Sunday, November 01, 2015

After 21 years on the job Alabama's one time teacher of the year quits after being told she is unqualified.

Ann Marie Corgill
Courtesy of the Independent:  

A veteran Teacher of the Year in Alabama has resigned after 21 years in the classroom after local authorities told her she is unqualified to educate fifth graders. 

Ann Marie Corgill was told by the Alabama Department of Education that her qualifications were not up to scratch, despite being 2015 National Teacher of the Year and 2014-2015 Alabama Teacher of the Year finalist. She is also the author of teaching book called “Of Primary Importance”. 

Ms Corgill said she was tired of having to prove herself and did not want to pay more fees, and sent Birmingham City Schools a letter of resignation. In the letter, first obtained by, she wrote: 

“After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning.”

You know what, I don't even know enough curse words to express my anger over this.

What in the hell are we doing?

How can we have broken public education so completely that even gifted, experienced teachers can no longer function adequately in our classrooms?

This, THIS, is what the conservatives have been working towards all along.

They want to drive good teachers away, undermine public education until it is crippled, and then declare that the Department of Education has failed, and do away with it completely.

Despite the bullshit rhetoric about "fixing" education, this was the driving force behind No Child Left Behind. And the damage it caused, and the damage still being caused by those trying to modify it, is cheating our kids out of their rights as citizens to a free, and comprehensive, education.

Teaching is not a cookie cutter profession. These are not factory workers going through the same mundane tasks over an over for a paycheck.

They are intelligent, imaginative individuals, with skills and dedication who do best when they are allowed to experiment and think outside of the box.

That is how they keep the children engaged, and how they keep things fresh and non-repetitive for themselves.

The best teachers I have seen are the ones that rarely provide instruction the same way twice. They think of new and exciting ways to keep the material interesting and sometimes even entertaining.

Yet that diversity is exactly what is being punished in American classrooms today.

And you know what? That is fucked up.


  1. Anonymous6:36 AM

    I'm a teacher, and I once commented after one of your education posts on the frustrating conditions. I thoroughly lambasted for having the nerve to complain. "If you don't like your job, then quit" was one comment that I recall. Thank you for posting this and for your heartfelt response; unfortunately, you're one of the few that can see the teacher's point of view. In this country, it's always okay to blame and get angry at the teacher and act like we're terrible. That's the reality. But again, thank you so much for this.

    1. Anonymous6:55 AM

      Excellent comment. Thank you!

    2. Anonymous9:00 AM


    3. Anonymous11:28 AM

      If someone who graduated from college and medical school, passed their residency, and received their MD was told by someone with absolutely no medical training that they were no longer permitted to treat their patients according to the successful protocols they were taught and practiced for many years, no one would criticize them for complaining about the harmful changes to their profession.

      However, when teachers complain that the corporate and political takeover of their profession prevents them from doing their jobs to the best of their ability in a manner they know to be developmentally appropriate and educationally sound, they are demonized and told to quit the jobs they once loved.

      Thanks, Gryphen, for standing up for teachers. So few people do.

    4. No one questions lawyers after they pass the bar and have been in successful practice for years either.

      And Doctors and Lawyers get paid a lot more money.

      Most teachers have master's degrees and continue professional development and training throughout their careers. What they do is equally important to our future as a doctor or lawyer.

      And yet they aren't compensated nor respected the same and have amateurs telling them how to do their jobs.

      School is no longer the fun and creative learning environment it used to be.

      And that can be laid entirely at the feet of the Republican Party.

  2. Anonymous6:41 AM

    I will never understand why the GOP devalues education as they do. For all their talk of God, one would think, "hey, I was given this brain, I need to fully develop it." Yet they value stupidity.....better to herd the sheep. Assholes.

    1. Anonymous8:41 AM

      The purpose of organized religion was to control the masses.

    2. Because the majority of well-educated people do not vote Republican.

  3. Anonymous6:51 AM

    More posts like this and less on The Palins, PLEASE!

