I didn’t know which forum to put this, but since it involves a crisis of faith (in myself), I thought this would be an appropriate place.
The other day, the wind was blowing hard where I teach, and my classroom door (with it’s broken hydraulics) opened with such force that it nearly hit a kid standing nearby. It would have seriously injured him, had it hit him. All the doors at my school have busted hydraulics and have for years. It’s a miracle no one’s been killed. The district knows it and doesn’t want to fix it. Nor did they bother to build a playground for my 3rd graders to play on this entire year- too expensive. Two years ago, at another school within the same district, I had a girl fall out of the swingset and break her arm landing on the hardpan under the swings. I sent emails to my superintendent begging for some sand to be poured to at least break a kid’s fall, and I was transferred to another site.
My class size is not supposed to exceed 29 students, and yet my 3rd grade team has spent the whole year with 34 kids in their rooms because hiring a new teacher would have meant building a new portable classroom. It’s cheaper to cram students into existing classrooms and pay teachers the “overage” ($7 per kid per day). We complained, of course, but we didn’t complain very hard because two of the teachers on my grade level aren’t tenured, and I didn’t want to drag them into a fight and possibly ruin their careers.
Two years ago, my friend’s classroom air-conditioner quit working, and he had to take his special ed students to the computer lab for most of the day because his room was too hot (this was in August). I told my administrator at least a dozen times to get it fixed, but after a month of nothing happening, my friend decided enough was enough and called OSHA, to report working condition violations. OSHA came out and fined the district tens of thousands of dollars. Feeling betrayed, they made my friend’s life a living hell that year, making up lies about him and trying to get him fired at the end. I spent all Summer working on his case, and we won that particular round. Thank God he had been District-wide teacher of the year just a few years before.
And there are a dozen other examples I could give, but you get the gist.
So my dilemma is I know I work for people who neglect the needs of children, and there is a pattern of neglect. The people that run the district are some of the highest paid administrators within 50 miles, so I know where the money goes. If I go public with this, they will go after me with a vengeance. I will be harassed, lied about, and they’ll probably start the process to get me fired. Word will get around that I’m a whistleblower, so working at another district might not be an option. I can’t move, because my son is going to a good high school, and has three more years there.
And so I know all this, and my plan is to transfer to another district, and just put it all behind me. Yet I feel like a coward by not exposing the neglect and incompetence going on. But if I really go after them, it would turn my life upside-down, and possibly get me fired, if they really wanted to make up lies about me. And transferring to the other district (which is only 10 miles down the road) probably won’t be an option.
I feel like I have a moral obligation to be a whistleblower, but I’m afraid of the effects it would have on myself and my family. I’m the sole breadwinner and teaching is all I know. Going to another district seems like running away, like something a coward would do.
Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.