More Comments to School Board Feb 24, 2010

Cindy Prescott comments to KSD School Board 24 Feb 2010

A few years ago, my oldest daughter came to me with news that should only be second to, “You’re going to be a grandma!” She told me she was going to get her teaching certificate. Most people would feel thrilled to have their daughter or son walk in their footsteps with a chosen career. Although I hugged her and said all the right things to my daughter, I had a half-hearted response inside. I was thinking, “Teaching has become a much more difficult career.”

This career has always been a difficult career. We don’t make a product, like cornflakes or cars. We are helping young children, who are our future, to become the best they can be. It’s always taken a great deal of time to be a teacher. It’s always taken a great amount of emotional energy to be a teacher. And yet, so many of us have chosen this career because we care deeply about children, and about the future of our country. But I wonder, will that continue to be the case in the current education climate?

This last week, I read a letter that was sent to the Washington State Legislature from many of the Superintendents in our state, including Dr. Vargas. The letter encouraged the Legislature to adopt a new evaluation system for teachers that is unfair and punitive. The new system calls for teachers’ evaluations to be tied to student scores. The system doesn’t address poverty, learning disabilities, unfunded mandates, lack of “ample” educational funding by the state, or the high class sizes in the Kent School District.

As I read it, I wondered about a few more things. I wondered how many dedicated, talented people will decide not to join the ranks my daughter and I are proudly part of.  I wondered why superintendents and school boards are not part of the accountability that teachers and principals might face. I wondered why the KEA “partnership” was not involved in discussion about this letter before it was sent.

Accountability is important. I believe the children in my classroom should be making progress each year. But I think about a few years ago when I was teaching at a Title 1 school. I was the same teacher, dedicated to my students and their progress. However, my test scores were different than they have been in the last few years, as now I teach in a non-Title 1 school. So I wonder, who will want to teach in a Title 1 school?

I think about all the amazing teachers in our district who teach children with special needs. Their children might not show the same type of growth that will be required by this new evaluation system. Maybe the growth might be slower than those in the Legislature (most of whom have never taught in the classroom) think it should be. So I wonder, who will want to teach special needs children?

Right now, it is a very lonely job to be a teacher. Teachers are held responsible for many societal problems that are not under our control. Teachers care more than school boards, more than legislatures and more than the President about their classroom children. Yet, teachers are somehow being found to be the problem in education.

So, I am left wondering about many things. I wonder what will happen to the field of education. I wonder who will want to teach our children. But mostly, I wonder what will happen to our children when there is no one left to teach them?

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