    1. Anonymous7:56 AM

      If Gryphen didn't keep us posted on the Payme Klan's slitherings ~ who would?

    2. Anonymous8:28 AM

      Palin Sniffer, You'd love that wouldn't you?

    3. Anonymous8:50 AM

      The great part about blogs is that you can read what you want to and skip what you don't!

    4. Anonymous8:53 AM

      We want more Palin stories:

      Did you see Sarah win the NY City Marathon today? She still had on her Halloween black face.

    5. She delivered a baby at the 13 mile mark.

  4. Anonymous6:53 AM

    SMH...after teaching for 40 years and watching what way too many states are doing to teachers I can not in good conscience recommend it as a profession. That is a sad statement but the state of education today! What a slap in the face but resigning was the only way to go.

    1. Anonymous8:47 PM

      Same here. I resigned early once our union was decimated in Wisconsin. I could not teach in fear of getting fired over voicing my opinion on stupid things we were required to do. I am overjoyed that my daughter decided to become an occupational therapist instead of a teacher. Way better money, better working conditions, and little emotional stress, even if she had to leave the state to find a job.

    2. I stopped recommending it shortly after Obama nominated Arne Duncan.

      Duncan has received multiply votes of no confidence from teachers but that hasn't made any difference.

  5. Anonymous7:10 AM

    It's the GOP trying to privatize everything. People better wake up. The Republicans are doing very well state and locally by sneaking their way in to non partisan races (and even partisan) all over the country...and I mean sneaking!

    1. Exactly. They've been at it since Reagan and have finally figured out a way to succeed.

  6. Anonymous7:16 AM

    It does seem crazy,but there is more info not included in your post.It seems she is certified to teach through age 12 ,I think? She started the school year doing that,but was transferred to a class containing older students.Why did they transfer her,and why not transfer her back? That is the question I wonder about.Were they trying to get her to quit?

    1. Anonymous4:00 PM

      21 years experience usually means the the teacher's salary is substantially more than that of a new hire. Frequently these "not qualified" scenarios are simply a way to get a teacher to leave so the district can save money with a "qualified" new hire.

      There's many ways to jerk around a high paid teacher to get a resignation. Get them to resign is a lot easier for the district than risking a law suit about a firing.

    2. I have a K-12 single subject music.

      She may have a K-12 self contained classroom. Very few grades above 6 are self-contained.

      And absolutely, this transfer is politically motivated. They wanted her to quit. It was step one. Had she not resigned then the next step is an arbitrary bad evaluation and if she fought that they'd be making up stuff.

      I suspect she spoke truth to power and they didn't like it. As teacher of the year she would have been heard by too many and then questions would have been asked.

      She was a danger to the status quo and had to go.

      She will have no problem getting another job in or out of teaching as she has an impressive resume.

      But if I were her, I'd look for something else.

      The Republicans and NCLB have poisoned the schools. Even the private ones.

  7. Sharon7:33 AM

    This is just heart breaking indeed, I have read way too many stories about teachers just like her. You are right about the long term plan....the GOP has done so much damage at the local levels supported by the governors budget slashing. The more they suppress "critical thinking" in public education, the plan to dumb down this country is apparent. They push for these private charter schools which are for making money.....again reading how their failure rates. Alabama is such a sad, sad state to live in.....look at what they just did to prevent voting? Closing all the DMV's to prevent the black majority to get that stupid ID. We can again thank the SCOTUS for these new laws chipping away 50 years of hard fought rights. I dream about an all democratic government.

  8. My brother taught in the AL school system. According to him, there is no rhyme or reason for anything the school system does.

    1. That's because every year they are trying some new magic bullet that is supposed to raise test scores and fix everything.

  9. Anonymous8:01 AM

    An analytical friend of mine taught 2nd grade for three years in Alabama and then called "Bullshit" and went back to his engineering job.

    This was during the Bush administration.

    1. Anonymous8:27 AM

      Get it?

      An ENGINEER called bullshit on paperwork.

