Behavior/Discipline, Budget, Teacher Shortage, Vision: 2020

The Main Thing

Dear JCPS,

Why are we here? I mean, what business are we in?

Education, right? That’s the main thing.

If we think of the student as our customer, and teaching is the main thing, Who, then, is the most important person in the district?


And this should be doubly true for our persistently low achieving schools serving our most at risk students? Right?

Yet, our priority school lost another science teacher this week. A school that already has the highest teacher turnover in the district. A school that also has some of the lowest test scores.

Is the correlation of high turnover and low test scores a coincidence? No. Relationships matter. Momentum and institutional knowledge matter. Promises and goals matter. Like Christy Rogers said, “I’ve been with you for the past 3 years. I know you, I know your momma.” Teachers who stay know where students struggle. And they can help students achieve their futures.

Why did we lose this teacher? Did she quit? Was she fired? Did she move to teach in another school or district? NO. She was one of the good ones, in a key content area in a struggling school, you know, the main thing. You still with me?

To show her how much we appreciate her as a teacher WE PROMOTED HER out of the classroom.

Why are we rewarding the best teachers with “promotions” to leave their teaching positions? Seems counter intuitive. Paying them more to do less of something they are actually good at. Teaching. What we need the most of. Teachers.  We are a school system. Our primary function is TEACHING. Those should be our highest paid jobs in the district, not the admin jobs.

And while I’m on the subject. The state audit revealed that our district is top heavy in high level district level admin jobs and so far, our district leaders have attempted to freeze teacher and staff salaries, eliminated numerous essential mid-level district staff, but as far as I know they have not touched the top heavy positions that the audit identified. In fact, by my calculations, they have added to those numbers. WHEN can we expect to see high level positions identified in the audit addressed?

Let’s remember to make the main thing the main thing. Let’s treat teachers like the mvps they are. Let’s reward them by paying them well to stay IN THAT ROLE. Let’s provide them the tools they need to be successful IN THAT ROLE, such as smaller class sizes and supports and interventions when their students struggle. Let’s create an environment that fosters collaboration over competition. Let’s give teachers voice and autonomy. Especially in priority schools. Let’s recognize them for the hurdles they’ve overcome, not demoralize them for the test score that didn’t move because of factors beyond their control.

If we make the main thing the main thing by putting teachers at the heart of what we do, then as a district we can get back to building relationships and reducing teacher turnover (which also generates costs savings, despite what was factored into the budget).

When talking about actual salaries vs cost to onboard new teachers. Does not take into account cost to relationships. Cost to momentum of programs. Cost to student learning successes. Cost to achieving vision 2020.

Shortsighted to only look at spreadsheets and not classroom dynamics. Without asking why these increased incidents are occurring. Without seeking teacher input, you are missing some very important nuances. If we preemptively and proactively spend money on tools and supports teachers and students need to be successful up front, we won’t have to spend even more money on things like metal detectors and other punitive measures.

Thank you.

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