What Would You Do?

This is one of the many examples of why our educational system is in peril…not just trouble.

Let’s say you’re working for a public school district as a “specials” teacher – that is, art, music, library, phys ed, or perhaps you’re a school counselor, and, as a member of the teacher’s union, you’ve been working without a contract since the start of the school year.

A week before the vote to ratify a new contract, the elementary school where you’re working has a meeting to inform all the teachers that because testing scores of third graders were unacceptably low, every teacher will now work with second graders to improve their learning by adding 20 minutes everyday to the workday to work with a selected group of students.  Now, you need to prepare lesson plans not only for your classes, but for these students in particular, AND, a large part of your evaluation will be based on how these 2nd grade students perform on their standardized testing in the 3rd grade the following year.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about individuals that are certified in elementary education, but that have been certified in a special field, such as K-12 music, K-12 art, or K-12 phys ed.  Or, are certified guidance counselors.

Would you vote to ratify the union contract because what’s being asked of you is in the best interest of the students, even though what you’re being asked may be against school district policy or the state’s education department’s guidelines?  Or would you vote to reject it since it charges non-certified teachers with the responsibility of improving the performance of students in a field in which they don’t have a specialization?

And then the public marvels as why there’s a nationwide teacher shortage.  It’s because teachers are leaving the profession because of “no win” choices presented to them, increasing expectations, and remuneration difficulties due to a declining tax base.

Further, as we emerge from the pandemic into our “new normal” environment, these types of difficulties have been foisted upon teachers time after time, sometimes by school board members who have been elected on a platform aligned with extreme political viewpoints, and who want to have control over what students are being taught – even though they have absolutely no teaching experience, and don’t realize what the purpose of “public education” is.

As for the students, many of them may start to realize the undercurrent of the community…which is why they don’t return after they graduate from high school, leaving the tax base to gentrify and deteriorate.