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Your Views: Teachers need a seat at table in school decisions

POSTED: June 7, 2013 1:00 a.m.

I am sorry to read of our continuing budget woes in Monday’s article about the Hall County Board of Education. The single, thin ray of sunshine is that Superintendent Will Schofield might include teachers in the decision-making process regarding teacher pay.

It seems that we may be constructing a new normal for education in Georgia, and to his credit, our superintendent sees the need to include teachers at the table when discussing compensation. Hopefully, this will open the door to integrating career teachers into the decision-making process locally and at the state level.

It may seem strange to people outside the profession, but teachers have no input in the directives that guide education in Georgia. Though career teachers are the point of contact between the child and a vast educational establishment, we have no seat at the table. Politicians, bureaucrats, well-meaning billionaires, consultants, researchers and private companies all have their fingers in the pie. The only thing they have in common is they choose to NOT be in the classroom with students day in and day out.

There are no easy solutions to the many challenges facing education in America. Isn’t it common sense that the passion and perspective of the people who have devoted their careers to being in the classroom be heard?

Teachers see problems at the ground level, but we have no mechanism for meeting among ourselves, distilling complaints into well-defined, solvable problems and bringing our experience and perspective to bear in forming solutions.

I have no idea which teacher would serve on Mr. Schofield’s committee. No teacher can claim to represent me, any more than I can claim to represent other teachers. Yes, the county has monthly Teacher of the Year meetings, but those teachers were not selected to represent teachers views. That body primarily serves as a means for the central office to communicate information back to the individual faculties.

One solution would be for our system to follow the model of many colleges and establish a faculty senate. It would serve at the pleasure of the superintendent and the school board; therefore, it would be cooperative, not adversarial. With its own bylaws and officers, it would establish its own processes and agenda, ultimately reporting to the superintendent. It would give teachers a real voice and not be mere window-dressing.

If we are constructing a new normal and our school system truly wants teacher input and buy-in, we need such a representative body. More detailed information on a faculty senate proposal can be found at teacherpov.com.

Any discussion about education should always come back to the children we serve. Surely we all agree that students are best served by having the highest quality teachers. This profession should attract and keep the best and the brightest.

The educational system should allow them to be their best and their brightest.

Doesn’t it follow that the best and the brightest should have a meaningful seat at the table?

Chuck Bennett
Gainesville


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