Guest blogger Susan DuFresne is an experienced teacher in Washington state. (She is not pictured.) This is part of a series called Voices From the Classroom.
A teacher’s workload is impossible. Twenty-four hours is not enough. I worked a 15 1/2 hour day yesterday & the to-do list is still ridiculously long.
After teaching all day in my integrated kindergarten classroom — which is overloaded by two students (because we have not funded appropriate class size), I had a teacher evaluation meeting with my administrators and other teachers to go over the midyear teacher evaluation process.
Teachers shared the anxiety that is created by the overpowering amount of scrutiny and the impossible workload we are under. The teacher evaluation adds to this workload because we have to provide evidence to prove that we are “proficient” teachers. Teachers shared their concerns about some principals possibly showing favoritism, trying to get rid of teachers who have moved up the pay scale, etc.
After the meeting, I had to re-organize my classroom to be able to make room for print shop materials after buying curriculum resources to differentiate for gifted and students with special needs in my classroom from Teachers-Pay-Teachers. Think about that for a minute — why do teachers have to buy their own materials with our own money?
Why? Because teachers don’t have a budget and teachers don’t have curriculum resources to implement the mandated Common Core.
But we will not meet the standard on our evaluation without having materials with which to teach. My district does not supply me with necessary materials to differentiate for my wide range of abilities. Why? Because they are spending all their money on “implementation of Common Core”, software and hardware for Common Core, and the upcoming Smarter Balanced Common Core tests (known as SBAC). As a result they don’t have enough money to take care of the children and needs of teachers who in turn care for those children.
Therefore, under the duress of scrutiny and high stakes, we know we will not meet the standard on our evaluation without having materials with which to teach.
Meanwhile, Governor Inslee & our state legislators hand out tax breaks to Microsoft and Boeing, but do not fully fund basic education, despite being held in contempt for not doing so by our State Supreme Court (pdf). #McCleary
If I don’t purchase these materials, I will not do well on my teacher evaluation because the goal that I am required to provide evidence about is dealing with differentiation. $100’s of dollars are being spent by each teacher… teachers, mind you, who have not had COLA in many years to buy their own curriculum resources – because districts have not been providing updated materials for the new Common Core — because the state of spending all their money on TESTING and giving tax breaks to the corporations who are profiting from them.
Meanwhile I am only allowed to deduct $250 for expenses for my classroom. Yet I have spent much more than that this year due to Common Core & the new teacher evaluation system.
Again, I repeat, my district does not provide me with these curriculum resources for my students. Example: I do not have leveled reading texts for my students yet I am expected to get all kindergarten students to be able to read had a level D by the end of the year.
If our teachers are not able to show evidence of growth and all students the teacher evaluation process can lead to them eventually losing their jobs. Without the materials we need to teach, how can we possibly achieve these goals? And in overloaded classrooms with the range of learners from students with special needs including behavior issues — to highly gifted students — to students learning English for the first time — to students of poverty — how can teachers possibly meet all of their needs to show “evidence of growth”? High stakes for students. High stakes for teachers. The pressure that children and teachers are under is crushing.
Without the state upholding their Paramount Duty, teachers will be leaving in droves. Tax the corporations. Stop wasting money on Common Core, elaborate high stakes teacher evaluation systems, and high-stakes testing.