It started off innocently enough.
I had accepted a job in a large public school, moved across the country, subsequently had a terrible academic year, and then, in what seemed like fate at the time, I was approached by a “high-performing” charter school looking for a teacher.
I was drawn in by the clean facilities, the altruistic speeches.
“A College Education for Every Child!”
“Let’s Close the Achievement Gap!”
I was intrigued by the idea that there was enough money in the budget for me not to have to buy supplies out of my own pocket. I was excited by the prospect of working for a school that had a custodial staff that would help get my classroom ready for the students every morning. I was seduced by the promise of working copiers that printed seemingly unlimited numbers of pages. I was lured by the hope of abundant resources, and enticed by the promise of unending support and reports of low rates of student and teacher turnover.
“We’re a Family Here!”
“We Have Each Other’s Backs!”
Fed up with my current work teaching in an underfunded and overcrowded traditional public school, I was blinded by the idea that somehow, inexplicably, there was a silver-bullet cure to all of my professional ailments. In true Faustian fashion, all I had to do was sign on the dotted line.
I’d like to think that my experience of becoming a charter teacher isn’t unique. I’d like to think that other career teachers, like myself, are also lured to charter schools by the hope of a better life, better benefits, more support, and more resources, only to find that the sales pitch given to us in our interviews is criminally far from the daily truths of working in charter schools.
By the end of my first year, I had spent hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket to buy supplies for a classroom that I literally had to beg to get cleaned. By the end of the first year, I had worked for two different principals, and with what felt like a continually rotating cast of coworkers. By the end of my first year, I began to realize, horrified, what I had done.
Three years ago, I sold my soul to the charter movement.
But today, I am unchartered.