28 Truly Upsetting Accounts That Prove The US Education System Is So Broken And Teachers Deserve Wayyyyy Better

We asked teachers of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about instances at work that made them want to quit the profession forever. Here's what they shared:

Warning: Some submissions contain mention of assault, harassment, and violence in schools.

1."I had called campus security to remove a student who was being very defiant in the classroom. Security came and asked the student to follow them, the student refused, and security said they’d come back and try again. Security never returned, and the student decided to pull out her phone and start recording me on her Instagram live."


2."I was supervising the car rider line at dismissal when I saw a student (who was not in my class) running towards the line of moving cars. I held out my arm and called for her to stop. A moment later, I heard her mother start screaming profanities at me from her car, which she had stopped in the middle of the drive, holding up the whole line. I simply stepped back and allowed her daughter to get in the car. The next day, this woman once again stopped her car in the middle of the drive to scream at me about how rude I had been the day before. I, again, stepped back from the curb and waved the line forward. The next day, this woman called my principal to complain about my 'behavior.' The principal apologized on my behalf and told her that he would speak to me about it. That's when I realized I was in a toxic work environment with no administrative support or respect from parents, and I resigned at the end of the year after 15 years as an educator."


parent in their car watching their son walk into school
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3."Another teacher in my district died suddenly overnight. At the emergency faculty meeting that morning, my principal said the wrong name, and mentioned multiple times that she needed volunteers to cover his classes until they found his replacement. How about getting a counselor equipped to deal with a classroom full of grieving children in there for a few days? How about stepping in and doing it yourself to care for your grieving staff? I realized in that moment how interchangeable and replaceable my admin believed we all were."


4."Middle school art teacher. A sixth grader was spending all of class playing computer games instead of doing the classwork. Their parent wanted a meeting about their missing assignments. She wanted me to explain EVERYTHING about EVERY MISSING ASSIGNMENT (vocabulary, techniques, what the finished product should look like, etc.) in a 45 minute meeting so she could explain it to her child while he did my work at home. All the info was on Google Classroom. Total waste of time."


art supplies on a colorful table
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5."A much bigger student of mine threatened to sexually assault me if I gave him consequences for cussing out another student in class. Unfortunately, this was a student with very violent tendencies and this wasn’t the first time he’d threatened someone with something like this, so I took it seriously. I reported it immediately, but no one came to pull the student from my class. It took four calls to the front office and three emails before anyone responded to me. When I gave my account of what happened, how it affected me, and how it scared the other girls in my class, my principal said to me: 'Did that student really say that? He was probably just joking.'"

"He was never punished for the threat. A few months later, the same kid started a fight in my class. While this kid was beating down another kid, I was trying to get help. I had to call the office three times before someone came to help. It was at that moment that I decided I wasn’t going to risk my safety any more for people who clearly couldn’t give a crap about me or my well-being. It was really hard to leave education, but now I work in satellite communications for a company that values the heck out of me, and I’m so much happier. I haven’t had a panic attack since leaving teaching. No job is ever worth risking your safety, physical health, or mental health. Especially when you’re being paid less than you deserve."


6."At 8-months pregnant, one of the deputy heads came into my room and said, 'Hello fatty!'"


pregnant belly
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7."This was the final straw for me. I used to work as a middle school music teacher at a very low-income school. There were A LOT of discipline problems and little to no support from administrators or parents. I would have classes as big as 60, and being the one adult in the room made it hard to manage. One day, I had two kids trying to pierce each other's noses in my classroom with a nose piercing thing. The students were removed from my class, but ended up going to their other classes and were back in my class the next day. They somehow convinced my admin that is was nothing and that they were 'fixing their eyelashes.' They didn’t have any consequences for their actions in my room. That’s when I decided to quit."


8."It’s rarely the students that make most teachers quit, but rather the administration. I have been a NYC public school teacher for 25 years and have never had a principal or assistant principal who didn’t screw me over at some point. Every teacher I know has similar stories. Micromanagement, petty comments in observations, grade and building changes without your consent, I could go on and on. My worst principal once came in my room said I had spelled a word wrong on one of the dozens of charts I had hanging up, and when I asked her where so I could correct it, she said I had to find it myself."


teacher in the hallway with a clipboard
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9."I was once working in a summer camp as an EFL teacher (I'm an EFL teacher full-time, but since I don't have work in the summer, I often take up summer camp work to help cover bills), and the camp leader was an absolute muppet. She had no teaching experience, but insisted on micro-managing the teachers and telling us how to do our jobs. The final straw was when she told the teachers to wear clown costumes in the class to 'lighten the mood.' I refused, she ordered me to, I quit."


