Has is really been a week since I last posted? Jeez! I have been SWAMPED! With praying for job security, preparing for this consultation, getting report cards ready, planning for spring break, and planning for the week I return back to work, it has been hectic to say the least.
I am a mere day away from Spring Break and I cannot wait! Too bad it will be spent studying for the K-6 Elem.entary Edu.cation Exam. Why am I doing this you may ask after years of teaching, a bachelors degree, a masters degree, and courses beyond? Because Florida is screwed up. There is a saying that don't bite the hand that feeds you, but in this case I must. A few years ago our lovely Govenor Char.lie H. Chr.ist promised homestead exemption for homeowners as well as lower property taxes. When this was passed, millions of dollars was taken from education in order to make up the short fall. The trickle down effect resulted in loss of jobs, principals having to cut thousands from their school budget, no raise, no cost of living increase and so on. Now, there are more talks of cutting the budget. As much as 15%. This will definitely result in loss of jobs.
There are now rumors that principals have no say as to who gets "pink slipped". The district officials will be going through files and eliminating positions with no thought in regards to job performance or student learning gains. If it comes down to the wire, the deciding factor will be seniority. Teachers will be let go based on their hire date. If someone was hired a minute before me, I may be pink slipped. They are also saying that for special education teachers who are not dually certified, they will be "pink slipped". As a special education teacher, I fall in that category. Rumors state that we have until June 30th to take the test, get certified or be "assed out". With 3 years in the public school system, (4 years in private where I did not have to worry about this crap) I am at the bottom of the totem pole. So, even though special ed is a critical shortage area, and my union steward feels I have nothing to worry about (only one ESE teacher was surplussed last year, but rehired soon after because of the shortage), and my principal vows to fight to keep me, I must be realistic and CYA (cover my a**). If my position is cut and replaced with another teacher with more seniority, I want to be able to have other options.
Am I really worried? Only to a extent. Why? I am a kings kid! I am blessed and highly favored! Don't they know who my father is? The one who never fails or goes back on his promises? The one who turns the impossible around and makes it possible? The one who states that I am MORE than a conqueror? The one who reminds me that the effectual fervent prayer of the rightous availeth much?
The human side of me gets nervous when the rumor mill goes on and on, but I try to tune it out and focus on his promises.
So my spring break will be spent preparing for this test. Let me tell you, the test is $200, so I dare not fail! To retake it is an additional $50! Highway robbery I tell you! years ago when I did the test, it only cost $35. Hmm. I guess inflation affects every area....
In addition to preparing for the test, collectively, teachers are fighting the State. Have you heard of HB7.037? Popularly known as S.B6? The education personnel measure (SB 6) would give $900 million to school districts that adopt merit pay plans for teachers based heavily on how well their students do on standardized tests that have yet to be created.
Let me tell you, as a teacher I am appalled and disgusted by this! Senator Thr.asher created and advocated this bill, which by the way passed and is not going to the house.
This bill will pit teachers against teachers, teachers against students, and teachers refusing ESE students or low performing students in their classrooms.
I have been quite vocal about this measure. In fact I got into a face.book war over this! A woman who is not a teacher made a statement that got my blood boiling!
Here was her statement.
I think alot of the analogies on these discussions boards are pretty lame. I work in project management in construction & I am also paid/promoted on merit not tenure. I work on a team where 3 people manage crews of workers of about 100 people. My job & any chance of a raise is based on getting 100+ people to work on accomplishing one task within a deadline. Similar to teachers having 24 children that need to make an accomplishment within a deadline (school year).
While it is understandable that the children you teach are from different backgrounds, I can guarantee you that the grand majority of children in Flor.ida, are from wonderful families & those children do want to learn. So again that argument seems out of touch to the average student.
You are not like a doctor or dentist, unlike a Cardiologist, you have these kids from ages 5 to 17 for 8 hours per day for 180 days (or whatever it is). If a Cardiologist could control a patient this much time, I am sure that their patients health condition would improve dramatically. They mandate them to exercise, eat healthfully & not drink or smoke. Also unlike the doctor's patients, parents/children do not have a choice in teacher. Not every teaching style fits every child...but each year we have no choice. We do not get to screen the teacher like you can a doctor or pick one based on references from other parents/children. If your doctor is not improving your health as a patient you can fire your doctor...parents & students have little recourse.
