Retain Experienced and Qualified Teachers – A Discussion
We are losing experienced teachers, and the board and school administration seems more intent on hiring new teachers than retaining experienced ones. Our teachers are not compensated fairly, are expected to take on additional duties, be social emotional counselors to children, and are measured by test scores they have little ability to control. We must retain experienced and qualified teachers, eliminate outside distractions and give them the ability to teach, not indoctrinate, our children.
What I will do to make a change:
- I will challenge the growth of administrative staff over teaching staff and examine budget decisions that have the effect of limiting teacher pay and teachers assistants.
- I will advocate for experience or longevity pay and masters (advanced degree) pay for our teachers.
- I will advocate to remove social emotional learning from our school curriculum. Teachers are not trained and are not qualified to address or remedy the psychological and social needs of children.
- I will advocate for the restoration of discipline by school administrators so that teachers and classrooms are not threatened by misbehavior.
- I will advocate for community involvement as teachers or teachers’ assistants, including persons with advanced degrees and life experiences in academic areas.
- I will push back against federal and state mandates that limit our teachers’ ability to teach their subject matter.
- I will hold outside meetings, focus groups and sessions to listen to teachers’ concerns and ensure they are presented to the board and public and are not ignored.
Our teachers are the key to success of our students, but other concerns seem to be a priority and teachers are not able to speak out.
The biggest surprise I have had since announcing that I am running for a seat on the Board of Education is just how reluctant teachers are to talk to me about their concerns. Almost every one has prefaced the conversation with, “I really shouldn’t say anything.”
Why would our teachers feel a need to self-censor? There is clearly a political bias within the teaching profession that makes speaking out against the current regime a bad thing, or that makes questioning the curriculum and methods unacceptable. I find that distressing, but it does reflect our current social and political environment of distrust.
Some of the most important people in my life have been my teachers, and not because they indoctrinated me into a philosophy or viewpoint, but because they challenged me, encouraged me and helped me to see the world hopefully. They taught me to understand the subject matter, not simply repeat an answer sure to be on a test, and when I was struggling academically, they showed me how to press through the difficulty.
Yet, my teachers were not my parents. They were respected adults that children could rely on to learn from, but they were not expected to instill my family or cultural values, and certainly not to indoctrinate me into any political or social group. And, next to my parents, they were the first adults whose behavior I could learn from and imitate in learning how to be an adult.
Unfortunately, in today’s educational environment, teachers are enlisted as culture warriors, and many embrace that opportunity. We’ve all seen the excesses that populate social media.
Because teachers are so influential in our childrens’ lives, we should seek out the best ones for our schools, we should respect them for their competence and learning, and we should reward them for their success and perseverance in a difficult, but important career. We should allow them to teach and not distract from that with extra duties or social emotional requirements.
Many of the pay and curriculum issues teachers face are a result of federal or state requirements and that makes pushing back against them seem almost hopeless. Yet, we must push back and the school board and schools staff should be leading that fight. We too willingly accept whatever mandate comes down as if we can’t argue against it or raise a fuss over it. In this, being the leader means standing up for and protecting teachers and students.
The growth of administrative staff also seems to be negatively impacting the pay and retention of teachers. Should we be growing the number and pay of staff if we’re being forced to cut the pay of teachers and front-line workers? Should we be forced to let experienced teachers leave because of pay issues and hire new ones at lower rates who lack the wisdom and experience of our better teachers? I don’t think so, and I’ll do what I can to argue against that and balance that against every other budget issue.
Our current state education system and local schools are bureaucratic and governmental nightmares. We have argued for and increased funding of these huge programs for decades, and we’ve seen no improvement in our children’s learning, our communities have not benefited from increased excellence and we have little to show for our investment except more bureaucracy. We’ve moved the goalposts continually, and in that, our goal of producing well educated children who build strong families that stay in and become leaders in our community has been lost. We need a change. We need to refocus on that goal.