perfect, but they have certainly made me realize how complex things are in Florida and the negative impact that has on our FL teachers and students.
  2. I’ve realized that my morale, even as a recognized teacher, was low in Florida. Morale is a serious issue, especially in states that are hotbeds for change and policy. We have to address this. Now.
  3. Many Florida teachers have had their VAMs made public. I can’t yet comment on that because I am still angry, and as a Southern girl, my mom told me not to speak or write in anger.  My colleague Julie Hiltz has written a great piece on her score being published on The Answer Sheet blog…read her thoughts here.
  4. Florida has begun to pull out of the Common Core (they will have their own FL standards…read more here) and is not participating in PARCC, but has contracted with The American Institutes for Research to create its own FL assessments (read more on that here). This is like watching a trainwreck, but one attached to the students, teachers, and parents that I love…directly connected to my heartstrings. *sigh*

I wasn’t going to publish this video because I thought it was a little tough on my beloved state, but after letting that thought simmer for over half a year and watch what is happening, I am inclined to proudly post it.

Please know these opinions and feelings represent me alone, Megan Allen, the NBCT and education advocate.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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