I have been asked by a few friends for my inside opinion about why the Board in Douglas County School District should change. Without spending all the energy I have left on a Monday night while watching debate between two school board candidates at the high school I work at, I will try to help others see things from my lens. No I am not talking for ALL teachers, but I think many are feeling the ways I will describe below. As a School Social Worker, we often define ourselves as being "agents of change", yet this role often comes with a level of frustration. As we try to function as change agents in society, we invariably encounter resistance. The nature of my job is to try to get people to make changes that at least a part of them resists. No wonder so many social workers get burnt out. I am in support of voting for 3 NEW members for the Douglas County School Board, and I will give you a little into to why. VOTE YES FOR Anne-Marie Lemieux, David Ray, and Wendy Vogel!!! November 3rd!! Get your ballot in!!
My career blesses me every day to somehow shape a young persons mind. With that comes the ability to have the time and resources to do this. Currently the time spent on proving WHAT TEACHERS WILL DO to teach students on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis is taking away from what these teachers ACTUALLY have the time to do directly with your child. Sure, you may like your child's elementary school teacher or high school teachers or even love them, but do THEY feel valued by the community and the board in the current state it is in?? What you may not understand is over the last 4 years under the current board, many of those teachers have become extremely overwhelmed, don't feel valued, and/or respected as a teacher. Like any place of employment, if there are no incentives and reasons to make you feel valued in your job, you leave. You find other places that value your profession and what that job is intended to do for you as an individual. So no, not all the BAD TEACHERS are the ones leaving because their evaluation proves them to be ineffective. They are leaving because they truly feel the time spent WITH your children, is less effective because of all the time spent having to collect evidence of what they are doing FOR your children. They are also leaving because other districts still in this Denver metro area are not demanding them to spend more time on PROVING IT FOR THEIR PAY, while leaving less time for actually TEACHING IT. Keep in mind also, these other districts still have the same state standards for teachers with the intention of using the Colorado Department of Educations evaluation tool. So why does Douglas have to feel elite from the State and create their own?? Taking more money away from our individual schools to create "committees" to do so? And closed board meetings?? You're a board built of the people, for the people, yet you shut the door and turn your head to the issues knocking the doors down?!
Now should teachers be held accountable in their job, absolutely! And is Douglas County trying to find those ways to help improve teachers? In some ways, yes. But at what cost?! The cost of losing good people (younger and older) to the profession of education all together because no one wants to go into a field where they don't feel valued?
Douglas County completely put a cart before the horse on the entire pay for performance evaluation. They rolled out something that was nearly impossible to even evaluate because they didn't have the manpower to evaluate it! Your childs teacher is unfortunately being asked to do so much more now to be considered "highly effective" in the eyes of that cumbersome evaluation, that they are often chasing that more then spending time with, or looking at, the needs of your child. Is that their fault?? Should they be teaching to an evaluation that is tied to pay and worried more about that then the well being of students? That's where I feel this effects my job. Children today are becoming victims of many social forces that negatively affect their role as students in a school. Families are in a state of change and until it becomes stabilized, in whatever form, children's unmet physical and emotional needs will continue to interfere with their ability to learn and adjust in school. So if these teachers become so stressed and focused only to teaching to this evaluation, they are missing crucial social/emotional needs of these developing young minds.
The hardest thing for many teachers with this evaluation system is that how can you say you are the best in the building, when you aren't spending nearly as much time as you once were with kids?? Teachers have lost sight of what it used to look like to be transformational leaders for children because they have had no choice but to feel exhausted at the amount of effort that takes to stay afloat. Inspirational teachers strive to have students leave with a desire to want to be educated, and want to learn more. How are we moving this forward if we lose teachers who are our mentors as future educators??