I Resign From Teaching

Pullman, Washington

The insidious educationist interests that are pushing out of the profession teachers unwilling to sacrifice money, time, and conscience for “Mickey Mouse" courses in Florida are also at work in the state of Washington. I cite my own case as another example of Mrs. Stout’s generalization that state teacher certification laws, effected by education schools, are disqualifying good teachers at a time when the teacher shortage is critical.

For this purpose I shall not be modest. In 1951 I was graduated magna cum laude from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with forty-two credit hours in English language and literature but none in education courses. In my senior year I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received an English department award as “the outstanding student in English.”I did graduate work in English on a fellowship for two years at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and then for two years studied toward the Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin, where I had received a fellowship as a teaching assistant in English. My teaching of college freshmen and sophomores was termed very successful by the Wisconsin department of English. In Washington after my marriage I could not hope to teach on the college level, for which I had been training, because my husband is an instructor in English, and at the State College of Washington, as at many colleges and universities, husbands and wives may not teach in the same department. I have managed to teach high school English in Washington these two years we have lived here. My superintendent and principal, my students and their parents, say I am a good teacher, qualified to teach English on the high school level. But the school year just completed will be my last in teaching.

The State Supervisor of Certification wrote to remind my superintendent that I now have “only” eight credits in secondary education courses and since I don’t plan to attend summer school at a college or department of education to take “5 semester or 7 quarter hours of additional credit” before September, she does not see how my superintendent “could justify a request for an emergency certificate for Mrs. Cummings next year.”

I have decided I must resign from teaching, since personally I cannot justify spending time and energy taking pretentious, busywork courses in education (Education 201: Human Development — includes twenty-four hours of actual school observation. Lesson I: Make a diagram of the room in which you are observing, noting exact dimensions, number and size of windows, number and size of lights, number and description of desks and other furniture, estimate of room temperature, and so forth).

My problem is not unique, especially in a college town. And people with training similar to mine have another problem, also noted by Mrs. Stout — that of being confronted, when we are allowed to teach for a time, by the “qualified’ and loyal products of the education schools. I like teaching very much indeed, but I admit I have wondered whether I would have the courage to return to high school teaching if ever the certification laws are changed favorably. I doubt that I have the strength to work again with teachers and even administrators whose uniform is the T shirt and sneakers, who ask why students should read Macbeth, who brag that they graduated near the bottom of their high school and college classes, who insist publicly that students are entitled to the same rights and privileges as teachers, who tell a faculty meeting that teachers must teach adjustment rather than subject matter, who declare that home economics and physical education are as intellectually demanding and therefore as significant as science, English, math, or history, and who swear they’d horsewhip children of their own who read fifty books a year not assigned in school (this comment was actually made when some teachers were discussing the achievements of a brilliant and widely informed science student who has been awarded a scholarship at a major Eastern university).

Mrs, Stout’s article and others like it are our only hope. Her clear evidence makes intelligent Americans tremble at the consequences for this nation if professional education is not released from the stranglehold of the education schools.