Dear NC Congressman and Senator:
I’m sure you’ve seen the email exchange between Sarah Wiles (Teacher CMS) and Dr. David Curtis. If not, here’s a link (http://wunc.org/post/teacher-email-legislators-draws-harsh-reply) that provides access to both letters.
I’ve never considered myself an activist. I’ve thought of my years in education as service. The email exchange mentioned above has raised a great deal of discussion in educational communities across the United States. It’s been talked about on blogs and forums. Unlike Ms. Wiles I am not ashamed to be a NC educator. However, events of this last year have deeply concerned me and made me hesitant to recommend education to others. I was not necessarily an advocate for increased pay. It would have been wonderful, but I read the news, I know times have been tough.
However, added to very little pay increase, we’ve had the following:
NC Legislature’s flippant attitude toward tenure and masters pay greatly discouraged teachers. For many who were working on their masters, there was no way they could finish by the first deadline or even the extended deadline.
The state adopted a curriculum (CCSS) that required a large amount of training, lesson redesign and planning. We are now hearing CCSS may not be continued. I’m not saying it should, but the man hours involved in implementing something this massive should be taken into consideration. I am willing to be trained and trained again, but that training takes time to digest and implement. It certainly would have been better for students, teachers and parents if this had been considered before CCSS was adopted in the first place.
Testing is high stakes and incredibly time consuming. I was encouraged several years ago when it looked like we were dropping some of our EOCs, but now our schools are consumed with testing. Reading tests determine whether 3rd grades will go to summer school. Parts of the teacher evaluation are determined by student test scores. How can these tests be anything but high stakes. Obviously testing has not had the desired effect of increased learning only increased anxiety. Data, fidelity and rigor have become the watch words for anything done in classes. However, children learn many things in a school year that can not be quantified on a test.
My family has contributed financially toward an unknown number of school supplies, books, uniforms and summer camps for students they never knew in any other way than that they were in my classes or my school. My family is not alone in this. Most teachers I know give without thought to their students, their classrooms, their schools and communities.
And then there is the pay. It doesn’t take much of a search to find teachers leaving NC for states that pay more. We are losing teachers who have been recognized for their great teaching. We are losing experience and energy and compassion. Our loss means other states gain.
Now we have Dr. Curtis’s email (conveniently sent to all the NC Senate) explaining that teachers are greedy. We’ve let a non-existing union sway our thinking. He doesn’t understand that we are 10 month and not 12 month employees, so I’m sure he doesn’t understand that any summer employment is cut short when the school district insists we work contracted days in the summer because we got bad weather days “off”. He is equally sure our poor attitudes are being relayed to our students.
So, I would like to know about your educational agenda. Do you agree with Dr. Curtis? I’d like to know what you think of NC teachers and the future of NC schools and consequently their students. What plans are in place to address the poverty that infects so many families of the students we teach? What can we as a state do to change attitudes about learning for the positive? How can we give students and teachers more time for learning and reduce the time dedicated to testing?
I want education in NC to be top notch. I want our children to be in environments where they can’t help but learn. I want our schools to be exemplar. A child’s learning environment, however, is a teacher’s work environment. The two are linked in such a way they can never be considered as separate concerns.