Thursday, November 19, 2015

To My School Board
By: Julianna Krueger Dauble, WA BAT




Tonight I am compelled to give you a slice of reality from a classroom teacher who stands in solidarity with our classified employees working without a contract since the school year began.
We have some big behavior issues at my school. Repeatedly the district tells us paraeducators are not a solution and won’t be hired for these children but there is no other forseeable way within the restraints of our system to help our kids.
We’ve been told no one in the district is prepared to deal with the trauma our kids come with. Classroom teachers need another adult in their classrooms for learning to happen. There is just no way around that fact.
Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is doing ALL THEY CAN in my building. It isn’t enough. We need more educators. Certificated and classified.
Yet without fair pay for our classified staff we won’t attract anyone and the many open positions will remain unfilled.
The word workload gets thrown around a lot. I thought I’d outline some of my workload from past years that has since been replaced by the work of implementing Common Core. Further, these things I want to tell you about were done for kids BEFORE so many of them came with toxic stress caused by trauma and before our counselor was cut. These things were accomplished before years of state budget cuts, before high turnover of district level support staff, and before the overwhelming pacing guides were required of us. Before mandated assessments were so far out of reach for our struggling students and before students and teachers felt like failures even when we are working as hard as any human can.
These things I did before project based learning was thrown out and scripted lessons took their place;
Before our paraeducators weren’t stretched to their physical and emotional limits and back when the district provided paraeducators when student needs warranted them, here’s what I used to be able to do for my students:
We went on 4 Field trips a year to tour the wastewater treatment plant, Seattle Symphony, stream survey and ecology learning on Tiger Mountain, and planting trees to restore salmon spawning habitat on Lake Sammamish.
We used to have time for a worm bin for lunchroom compost.
We raised baby salmon and released them in the creek near school.
Green Teams of 5th graders helped with recycling school wide.
I used to have weekends with my family and was home before 8 pm most nights.
Parent conferences were about the whole child, they were not just pouring over the multitude of data points that now describes the standardized student.
We planned integrated learning units with guest speakers culminating the work.
We had museums provide temporary exhibits to our classes for hands on cultural learning.
We scheduled art as a lesson.
We had time to eat lunch.
We had paraeducators in our rooms supporting teaching and learning.


Now, I am not asking to go back in time, there were serious problems before (that persist today) but I speak for so many educators who are afraid or are so overworked they are too tired to speak out.
We are tired of asking 'why is this so hard?'
Here’s why:
Kids need caring supported environments with caring supported caretakers.
I challenge anyone in the public school system to refute that we, teachers and classified staff work miracles.
Daily.
But we alone are not enough.
Again, why is this so hard?
I purport that it is a simple mathematical ratio.
Student:Educator
We do not have adequate support staff nor enough trained teachers. We need caring adults who have the time, space, and resources to run schools for the 21st century.
That is, schools with wraparound services for families.
Schools with art at their foundation.
Schools with truly positive behavior systems.
Schools with experts who recognize and heal trauma.
Schools with teams of teachers encouraged to share their expertise and increase job satisfaction.
Schools with ample opportunities for educators to learn what their students need.
Schools that provide TIME for collaboration that is at least quadruple what we now have in our contracted year.
Schools which provide training the teachers ask for.
Schools with relevant books/materials & authentic space for innovation.
Schools with adequate light and heat.
Schools with tech usage that leads to solving real world problems.
Schools with layers of support for student safety.
Schools with flexible curriculum adaptive to families' interests.
Schools with transparent and democratic decision-making.
Schools where all employees are paid a living wage.
Schools where staff don’t have to work second jobs to live near their workplace.
Schools where employees are respected.
Schools where students who are aggressive or violent have services that match their needs.
Schools where science is considered core curriculum and valued as such.
Schools with an emergency preparedness plan that is realistic and supported with training and resources AND ENOUGH STAFF TO PROTECT KIDS.
Please understand that the ratio of student to educator is NOT adequate. We desperately need more adults in our rooms, our hallways, our playgrounds, our crosswalks, our clinics.
Please pay our classified employees what they need to live. Without a living wage we will continue to stumble through each school year praying for survival and inching closer to burnout. Fair pay and good faith bargaining is a first step in truly fixing what ails our education system.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this important post. ESPs deserve a #livingwage!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Juliana. Such an accurate accounting of the problems as we ESP, classified staff, see the issues. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete