March 13, 2000
Teachers must have more resources to guarantee the future of our children
I have the good fortune to work in one of the finest school districts in the state and nation. Its quality is related to one thing--its people.
The teachers, students and their parents, support staff, and community-at-large have given the time, effort, and dedication to make this a wonderful place for students to learn. It is no wonder our measures of achievement in Northshore have always been among the highest. Our academic success, student involvement in the community, the arts, and our success in extracurricular activities are the envy of many in this state and nation.
Why then is the energy level of those who work in classrooms day and night for our children reaching an all-time low? Why do so many staff look at other professions and have fleeting moments of wanting to change?
Now is the time for all of us to step up and demand the funding and support from the state, which is critical for all students to reach the standard they will need to be productive, successful, and self-satisfied adults. Now is the time we must clearly send a message that our public school teachers must have the resources they need to insure the future of our children and youth.
- The State of Washington has pathetically underfunded public education while raising the bar for students. Our staff is up to the challenge. Without the resources necessary, however, it's like having their hands tied behind their backs. The current legislature would rather buy political goodwill by sending a pittance of tax relief to the voters than do what our Constitution mandates. It is the paramount duty to fully fund education. It is now funded at approximately 70% by the state. The state coffers are almost overflowing with unspent dollars. Our teachers deserve the salary, material, and staff support, and must have it.
- Teachers and schools are judged by test scores published in newspapers without effective analysis of what the scores mean. Publishers and journalists represent the most simplistic view by comparing WASL scores without the faintest notion of what is ethical and effective data comparison. Comparing one group of students to another, now that we are using standards as the measure, is like comparing the health of two unrelated individuals. We want each child to learn, regardless of how many do or don't reach standard on a given assignment on a given day. Even the new state WASL testing is misunderstood. According to one of the authors of the state test, it should not be used to decide if a child is at standard. It should only be used to see if on that day, that particular activity accomplished by the student is at standard. Standard should be determined by a wealth of assessment information. One important assessment is the state WASL, but others must include classroom assessments and student work. For golfers it would be like judging their ability on only one game of golf.
- Teachers and other staff are still working in some of the most crowded conditions with some of the lowest pay in the nation. In the future, teaching may only be a profession that the very independently wealthy can select. Is it any wonder our best and brightest citizens, those who have given their lives and financial future to teach our children, are wearing out?
Dr. Thomas M. Dramer, Executive Director, Instructional Services, Northshore School District