Sunday, March 15, 2009

What would teachers do?

We have a lot of decisions to make in St. Paul Public Schools. There is a serious budget crisis to deal with, stimulus package money to spend directly on students in a way that saves jobs, no good news coming from our state capitol, and our school board needs to show some leadership and determine how to fill our superintendent vacancy and provide clear direction for that person.

All that being said, it is instructive to take a few minutes to wonder what would teachers do if we were in charge?

First, our SPPS budget crisis. Because teachers have been funding our classrooms for years, buying more than our fair share of books, supplies, stickers, inspirational posters and white board markers it would make a lot of sense to immediately turn over purchasing to a team of teachers.

Our educational assistants have been doing work that is growing exponentially in sophistication in the last 2 decades, yet remain low-wage workers and severely under insured. Somehow they manage to excel at their day jobs while juggling two or three others deep into their SPPS careers. Clearly, no one is better suited to navigate the simultaneous challenge in the stimulus package of raising student achievement while saving jobs like our EAs, and they'll most likely do it in at least 3 languages.

What would teachers do with our state capitol? For starters, a lesson in leadership is in order. Our social studies teachers could set examples from history of leaders who made tough choices, but stood by them and, just for fun, examples of leaders who failed to drum up one single, original idea and were summarily crushed by the populace. Our teachers would do this, naturally, entirely within the expectations of the Minnesota Academic Standards so that in April we could test all occupants of the capitol on their growth.

What would we do with this superintendent vacancy? You know, technically we do have contract language that states we can be directed to fill in for a colleague during our planning time. We have over 3,000 licensed teachers. If we each took an hour, and assumed 10 hour days, we could cover just over 300 days of work for the superintendent if we each just took one hour. If the board were to provide clear expectations, lesson plans as it were, we could just pick up where our colleague before us left off and leave a nice note for the person coming after us.

All of these huge decisions would still be coming at us at full speed. We'd just have each other to rely on to make them. So what would teachers do?

1 comment:

Nettie said...

I'm not sure I've got an extra hour, MC! Whew.