Teaching is getting harder …”it’s not worth it”

By Nancy J. Semon,  Staff Writer, The Daily Sun, June 10, 2022.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Deven Seibert, the Murdock Middle School teacher who generated controversy when she brought students to a School Board meeting to discuss bullying of gay students, has resigned.

Seibert told The Daily Sun her resignation a “pause” from teaching. She said she’s not sure whether she’ll eventually teach “out of state or in a different country,” or go into another field.

“I started teaching when I was 30,” Seibert said.

She’s now 44.

“It’s not the end-all, be-all,” she said. “Teaching is getting harder and harder; it’s not worth it, it just isn’t. I can be less stressed doing something else.”

After learning Seibert was leaving the district, supporters defended her.

“When teachers of color leave, that affects all of our students — especially our students of color,” Jim Hussey said at the June 6 School Board meeting. “The research is clear: If Black students have just one teacher of color in elementary school, they are more likely to earn high grades in high school and graduate. We just lost ground.”

He referred to a person who called for Seibert’s dismissal or reprimand following her appearance at the April meeting.

“When people seek to intimidate others — on the playground, from this podium or from any podium, they need to be challenged, not met with silence,” said Hussey, a Babcock Ranch resident.

District spokesperson Mike Riley said Deven Seibert’s departure was voluntary; she was not fired.

“We respect (Seibert’s) decision and her right to privacy,” a Charlotte County Public Schools statement noted.

Seibert was targeted by some people after she accompanied three students who appeared before the School Board in April, expressing concerns over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It has since been signed into law.

The students, members of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, told Charlotte County Public Schools Board members they feared the bill would create other laws that would infringe on the rights of LGBTQ students.

Seibert said she’s brought students before the board in the past to discuss issues of importance to them, including the environment.

The three students’ families drove them to the meeting, but they waited in the parking lot in their cars while Seibert accompanied the students inside.

Afterward, some adults surrounded the students to debate them. Seibert intervened.

“These are children,” she told the crowd.

Board chairman Ian Vincent praised the students for being “the adults in the room.”

Seibert told The Daily Sun that schools need to “get politics out of teaching.”

She said parents had contacted her to question the curriculum being taught, but the problem is that some don’t understand the curriculum.

“We’ve been teaching the same things for 30 to 40 years,” she said.

Seibert praised the Charlotte County Public Schools.

“I love my administration,” she said. “They were really good to me and supportive.”

But there has been a change in attitude of some people.

“I feel like things are going to get worse and worse,” she said.

Seibert said those who speak out against the schools’ curriculum “don’t volunteer, they don’t see what we do every day.”

She also cited the increase in charter schools and said education should be “for the public good and not business.”

Seibert noted Murdock Middle School is a Title 1 school, meaning it receives federal funds for free breakfasts and lunches, as it has a high student concentration of poverty.

“We (teachers) buy the paper; we buy the pencils; we buy pizza for the class,” she said.

Seibert lauded her fellow teachers,

“We put our heart and soul in a Title 1 school.”