  10. Anonymous8:18 AM

    At the core of the on-going education reform issue is the sad fact that in the end, protecting the "industry of schooling" always wins out over the realities of learning.

  11. Anonymous8:21 AM

    Welcome to my world. I've been teaching 39 years in Indiana; trying to hang on for one more year. We changed our standards last year because our crazy Governor didn't like Common Core, something about Obama or something. We didn't get the changed standards until late August early September of 2014. The high-stakes tests were administered last spring and just this past week the cut-off scores were determined for last year's test. Teachers and schools have still to get their evaluations from LAST school year. Some leaders at DOE wanted to give schools a pass for last year's test but the super majority Republican legislature said no. A large percentage of schools will be labeled D or F schools because many schools didn't have the standards for math early enough and the tests were testing 6th grade standards to 4th graders (this is just an example). I just keep telling myself, one more year. I fear for our children and education in the next decade. Oh, and by the way, the legislature is convening a committee to find out why there will be a shortage of teachers next year and in the coming decades. DUH!

    1. Anonymous10:56 AM

      My district started using the state's CC curriculum 4 years ago. The 2nd grade curriculum wasn't finished by September, so the teachers had to start the year working with the district's OLD curriculum and then switch over as the lessons were completed and published. Of course, the two sets of materials were completely different. The students were expected to build on the skills they had learned in the fall in the CC lessons scheduled for the spring. Unfortunately, the district curriculum had a different schedule so those fall skills had not been taught yet.

      Our state test cut scores were changed drastically 2 years ago, resulting in an exponential increase in failure rates in a single year, and the scores for last years' test were determined after the tests were graded. That way, State Ed could decide what percentage of kids they wanted to fail and adjust the scores accordingly. Many of the reading passages in the ELA tests were determined to be 2-3 grade levels above the students who were expected to read them. Is there ANY other kind of test that is written and graded in that manner?

      What most intermediate teachers I work with complain about is not the standards as much as the curriculum that supposedly teaches those standards. In the primary grades, however, there have also been a lot of complaints about the standards being developmentally inappropriate, and the poorly written curriculum compounding the problem.

      We also have had a significant reduction in the number of students entering education programs in our local colleges and many teachers retiring far earlier than they had planned.

      All of this, however, results in exactly what the people who created this screwed up system wanted in the first place: proof that public schools do not work so that corporations can make huge profits through curriculum, remediation and testing materials and then, ultimately, privatization of our education system.

  12. Anonymous8:22 AM


    1. Anonymous8:54 AM

      THIS TOO;

  13. Completely agree, especially with the part about this being done by design. Someone wants schools privatized because there will be big money in it.

    1. Anonymous10:59 AM

      That's the ultimate long-term goal.

      In the meantime, educational publishing companies like Pearson are making huge profits through the development of curriculum and testing materials.

    2. They've been at that since Reagan.

      Education and Social Security. Last two pots of tax money they couldn't touch.

      Now that they've found a work around for Education they'll turn their attention back to Social Security.

      I'm *glad* I've got a pension.

  14. Frosty8:52 AM

    It's a shame. The kids are not going to get the education they need/deserve.

    As a former teacher I knew 15 to 20 years ago that I would never go back into a public school to teach. It began deteriorating quite a while before that. Kids are not all round pegs to be put in round holes. In kindergarten I taught the kids about shapes, there are innumerable ones. Those of not round shape only fit into a program adapted to their 'shape'.

    As Gryph knows, there are emotional, psychological, and physical concerns that can keep kids from learning. A good teacher takes all of that into account, and individualizes the program to fit the needs.

    As I told the jackass superintendent who criticized me for interacting individually with problem students, "You have to REACH 'em, before you can teach 'em."

    When corporations take over teaching our children, many will be thrown on the waste heap and put to physical labor. Dumbed-down populations passively follow, as do lemmings. The R's and the corps sure don't want an educated public.

    1. Anonymous9:30 AM

      Not physical labor, they are slated to fill the private prisons. This is the ultimate route from school to prison.

