Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From My Archives: October 2011

I was cleaning out some old files and came across this from back in 2011. 

Challenges We Face:

  •  NYS is tightening the purse strings, and so are local districts. The impact is most noticeable in classrooms. Money that districts “Raced to the top” for went largely to the regional and administrative structures that will be used to evaluate the job we do, as opposed to supporting the local structures.
  •  Teachers are expected to do more with less on a day to day basis. Not only are staff numbers down and class sizes up, but the most needy (and sometimes difficult/disruptive) of students are in regular classrooms with fewer supports because districts are not willing to spend dollars on additional staff/support systems.
  •   The record keeping burden on teachers continues to rise, along with the expectations. “Accountability” is here.
  • Not only has the burden upon teachers increased, but compensation for that burden and respect for their training and experience has decreased. Districts are less willing to pay for teachers to seek out development in their profession, and more likely to pull them out for training during the school day-giving a substitute teacher control of their classroom.
  • Teachers have had little say in how to best address student needs. This is not new. The top-heavy bureaucracy, the wordy and vague standards, the ever changing testing system with the convoluted scoring system…teachers could have worked together and done this better a decade ago. Instead, “reform” has included more state and regional bureaucracy, testing and publishing industries, and fewer resources at the local level.
Few people would say that the way to make something work better is to take resources from the people doing the work, then hire highly paid people far away to come up with ideas about the work. Control that that is too top-heavy is the epidemic weakness of our economy and our education system and has taken from the strength and flexibility of local decision making.

What We Need to Do:
  • Work collectively. If districts are going to gather in regional and administrative teams to come up with ways to deal with inter-district staff as a group, then staffs between those districts should consider themselves a group. Staff will be lost as districts find ways to share people and spaces, so we need to be protecting our numbers now.
  • Share contact information, and important dates. Consider showing up to BOE meetings in not just your own school, but at others to support some of your fellow county teaching staff. The silent presence of numbers can make school boards more thoughtful. Stay in touch, and stay aware.

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