No doubt you are receiving a flood of comments today following yesterday’s work sessions, as are we. I wanted to share with you several concerns/observations that have been posed to our group regarding “project equity” and the code of conduct committees and would appreciate your response.
First, the Project Equity’s Community Advisory Team (CAT) is a misnomer. Only a speck of actual “community” members who are actively engaged in public primary and secondary education (vs. private sector or university) are on the committee. And not a single teacher is part of the employee component, yet JCPS has 6 district-level employees represented. And is there a parent on the committee who is tasked with ensuring the students’ interests are protected over those of the employees? I don’t see one. I’m sorry, but this committee seems to be out of proportion for a group that truly wants to reach an equitable solution for all three groups represented in your graphic during yesterday’s presentation. This feels more like the fox guarding the hen house.
Second, you’ll recall, the original audit from Adam Edelen came with the observation that administrative salaries were too high, not teachers. So I’m not sure how this discussion led to the talking point that teachers are “overpaid.” I’m guessing the committee mix above could have had something to do with it. Our teachers are paid a premium, yes, but overpaid? That’s a leap, made by the wrong people. Our teachers endure a lot more than the average district. Dear JCPS feels that pitching an idea of effectively reducing teacher pay (through no COLA and step) should come AFTER the district addresses some of the “incentives,” discipline issues, low teacher morale and high turnover that have been identified. This is terrible timing! Not to mention, the cost to bring in and train new teachers comes at the expense of our students, especially in priority schools. Has anyone taken that into account? Again, we feel that the make-up of this committee has led to some very short-sighted conclusions, and seems to have missed the point entirely.
Third, the district is also catching some flak regarding the make-up of its Code of Conduct committee. I’m sure you’re aware of the message circulating (see attached). Other feedback we’ve received is that until there are more alternative school seats, as well as funding and training to support better implementation of restorative practices, further relaxing the code of conduct will do more harm than good. Once again, the cart is before the horse, and it sends the wrong message to the teachers and staff who are entrusted to care for our children. They need to feel valued and supported. These work session discussions have done neither of those things. And this reckless maneuvering continues to undermine our ability to meet our Vision 2020 goals.
Please read this open letter from a teacher. I’ve also attached an image of a private comment shared by a teacher this morning, which echoes teacher sentiments district-wide today.
Parents, community members, teachers, students all need district leaders who will do better than this. We ask that JCPS go back to the drawing board to make sure these decisions are being influenced by committees made up of people who bring balanced and “tuned-in” perspectives, who will work together to find equitable and sustainable solutions, and provide our school board with proposals that are likely to result in the best results — the first time! Our kids’ futures are at stake. We don’t get do-overs.