  15. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Well...the repubes indeed want to privatize EVERYTHING the government does....even governing.....remember Mitt Romney and his business-oriented transition plan that wold have turned every government agency into competing profit centers.

    Problem is difficult to outsource the poor and disabled....although I'm sure the repubes have a plan for that as well

    1. Anonymous9:30 AM


    2. Anonymous10:25 AM

      So the poor go to jail while the stupid take over politics?

  16. I know there are a lot of people against charter schools, but it's saved my kids education. They go to an expiditionary high school, the teachers are young and engaged, the curriculum is stimulating and fluid. They spend a great deal of time outdoors and have multiple team-building camping trips throughout the year. My children went from being "meh" about school to begging me to go when they are clearly sick. Applying for multiple colleges is a requirement of graduating. The best parenting decision I've ever made.

    1. Anonymous10:29 AM

      We have some great charter schools here in Alaska. However, the waiting lists are very long and most parents have to state their intentions soon after a child is born to secure an enrollment when the child comes of age. Still it's worth any amount of hassle and money to secure a proper education for our children.

    2. Anonymous11:10 AM

      There ARE some excellent charter schools.

      However, far too many of them are focused primarily on making profits for their stockholders. The staff is often unqualified and paid very little, materials and buildings are of poor quality, and there is no accountability to anyone EXCEPT the stockholders. Students who have special needs are often refused or ejected, which then increases the percentage in the public schools. Charter schools have been shown in study after study to produce results that are no better than or even poorer than the public schools.

      Your children have been fortunate to find the exception to the rule.

  17. Anonymous10:03 AM

    Not all charter schools are bad just like not all public schools are good. Informed and engaged parents are the keys to success in either type of school.

  18. Anonymous10:28 AM

    The GOP has turned into USA's domestic terrorists. The equivalent of ISIS.

    1. Anonymous2:31 PM

      lol. Maybe a little over the top there Johnny.

  19. Anonymous11:31 AM

    This is a perfect example of why politicians are trying so hard to eliminate the unions who can protect teachers from this kind of situation.

  20. Excellent teachers tend to be opinionated and outspoken, traits definitely not appreciated in the world of education. That ex-coach administrator who can't write a grammatically correct sentence doesn't like teachers who think and ask questions. Evaluations are always a joke because something negative must be found. After all, no one is perfect. And of course there's no shortage of illuminating research from people who don't actually teach imparted at the most recent administrators conference. No question a battery of tests can indicate everything students don't know on those particular tests, which then triggers the alarm for what must be done now. And of course the very last person you'd want to include in the discussion is the teacher.

    Great teachers get feedback from students years and years after they graduate. It's not the goals and objectives, the core standards, and all the other B.S. students are appreciative of. It's a committed teacher who has lots to say and offer in a challenging atmosphere that respects students and holds them accountable for excellence.

    Nothing ruins education faster than clowns who have no clue what the art of teaching is all about. Like the proverbial great bowl of chili, you can't determine its excellence by counting the number of beans in it.

  21. Anonymous12:47 PM

    I retired after 27 years teaching in Alabama. I decided to leave before our Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (under indictment for 23 ethic violations) and our former governor Bob Riley totally destroy the public education system. Bob Riley, who was linked to the Jack Abramoff scandal, is currently the chairman of the Alabama Scholarship Fund. Hubbard pushed through the Alabama Accountability Act to determine failing schools and push charter schools which benefits Riley's donors who receive tax credits.The Act has been used to move public education funds to Riley's scholarships. Ninety-five percent must go to scholarships but it is believed the other five percent is going in Riley's pockets. He stands to make $1.25 million taken from Alabama public education funds. Until the political atmosphere changes in Alabama, the Republicans will continue to make laws created to benefit their personal bank accounts. We have too many older voters relying on Fox news and too many younger people either not voting or not researching information. We also have too few investigative journalists and a void of real and unbiased news. I rely on this source and Wonkette among others to provide news and humor. I sorely miss Jon Stewart and Colbert Report.

