February 22, 2012
This is a letter sent by a Kent Education Association member to 30th Legislative District Senator Tracey J. Eide:
Senator Tracey, So many things are wrong about the so called “education reform” efforts. I am too saddened and troubled to express it all here. The latest, allowing students to vote on their teachers is a real error in judgment. Collectively, politicians have hurt education the most, not bad teachers. For example: All the talk about bad teachers is sending a clearly negative message to our students. Many are refusing to learn, and many, including parents, blame the teacher. Politicians need to think about all the attacks on teachers and education that have occurred just while you have been in office: evaluation, pay, healthcare, too much testing at the expensive of learning, pay, pay, so many left behind, loss of programs, overcrowding, loss of dignity, standardization at the expense of innovation, etc.
Politicians and a bad economy have forced the layoff of all the three year and less teachers, who with their degrees and expensive certificates and endorsements have moved on. The message to college students is why go into a profession under attack; the best are not hiding, waiting to come under attack, the best are in the classrooms being impacted by poor decisions by the few in Olympia and DC. Education is not about racing anywhere, it is about equity and the future of Washington and the USA. Innovation is being lost, while standardization creates homogenization.
Politicians are generally educated people, but they do not understand who is in the overcrowded classroom. They do not recognize those who are not like themselves. Politicians do not relate to and do not get who they are impacting or empowering. Among the many, I have a 15 year old girl who reads at the second grade level. Her mom “home schooled” her. She will not “meet standard” unless someone devotes years of intensive one on one help that we can no longer provide. Even if she learns to read at the sixth grade level, a remarkable feat in a short time frame, she will not meet standard and her teachers will be deemed a failure because she will get left behind, probably have a child and become a dependent of the state. She is an angry person with few possibilities under the system put into place these past 12 years.
We now only graduate about 72%. If five hundred start high school only about 360 will graduate. Teachers should be empowered to fix what we know best, not politicians who have no real clue about the realities we face. In every profession there will always be the few, but the continuous changes and attacks on our profession from Olympia are not helping and in fact hurt our efforts. They distract teachers from teaching and make the public blame teachers and provide them with an excuse for their children not learning. The idea that students know what is best for them in the classroom is a real mistake. Students should never be given the power to decide who will teach. The effort should be to attract better qualified people to be principals. All too often, principals lack classroom experience and subject matter knowledge, yet they are empowered to decide. Teachers are never given enough time to prepare and even teachers have bad experiences and bad years. We are people and we face death, divorce, and the effects of bad decisions. Offer early retirement and rehire as many of the recently laid off as possible. Do not support “Teach for America.” Generally they do not stay in the profession and it kills university teacher programs.
Do not support chartered schools. The republican agenda several years ago began an attack on teachers and their unions because teachers generally vote democratic. They appear to be making real headway in our state through school board elections, state legislator elections and whole cloth changes in law disguised as reform. These are actually attacks on teachers, teacher unions, collective bargaining, healthcare, evaluations, and pay reduction. It is easy to blame the teacher. It has become too easy for the republican agenda to get laws passed that whittle away at democratic principles. Remember it was teacher unions that empowered women to get the vote and make an impact. I will stop here. (name withheld by blog administrator)
From the KEA blog 4/3/2012