Friday, April 20, 2007

RSD Teachers Deserve Better Treatment

I just returned from Dibert, the neighborhood public school at which I volunteer Fridays. The teachers there were very upset, and for good reason. The front page of the Times-Picayune today reads "N.O. Schools Cast a Wide Net for Young, Idealistic Educators to Fill a Yawning Gap in Faculty." It implies that our current teachers, especially those with experience, are not as valuable as inexperienced people from outside of the city. It implies that old teachers are fatigued, boring, and not idealistic. Moreover, these inexperienced teachers are being offered $17,300 in incentives for them to move here to teach. Current teachers in the RSD are not being offered any incentives at the moment. I hope that changes. The current RSD teachers, like all public school teachers in New Orleans, were fired after Katrina. Notice that this didn't happen in St. Bernard Parish, where the damage was arguably even greater. Then some of these New Orleans teachers signed on to work in the Recovery School District, where this year has been incredibly challenging for students and teachers alike. No books, no kitchens, and plenty of students who weren't able to make it into the charter schools. Today I worked for a short time with a student who I'll refer to as T, who was a third grader with severe behavioral problems and learning disabilities. When I'm not there, he is in a classroom of 30 kids with one teacher. That teacher deserves a medal, and our thanks, and a major raise. Instead today he learned that the state board of education values a new college graduate from Spokane more than they value him. I know that we need teachers here, but this should have been handled with more respect to the RSD teachers in the trenches.

The principal at Dibert said he expected to arrive at work today and see an email on his computer from Dr. Jarvis, who runs the RSD, explaining that the state values and appreciates the incredible amount of work done by the RSD, and that they would be getting raises soon. That would have been the appropriate thing for a competant administrator. Instead, there was nothing from Dr. Jarvis or anyone with BESE or the RSD. Not a word.

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