Remember when we had a state superintendent who wanted to start his tenure with a listening tour?
“When I took office as State Superintendent, I embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear directly from educators, parents, and community and business leaders. Now I am able to focus on priorities highlighted by teachers from Murphy to Manteo. I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns and working to support them” – Mark Johnson from “Ways to show our teachers appreciation” from EdNC.org on May 8th, 2018 (https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/08/ways-to-show-our-teachers-appreciation/).
Did you feel heard then?
Mark Johnson did whatever he was told to do as state superintendent. The special session in December of 2016 by the NCGA under the guise of helping with Hurrican Matthew victims became a power grab for the office of the state superintendent before Roy Cooper came to office to make sure that DPI would still be controlled by those who controlled the NCGA.
Now a few years later, it doesn’t not feel any different especially when this teacher hears of “listening tours” being conducted by DPI officials about a new licensure plan for getting more teachers into the profession.
It’s hard not to think of these listening tours as more of a formality to give the veneer of “teacher input” when obviously the groundwork for this plan was made without an abundance of teacher input beforehand.
When Catherine Truitt floated the idea of a Parent Advisory Committee this past school year, she invited any and everyone interested in applying to give fill out a rather open-ended application that allowed for extended personal answers. Unlike the Teacher Working Conditions Survey given to teachers every other year, it did not solely have check boxes to mark and a list to choose from.
Why not allow teachers to have this same ability to offer input? If you really want to hear from teachers, then hear from teachers. THEN LISTEN TO THEM.
Another aspect of these listening tours is that many seem to not even be in person. From a state superintendent who was adamant about the need for students to be “in person” and the “learning loss” that occurred because of remote instruction, one would think that these listening tours could all be “in person” as well. Nothing should be lost when it comes to something this important.
And who gets invited to these tour meetings? It has been understood that many school systems were asked to select teachers to go to these meetings. Central Office personnel surely do not know every teacher in their district personally. Highly visible teachers and those who are selected as Teachers of the Year come to mind quickly, but do those teachers really represent all of the teachers in the district? Sure, award winning teachers deserve the praise and recognition, but we are losing teachers at a high rate. We are losing teachers who do not feel valued and respected. We are losing teachers who do not feel they are being heard and listened to.
This is a screen shot from the vacancy list in the sate from TeachNC as of thos moment this post is published.
Why are there so many vacancies? Well…
… there are a lot of reasons.
So, are these “listening tours” really targeting the audience in the education world that really needs to be heard?
And are they really listening to teachers?
Because this teacher does not believe so.