HITTING CLOSE TO HOME
How many Teachers feel this way in Hastings?
We have heard our teachers voice concern on several issues impacting student success. This includes student behavior, increased workload, curriculum and curriculum support, meetings, planning time, technology, pressure to close the lost learning gap, staffing, and increased stress.
Our candidates, Michelle Fullerton, David Hughes, Mark Montague, Monti Starkey, and Stacie Widhelm know the importance of support and care for our education staff. Our teachers want what is best for their students and we want to hear what you have to say and work together to help solve issues at hand.
(The following post was written by former Mayor of Grand Island Jeremy Jensen. Links to the posts and live interview are included below. The photo in the middle of this post was in the Grand Island newspaper Friday, 04/08/2022.)
But, it’s not just Omaha…
The absolute most important local elections over the next ten years will be for those holding and seeking school board positions.
We can’t keep losing so many teachers. And when we do, everyone needs to know why.
*Talk to the kids in schools now.
*Go visit your kid’s school.
*Talk to the teachers.
*Ask about behavior.
*Ask about grading policy.
*Ask about the tardy policy.
*Ask about the dress code.
*Ask about student respect for teachers.
*Ask how many movies your kids watch during class.
*Ask them about retaking exams.
*Ask them about turning in late assignments for mandatory full credit.
*Ask why teachers are leaving.
*Ask why retired teachers won’t come back and serve as a substitute teacher.
*Ask why new college graduates don’t want to take teaching jobs here.
Celebrating goat yoga only goes so far in public support without a broader conversation on what your kids are telling you about how their day went, when they get home from school.
I’m done being silent about this.
Here is my life right now as a varsity coach:
“Kid” at school-
*Can skip class.
*Can be late to class.
*Can wear whatever they want for “clothing”.
*Can turn in daily work whenever they want up to the last day of the semester for full credit.
*Can retake exams they do poorly on.
*Can get away with being disrespectful in class.
*Teacher can raise final grade based on professional judgement. In other words, let’s pass them anyway so they can graduate and be gone.
“Kid” comes to practice-
*Is expected to attend all practices.
*Is required to wear team issued training jersey.
*Is expected to be on time.
*Is expected to be respectful to teammates and coaches.
*Is expected to pay attention to small details.
*Is expected to compete with teammates for playing time.
*Is expected to attend off-season training.
38 kids on my team. And 38 kids who have higher standards placed on them in the locker room than they do in the classroom. Honestly look at the contrast between school and team, and you can see why this year more than any other has been a struggle with things that have nothing to do with athletic ability.
Yes, I’m upset; and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one.
How is my standard in the locker room any different than the standard a future employer will place on the kid? Show up on time. Be respectful. Be dependable. Do your job well. Repeat. Four key things that they are not currently required to do every day at school. What kind of future employees are we creating if we don’t teach the basics now?
“Every student, every day a success.”
“College and career ready.”
Footnote from Jeremy Jensen:
Don’t point the finger at teachers. They can only do so much with the hand they are dealt. Teachers are messaging me already privately thanking me for raising the issue. They are also sharing more insight. I will amend this message if something is shared that seems important to add to the content of the message.
Additional tidbits shared with me:
1. Just told that an elementary school was given a goal to not exceed 10 suspensions this year. They are at 9 and are now in a predicament of how to handle current disciplinary problems.
2. 17 teachers absent today at GISH without substitutes. (Apr 8th)
3. BARR 7th grade team (11 teachers) - Last school year had to cover classes for colleagues slightly less than 100 times. So far this school year, 283.
4. DM from a teacher this afternoon:
“Appreciate the post. Obviously we are pretty quiet in the public eye about these things. Just had a student tell me to F off and what the F are you going to do about it etc. So yeah, unfortunately I spent a lot of a class period dealing with this kids behavior today. Just one example of stuff that happens in our schools. I know many teachers appreciate the support!”
5. From source: 122 teachers retiring or not electing to renew contract with GIPS for next year. Per source, that number is “normal”. The district has about 725 teachers. Quick math shows “our new normal teacher turnover” to be about 17%. That’s not a good business model.
6. Elementary class here in GI will be combined with another class for the last 6 weeks of school because a “qualified substitute” has not been secured.
7. I just scrubbed and added five of the 20+ messages that have come in from teachers to the comments below. Specifically for anyone that thinks the problems this post is discussing aren’t that serious.
