As an educator, parent, voter, and taxpayer, there are very few elected offices more important than local school board representatives.
And in the past ten months, this teacher has learned a lot about the local school board.
Following last night’s meeting of the WSFCS BOE was painful, exhausting, and nerve wracking for far too many reasons.
Board members were spouting unnamed studies in their explanations and holding fast to anecdotal data while choosing to ignore the local Health Department’s recommendations. High school principals have been vocal about the need to be more cautious in opening up buildings. Their voices seem to not be heard.
There was concern that we are setting up students to be doomed for minimum wage jobs. Would those same people be willing to fight to raise the state’s minimum wage that is tied for the lowest in the nation and has not changed for many, many years?
The timing of the emergency meeting made it seem like it was more important to get EOC testing done before looking at pandemic/infection data when there were no metrics being followed in the first place.
The timing was also interesting in that the very same day it happened, a neighboring county with only one high school will be vaccinating their teachers long before our county that has over a dozen high schools. I have had to fill out the same questionnaire twice concerning the vaccine and still heard nothing back.
That idea about taking a week to solve the staffing problem? What precipitated this meeting was a lack of staffing and subs in just elementary and middle schools. That won’t get better when high schools come back to buildings. This lack of subs and ability to staff schools fully is in and of itself a manifestation of the very feelings and concerns inside our schools now. It won’t take a week to solve. We are going to see shortages of teachers and teacher candidates for years.
Our students will not be competitive for college admissions? In a country where over half the students are in remote learning? In a state whose flagship schools had to close campuses because of the virus? In a country where colleges are altering application requirements due to the virus? In a state where many schools are only offering remote classes themselves?
None of this is ideal. A pandemic was surely not on the minds of anyone who is on the board when she ran for election.
But this teacher wishes that the school board listen very closely to the teachers. They are on the front lines and many are parents of students as well. School systems can’t succeed without teachers.
And this school system needs a permanent superintendent – one who will stay for a while and lead.
Due diligence cuts both ways.