On August 21 and 22nd, PFT President Jerry Jordan made himself available for one-on-one meetings with members in front of 440. Below are the comments from one member who spoke with him.
You invited teachers to come to the table today and air their thoughts, feelings and very real experiences in the face of unprecedented budget cuts, ongoing contract delays, a demand that teachers be a funding source for our struggling schools and a continued lack of concern or political will to honestly address these issues.
I have come today as a retired teacher. I retired in June, 2013, as the lack of a contract resolution continued to loom and budget cuts were going to directly affect my ability to do my job effectively. I taught kindergarten in a culturally diverse neighborhood in a building that was so overcrowded it was recording 169% enrollment. In my last year of teaching, 12 out of my 30 students were ELL students from a very diverse background. Two of those students came into kindergarten speaking no English at all. I was fortunate to have a part-time classroom assistant that fully supported and enhanced my kindergarten program. I was able to offer a developmentally appropriate, differentiated writing component known as Kid Writing and a math component with daily small group instruction that assured the children were getting the best possible start because of this support.
I learned at the end of the 2013 school year that the classroom assistants would be cut. The contract was still unresolved. Politicians and School District administration were demanding that teachers become a funding source. Evaluations were to be built around the junk science of value added measure. Basic contract issues, which are students learning conditions, were being violated. Schools were continually threatened to be closed and there was nothing on the horizon that signified positive change.
So, I became one of those statistics of experience and professional expertise that opted to retire. I wasn’t quite ready to retire and felt that I still had much to offer the teaching profession but I knew the quality of what I could do had been and was continuing to be eroded by sources beyond my control.
Thank you for allowing me to “come to the table” today.