The “X”odus Files: Toxic Stress and Accountability.


Last night I posted this on my personal Facebook page.

How many of our colleagues need to take medication, pursue counseling, have their own families disrupted, and then finally quit teaching before we can say, “accountability is the poison?”

Slekar Facebook

The reason for posting this came as I was combing over my survey results regarding the teacher “X”odus. The shear volume of respondents that openly shared their experience with workplace induced anxiety leading to mental health counseling and medication was striking. In addition, there were multiple stories of family disruptions—some even resulting separation and divorce.

This in turn led me to do some research to see if there was national data to support my small set of findings. At a later date I will go over that data but for now I want to take a sharp turn. During the research for national data I was deluged with blog posts and articles that verified teacher stress, medication, depression, and counseling were all “common place.”

However, the tone of almost every post was “how to deal with it.” Nothing about naming “it” and no mention of any need for a total dismantling of the accountability ethos that has driven our colleagues to the brink and set in motion a mental health crisis within our profession.

And so here we are again and the message is clear.

You teachers need to toughen up, get help, do yoga, explore mindfulness, call help lines, create support groups, seek counseling, and get on medication. Because the system—accountability—is fine and going nowhere. You all are the problem!

In other words, the toxic culture of blame and shame is just fine. The mental health issues faced by educators are simply indicators of a lack of fortitude and grit.

Where have we heard this deficit narrative before?