Jd- thanks for sharing your thoughts. You raise some interesting questions here. I am a “recovering” teacher/administrator who quit teaching in schools last year after almost 20 years (both private and public.) I am now working to build up a practice as an educational consultant who specializes in working with schools and teachers on internal improvement plans, which has been a slow process. You may enjoy reading my ten post series entitled 10 Reasons I Quit Teaching in Private Schools on The Synapse: https://medium.com/synapse/10-reason-i-quit-teaching-in-private-schools-c1d7e67553a6#.faesosllg. In short, I think you touched on a number of reasons that led me to quitting, mainly the “dead hand of bureaucracy and testing” in public schools and what I would call a “corrupt culture of self congratulations and inertia” in private schools. In the end, teaching in schools became such a chore for me; each day when the alarm clock went off, my first feeling was one of dread. I had essentially burned out after so many years of swimming upstream against incompetent administrators, change-adverse cultures, maniacal parents, and systems that did not serve kids, especially in the public sector where testing and test prep are currently robbing school of its soul.
I must admit that if one of my own children told me that they wanted to go into teaching, I think I might try to talk them out of it. I know that sounds harsh, but I feel like I am coming out the other side of the teaching life feeling less hopeful and, quite frankly, more worried about the future than I ever have been. You are absolutely right that we need a radical change in education…almost a complete reset? We have lost our way, for sure. It is no wonder that teachers in both public and private ed abandon the field so quickly. Here are some easy answers: low pay (compared to other professions), 60+ hours a week, highly flawed and politicized feedback loops (no clear way to know if you are good or how to get better), no respect for the profession, weakening of benefits in recent years, constantly changing expectations and evaluations, weakening of home support networks (divorce, etc.), isolation in the classroom, among others issues. Of course, some schools are working to improve conditions, but when you add them all up, it is quite a formidable list.