Deep disappointment over teachers’ wages
Originally I wanted to write to counter Charles Mondon’s column recently criticizing those states applying for a waiver from the unfair constraints of No Child Left Behind restrictions.
I wanted to explain the significance of the waiver, and why it is an important step in “leveling the playing field” of the NCLB restrictions. If the waiver had been in place this past schopol year, I believe (by looking at the HSA data) that many of those schools labeled with the “not met” category would have instead “met” their AYP goals.
The waiver from the NCLB laws would not do away with testing, but instead would allow schools to report out their data differently. Those schools under the waiver would look at student test scores over time — from year to year — and show how much that student has gained. I’m proud of the great accomplishments that my fellow teachers made with our students, and their hard work paid off. Our student test scores showed tremendous gains in reading and math. In fact, every subcategory except for one met their AYP goals. Yet the restraints of the NCLB law require that test scores in all subcategories be counted towards a school’s ranking. So, a small percentage of a school’s population scoring poorly on the HSA can earn a school ranking of “not met.” However, I digress.
My true intent of this letter is to share my deep disappointment with how Gov. Neil Abercrombie has dealt with public education and the teachers who work so hard for Hawaii’s kids. My letter to the governor would go something like this:
“Dear Neil: What has happened to our relationship? Is it something we said? Remember when you shared your deepest heartfelt support for teachers? Remember how you told us that ‘furloughs would never have happened’ under your watch? So why are we continuing with our furloughs (excuse me, DLOP — Directed Leave Without Pay)?
If our state’s economic forecast is indeed improving as you have recently shared, then why aren’t we talking about returning the 5 percent pay cuts incurred by teachers and state employees? Has your relationship with our fellow union workers become so spoiled that we cannot even return to the bargaining table?
Again, I ask, was it something I said? I write to you on the eve of my first furlough day of the year, and my heart sinks, knowing that my classroom is not completely ready for opening day, not ready in the way I’m accustomed for it to be. The kids will never notice, because I, like so many of my fellow professional teachers, will work on our own time, giving many hours of overtime — our time away from families — to make sure the room is ready for them on opening day.”
It’s sad to think that the governor has forgotten the care and attention it takes to make a classroom ready for 24-plus students.
Opening days are always exciting, and stressful, especially this year, working under an imposed contract — again. Imposing furloughs for yet another year doesn’t make us feel like the valued employees we are. I see the hard work and dedication of my fellow teachers and am reminded daily of why I chose this profession — to make a difference in the world. Our priority is our students; I hope the governor makes them his priority, as well.