This fed-up Florida teacher called his profession ‘toxic.’ Here’s why he’s walking away

When a Florida social studies teacher compiled a list of “Things I did not sign up for” on social media it added up to one inescapable observation.

Teaching, Jonathan Carroll wrote on his Facebook post, “has become a toxic profession.”

Carroll, 46, cited a number of reasons for his decision to leave a profession he’d enjoyed for 20 years in both private and public schools. Currently, he’s at Groveland’s South Lake High School in Lake County.

But on May 28, that’s it. He’s gone.

“I think of what I thought I would be doing as teacher. Opening minds, debating history inspiring the next generation to reach higher and learn from the past. But education has become something else. I think of all the things I did not sign up for,” he said in his post from April 30 that, by Saturday, has been shared more than 440 times.

Among his reasons, many of which have been amplified in the nation’s discourse post-Parkland:

Active shooter drills. “It’s a direct response to Stoneman Douglas High School,” Carroll told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Arming teachers. Parkland students asked the Florida Legislature not to arm teachers. But last week, the Senate voted yes on guns in classrooms.

Students’ drug use. “Students overdosing on drugs and collapsing in my classroom when they get back from the bathroom,” he wrote.

Standardized testing that is the be-all and end-all barometer of a student’s success.

Micromanaging administrators and the need for mental health counseling.

“So I guess this is it,” Carroll wrote. “I am leaving the field of education. I have had so many wonderful memories. But it has become a toxic profession. ... Knowing where it is safe to hide in my classroom. Feeding and clothing my students. Buying my own supplies. .... Being told that if a student fails it is my fault, not their fault.

“I am tired. ... I will not miss what education has become. A soulless industrial education complex where [administration] cares more about the test scores than their faculty or students,” he wrote.

This social studies teacher learned he had support on his social media post. More than 500 people passed comment. Many were along these lines:

“As a nearly 30 year veteran, I totally understand your reasoning and agree that your only course was to leave. I too had to make the same decision last year for the same reason. My health was becoming severely compromised from the stress of trying to hold out against a bureaucracy that would have made Joseph Stalin blush.”

That person added a by-the way comment right afterward: “I have gone into politics in order to make the bureaucrats pay for ruining our kids.”

That’s one plan.

For now, Carroll, who has two children with his wife Dana, plans to stay at home for a bit.

“Start enjoying life. And find happiness again.”

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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