8. Astonishing how terrified teachers are about retribution for speaking out on this topic. The private conversations are troubling to say the least. Real or perceived, I would have never imagined the overwhelming professional fear these folks live with.
9. 4 science teachers are leaving GISH. Who is teaching biology and chemistry next year?
10. College students at UNK being told by faculty not to student teach in Grand Island.
PM from teacher:
I could tell you so much more anonymously please!!…I teach at —.
The expectations, micromanaging, hovering, data driven constant observations, targets/success criteria - posted enough, accurate enough, are we diversifying student participation (another data point); are we using varied behavior PRAISE and correction adequately/ ANOTHER data point, are we using their HQCI - High Quality Curriculum Instruction and not going off script - no one asked us if we thought it was high quality!! Sorry, using awful black and white little pictures in workbooks with language learning- NOT HQ curriculum. CKLA stories are boring typically!!
Who’s showing movies? We’re terrified to go off script and add two minutes of fun or alternative way of teaching the subject!! Someone might walk in!!
It’s killing teachers - never enough, and behaviors on top of that!!! Awful.
I look at my coworkers faces throughout the day, it’s not good!!
I’m a single mom of three - I don’t have a choice. Notice - not many active GIPS teachers are responding. We’re stuck, the KIDS keep us going, all while filled with anxiety, never enough time, personal garbage on top of that.
Toxic positivity - to take care of ourselves, while all of the above is still in place. Many of us have Master’s ++ and are treated like sheep.
Here is another comment Mr. Jensen made after writing the above post.
Yes, parenting is a massive part of this equation. BUT, don’t lose sight of the fact that there are still a LOT of kids who are great kids, who want to learn, and enjoy being in school.
- So much focus is placed on accommodating the problems, that we often fail to maximize the potential of the kids who have the most to gain.
- Every time a kid destroys a chair in class for a TikTok challenge and isn’t disciplined for it, that takes away the positive educational experience of the other 20 kids in class who genuinely want to learn what the teacher is showing them.
- When the kid isn’t disciplined, it has a domino effect. The kids all see what is tolerated, the teacher is frustrated for feeling left on an island, and the behavior gets repeated.
Soon, those who want to learn can’t because of all the commotion.
Then, we dumb down the grading standards because we have to push everyone through the system.
We have proficiency ratings below 20% in core basics like mathematics and reading, yet our graduation rates are around 90%.
How does that possibly correlate?
When was the last time a student failed and had to redo 5th grade? 8th grade? 12th grade?
None of it matters if we just keep pushing kids through the system and blaming Covid for everything.
Please visit the Face Book link below and read the comments for yourself to see what is happening at the schools nearby.
It is closer than you think Hastings!
WE WANT TO LISTEN, SUPPORT & HELP YOU!!!!
If there is a problem let's solve it, not bury it!
FB link here
*A Link to the 1-on-1 Full interview with Jeremy Jensen and Local 4 Spencer Schubert found at the bottom of this page.
So, why did I create the original post?
In short, the staffing problem at GIPS will be so bad next school year drastic measures will need to be taken.
The BOE doesn’t want to talk about it. I have an email from Bonnie Hinkle from this Fall that told me specifically that they wanted nothing to do with the discussion - our elected representatives told me that my concerns were not something their policy allows them to discuss.
Just think, there were 17 teachers gone from GISH today without substitutes. How does the school function effectively next year with less teachers employed there vs today due to resignations and retirements? What happens if at GISH alone there is a net loss of 25? Then if 17 more of the ones we do have aren’t at work and they don’t have subs, then what?
The story isn’t about the shortage of finding NEW teachers; it’s about uncovering why we are losing so many CURRENT ones. 122 at minimum as that is the number the district office told me were contracts not being renewed. Again, why are the ones not retiring leaving? And why are there so many?
I know why. That’s why I’m upset.
Put the smiley face on and ignore the problems if you want, but when this thing crashes (and it will without major attention) it will put Grand Island in an awful place for years to come.
You can’t lose 15%+ of your best, most experienced people each year and stay afloat. You can’t replace them, or that experience. We were just told that the issue is about fewer new teachers available to hire from college. Well, you’d think that if that is true, we’d do more to retain the good ones that we have.
Among other things, read the bullet points in the original post to get an idea of the building environments and then ask yourself if you can blame anyone for leaving.
This is going to end really badly. Maybe next year, maybe the following year, but without major improvement - this ship is going down.