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Front Page » July 13, 2010 » Opinion » Teacher tells story of problems in Small Town USA message...
Published 1,511 days ago

Teacher tells story of problems in Small Town USA message to students and parents


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By Jayne Mecham
Green River

Editor:

If you haven't found out, yet, you have lost an English teacher who truly cares about her students at Green River High School...me. In short, because of No Child Left Behind, the State of Utah requires all teachers new to the state to take a test called the Praxis - a word I heard for the first time Sept. 22, 2009. It is really a small hurdle if the teacher is given time to take the test. Remember taking the ACT the first time? You are only learning "how" to take the test; statistics show that your score will go up the second time on timed tests. Unfortunately, this test is so copyrighted that you can't find any tests to practice budgeting your time. Anyway, Emery County School District has been paying a bit more than $10,000 per year in order to keep me, $30,000. I really do apologize for spending your money this way, but I only found out about this "little" tidbit from Supt. Sitterud in a letter dated April 23, 2010. He said, "We typically do not make it a point to inform teachers about this, unless it becomes critical - which after three years, it has."

It has gotten to this "point" because some policies I believe have not been followed through with including the "Duties of the Superintendent" as stated in School Board Policies. Here are a few:

Policy #CBA Qualifications and Duties of the Superintendent Basically...keeping the Board informed as to "how" policies are being carried out and presenting "annually" a "comprehensive" report of the work of the school system, including recommendations affecting the needs of the system.

Policy #GA #3 Personnel Policies/Goals #3 Provide an in-service training "program" for all employees to improve their performance, and the overall rate of retention and promotion of staff. #4 Conduct an employee appraisal "program" that will contribute to the continuous improvement of staff performance.

Policy #GCI Staff Development Opportunities - District Initiated Training - When it is deemed by the Board, or its administrative staff, that a workshop "is essential" and attendance of staff members is appropriate, the, district shall pay registrations costs, reimburse the employee for transportation...."

(Back-to-School Day - teachers get paid for this day - two years ago in the English "workshop we did nothing, last year the instructor didn't show up.)

Policy #GBJD Professional Staff Personnel Records Each new professional employee of the district will submit copies of the following material (to be filed in employee's record file) to the director of personnel: 1) License: A "valid teacher's license" for the courses being taught or services being performed. This certificate should be on file "prior to" the time the employee begins his/her assignment. (I requested a copy of everything in my personal file, my Florida license was not in my file; I submitted it twice).

"In addition, the school principals will submit completed evaluations on all professional staff to the district office for insertion in individual personnel files." (Teachers, I believe are not being reviewed often enough. The only review in my file is dated March 2010.)

Teachers beware, it also states in Policy #GCH that "It is the responsibility of the individual employee to see that the above records are on file in the district office and to make any corrections or changes that occur during the time of his/her employment.)

Policy #GCH Staff Orientation All first-year provisional educators will be assigned a consulting educator as required by 53A-10 to assist the provisional educator in his/her entry into the Emery County School District.

Orientation of staff members new to the school system will be the responsibility of the principal, who will be assisted by the consulting educator, and may extend over a longer period of time. The orientation will provide a broadly-based effort to supply information and background details which will improve the new employee's understanding of the school's and district's framework, including policies of the Board, rules and regulations, and the instructional program. (Who was my "Consulting educator"?)

Policy #GBEB Staff Conduct, "One of the best methods of instruction is that of setting a good example."

And, the reason for letting me go, "non-renewal is for neglect of employment obligation...."

From a parent and a former teacher of Green River High School, I want to make something good come from something bad; I will make sure that my students, my children, and those citizens of "Small Town USA" benefit from all of this. Green River should be outraged. The following is some of what must change:

Faculty meetings should be taking place weekly, not cancelled, along with in-services where teachers can teach each other and make each other better for our students.

There needs to be proof for parents that teachers are being reviewed and that those reviews are being sent to the district and being looked over and followed through upon.

Students with IEPs should be tutored daily and their resource teacher should be sitting in on their classes; resource classes are not plan periods.

Teachers should not be glued to their desk seat. Teachers cannot teach from their desk; they should be floating around the classroom helping their students.

Students know busy work when it is handed to them and they disrespect teachers for giving it; there better not be any coloring going on or non-curriculum-based movies being played.

It is not hard to tell a good teacher from a poor teacher - walk into their classrooms and look at their walls.

Standardized testing needs to be taken seriously. Students that are testing in the library or the lab should not have to deal with other students talking and walking around.

All teachers will be given results from CORE and UBSCT testing immediately so that teachers can collaborate on the scores and decide how those scores will drive the following year's teacher's curriculum.

As far as the Spanish-speaking students, I don't know exactly who is in charge of choosing the computer program for my Spanish students, but they need an appropriate high school level Spanish-to-English software program. They know that they are getting the short end of the stick, and this is wrong.

The State of Utah went ahead and gave me a Conditional License, good until 2013, in order to give me time to take this test; I only need the summer.

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July 13, 2010
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