I came into teaching by accident. I’d spent many years working in startups and became increasingly disillusioned by a modus operandi that was all about making money, customers and ethics be damned. After being unceremoniously fired from my last startup job, I searched for something that one might call “noble”. I thought I found it at Exemplary Charter Schools. Very quickly, things didn’t add up for me. Over time, I saw that just as some startups will put earnings over everything else, my school put standardized test scores at the forefront. By doing so, they abandoned a lot of kids in their wake with potentially life-altering consequences.
While at Exemplary, I felt like I had never experienced a work environment quite like where I was. I decided to document what I witnessed, not knowing how the story might unfold. What you have here is the culmination of that effort. I decided to change the name of the school to “Exemplary Charter Schools” as a way to protect myself from the vast resources that the school has to potentially make my life a living Hell. I’ve also kept my name off the book. As of this writing, I am still in the field of Education and would prefer to remain. When I initially started this process, I was stuck as to how I could feel comfortable telling this story. Two books provided me with the clarity I was seeking. The first source of inspiration came from Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley, which documented the author’s experience in the tech world without the need to reveal the names of the companies she worked for. The Secret Lives of Teachers by Anonymous provided an example of telling a story about education while leaving the author’s name out. I don’t pretend that my book is as noteworthy as these two titles – I mention them as a way to illustrate why I structured 12s Can’t Get 3s as I did.