The Atlantic: Quitting Is Leadership If You’re A Woman

Our corner of the web often makes fun of a woman’s rationalization mechanism, but never have I seen a mainstream publication so complicit in enabling it while trashing an entire organization.

The story starts with Teach For America (TFA). It receives grants from the federal government to place spunky college students in schools where there is a wide disparity of achievement between whites and minorities. Their aim is to be help minorities do better on standardized tests. Whether that actually helps minorities is an argument for another day.

Enter Olivia Blanchard, a white woman. She committed herself to a two-year stint in TFA and was placed in an urban Atlanta school. Once she realized that teaching is not actually easy, and that her minority students weren’t at her beck and call, she began to blame everyone but herself for why it wasn’t going smoothly.

The truth was, the five-week training program had not prepared me adequately.

During my training, I taught a group of nine well-behaved third-graders who had failed the state reading test and hoped to make it to fourth grade. Working with three other corps members, which created a generous teacher-student ratio, I had ample time for one-on-one instruction.

That classroom training was completely unlike the situation I now faced in Atlanta: teaching math and science to two 20-person groups of rotating, difficult fifth-graders—fifth-graders so difficult that multiple substitute teachers would vow never to teach fifth grade at our school again.

Unruly students? In a school?!

No training program can teach you adequately from day one. Experience, attention to detail, and continued learning is necessary to pull through, as anyone who started an entry-level job out of college can testify. I’ve been out of corporate America for a while now, but I believe they call it “on the job training.” Ms. Blanchard tells the story of a woman who also had unruly students:

Jessica Smith, a corps member I recently called up, agrees. “I’ve struggled with behavior management,” she admits. (As with all the names of teachers I spoke to for this article, “Jessica” is a pseudonym.) Though training includes some instruction in student discipline, “I didn’t really have the training to know how to give consequences consistently,” Jessica said.

I asked if she reached out for support. “I think I talked to every person I knew to talk to, even our region’s executive director,” Jessica recalled. Although TFA ultimately did send in a behavior-management expert, “The person who finally came in to help me came at the end of February for a 20-minute session.” Is this a representative experience? It’s hard to say. “We provide training in behavior-management techniques,” a TFA spokesperson said when asked about Jessica, “but corps members are expected to adapt their training to their unique school culture. We also provide continuing support for corps members who have trouble fitting in.”

Jessica has decided not to return to TFA for a second year. She said she was so unsupported that she felt justified reneging on her two-year commitment. “Yes a commitment matters,” she wrote, “but staying isn’t necessarily helpful to your kids or anybody.”

Because TFA didn’t hold Jessica’s hand through every difficulty, she decided it would be “helpful” to just renege on our commitment and quit. At this point it would be prudent to state many women choose teaching for the ease, not for the intellectual rigor. The hours are relatively light, the schedule is predictable, and you get three months off in the summer.

Ms. Blanchard gives Jessica a pass for quitting because, well, she was about to do the same thing. After attacking the TFA and the Atlanta school system with dubious anecdotes and statistics, she sets the reader up for the big reveal:

I am sitting in a black, leather office chair in my new Washington, D.C., office. I have just been hired at a private company whose vision statement says nothing about closing the achievement gap, and the time has come to send TFA an e-mail announcing that I am leaving the program. I have only completed one year of my two-year commitment, knowing full well that this kind of mission-shirking is seen as a very serious, selfish betrayal within TFA. However, the reality is that my employer has been Atlanta Public Schools, my contract with the district was only for one year, and most of my teaching experiences have been defined by the messy struggles of Atlanta Public Schools, not the comfortable mantras of TFA. I struggle to summon the guilt I know I am supposed to be feeling. My large-screen computer monitor rests sturdily in front of me, and the cursor on an empty Word document blinks.What can I say to them?, I wonder. I steel myself against the possibility of criticism, against accusations of apathy, inability, or lack of leadership.

