Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teacher Layoffs Coming to a District Near You!

"Layoffs, they say, hurt school cohesion, undermine student achievement and rupture ties with parents" says an article recently in the New York Times. I realized the truth of this statement last night while speaking with some parents from a school I used to teach at.

There was quite a bit of grumbling about a certain class that was about to be dropped from the courses offered to students. The teachers that teach that class are either being laid off or "reassigned." Parents are angry with the school about this decision. But the anger is misplaced.

It is not the school's fault this is happening. And when I say "school" I mean the teachers and administrators at that school. "Teachers become the face of the system for parents,” Dr. Green said. “We hurt relations with a lot of parents by laying off their child’s teacher.”

Students and parents alike feel a sense of betrayal. But they're not alone. With shrinking budgets and unresolved arguments over class sizes, districts are choosing to cut what research has determined is the most influential piece in student achievement - the teacher.

Teachers feel betrayed, abandoned, and basically inconsequential.

And yet ask any one of the parents I spoke to last night and you will hear how well they know the teacher makes the difference. The kids know it too. It seems like the only ones who don't know are the ones making the decisions.

Silence means agreement, so if we are not telling the decision-makers that we think they're making a mistake, then we have no reason to complain when they take away what really makes a difference to our kids - their teachers.