A thirty-year public school teaching veteran explained Sunday that he is moving to the private sector, partly due to wage stagnation and testing demands.
June marked high school teacher Dean Howarth’s last month at McLean High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, a school where he has taught physics for the past three decades, reported The Washington Post. Howarth will start teaching at a private school in Washington, D.C.
Howarth bashed what he termed the “AP-ization” of education, referring to what he perceived as teachers’ new tendency to teach to the test. He said that students would take Advanced Placement (AP) “snake handling” if they believed it would reflect positively on their transcripts.
“Don’t get me started,” Howarth said to WaPo, referring to buzzwords like “disaggregation” and “data-driven analysis” that educational consultants tell him to use. “I make a conscious effort to purge them from my mind.”
Howarth counts himself lucky that physics, unlike chemistry and biology, does not require students to take a Standards of Learning test.
“People think, like, ‘Oh, I love art because it speaks to me,'” he noted. “Well, I think physics can speak to you, too … There’s the same elegance and beauty hiding in the stars or in equations.”
Howarth noted that he scrapped textbooks for his courses around a decade ago, preferring to use props like tennis balls, rubber bands, or even a bed of nails on top of which he has lain in order to teach physics. He does not penalize students who do not complete their homework, if they excel at tests.
The teacher received praise from both students and colleagues and boasts a 4.72, out of five, rating on RateMyTeachers.com.
“Veteran teachers look to him as a leader, and the newer teachers, coming in, go to him and seek advice,” McLean Principal Ellen Reilly said.
Howarth will begin teaching in a D.C. private school in fall 2018. Several of the city’s private schools elected in June to drop their AP programs, criticizing its focus on memorization and asserting that the program is nonessential for college readiness. (RELATED: Seven DC-Area Private Schools Scrap Their AP Courses)
These schools counteract a ten-year trend that saw 70 percent more high school grads taking at least one AP test.
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