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September 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM
Teachers want to teach
The Seattle Times has long portrayed a dim view of teachers’ unions, but it is time for the public to have a clear understanding of what school employees hold dear to their hearts. [“Seattle schools start today as teachers OK contract,” NW Wednesday, Sept. 4.]
Despite the disrespect shown to many school professionals, teachers continue to teach. But we will no longer accept being held accountable for student progress while more students are placed in our classes and more and more is expected of us in our classrooms, without legislated salary increases.
Teachers are ready to teach. Despite strike talk, we have been working feverishly in our classrooms and we were ready to work on Tuesday, voted on a new contract Tuesday evening and greeted students with the same joy we show, year in and year out.
In the area of accountability, new state testing is to happen within two years. One bargaining issue that divided the union and the district is whether or not to put time, energy and money into the old system of evaluation.
The Seattle School District seems to have wanted to spend time, energy and money to prove their success on an old system which may no longer be in place in two years.
After more that 40 years of teaching, serving years as a bargaining-team member, and heavy involvement in my union, I hope someone can find the voice of reason in my arguments.
Devin Gruver, Pathfinder Middle School autism program, Seattle
September 3, 2013 at 4:31 PM
A level playing field
Now the big negotiation piece for teachers is being evaluated by test results. [“Seattle teachers to vote on new pact,” page one, Sept. 2.]
Well, let’s make it a level playing field. If teachers are held accountable in this manner, so should the administration, students and parents.
Should class size be significantly lowered for better instruction? Yes. Should new students who speak little English be included in testing? No. Should a child be allowed to pass into the next grade if they have not mastered specific key skills taught at a grade level? No.
Parents should be required to attend conferences. Children should not be allowed to enter kindergarten without knowing the alphabet, how to count to 20, how to read specific sight words and how to write their own name; parents should see to this.
There may be nothing wrong with asking teachers to be evaluated by test results if all those connected to the process agree to do their part too. Teachers, don’t forget to grade your principal.
Jim Thompson, Seattle
September 3, 2013 at 6:55 AM
Teachers and parents should stop whining
Everyone is tired of Seattle area teachers whining right around school start time. This time it is about using test scores to judge them. [“Teachers vote down contract proposal,” NW Tuesday, Aug. 27.]
I have two issues with this anti-test-score perspective.
First, if tests are good enough to affect or determine the future success of the children (for example, whether they go to college), they should be good enough to determine a qualitative review of the teacher.
Second, if teachers were confident the children would do well at these tests, they wouldn’t have this issue.
The curriculum does not support test success. This is not because tests are an irrelevant distraction, it’s because of the parents selfish impact on curriculum.
Over the past decades, in the name of progress, the curriculum at almost all public schools has been softened, and made more entertaining and fun.
The rhetoric around that is that it encourages learning. The resulting curriculum gives kids higher grades, and makes parents happy, so they don’t complain to the teachers and/or school board. Of course, parents don’t want their kids to have homework, because it takes away from things they enjoy more, such as their children playing sports.
Test scores are, for the majority of able students, a good barometer of their ability to focus and succeed in the world after school is done. We should embrace them, and so should the teachers. What stands in the way is the parents, who should be calling for a more rigorous curriculum at school.
Gretchen Marks, Seattle
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