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Public Resignation refers to the act of quitting one’s job in front of an audience in real life or on the Internet, which is usually manifested in the form of an open letter or video recording of a speech.
On January 25th, 2007, YouTuber jo low uploaded a video titled “My Manager Quits,” in which a Moe’s restaurant employee reveals his shirt with the words “I Quit” while dancing to the 1990 hip hop song “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice (shown below).
On October 10th, 2007, YouTuber kia9494 uploaded a video titled “How To Quit Ur [sic] Job at Walmart,” featuring footage of an Walmart employee informing his managers via intercom that he is quitting. (shown below). In the following six years, the video garnered upwards of 670,000 views and 900 comments.
On April 7th, 2008, blogger and video reviewer That Guy With Glasses posted footage of himself walking into his work place to the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme playing from his portable stereo, before removing his shirt to reveal the words “I Quit” written on his chest and walking out to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (shown below).
On March 13th, 2009, Flickr user Neil Berrett uploaded a photograph of himself holding a large cake containing his letter of resignation from his position at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (shown below, left). In the first five years, the photo gained over 440,000 views and 700 favorites.
On August 10, 2010, the photo aggregation blog theCHIVE posted a series of photographs of a woman holding a white board with several messages directed toward her boss informing him that she was leaving the company (shown below). The following day, TheCHIVE revealed that the resignation was a prank and that the woman was Los Angeles-based actress Elyse Porterfield.
On August 9th, 2010, Jetblue Airways flight attendant Steven Slater reportedly quit his job over the intercom on a plane and slid down the plane’s emergency exit slide with two beers from the beverage cart. After the incident, Slater was sentenced to a year-long mental health program and $10,000 in fines. On October 12th, 2011, YouTuber JoeyDefrancesco uploaded a video featuring a Renaissance Providence Hotel employee quitting his job while accompanied by a marching band (shown below, left). In two years, the video gained more than four million views and 6,100 comments. On April 16th, 2012, YouTuber karenxcheng posted a music video in which she sings a resignation letter to Microsoft (shown below, right), accumulating upwards of 350,000 views and 320 comments in the next year.
On March 14th, 2012, the New York Times published the op-ed “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs” by Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith. In the letter, Smith announces his resignation from the investment banking firm and claims that the company culture shifted from being ethically sound and client-driven, to being so revenue obsessed that they would put their own interests above that of their client base. On March 29th, 2013, Syracuse, New York-based high school instructor Gerald Conti posted a public resignation letter on his Facebook page in which lamented the American education system for stifling “creativity, academic freedom, teach autonomy, experimentation and innovation.” Within seven months, the post garnered more than 2,800 shares and 80 likes.
“It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.”
As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.
I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that ‘Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.’ This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching ‘heavy,’ working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and ‘data driven’ education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.
A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?
My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic ‘assessments’) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to ‘prove up’ our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.
After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.
For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, ‘Words Matter’ and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.
Sincerely and with regret,
Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader
Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
On September 28th, Next Media Animation producer Marina Shifrin posted a video to YouTube in which she dances to the song “Gone” by Kanye West while informing the company that she has resigned (shown below, left). In the video, Shifrin confesses her disappointment with the company’s priorities of video views over quality of editorial content. Within the first 72 hours, the video received over 5.77 million views and 5,600 comments. On October 1st, Next Media Animation uploaded a response to the resignation video in which the company’s employees dance to the same Kanye West track (shown below, right).