In Defense of Teachers

In Defense of Teachers

In Defense of Teachers

I want you for a moment to think about your favorite public school teacher from your educational experience. It might have been elementary school, junior high, or even high school. That was easy – we all have that memory, and you probably thought of more than one teacher.

Being a public school teacher takes a very unique skill set. They are infinitely patient, concerned with the welfare of each child in their care, and are often working with extremely limited resources. We all know that our teachers work far beyond the classroom hours, and contribute personal funds in order to have the materials they need to teach their students.

Here in Tennessee, this profession in additionally hindered by an unnecessarily burdensome protocol for simply keeping their job. In order to retain a job from year to year, a teacher is assessed by two things: how the students in her care test, and how well she performs on her evaluation. This sounds reasonable until you look a little more closely.

There is no doubt that students are over-tested in TN. A student may spend more than 30 school days per year in testing and testing preparation. This takes up valuable instruction time, and the evidence shows that this testing does not enhance a students education, nor does it even always give accurate results, plus the evidence is showing that it is negatively affecting studentsanxiety and stress levels. 50% of a teachers ability to retain her job is based on the results of this testing.

The other 50% is based on a metric that can only be described as absurd. In one or two 30-minute observation sessions, a teacher is expected to perform a checklist of over 70 (?) points. Included in the links below you will find the list. Experienced, qualified, effective teachers struggle to score a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale, and scoring 2s and 3s can put a teacher into a probationary status which may take a year or more to recover from.

Teachers are experiencing all of this while also having had no meaningful raise in years. And because our legislature voted to take away their professional associations collective bargaining rights, our teachers have been prevented from negotiating a more reasonable procedure.

Teachers in TN have committed their careers to caring for our most valuable resource. They are highly-educated, well-trained professionals. They are the experts when it comes to utilizing the skills and resources necessary to do this incredibly important and often challenging task. It is far past time to show our teachers respect in a manner that involves more than political speeches and grandstanding. Our teachers deserve actual, tangible displays of that respect; displays that are manifested in improved working conditions, increased salary, secure benefits, and restored rights.

Im Gayle Jordan, Im running for the state senate in District 14, and Im asking for your vote and support.