When I click Gmail’s Send button, though, I am flooded with relief rather than dread. Because the truth is, by finally showing I don’t believe that American education can be saved by youthful enthusiasm, I feel more like a leader than I ever did inside the corps.

She gets hired for a job at a DC firm, tosses her commitment aside with one email, and then declares herself as exhibiting leadership. Editors of The Atlantic have just announced to the world that if you’re a woman and enter a difficult job that you can’t solve with a Google search, it’s fine for you to quit, and if you do, you can successfully pitch them an elaborate story rationalizing your failure.

It’s no surprise the article has gone viral, with hundreds of people on Twitter commending Ms. Blanchard for exhibiting leadership by quitting the horrible TFA organization that, in spite of their imperfections, gave her the opportunity they promised. I could find only one voice of dissent:

Bashing on millennials has become a bit of a tired sport in the past couple of years, but as long as publications like The Atlantic continue to enable their narcissism and poor work ethic, the example they set will simply encourage more female “leaders” like Ms. Blanchard.

Read Next: Leadership Training For Men

77 thoughts on “The Atlantic: Quitting Is Leadership If You’re A Woman”

  1. Didn’t you read the memo, Roosh? 🙂 Whenever a woman fails at something, it must always be someone else’s fault. Of course if she succeeds, she did it entirely on her own every time.

  2. Blaming “millennials” or “boomers” or any generation for anything is unwarranted.
    The truth is, most people in every generation lack the moral compunction or intellectual capacity to act against prevailing cultural trends. We’re simply reaping the consequences of a civilization that has been degenerating for over a 100 years.
    This degeneration continues to occur despite, and in large part because of, rapid technological advancement.

    1. I’ve always said this. It’s not the millenials that are the problem; it’s the culture. It’s the culture that is now represented more-or-less equally amongst people of all generations.

  3. Roosh projected “Grrrl Power!”, feminist tropes in the article where they didn’t exist. (If they did, they were far, far removed from the main point of the article.)
    The trope that this article inadvertently addressed wasn’t feminist idiocy, but White Savior idiocy: idiot whites who believe they’re going to make black people like white people.
    This “Run to the black people and save them [and don’t realize your mistake until your 40 and infertile]!” trope has been pushed in COUNTLESS movies, TV shows, PSAs, and more: ‘Dangerous Minds’, ‘Boston Public’, ‘Freedom Writers’, and literally dozens more. Watching the baseball playoffs recently, there are several PSA’s encouraging donations to Africa. The Jon Lovitz comedy ‘High School High’ parodied this trope well, and so it was already a cliche by the mid ’90s.
    White American women are more molded by movies and TV than Luke Skywalker was molded by George Lucas. They are SUBLIMELY subservient to the media’s commands. There was an article about female alcohol consumption skyrocketing because of ‘Sex and the City’, not to mention buying whatever shoes and dresses celebrities tell them to.
    Thus, it is no surprise that this white woman, being fed a diet of ‘Boston Public’-style “Save the blacks and shed your White Privilege! Families are for the bad sort of white people!” for 25 years, would follow through.
    Then, she just learned that, “Whoa, TV and movies are fake. Didn’t realize that before.”
    Hey, it could’ve been worse: She could’ve been Amy Biehl:

    1. Also: It is good to quit stupid tasks. I like that line by Hugh Jackman in ‘Kate & Leopold’: “When one finds one’s endeavors without merit, one withdraws himself from it!”

    2. If she had watched “The Wire” she might have been better prepared. I’m sure the female black teachers at the school were laughing their butts’ off when the privileged white woman scampered away after one year.

    3. Good point, but there is a healthy dose of feminism in such White Savior movies as “Freedom Writers” and “Dangerous Minds.” In an earlier era, they would have been White Male Saviors, but now women are going boldly where they haven’t before…blah blah blah…

    4. There was also a study about the link between sitcoms portraying pregnant women and a rise in real-world pregnancies.

      1. Ever since they dreamed up the “police lab chemist as super-hero ironic alpha” genre of TV melodramas, the enrollment in the few forensic-science-degree programs has been skyrocketing.
        Note: there’s about a dozen job openings a year in this filed of work.

