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On my drive home from work yesterday, I found myself thinking about Sakena Yacoobi. Like many of my friends, this courageous woman wakes up each day and renews her commitment to teaching and learning.

Like many of my friends, Sakena Yacoobi has a very clear vision of the difference she hopes to make despite the many challenges she faces. I’m grateful to know many focused and fearless educators.

Yacoobi is the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning. So the greatest threat to her career isn’t a faulty teacher evaluation system, wonky standardized assessments, or the big, bad Common Core.

It’s the Taliban.

Twice, she was warned to quit teaching. She responded by setting up underground schools and secretly educating thousands of girls who were not permitted an education. She wasn’t deterred by the Taliban’s threats. She was inspired by them.

Yesterday, I received a text message from a friend that included another resignation letter from another disgruntled American teacher who is leaving the classroom like so many depleted teachers before him.

“Did you see the link I sent you?” she texted again hours later when I didn’t reply.

“I did,” I admitted then. “I guess I don’t know what to say.”

But I think I do today.

I certainly have compassion for those who choose to leave, but I’ll only share the stories of those who stay. These are the stories that need to go viral.

I’m happy to hold a disillusioned teacher’s hand, and I will absolutely support those who are struggling and leaving. I work in this field too, and when difficult conversations are happening, I’m often the one responsible for facilitating them. I’m pretty well-liked, but I’m no fool: as Terry Pratchett once said, the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same one that applauds your beheading.

People do like a show, and Race to the Top has kept all of us on the edge of our seats. So, if you tell me the curtain is falling on your career, I’ll listen. I’ll be a friend. But I won’t spill your pain onto those who choose to stay by sharing your resignation letter.

Those who remain courageously committed need our consideration and our tender loving care.

I have better stories to tell them.

What’s yours?


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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at

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