10."I was teaching seventh and ninth grade at the time. I used to play music outside my classroom during passing period. I noticed that the students liked it, and they were more likely to be on time to class because they were singing along rather than chatting in the hallways. My principal called me down to his office and told me, 'You make the kids too happy, and happy kids are hard to control.' Too happy. Hard to control. I moved schools for the next year."


studens running in the hallway
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11."A student told me he was going to kill me and my husband, who also worked at the same school, and have my children hunted down and killed at their schools because I wouldn’t allow him to bring his backpack into the classroom (as per school policy). We had a restorative justice circle, he had no consequences, and he was moved out my classroom for the rest of the year."


12."During the pandemic, I was the representative for my school’s faculty to deal with issues with our admin. It usually only consisted of meetings to discuss money and conducting votes, but during the height of the pandemic, our state forced us back into crowded classrooms. We drafted a letter to try and send to the state to let them know how frightened we were. Our principals fought us tooth and nail to stop us from sending that letter. They lied, manipulated, and bullied me endlessly. The last straw was when all three of them circled around me in the office and told me I’d have to hold a third round of voting to get the letter sent. I began looking for jobs in another state that night and was gone the following year."


face mask
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13."I’ve been in early childhood for 25 years and have multiple state qualifications, plus a degree in early childhood education and a minor in social sciences. Early childhood, like district teaching, is very stressful with low pay, long hours, and, in some cases, minimal, if any, support from school leadership. In five years, I’ve had seven jobs. Six of those jobs were in childcare center-based programs, and one was as a nanny. I left center-based programs due to what I described above, and my nanny job due to the pandemic. I thought I could continue in this field for another 25 years, but I was wrong."

"The anxiety, stomach aches, stress eating, headaches, and exhaustion were occurring more and more each day, and I was bored in my last position as a floater/after-school teacher. I was also over the gossip, drama, and high school behavior. It was emotionally draining, unprofessional, and ignorant, and I left because I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m a nanny now, and I love going to work, plus, I get paid more. If I do go back to this kind of environment, I’d have to be the owner and/or part of leadership. That way, I can solve or help solve problems to avoid teachers getting burnt out."


14."I worked with a principal who was a very nice man, but prioritized the athletic department in the school. The athletic budget was unreal. He budgeted $10,000 for wresting mats and weekend tournaments while the teachers had to fundraise and give up their weekends and lunch hours to do food sales or bottle drives for field trips."


football players
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15."I graduated from college in May 2022 and was so excited to begin my career. I had no idea I would become suicidal over my job. My admin gaslit and harassed me, and they accused me of failing students who never came in my classroom once the entire school year. I received death threats from my students, all while struggling to keep my head above water. I left in March and do not regret it at all. I'm only 23, and thankfully I have the means and support to pivot careers. IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING TEACHING, ASK YOURSELF IF IT IS WORTH SACRIFICING YOUR SELF-WORTH AND MENTAL WELLNESS. It is not."


16."A student stole items from my desk after I told them my desk was off limits at the beginning of the year. The student had the items in their pocket when confronted. I called the parent and told them that their child stole from me and was receiving a write-up. Next thing I know, I was being asked to go see the principal to explain why I called this student a thief. Turns out the parents were irate that I called and accused their child of being a thief (they were), and took their child out of school for the rest of the day. They then returned the next day demanding their child be removed from my class immediately and I be disciplined. I was not formally disciplined, but I did not appreciate being questioned and accused of doing something wrong when this student stole from me. How was it my fault!?"


empty classroom
Richard Ross / Getty Images

17."A kid pointed at me and told me, 'You're going to die today.' After an 'investigation,' I was told I provoked the kid, and I got suspended. The kid got nothing. I knew it was time for me to go somewhere else."


18."I am a band director and was asked to have my kiddos perform at the local bar during the summer on the day I was supposed to return from my honeymoon. I explained the situation and told the parent volunteers, who suggested the event, and they told me they would take care of everything since they thought it was very important for us to play at this gig. I told them I would be unreachable for about a week before the event since I was getting married and going on my honeymoon. I said this multiple times and they said they understood. However, while I was on my honeymoon, I got a call from a parent at 8:30 in the morning. Obviously, I ignored this, only to have the parent call me later in the summer and tell me that I wasn’t doing enough and she needed more from me."