  4. So educated, I’m sure, and yet doesn’t understand and can’t figure out how to deal with unruly children. The magic missing ingredient is FEAR. Reason and self-pitying attempts to elicit sympathy only encourage their animalistic behavior.

    1. Yeah, go ahead and try to instill “FEAR” in inner-city, minority children as a white teacher in the PC school system these days and see how that works. She would be assaulted by students, terminated from her job, and charged with civil rights offenses.

      1. Or, better yet, fuck ’em. Stop going into TFA and encourage all of her colleagues to avoid the program. We aren’t obligated to help black people. It’s been tried many times, they don’t want it. They obviously prefer AIDS and living in shit huts to working for a living. In the past 4 years that I have been working on a Computer Science degree, I have not seen a single black student in a Comp Sci class. Zero. None at all. If they don’t want to go into STEM and get a good education, fuck ’em. Let them have prison, burger flipping, and killing each other in black-on-black crime sprees. This TFA program is for retards with a savior complex. It ain’t gonna work. Let them wallow in their own shit until they decide to improve themselves.

        1. Occaisonally there is talk of instituting a National Service for young people, similar to the military, which will provide careers and jobs so these do-gooders can help out in “needy” communities. What that really means is incentivizing neediness. Can’t have a Service Corps without needy communities, after all. As it metastasizes into a bloated careers program it will be a boon for those who can play the needy shtick and get free goodies along with a chance to plug some fairly attractive young female social-justice grads, now titled “Lieutenant”. After their career in the “Corps” they will get a retirement check and lucrative government jobs where they can put their expertise in helping the needy to further use serving the Victims Nation.

        2. lol. what a great rant. A typical attitude among “certain” Americans and an over-simplification of what’s happening ‘on the ground.’ If you can’t see how American society creates the very issues it’s pretending to solve, then you are ignorant or dishonest.

        3. As opposed to say, building bridges and other infrastructure in a Service Corps. Because doing something productive is too haaaaarrd.

  5. So, white woman has a saviour complex and wants to do the “social justice” thing by teaching minority students – students turn out to be too difficult so she gets butthurt and joins the patriarchal world of investment banking?
    lol whyte womyn

    1. Actually pretty consistent, since TFA seems to be mostly about giving unqualified rich kids overly generous salaries and resume padding at the expense of others, preferably those who can least afford it

  6. ” The Atlantic continue to enable their narcissism and poor work ethnic”
    I think you mean “work ethic”. Feel free to delete this comment.

  7. What does the fact that she is female have to do with anything? If you blame this girl for quitting, you’ve obviously never had to work with inner-city kids.

    1. I see a lot of people commenting along these lines; I think this misses the point.
      The article isn’t criticizing her for leaving, primarily; the criticism, is that when she finally realized that she was a fool without any courage or interior reserves of intellect, savvy and fortitude, she called it “leadership,” rather than “an entirely avoidable failure.”

        1. How so? If that was the point of the article, it was a pretty lame point considering the much greater implications of the original story.
          And, if you read the article, her point was that she felt so powerless in TFA that she felt more like a leader by quitting than she did while in the program. She wasn’t calling herself a leader — she was just making a rhetorical point about how hopeless the program is for aspiring teachers. I know – a hard distinction for small minds to make.

        2. the original story school kids and all their problems etc etc is not at all the point of this story. I thought that was pretty clear.

        3. “she was just making a rhetorical point about how hopeless the program is for aspiring teachers.”
          She was just blaming everyone else for her failure, instead of bettering herself. A very common pattern among women.

        4. Read The Onion joke article about this subject. It also applies to NGOs everywhere.

  8. I’d quit too. I wouldn’t call that “leadership” but doing what’s best for me, and not what’s best for TFA. One should always do what’s best for himself, and be willing to accept the consequences. But hey – I’m a selfish motherfucker.

