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CMS shunts teachers' suggestions aside

In last year's "Why New Teachers Quit" story, a group of teachers proposed several changes that, as experienced professionals who are "on the ground" every day, they believe would help lower CMS' retention rater. We asked CMS Public Information Officer Jerry Haigler which of these ideas Dr. Pughsley and his staff attempted. Haigler gave the following responses:

Suggestion: Stop requiring teachers to put their lesson plans into a set format on paper.

CMS response: The system expects each teacher to develop and follow a daily lesson plan. The format of the lesson plan can be determined by the school site based upon teacher input. A nonnegotiable is that each plan must include system expectations.

1. Objectives

2. Standards (NCSCOS)

3. Anticipatory Set (Expectations)

4. Teaching (Input, Modeling, Checking for understanding)

5. Guided practice

6. Independent practice (homework)

How teachers incorporate these elements is determined at the building level. What the actual plan looks like is determined at the building level.

Suggestion: Enlist police to perform lunch and bus duties to give teachers more planning and lunchtime.

CMS response: Would not be able to implement based on budget.

Suggestion: Provide a clerical staff member in each middle and high school responsible for making copies, entering grades into a computer system, and making phone calls regarding minor matters if needed.

CMS response: Some schools have clerical staff for each grade level.

Suggestion: Train and direct administrators to discipline more strictly, promptly, and consistently.

CMS response: Discipline is outlined in the district's Rights and Responsibilities handbook.

Suggestion: Make it mandatory for every teacher to evaluate his/her administrators with rewards and penalties for the results.

CMS response: Evaluation should not be mandatory -- it's an opportunity for teachers, if they wish to participate.

Suggestion: Ensure that new teachers receive the smaller, better behaved classes in order to prepare for more challenging students and situations down the road.

CMS response: Some schools do provide smaller class sizes and better behaved students.

Suggestion: Give new teachers the option of attending in-services or working in their classrooms.

CMS response: Some schools do provide teachers with the option of attending in-service or working in their classroom. New teachers, especially, require the knowledge and skills that are offered in professional development in-services. Many are built around new text adoptions, new methods of assessment or effective pedagogy that all staff must learn in order to become more effective. District-wide in-service events also provide opportunities to network with other teachers beyond the school site.

Suggestion: Give new teachers classrooms or trailers. Do not expect them to push around a cart or share a room with a veteran teacher.

CMS response: Trailers -- in some schools, conditions dictate what we can do.

Suggestion: Allow teachers to select the topic, speaker, and content for in-service days within the present budget.

CMS response: Recent research on professional development demonstrates that the most effective approach is one that is consistent across the school year. That is, a common topic or thread is deeply developed in many meetings across the year as opposed to a series of unconnected speaker or topics. School-based professional development has this possibility and can be conducted with significant efficiencies, using staff with specific expertise. It takes careful analysis of staff needs and then the development of a coherent, consistent, integrated, year- long plan to connect each staff development day's topic to the next for maximum staff benefit.

Suggestion: As a teacher's tenure increases, provide more perks and power rather than a salary increase.

CMS response: Dr. Pughsley is interested in this and would like to hear their suggestions.

Suggestion: Don't force teachers to sign in or out for the school day.

CMS response: Signing in and out is not a district policy -- it's a school decision.

Suggestion: Allow teachers to leave campus if they feel they need to during lunch and planning periods with penalties if they abuse the privilege.

CMS response: For the safety of students, it is imperative that teachers be on campus in the event of an emergency.

Now, allow me to translate these responses:

We realize new teachers think they know what they're talking about since they're the ones actually teaching, but we know better. We have the authority to override school-based policy but choose not to, even if it's detrimental to retention. We have the funds to budget for these initiatives but choose to put that money in our own pockets, including the $1.62 million going to the dozen highest paid administrators in CMS, an increase of $300,000 over last year.

In essence, it's as if CMS school officials read the words of the best and brightest leaving the classroom without attempting to retrieve any meaning.

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