While I dislike the F.CAT, I think for many Flor.idians it seems crazy that you should be paid (more than most of us when you add up the hours of actual work per year) & that it should not matter if a child progresses or not. I think its a sad state of affairs when our educators do not want to be paid for educating. In my education I had just as many fantastic inspiring teachers as I did mediocre unmotivated ones that had no business in front of a classroom.
I respect what teachers do but the weak arguments on these discussions boards do not convince me. Furthermore some of my closest friends are teachers & I have little sympathy for their work hours or ridiculous amount of days off. While I can appreciate that the poster above grades papers at her son's baseball game...I missed half of my son's because I had to work on weekends.
This bill is probably far from perfect but we need some stronger arguments on this board for more people to back you...
Here was my response
To the individual who made this statement. While I respect your ideas, I must disagree. "I can guarantee you that the grand majority of children in Flori.da, are from wonderful families & those children do want to learn"
I am an ESE Teacher who arrives at work early, stays late, neglect my husband because I am creating plans, grading papers, and so on. I also work in a "low income area", Title 1 school, approx 63% of the parents are illiterate, families are homeless, struggling to decide whether to pay their light bills or buy food, and the list goes on. Let me add, you mentioned a ridiculous amount of days off - days off we don't get paid for, holidays we don't get paid for. The majority of us have second jobs - waitressing, tutoring, working at the mall, collecting trash, dropping off newspapers and we still can's make ends meet.
While I agree that the majority of children do want to learn and come from great families, such is not the case in many schools in low income areas. Sure, if you work in Parkland or Weston, but in N. Lauderdale? Sistrunk? Lauderhill? For many of these children, learning is not an important factor. Many come just for the free meals. Many come to get away from their abusers. Many cannot focus on learning because they are worrying about where their dinner will come from, where they will sleep that night, how they can earn money to help their families. Their minds are consumed with taking care of their siblings - all the external factors that teachers cannot control.
The argument does not seem out of touch with the "average student". These are the average students! Have you thought about ESE teachers? I give 110% to MY students on a daily basis. What about the 4th or 5th grader that is working on a Kindergarten level but is required to take the 5th grade FCAT test? Is that equitable? I guarantee, these are the average students. Am I or the Gen ed. teacher going to be bypassed because they may not pass the test? While the student has probably made huge learning gains, he or she may still not be able to take the grade level F.CAT test and pass with flying colors.
How is that for equal? Do you know how it feels for a child to work extra hard and still fail the FC.AT because so much "weight" is added to it? How does it feel for teachers to be "rewarded" based on student performance - when these students don't work on grade level?
Am I going to be penalized for the student that just arrived from another State 6 months into the school year where his mom say he was getting A's and B's, was on the honor roll, but was discovered when he enrolled that he cannot even read or even write his name? Oh and he still has to take the test?
Am I going to be penalized for the student who has psychotic episodes and threatens to kill everyone during the test? Am I going to be penalized for the student who has no interest whatsoever in learning and adamantly refuses to participate in anything? Am I going to be penalized for parents who don't help with homework, give a damn, or attend conferences?
Before the non teachers comment, go volunteer for a week in a Title 1 or low income school and then you can comment.
I am disgusted at our State Senators! Thr.asher is a lawyer! Never been in the classroom - how the heck does he know the fight we go through? The snacks we provide? The materials we buy every month? The shoulders we lend? The pep talks we give? We don't just teach - we love, nurture, give back, support, feed, referee. S.B6 devalues all that I do.
Can you tell I am passionate about this? If you would like to know what you can do, please leave a comment and I will provide you with the email addresses of our State senators.
I was hoping to discuss other things, but I can see this post is getting quite long. Will highlight you on the TAC developments so far tomorrow.
Awaiting my expected end.