Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Dallas ISD Teachers Feel Unappreciated and Fearful

The latest proposal to cut teacher contracts from two years to one may further weaken teacher  confidence and create greater teacher fear. Teachers crippled by fear are inhibited from doing their best work and teacher morale suffers.
My belief is that good teachers are more important than Trustees, a Superintendent, or top staff.  Teachers ought to be able to teach in a District that respects the very important role they will always play in student achievement.
It appears this proposal may not be supportive of teachers who are sometimes blamed and held accountable for everything.
The following communication explains the concerns expressed by a Dallas ISD teacher of eight years:
Dear School Board member,

My name is ... I am a resident of the city of Dallas. My address is ..., Dallas,. I am also a teacher in the DISD...

I am writing you in reference to the one year contracts that are being considered for teachers and others in the DISD.

I have been with the district for eight years now. I have watched many changes to the district. There have been many that have concerned me over these years and made me wonder what the administration of the district has against teachers. The one year contracts are yet another.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument for this change. Why? How is it advantageous to the district to put teachers in such a position as to make us fearful of our jobs? It seems to me that teachers who feel safe in their careers and appreciated by their administrators will be happy teachers and will better teachers. Worrying if we will have a job is not conducive to concentrating on the students and their learning. In a time when we are under severe pressure from all directions, feeling safe and appreciated would go a long way to helping us reach the lofty goals set by Superintendent Hinojosa, goals worthy of our best efforts. Our best efforts are not gained by the threat of losing our jobs. Quite the contrary. Fear and intimidation make people in any profession so stressed that they become less effective in whatever it is they are seeking to accomplish. We do not want that here in the DISD. I think you will agree that what we need is the feeling of a close team aimed at one goal. Not making test scores rise but making our students successful in their education. If we accomplish that the test scores will take care of themselves.

... I hear from teachers more often than others would. I can say from real knowledge that morale in general is very low. There is a pervasive feeling that our jobs are unsafe and that we are unappreciated.

Teachers should not have to feel this way. It is out efforts, after all, that have brought the DISD the accolades of the Brookings Institute. Yes, the administration can lead, but it is the troops in the trenches who make the real difference..

I strongly urge you to ask yourself how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Would you feel totally directed toward the primary calling of the profession (the education of out students) or would you feel a need to duck and cover to protect your job?

PLEASE do not vote to go to one year contracts. Let us have one thing that gives us some sense of security. By retaining two year contracts you will tell teachers you do value their diligent efforts to bringing success to our students.

Thank you,

Dallas ISD