Do We Want Quality Teachers?
While reading Sabrina’s recent post about an incident in one of Denver’s schools, I decided to take a look at her link to the May 20, 2010 DPS Board of Education meeting in which she and a number of other teachers spoke. It pained me to watch the presentations made by the teachers and their supporters, protesting non-renewal of their probationary contracts. The speakers were eloquent and intelligent and presented evidence suggesting the teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. To me, there was an apparent pattern of ineffective, hostile and retaliatory leadership that traversed the district, of principals discarding teachers for personal, rather than professional reasons. It pains me all the more knowing that the Board of Education did not consider this apparent pattern reason enough to thoroughly investigate the contested non-renewals and that all were allowed to stand. Teachers spoke of reluctantly taking their considerable skills to the suburbs in the event their petitions be ignored. People spoke about the critical importance of developing and maintaining relationships with children and families. They also questioned the conflict between the district’s stated desire to retain quality teachers and its lack of attention to ensuring strong leadership.
I felt an eerie sensation of déjà vu, because I know that I have said many of the same things, some of them here. I’ve heard and read other teachers expressing similar opinions. Yet, there still seems to be an overall public tendency to view teacher opinion with a jaundiced eye, even in the face of evidence that leadership is flawed. From a purely economical perspective, it seems that leadership should receive more, rather than less scrutiny, given the notably higher level of pay and control over dispersal of funds held by principals. So, with a heavy heart, I have to ask this question. Does it really matter if DPS (and urban districts in general) attract and retain quality teachers? Does it matter that children have schools with effective management, with productive school culture? Does it matter to DPS Administration, to the Denver Board of Education? Does it matter to the parents and citizens of Denver? If so, please demonstrate your commitment through your deeds as well as your words.