"As if this wasn’t enough, she and her husband came to parent/teacher conferences a year later, not to talk about their students, but tell me they thought I needed to start going to the bar and drinking with the locals so people would support my program more."


  Rapeepong Puttakumwong / Getty Images
Rapeepong Puttakumwong / Getty Images

19."I once had to teach in a classroom that had a giant penis drawn, in permanent marker, on the whiteboard. We were told to 'write around the dick' by our head of department, who was simply exhausted and at a loss for better words. It took the facilities two days before they changed the board to a new one. No cleaner had any luck removing the penis from the board."


20."Administration that doesn't take your dedication and loyalty into consideration — I quit classroom teaching for five years because of this. Being disrespected and treated as though you are a replaceable commodity, or that you simply don't know what you're doing — that will eat at you. Ridiculous parents are also annoying, but I haven't been driven to quit by them yet. I teach at a great school now, and have been there for awhile. I count myself lucky."


group of adults meeting in a hallway to talk
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21."I was physically assaulted by a student while trying to help another student who was being beaten up. This was caught on CCTV, and the offending student's mother, upon watching the footage, said, 'He didn't touch that teacher. She attacked him.'"


22."My two worst insistences were getting a chair, amongst other things, thrown at me. Then, being told I was still expected to not only finish the day, but continue teaching that class after expressing my discomfort and feeling unsafe. I also had a student threaten multiple times to hurt me, bring a gun to school, and try and stab me with scissors. My principal brushed it off and allowed the student to remain in school."


empty school hallway
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23."Active shooter/lock down drills, along with the lack of support from administration, and no respect or discipline are all pushing me out of the profession. Students are not being held accountable for their actions. It all adds up and makes me no longer want to be part of the teaching profession."


24."Parents. Honestly, this gets progressively worse each year. I've had parents threaten to sue me, demand responses to emails at all hours (even if it's on the weekend or during a school holiday), and just straight-up lie to my face. But, the worst was when a parent started telling me I was a horrible teacher, I hated their child, and I shouldn't be working at the school at all...all because I informed the parent that their son was struggling in school and the counselor was concerned there might be an issue with ADHD. I don't think parents realize that we're just trying to help their children as much as possible, but there are limitations to our profession. Getting extra help or support is not a negative thing and can even help your child thrive!"


student talking to two adults
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25."A student hit me with a door. They whipped it open while I was behind it using the phone to call admin for backup because of said student. They were back the next day."


26."I’m going into my sixth year as an elementary music teacher, but I think it will be my last. The student behavior has gone way downhill and admin does very little about it. Sometimes it’s because their hands are tied with what they can or cannot do. But, it’s a joke when a kid who was just terrorizing classmates (or you) is back in your class less than 10 minutes later like nothing happened. I don’t want to see Jane or Jon after they tried to hit me or a classmate, made verbal threats about killing someone, wouldn’t stop screaming, or threw a chair."

"It’s worse when they come back with something that can be seen as a reward by other students too, like a snack, candy, or a fidget toy. The student might need it, but others are going to feel like they need to do the same thing so that they can also have that 'fun break' (and I definitely had that happen last year). Also, it’s hard to want to notify home when problems arise (not even the drastic ones I just mentioned, just average problems too) when some parents don’t respond when you try to communicate, or they are indifferent (or make excuses)."


students reading off a paper
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27."Our school district superintendent was hired from a different district where he had many skeletons in his closet, including financial malfeasance and adultery with a subordinate. He immediately changed his title to CEO of a public school board. He has cut school budgets so much that we have lost support staff and custodial staff, and his next move is to contract out for those roles. He has quadrupled the number of 'district principal' roles and stacked his administrative team with dozens of men who do not set foot in schools or classrooms. Knowing that public education funds are padding the salaries and pensions of non-educators who wear Patagonia vests and drive Mercedes makes me cynical about all education bureaucracy!"


28.And: "I'm currently considering leaving the profession, not because of parents or administration, but because of the actions of our state's lawmakers. They made it clear that education is not a priority in their recent legislative session. A nearby district was recently taken over by the state. They plan to close a large number of school libraries, use premade lesson plans, and base salary on state standardized test scores. If this is the future of education, then count me out."


These hurt my heart. Our teachers deserve better.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline` is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.