  9. I’ve seen many cases at work where women flake at the slightest discomfort. You have to walk on eggshells. Sometimes you feel as if they think going to work is like a date, and if they feel uncomfortable it’s socially acceptable for them to text “can’t make it, sorry”. It seems women can’t understand the concept of responsibility and commitment. The concept that once you commit to something, you *have* to carry it out, otherwise people will not rely on you in the future.
    On the other hand, why should they? Whenever they pull shit like this they have hordes of people defending them and they never have to suffer any consequences for their actions anymore.

    1. Women also take workplace disagreements you have with them VERY personally. One of the reasons I don’t like working with women, they will smear your name with rumours and lies to get a promotion over you.

      1. Women should not be allowed to work. They destroy the workplace and take up the spot for a better qualified man. It’s really that simply.

  10. I have been working at a school in D.C. for four years. There is only one white kid. What I see more than anything is that many Ivy League/elite university educated teachers that come our way somehow missed out on developing the necessary social skills and self-awareness to succeed. They completely lack any ability to make observations about their environment or to pick up on social cues. They cannot connect with the students at all. This comes as a huge shock to them, as they have been awarded a gold participation star while receiving lavish praise from their liberal arts professors. It can be kind of fun to watch the meltdown.

    1. Yup. I worked in those ‘urban war zone’ schools. I think it took me about three years to even approach competence at the job. I sucked for a while, but in the meantime I tried to connect with the kids as human beings rather as little social projects, so they cut me a lot more slack than the endless stream of Ivy League white girls coming through like “I’m here to save you!” and then quitting in the first year. It also helped that I didn’t take any crap from them. But this girl ain’t special and neither is her story.

  11. “Editors of The Atlantic have just announced to the world that if you’re a woman and enter a difficult job that you can’t solve with a Google search, it’s fine for you to quit, and if you do, you can successfully pitch them an elaborate story rationalizing your failure” – or a “difficult job”… marriage?

        1. For some time I have been calling my son Hermann “Bish” every time he annoys me while I am doing important work on the compooter: “Aww Bish! Shuttup!”. Hermann has mastered the art of acting earnest while asking me irritating questions. A form of real-time trolling.
          I said I was being juvenile and should not be calling him that. He said “it’s the best word”.
          It should be part of the manosphere lexicon. Secret handshake and all that.

  12. Thanks, Roosh. I’m enjoying the schadenfreude. However, I don’t think the problem is with Ms. Blanchard as a failed social worker. The problem is with the establishment cultivating people that lack viable worth. She had no chance at ‘education’, never did. The fact she now works at a bank says volumes. Ms. Blanchard has no doubt failed as a voter and first-class citizen, but not as a social worker. I expect Jesus would have struggled with those 5th graders.

    1. You nailed it. This isn’t “The Water is Wide”. Her harsher critics here don’t know what she was dealing with, it was futile.

  13. teaching ‘youths’ to compete with other groups of kids is folly. poor impulse control, lack of parental supervision (usually no dad), inordinately high self esteem, the idea that being school-smart or using proper diction is ‘gay’ or ‘acting white’…i don’t pity these honky liberals who try and change the world, but i see another theme here…

  14. What’s notable about these incidents is the narcissism revealed in the protagonists. These “idealists” (or, I should say, attention seekers in idealist clothing) can’t just take a job for the sake of a job. Oh, no.
    There has to be some noble, altruistic “statement” behind every job. Some drama.
    Teach America!
    Help the illiterate dregs!
    By the grace of my princess demeanor, I will solve America’s insoluble social problems!
    Yes, me, and me alone!
    And then reality hits. You just can’t “teach” America. You can’t solve insoluble social problems with your lily-white good intentions. It’s too far gone for that. These teachers are air-dropped into urban war-zones, are fed to the wolves by an establishment that is far, far too busy filling its own pockets to care about the public. A shameful farce, all around, I say.
    I say: we need the iron fist. We need an iron fist.
    I am no friend of the “man in the street.” People need to be led, to be told what to do. America needs about 20 years of ass-kicking, to correct the balance for decades of sloth, indolence, permissiveness, wealth, and greed. The point now is to stop the slide into oblivion.
    But that’s just me, maybe.

