Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Have you thanked your child's teacher?

On Monday, I volunteered in a local elementary school in case they needed an extra hand.  (I feel privileged I was allowed to so do.) I made it very clear that I had no personal training in counseling or anything of the sort, but had been a teacher through several crisis in the past (9-11, Columbine, a student-suicide) and knew sometimes it was just nice to have a few extra people in the building for the extra circumstances that might arise.

What struck me was that every one of those teachers, aids and administrators came to school Monday with the underlying agreement that they would take a bullet for any one of our kids.  That's heavy stuff.  I could see it in their eyes.  They would do it.

We have no business fussing at them this week.

In fact, we need to thank them.  Teaching a kid to read is more difficult than rocket science.  It really is.  And they're expected to do this (and teach math, science, etc.) with 20 small kids in a room and cope with the results of all of our individual parenting deficiencies.

It makes a dozen home-made cookies at Christmas seem paltry.  (Which is more than I've done.)  So, I'm doing this.

Teachers need our support.  Immediately -- in the classrooms, by really making sure we help with the homework, and by backing them up instead of undermining them (especially in front of our kids).  With this new merit-based pay idea that NC is proposing, if you as a parent slack on your parenting, it could jeopardize their paycheck and their job.  THAT's NOT FAIR and you know it.  The language in the proposed bill (795) could allow districts to base teacher salary and employment on a single year's (single test's!) results (instead of years of experience or education).

They also need our support in other ways -- like communicating to our legislators.

As non-teachers, we need to make our voices heard in support of teachers---we owe them that for what they give our children.

My representative Ralph Hise supports "expand[ing] the number of places citizens with a concealed carry permit can carry firearms."  (His website.)  Michelle Presnell  (who also represents me) says the following on her website about this issue:  "Your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms----------if it has to do with a gun, ammo, my opponent will vote NO  I am a member of the NRA, I have my concealed carry license and very proud of it."

Let them know what you think our country's gun/ammunition purchasing restrictions or lack thereof.  Now is the time while guns are in the national conversation.

In regards to teacher support:  Ralph Hise is on the Education/Higher Education Committee.  He wants to do away with the pay increase to teachers who have earned their master's degree and completed their National Board Certification.  It should be noted that based on repeated studies since 2005, 4th grade teachers with their master's degree produce higher scoring students on vocabulary and reading assessments.  

Here are some points the North Carolina Association of Educators propose as changes to Senate Bill 795.
(It's being called "Excellent Public Schools Act"... anyone else watch The Daily Show last night?) As a group who studies education in North Carolina extensively and who has teachers' and students' interests at heart, I hope the committee takes their suggestions seriously and makes the proposed changes.

Additionally Ralph Hise has proposed legislature that would remove the cap on the number of Charter Schools in North Carolina.  What's so bad about that?  There isn't solid evidence that charter schools provide improved education.  Before we spend money on unproven education reform, let's spend money on PROVEN education reform.  Read more about charter schools.

The Center for Public Education concludes the following after evaluating the research on charter schools:
 "The incomplete research base behind charters means that many states may be heading into a reform strategy without a clear understanding of how charter schools work best, or how they interact with and affect traditional public schools. Charter schools need more research, oversight, and true evaluation to fulfill their purpose of being laboratories that traditional public schools can learn from."
And FYI, here's  North Carolina's Report Card if you're interested in seeing how we do.

Bottom line is, these representatives need to know where their constituents stand on some of these issues.

If you haven't thanked your teachers this season, you can do so now by writing a short note to your reps and advocating for teachers.

Michell Presnell District 118  Contact Form
Ralph Hise 47  Contact Information

Or find your own representatives and drop them a note.  It'll take less time than a batch of cookies.

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