Wendy Bradshaw, Florida teacher, resigns, says education system fills her with ‘dread’

A Florida teacher’s resignation letter, in which she says she’s leaving a job she loves because of the state of the education system, has propelled her into the public eye.

Wendy Bradshaw, who taught special education in the Polk County school district, resigned on Oct. 23 and posted her resignation letter on her personal Facebook page. In it, she explains her disappointment in recent education reforms and reflects on the changes she’s seen in her students.

“I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education,” she wrote, referencing the best practices she learned while earning undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in the field of education.

“The new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process,” she added.

Her Facebook post has been shared more than 67,000 times since it was posted and has garnered more than 9,000 comments.

In the post, Bradshaw goes on to describe her students crying out of frustration as they attempt “tasks well out of their zone of proximal development.” She also laments not having enough time to focus on behavioral issues in the classroom because the curriculum is too regimented.

Bradshaw said she has been rated highly effective on all of her evaluations, she still cited the teacher evaluation system as another reason for her decision. Finally, she said the thought of sending her own daughter into the school system in which she worked filled her with “dread.”

Though Bradshaw was talking specifically about her experience in the Polk County, Florida public education system, her message resonated with many beyond it.

The comments appeared to come from across the country and even the world. Many of the commenters thanked Bradshaw for shining a light on the issue and cited similar issues with their local schools. Some also cited Common Core, a version of which Florida implemented in full this year.  

“As a school psychologist in NY I have witnessed all that you describe,” wrote Charles Pumilia. “What used to inspire hope and joy, now fills me with frustration, alienation and despair for the children we love and want to serve.”

“Thank you for your courageous and honest words,” wrote Lisa Reale, whose profile lists her as living in Pennsylvania. “I cannot express how your story resonates so deeply for me and so many whom I respect as seasoned educators.”

Others disagreed with Bradshaw — either in stance or in her decision to leave.

“It appears that your leaving was the right thing to do,” wrote Mike Pasqua, whose profile says he is an educator in California. “Perhaps the students will benefit by having a teacher who is willing to adapt to the change in education.”

Alma Morales Potter, whose profile says she is a high school math teacher in Texas, faulted Bradshaw for leaving. “Students deserve teachers who will work within the imperfect system and not bail when it doesn’t meet the expectations we had before we started teaching,” she wrote.

In a statement by Polk County Public Schools published on Today.com, the district said it sympathized with Bradshaw’s “frustration” in trying to balance all the elements of the job. “We appreciate the six years she gave to our school district and we wish her success in her future endeavors.”

The Ledger, a Lakeland, Fla. newspaper, reported that Bradhaw worked at the R. Bruce Wagner Elementary School.

Polk Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy told The Ledger that she understood Bradshaw’s stance. “I generally agree. The problem is that the accountability system is smothering everybody.”

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