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Teacher: Why ‘I Just Can’t Work in Public Education Anymore’


Teacher: Why ‘I Just Can’t Work in Public Education Anymore’

Stephanie Keiles

(Answer Sheet Editor's Note: Stephanie Keiles has worked as a public school teacher for a dozen years in Michigan. She loves her students — but she just made what she called “one of the hardest decisions” of her life: to quit her job and start teaching at a private school. In this post, she explains why she feels like she has been driven out of public education.


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Now that’s the spirit! But, well, the thing is…Love doesn’t pay the rent or put food on the table.


One big problem is that the term “education” is used to describe the process of training. In today’s world one is basically left to educate (no quotes) oneself. Because one is deceived into thinking that they are educated instead of being trained, one is left to find the hole left in themselves and then the means by which to fill that hole–that is education. In the US the Prussian-based public “education” system has continually devolved into a jobs training (unless one is in the “onto prison” pipeline…). I eschewed having children because it wasn’t until my forties when I realized that I could help educate my children by keeping them out of the public “education” system and doing the job with my spouse–primarily by exploiting their natural inquisitiveness (which public “education” diminishes/destroys). Let me state that as a (now retired) second-generation public educator that the concerns of the author are well founded.


As a former teacher who chose a similar path, an all too familiar story. You can add doctoring of test scores, teaching to the test and all the perversions that inevitably occur when you tie money and career advancement to test scores.


Bless the teachers of this country. They are our first line of defense. I know too many people who have never been trained to critically think. That is thinking for one’s self. Who said …”If you think education is expensive try ignorance.”

I say back to basics and sink those GD dumbass Texas conservative, Christianized, bought and paid for propaganda history books.


Hey! They know how to “tweet” and be twits.


The neoliberal assault on public education is part of the psychotic drive to turn every aspect of social life into a marketplace commodity. The very term “educational marketplace” is an Orwellian construction, as real teaching and learning have nothing to do with the venal spirit of buying and selling.

The privatizers are coming after the public schools because their fundamentalist ideology makes it impossible for them to accept that there certain things that “government” does better than “the market.” The privatizers are captives of magical thinking: they believe in the myth of the market with all the conviction and imbecilic single mindedness of the true fanatic. The evidence for the inherent inadequacy of the market system is all around us–in healthcare, housing and employment. But the privatizers are willfully blind to the facts. They have eyes, but they cannot see.

A second reason the privatizers are coming after public education is that they are desirous of bringing the classroom under control, in terms of curricula and the learning experience. In the 1960’s American education was revolutionized for the good. For the first time, the real history of the country was actually considered–the genocide against Native Americans, slavery, the oppression of women, the ongoing class war and so on. To the philistines and know-nothings of the American right, these kinds of “subject matters” are subversive, even treasonous. They complain of “political correctness,” meaning they don’t want children to learn about the dark side of the American experience. Children must be given vanilla and angel cake–George Washington, the Greatest Generation, the Exceptional Nation, the Free Enterprise system and other Disney tales of power and nobility. No wonder the American people are among the most politically ignorant people on this tragic planet! The critical education of the 1960’s–which brought racism and sexism into the cultural consciousness–was a moment of Enlightenment. The right wing reactionaries (misnamed “reformers”) are much happier when the populace is in the dark. Hence their mad desire to impose standardized testing on the young.

You don’t need to be Nietzsche to realize that standardized testing is an insidious attempt to create standardize people, with standardized spirits and intellects. The ideal of the American reactionaries is a citizenry so dull and so well-drilled that it is simply incapable of critical thought and is always ready to swallow the official story. In an age of permanent warfare, it’s easy to see why a bovine populace is the goal of the so-called educational system.

Thank the stars people are not cows!! The attempt to create a mindless herd will doubtless go far, but it cannot truly succeed. Americans are like people anywhere: from time to time they are bound to display that irritating habit (from the point of view of the rulers) of thinking for themselves…


Good luck in your new location, Stephanie. Having worked in both independent and public schools, I have found that money, idiocy, and short sighted policies seem to be commonalities, not differences. Unless you’re working for an elite school catering to the 1%, in which case the money might be better.


I sympathise with Kelles’s plight, but she played their game: they want the good teachers to move to private schools where only the elite can afford the tuition.


From the article:

“Public education is the backbone of democracy — but we all know there is a privatization movement trying to undermine it.”

This statement is right-on and it’s precisely what the right wing Libertarians invert in their redundant efforts to demonize govt.

Govt. under the INFLUENCE of corporate titans is the problem. (Incidentally, fascism is defined as the fusion of both of these entities.)

And those that would denounce govt. leave those corporate titans in place to continue their reign of harm to plant, place, person, and thing.

I haven’t read the thread yet. I wonder how many pro-charter school types will push THEIR agenda again… here.


Mrs. Keiles’ report and indictment of the U.S. public education system reads like a whistle-blower’s testimony… as it should. Running parallel to John Perkin’s “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man,” or Chelsea Manning’s exposures about military operations today, these courageous souls bring light to what otherwise would remain under shadows.

As to this:

“And if I were continuing my way up the pay scale but had to deal with asinine mandates, that would be one thing. But having to comply with asinine mandates AND watching my income, in the form of real dollars, decline every year? When I have the choice to teach where I will be better compensated and all educational decisions will be made by experienced educators? And I will be treated with respect? Bring it on.”