  15. WOW!! Leadership is suppose to be easy?! It is suppose not have challenges? Damn Navy, they friggin lied to me!!!!
    I should have signed on, and when shit hit the fan, or a fire started in the middle of the freakin ocean, earthwuakes hit my duty station (WHILE I WAS ON DUTY NO LESS, THE HORROR!), or pirates, smugglers, or Iranian gunmen reared their ugly heads; I could have just pulled a “Time-OUT!” card, and called myself the epitome of leadership.
    This is why I have so many problems with women. From marriage, to teaching and healthcare, everything has to be about convenience; or they quit and “discover themselves.”
    Silly bitches.

  16. We are so fucked….doomed. I’m gonna sound like the “get-off-my-lawn” guy but these kids these days. NO resilience. NO ability to handle any hardship. Compare these twats to the depression/WW2 generation. Remember these TFA idiots get their college loans paid for so I wonder if she’ll still be on the hook. What’s bothersome is her complete lack of shame into her actions. She’s a quitter. Would you hire a chick? Would you go into business with a chick??

  17. Few things in life are more hilarious and satisfying than watching young white libtards get bitch-slapped by the reality they so adamantly deny/ignore. Teach For America seems to make this happen a lot.

  18. She punked out on her commitment and traded up, that failing is on her.
    But, her parting shot is absolutely spot on, “Because the truth is, by finally showing I don’t believe that American education can be saved by youthful enthusiasm, I feel more like a leader than I ever did inside the corps.”
    Its called Teach for America, not Parent for America. I dated a 5th grade teacher and some of her kids were completely out of control – these are ten year olds! The teachers have no recourse… send them to the principal’s office, send them home? That is what the children want. There are no consequences in public schools.
    Schools are there to teach, not to civilize. “Urban Atlanta” isn’t code for black, its code for fatherless wild children.

  19. Funny enough, I know a woman who also did this, but she was just a plain old public school teacher. She got placed in a Baltimore school and couldn’t control the kids. Walked out mid-semester. Just up and quit. She also now works in DC.
    The difference is that she didn’t advertise what happened. I heard it through the grapevine.

  20. LOL. They create the problem. They pretend to be able to fix the problem. They realize the problem is actually too big to be fixed. They throw their hands up, give up and leave. They retreat to their safe havens, behind thick well-guarded walls. Finally without a sense of shame or guilt, they pontificate on why the ‘inner-cities’ are so screwed up.

  21. Maybe she actually was under-supported though. Even as a man I’ve at times felt inadequate to perform some tasks, especially when I was younger and less experienced. It seems even more feasible that a woman could justifiably feel the same.

  22. Millennial white girls have such rose tinted views of the world because society has been too good to them and life has been easy until they arrive at the real world. You can’t expect the majority of them to handle failure well because they are soft beneath their hard exteriors. She has watched way too many inspirational movies to have a realistic view of what it takes to teach.
    Teaching kids is like owning a dog.

  23. I LOVE when sanctimonious, northern White liberals from their 90% White sub-arctic bullshit farms come down here and come face-to-face with some gold-toothed reality. Especially when a Reality beats the living fuck out of them or gives ’em a good, brutal raping. They always seem so SURPRISED.

  24. So she goes from being a leech that is in a position to potentially not be a leech to just being an outright leech on society as a whole.
    That whole Social Justice crowd makes no sense to me.

  25. I really don’t understand how you can make a blanket statement about half the population of the world (women) based off of one account. I am not saying I love TFA or this woman I just think if you make a statement about women being unable to hold leadership positions in the same way men are you should probably have proof beyond one example in a very specialized situation. I truly hope this is satire.