  22. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Well, I support teachers and have worked in the school system as a school nurse/ health educator.
    It appears Ms Cargill is licensed for K-5, not the 6th grade she is teaching.
    And while I feel accommodations should be made in her case, I think that licensing for the most part is a great thing.
    It demands competency in the area that the teacher is teaching.

    1. If they assign her to 6th grade, then she has to get additional certification, pay additional fees, etc.

      As a 21 year veteran teacher this was probably a forced transfer. They did it to get rid of her. Even if she had done it all, they would have found some fault on her evaluation and then used it as grounds for dismissal. That's how the system works. And it's why we have unions to protect teacher's rights under the contract.

  23. Anonymous2:14 PM

    Gryphen, you should do a post on Margaret Spellings. She's one of the architects of No Child Left Behind, and she just got appointed President of the University of North Carolina System. She was one of W's golden children and served as his Secretary of Ed. She's also a raging homophobe.

    Spellings has never worked for a university, has never taught, has only a bachelor's degree, and was only chosen for her conservative politics. She's going to do to UNC faculty what she did to all those public school teachers. She's grossly underqualified; all other UNC Presidents have had doctorates and long careers in higher ed. The UNC system used to be one of the best in the country. USED to be.

    The whole system is rotten, and the conservatives' goal is to get rid of public education entirely.

  24. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I have a healthy respect for the vocation of educators and what they have to deal with everyday, from the students, parents and administrators. My sister made the same choice this young lady made and it set her on a downward spiral of depression, self blame and a feeling she should have done better.
    When a job or two open where I work, I get tasked with culling resume's and trying to find the best people for the job. People are sloppy, write on "cute" computer papers with teddy bears, rainbows, cats, puppies. They spray their applications and resume's with cologne and perfume, put glittery stickers everywhere, and write in computer shorthand. They use terms like "Awesome" and "Oh no she didn't"
    Then they get upset when there's no response whatsoever, because dammit, that crap cost money and really makes their resume' stand out.
    Do I blame the teachers? Not at all. I almost keeled over when one young man asked me what he could do to make his resume' better, and he wrote the most eloquent thank you note by hand, in script, on quality unlined writing paper with crisp folds.
    We need to pay educators better, give them the tools they need to teach effectively and keep uniformed and armed idiots out of the classroom, it doesn't foster a healthy learning environment.

  25. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Damn straight it's fucked up. I work with a teacher here in Michigan, she has her Masters, yet she has to pay another $3,000 for one class to be able to teach her special Ed 6th graders how to read..........

  26. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Mind you she's already a special Ed teacher........but that $3,000 is specifically for reading. What bullshit!!!!!!

  27. The other issue is how woefully funded public schools are at this time. If you go to teachers are begging for people to buy them just the basics. I went in and bough an iPad for a 3rd grade class and the teacher was so thankful that it almost made cry.

    The 1% wants stupid workers so they don't question authority. The GI Bill helped to create the middle class and that was something the rich hated and have done everything possible to destroy.

    Time to write Bernie a check.....

  28. Sorry, but you can't lay ALL of the blame on Republicans.

    Yes, most of it.

    But Obama didn't do squat about NCLB or the assault on the teaching profession. He appointed Arne Duncan and allowed him to continue the attacks for almost 8 years.

    Instead of trying to heal this growing distrust of teachers and public education, Obama fanned the flames and Arne Duncan added fuel.

    This teacher is rebelling against the constant "accountability" attacks.

    Good for her.

    I wish more could and would do what she did.

    It takes courage.

    I was too close to retirement to do the same. So I gritted my teeth and moved into positions that reduced this nonsense. As a Librarian I was NCLB compliant, had a master's in library science and was also National Board Certified. But that only reduced the attacks, didn't eliminate them.

    Unfortunately, this teacher's resignation won't get any more attention in the media than those that have gone before.

    The media has already sided with the Republicans because it makes good press to attack schools and teachers.


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