It’s one thing when your school director says you’re doing a lousy job and s/he can’t recommend you to another school. It’s a very different scenario when, by all accounts and compliments received, you know you were doing well and then a crummy reference is given behind your back. In reality, confidential letters of reference give school heads a life-and-death hold on teachers’ careers, and with absolutely no accountability since these letters are never seen by candidates. A teacher recently reported that his director eventually confessed to submitting a poor letter of reference only because he did not want him to leave. Translation? Your Chemistry position is hard to fill. You can’t leave!
Imagine spending thousands on a recruiting fair, only to have your efforts ruined by one poor letter of reference you didn’t even suspect existed. Dr. Spilchuk, ISR Teacher Advisor, receives numerous letters from international educators reporting that their recruiting efforts were going fantastic until the school to which they were applying received confidential letters of reference — “At that point, all communication came to a screeching halt!” How many schools had these teachers applied to before they put two-and-two together and realized someone had hijacked their careers?
School directors regularly complain about anonymous postings to ISR, yet these same people feel justified in discussing a teacher without the teacher even knowing what is said about them, let alone by whom. We would like to see the practice of confidential references stopped! Would YOU? We invite you to weigh in on this topic.