With so many former good paying jobs out-sourced to cheaper labor pool nations; and with so many formerly solid jobs now farmed out as temp work; and with so many well-trained, new college students unable to find appropriate work… all of these maneuvers by our corporate oligarchs are in place to substantially reduce middle class persons’ expectations.

Some quite savvy economists recognize that elites have plundered this nation, inclusive of its “human resources” and have now set sail for cheaper ports to rape, pillage, and plunder.

The BS about Fracking being fossil fuel free and the ecological destruction being wrought as a result will leave parts of the U.S. no different than the Niger Delta. Oil spill after oil spill, river rendered toxic after river rendered toxic. To keep the population fixated on basic survival, financial uncertainty, and kids taught to parrot test answers in lieu of a glorious and unlimited pursuit of genuine learning… all of these factor into the plans the 1% intend for the rest of U.S.


You are a right wing shill. As I anticipated, it’s expected that any honest dissection of the state of education in the USA, today, will attract the usual–blame the govt., educate yourself, send your kids to a charter school brigade.

You are undermining a tool of Democracy.


This kind of idiom makes the “you” offered as the subject–and would-be active component of the sentence–as absolutely undifferentiated. It’s of the same species of writing that protects the rabid cop by suggesting that “an arm came around the suspect’s neck.”

Who is this “you” that tied money and career advancement to test scores? Your nebulous sentence suggests it’s the teachers, and therefore the result is a product of THEIR greed. Needless to say, you leave out the corporate outfits that have infiltrated America’s public schools the same way that Disaster Capitalists descended upon New Orleans after Katrina.

I am VERY tired of the LEGION of paid posters who deliberately turn matters that turn very definable actors–those actually DOING the damage–into generic postulations that feature some variation of “you,” “we,” “human nature,” or uniformly disseminated bases for blame. These language frames (also known as memes) are designed to protect actual trespassers.

When the Authoritarian drift-net collapses, you will all find work shoveling shit. THAT is up your moral alley.


You’ve written a pretty good post. However, the above statement mistakes the rationale designed to cover up massive levels of greed with the motivation, itself. It’s a lot like the analysis that insists that leaders who promoted war were misled by bad Intelligence.

In an era of corporate control, vast financial resources are dedicated to P.R. and those professional liars and con-persons who have been trained to turn absolutely dark motivations around. When gas companies, fracking operations, and oil moguls rape our beleaguered planet, these firms go to work insisting that their clients are making the world better and that their technologies are safe, etc.

Privatizers and right wing libertarians have to demonize govt. in order to win access to those highly profitable functions formerly performed far more equitably and fairly than any corporation can claim.

A perfect example is Medicare. Administrative costs run less than 10% compared with private insurance companies skimming off anywhere from 25-33% for THEIR operational costs.

Or take the new trend in privatizing war services and even soldiers! The average military grunt makes MUCH less than the formerly-labeled Black water equivalent.

A philosophy is placed over the ACT in the same way that green-washing is done to make dangerous products appear benign.

You’re smart enough to read past the advertising label!

And on this item:

“The critical education of the 1960’s–which brought racism and sexism into the cultural consciousness–was a moment of Enlightenment. The right wing reactionaries (misnamed “reformers”) are much happier when the populace is in the dark. Hence their mad desire to impose standardized testing on the young.”

You casually left out the driving ideology behind this usurpation of Liberal content: the rise of the Christian Fundamentalist movement and its political inroads into MANY state houses, school boards, and think tanks… not to mention the military, itself (where it’s inversion of Christ’s teachings could not be more repugnant and dangerous).


I am well aware that “massive levels of greed” are a driving force behind school privatization. I live in a very poor town in which the school system has been subjected to privatization initiatives masquerading as “school reform.” I cannot begin to enumerate all the vultures that are crowding the corpse of our local public schools–the consultants, the managers, the experts–education “industry” professionals of all stripes. They all want to feed while there is flesh on the bones.

My point was about fundamentalist ideology is that, regardless of the imbecilities and obscenities of school privatization, many people are onboard because they are afraid of critical thinking. Of course, it also pays to go along with the charade. We agree that “In an era of corporate control, vast financial resources are dedicated to P.R.” That is exactly one of the reasons why market fundamentalism takes hold: alternative views of the universe are simply shouted down.

I do think of myself as reading “past the advertising label.”

We agree that Christian fundamentalism is a key factor in the “usurpation of liberal content” in American education. But bear in mind, our rulers are vicious but not morons: they don’t care a fig for ridiculous narratives about creation “science” and the 5,000 year history of planet earth. They just don’t want subversive material in the classroom, concerning war, empire, capitalism, etc. They would rather kids learn absolute nonsense than learn the ability to think critically. In other words, they would prefer to see pure mis-education than real education. I’m sure we agree on this point, right?


Very relevant in many ways. We all complain that things are not as they should be, but personal decisions that openly challenge the current imbalanced order of things are far less common…


What a sad story.

Basically you cried “uncle” and did exactly what the neoliberal privatizers wanted you to do. If you can afford that fancy beer you are drinking, you could have afforded to explore other alternatives to joining the other side.


Well said! Personal actions, not blather, is what counts.



Very well put! Thanks for taking the time to comment.