  26. How about instead of shaming her for recognizing that the truth, we applaud her. The truth is women generally suck at teaching. Its not a coincidence that women domintate the public schools and the students, particularly blacks, are unmaneagable. Give me a school of those same little bastards and a platoon of marines to act as teachers, with a course curriculum decided only by the marines and I guarantee you the little bastards will learn to behave.

  27. To be fair, as someone who once briefly (that is, ten seconds . . . thankfully) considered TFA and who did the substitute teaching thing off and on for two years, if I had encountered the kinds of ghetto kids in Atlanta, DC, LA, etc. that many talk about, and if I had been beholden to work to JUST raise test scores (which, incidentally, I think is a fool’s errand ever since No Child Left Behind was implemented), I’d have quit after one year, too, and joined an investment bank. Not worth the pain and suffering for a pittance. I subbed because I had no other options at the time. I’m glad that I did that because it soured me on teaching and motivated me to work in a field that paid me better and where I had more control.
    I’ll never, never, never work in a public school again. I’d rather clean horse shit on a farm for eight hours a day.
    So, in a way, I can understand what this chick did. It was a rational decision to a situation that was bad all around. But, also, I agree that her passing this off as leadership and borderline martyrdom is a crock of shit. Had it been me, I’d have simply bailed after one year and never said anything more about it.

  28. Women are emotionally weak as well as weak in general.So her quitting should make all women quit their jobs. 🙂

  29. I don’t understand the criticism. She blindly went into one of the worst jobs in the country (blinded by her taught liberalism and expectations), saw that it was hopeless, and made a smart jump to chase money. By the way, there is nothing easy about the environment that she was in. I’ve been there. Other teaching jobs may be easy, but not this one. Why should she blame herself, Roosh? It’s the fault of the kids and it’s the fault of their parents. Teachers can’t magically correct severe behavior problems. Many of those kids should have likely been in special education classes, and they likely would have been if the school had the money for them and the new PC rules didn’t try and mainstream most special ed. kids these days. Is she a special ed. teacher? No? Not her fault. Can’t read in third grade?!! GMAFB. That’s special ed. IF, by some miracle, a kid is in that grade, isn’t special ed, and can’t read then it’s the fault of the parents. Teach your kid to read, for the love of god, if he/she hasn’t learned in school by the end of first grade. Blaming this girl is idiocy. Kids can’t be saved from awful parenting by imported teachers. Child rearing just doesn’t work that way.
    A woman who can do quick calculations such as this, and can beneficially act on those calculations to correct mistakes is okay with me. It’s the forever bleeding hearts that will waste their lives for nothing, and blame everyone but the blameworthy, that become political PITA’s later in life. They use illogical defensive reasoning to justify their wasted lives. Smart people learn quickly form their mistakes.
    The best part of this article comes out her the ex-teacher’s own mouth: “this kind of mission-shirking is seen as a very serious, selfish betrayal within TFA”.
    Serious selfish betrayal??? Whattttt?? This is USA 2013, bitches. Everyone for themselves, right??? Isn’t that how it is? Does that Atlanta community care about the community where this teacher came from? It could give two shits if that community and everyone in it vanished off of the face of the earth tomorrow. In reality, there’s no fucking mission to help anyone outside of their own communities and families. The only ‘mission’ is a scam that guilts girls like this into working in these communities. The TFA should have properly trained this girl if they cared about their ‘mission’ so much. That mission and betrayal bullshit is simple liberal guilt tactic designed to hold the soft willed and weak minded in underpaid, under-trained shitty jobs that no one in their right mind really wants to do. Fuck the TFA and their fake mission nonsense. To do the job that this girl was supposed to do, she should have been paid well above a normal teachers salary and given ample training. That would have been a fair contract if they cared about their mission. They don’t care – they just want bodies. The only thing this girl did wrong was devoting a year to the job in the first place.

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