I know both of you believe in “choice” in one’s education, and you need to know we have chosen public education for our children. We want our children to be exposed to all kinds of children and cultures and there is no better place for that than a public school. Where else can my children see Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists work peacefully together? My children have seen those who live in poverty and in wealth, those from single parent homes, homes with 2 moms, those in abusive homes and those in nurturing homes. My children have been exposed to probably more than they will encounter in the “real world” and this was by design. We love our public schools, but you have made us feel like public schools is a “bad” choice due to your legislation that ultimately sets public schools up for failure.
How do this shortage and the causes of it affect my children? There are several ways. First, with a teacher shortage come long term subs who, frankly, did not choose teaching as their profession and should not be in the classroom. My daughter had a long term sub in her Advanced Algebra class. He told them he was an “engineer” so they thought that would be a good thing. By the end of the semester, we found out that he was a music engineer, and they made it to Chapter 2. My husband had to tutor my daughter so she would be ready for pre-calculus because this substitute fell way behind. Most students aren’t as fortunate and are probably struggling now in pre-calculus.
This overuse of testing has got to stop. I am tired of teachers having to teach to a grade-level test for fear of low test scores costing them their jobs. I already know how my children perform. I know they are good students, and I don’t need a test to tell me they are at grade level. Drilling them to death doesn’t do a lot for them except to make them hate the tests and ultimately hate school. The way you use these tests are not what they were meant for – grading our schools, evaluating our teachers. My children experience the stress these inappropriate uses have caused. This is not a good education…text anxiety, pressure to do well and punishment when you don’t. You are wasting my children’s time with too much testing. Their learning could be enriched with a number of other innovative opportunities instead of pointless memorization and punitive measures all for a test.
Your decision to reduce teachers’ collective bargaining to salary, insurance, and benefits has affected my children. Do you realize that our former teacher contract had a maximum number of students a teacher could have in a classroom? Now my children see classes with numbers in the 40s. Because this no longer can be negotiated and because the money has been dwindling from public schools, my choice leaves my children with classrooms with more than twice the recommended number of students per teacher. I didn’t ask for this for my children and neither did our teachers.
In addition, recess time is limited so kids barely can eat and hardly play. Teachers need a break and so do our kids, but we focus on tests. Teacher morale is low and my kids sense this. I am worried of the quality of teachers my children will get because you have watered down the requirements for becoming a teacher and demean the ones who remain by taking away their rights and basing their raises on a test my child must pass. You no longer value our teachers. They are teaching to the hope of the nation, our future, our next generation of leaders…you need to put more value on that – I want my children to have teachers who want to learn more about what they teach and how to teach it, yet there is no longer value for education, no incentive for a Master’s degree or value for years of experience in the profession.
These things need to change. The current conditions of the classroom and the teaching profession need to change. Please don’t put a Band-Aid fix on this by thinking a sign on bonus to a new teacher will help with the shortage. Fix the things that have made our current teachers quit and young adults seek professions other than teaching. I’m tired of worrying about the quality of teachers, the ridiculous demands from these tests, and whether or not my school will get enough funding to lower the student-teacher ratio. Please undo the harm you have done. Make our choice for our children the best choice as it once was. My kids deserve better. So does our community and the future of this state.