Fired For Challenging an Imperfect System

The scariest thing about education today is not that it doesn’t seem to be nearly effective enough, but that those that challenge conventions and think outside the square get castigated for their opinions.

I have a great deal of respect for teachers that do things differently, whether their methods work or not.  Experimentation and ongoing reflection is necessary at a time when curriculums all over the world seem stale and soulless.

Firing a teacher for daring to point out the flaws in our system is not acceptable:

New York City teaching fellow Alice McIntosh is fighting for her job at a District 75 school in the Bronx after receiving unsatisfactory ratings from her supervisor – even though she was given glowing recommendations from parents and peers after her second year of teaching.

“Ms. McIntosh should have gotten an award,” said Theresa Smith, 47, whose daughter Vernisha suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Instead, the experienced educator was fired, she said.

Assistant principal William Green, who gave McIntosh satisfactory ratings during the 2009-10 school year at P10X in Throgs Neck, deemed she was unfit to teach this past school year.

“I asked, ‘Why are you U-rating me?'” McIntosh recalled. “[Green] said, ‘I’m not going to get into that right now. I would suggest in your next job that you be more of a team player.'”

A city Department of Education spokeswoman said she could not comment because she was unable to reach Green.

So what did she get fired for?  Merely pointing out the bleeding obvious:
McIntosh said that, as a literacy teacher at the special-needs school, she openly challenged the curriculum and used books she thought were less outdated.

According to observations during the 2010-11 year by Green, her methods appeared to work.

“The teacher activates prior knowledge and incorporates it into the new lesson…. The teacher conducts an excellent development of lesson with clear expectations,” one review reveals.

But that same review was used as a basis for her poor performance, which charges she flunked in “planning and preparation of work” and “control of class.”

Green also cited grounds for the dismal ratings from the 2009-10 school year – when McIntosh received glowing reviews.

It appears that Ms.McIntosh’s great crime was that she was prepared to do things differently in a system where conformity is expected and change is frowned upon.  You are not considered a team player if you are critical or ignore traditions.

This is what is going to be the result of the stinking teacher evaluations.  Teachers who conform and play it safe will keep their jobs, while teachers who challenge the system and try new things will be given a cardboard box to collect their belongings.

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2 Responses to “Fired For Challenging an Imperfect System”

  1. Carl D'Agostino Says:

    There should be a due process procedure where she is presented with deficiencies, given prescription to improve and after a period of monitoring be accepted or dismissed and there should be an appeals process after that as well as the ability to file complaint with the federal Department of Labor. She should get support from the feds as she is a woman and minority. In the Miami Dade system they constantly preach for outside of the box, creativity, sharing best practices and alternative approaches. But if you present these things you are admonished for not following the chain of command, usurping administrative authority, creating disharmony and disloyalty. Because of the focus on testing even daily lesson plans are provided and their use mandatory. This is prevent teachers from teaching what they like or think is important from deviations from the uniformity of conformity. Re this case I don’t think she could be dismissed for these meager alleged transgressions.

  2. Alice McIntosh Says:

    Hey Michael G thanks for the post. I am planning a public forum for others like myself. It is time that this nonsense stops and our old-school administrators step down if they are threatened by brilliance and change! After all teaching and learning has at its very foundation……. CHANGE!

    @ Carl, In New York everyone is considered an “at will” employee, and can be fired for any reason, an invented reason. or no reason at all. Unless there is some kind of discrimination or breach or contract…… Out YOU Go!

    What the story doesnt tell you is that I did have what is called a “Collaborative Mentoring Agreement.” signed by myself and my Principal. The State has specific requirements for Principals to follow as it relates to mentoring new teachers. Do I need to tell you that I was never mentored and that my Administrators scuffed at me pointing out the Regs. Why? Because they know the system is so dysfunctional that it would likely never be addressed!

    If you want to help with the cause you can inbox me on facebook or email me at


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