Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What are You Doing to Change the Situation?

Post by Mike Gower: Mike is currently the Superintendent of Schools in USD #325 Phillipsburg and USD #326 Logan, KS. You can follow Mike on Twitter @Supt325326gower

Talk to retired teachers, veteran teachers, first year teachers or student teachers and you get the same response; they got into teaching because they want to help kids or they love kids or they love a certain content area and want to share that passion with kids.  No mention of money or personal gain or even a hint of selfishness, rather they simply have a desire to serve students.  How have Kansas teachers been rewarded for their service?  Their pay ranks in the bottom 20% nationally.  Tenure rights have been stripped.  Their ability to negotiate items has been restricted.  The latest scheme to “divide and conquer” is merit pay.  Teachers can only control when kids are at school.  Sure, they can try to influence kids to make the right choices but cannot control their environment 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  It seems unfair to me that teachers should be judged and pitted against one another for pay raises on student performance when they do not control student choices 24/7.

Schools have been labeled “inefficient, if not immoral” by our governor for the budget choices we have made because we have failed to get 65% of our overall budget into the classroom.  Of course, items such as operations and maintenance, transportation, food service and the ever-wasteful administration do not count as money to the classroom but try operating a school without any of those functions.  At least the question of 65% is directed at administration and not teachers.

If the governor and certain legislative members want to accuse a superintendent of being inefficient and immoral and criticize them for not getting 65% into the classroom per their definition, so be it, but leave our teachers alone!  All our teachers are guilty of is choosing a profession that makes the biggest impact on our society for very low pay with a very high rate of criticism.  Somewhere we lost our way and when someone disagrees with us, it seems to be popular to attack them and try to discredit them.  Teachers should be held in the highest regard, not attacked for simply trying to help kids.  True leaders do not blame others when things go awry.  They accept responsibility and try to correct their mistakes.  

So, in true Jimmy Casas form, what are we doing to correct the situation?  First of all, thank an educator for what they do each day to inspire kids.  Many thanks to the USD #325 teachers and staff for not only inspiring my two daughters to follow in your footsteps but for all you do each day to make our students successful.  Lord knows we need more teachers to overlook the negative and focus on the positive joys of being an educator.  Thanks USD #326 for your daily efforts to make our students the best they can be.  Second, take to Twitter to proclaim the positive things happening in our districts each day.  We must use the tools available to us to focus on the positives and let the public know that we are doing our best to prepare our students for the future.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Finally, exercise your right to vote.  Don’t sit back and complain after the elections especially if you did not even vote.  That is just noise and not being a part of the solution. As Jimmy Casas said, “find a way to correct the situation.”

"Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself."