Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2007

School board says yes to expansion of ESL

Parents, teachers voice strong opposition; administration promises to address concerns

March 13, 2007

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Parents Joan Noller, center left, and Sonya Hogan, center right, are opponents of a Lawrence school board proposal to make Sunflower School a "neighborhood" English as a Second Language site. Noller and Hogan say they are against the proposal because of the possibility of losing teachers at the school due to ESL certification requirements. On the Sunflower playground Monday with their mothers are, from left, Noller&squot;s children Sara, 14, and Molli, 12, and Hogan&squot;s children Judith, 2, Noah, 9 and Caleb, 7.

Parents Joan Noller, center left, and Sonya Hogan, center right, are opponents of a Lawrence school board proposal to make Sunflower School a "neighborhood" English as a Second Language site. Noller and Hogan say they are against the proposal because of the possibility of losing teachers at the school due to ESL certification requirements. On the Sunflower playground Monday with their mothers are, from left, Noller's children Sara, 14, and Molli, 12, and Hogan's children Judith, 2, Noah, 9 and Caleb, 7.

Proposed changes to district's ESL program enrage dozens of parents and teachers

Proposed changes to the district's English as a Second Language Program enrage dozens of parents and teachers from one local elementary school. Enlarge video

Some veteran teachers called it a hardship - taking classes to be certified to teach English as a Second Language.

And dozens of parents were worried about losing longtime teachers who didn't want to get the training.

But after dealing with the issue for more than two hours, Lawrence's school board decided on a 5-1 vote Monday night to go ahead with a controversial plan to designate Sunflower and Schwegler schools as "neighborhood" ESL schools.

However, some good news emerged from the meeting for teachers at the two schools.

After facing a packed board room of some 60 parents and about 20 Sunflower teachers, Superintendent Randy Weseman promised to work to accommodate teachers who find taking ESL training a hardship.

Teachers would need to take 15 hours of classes and three hours of student teaching to become certified in ESL.

The district would pay for the training.

Adela Solis, president of the Lawrence Education Association, said after the meeting she hoped the administration would collaborate with teachers to make the plan work.

"The staff at these schools are very bright and very professional," Solis said. "If anyone can make it work for these schools, it is the staff that are involved."

Solis said she hoped there would be flexibility for some teachers. There was concern expressed at the meeting that some teachers at the schools are nearing retirement, so they wouldn't want to commit to taking additional hours.

Also, there was concern that some teachers wouldn't be able to stay in the district and would then have to repay the district for the coursework.

"There's still a lot of things that need to be discussed," Solis said. "And it's vital that teachers are involved in that conversation."

"We are going to try to work with them," Sue Morgan, board president, said after the meeting. "I think there are teachers who are concerned and upset and I think we understand that."

However, pieces of the recommendation are fundamental to the board moving ahead to create the ESL neighborhood schools, such as getting the staff certified, Morgan said.

She said the model the board approved - having all classroom teachers at Sunflower and Schweglerbecome certified in ESL - will allow the district to deal with the growing number of students needing such services in the district.

Demographic projections indicate that in five years the number of Lawrence students needing ESL services will nearly double, exceeding 1,000 students.

Most ESL students had been going to Hillcrest School until this year, when Cordley School was designated as the second ESL cluster site.

The district's ESL task force recently recommended creating "neighborhood" sites, rather than cluster sites, so students can attend school close to their home.

Sunflower now has 65 English Language Learners in its boundary and Schwegler has 50 ELL students. Hillcrest and Cordley still will serve the remainder of the district.

Opponents speak out

Board member Craig Grant cast the only "no" vote on the measure, getting applause from parents and teachers who attended.

Kassie Shook, a first-grade teacher at Sunflower, said teachers wanted to be able to have a choice in the matter of whether they should get the ESL certification.

"We need to be heard and we need to sit down at the table with you," Shook said.

Lydia Belot, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunflower, said three members of the school's faculty, including herself, are eligible for taking early retirement. Belot said none of them wants to sign an agreement to stay on for more years to become ESL-certified.

Belot said there also were about a dozen teachers who have reached the maximum limit on the salary schedule, which typically gives salary increases for additional classwork.

Karen Ely, a parent of a first-grader at Sunflower, worried that teachers who are required to take extra classes would not be as effective at coming up with creative ways to teach students.

Jamy Taylor, another parent, was concerned what losing part of the teaching staff might do to students.

Sean Smith and Wes Ryan, both Sunflower parents, asked the board to consider not requiring teachers to repay the training cost if they decide to move from the district.

Weseman told the board he would recommend that such a regulation be revoked.

"That seems punitive to me," Weseman said.

Weseman also said that if staff members were nearing retirement, they should be waived from the ESL requirement. He said such issues need to be discussed with the staffs at each school.

Other action

In other action, the board:

¢ Recognized three administrators who will take on new duties on July 1: Kim Bodensteiner, now principal at Cordley, will become the district's chief academic officer; David Cunningham will become division director of human resources for certified employees; and Mary Rodriguez will switch from executive director of human resources to chief operations officer.

¢ Approved certified staff requests for 14.5 positions for the 2007-2008 school year, costing $677,511.

Comments

sourpuss 8 years, 3 months ago

Frankly, the way some kids speak nowadays, we might have to be teaching American children English as a Second Language.

I love the example these teachers are setting as well. Don't want to learn, don't care, would rather leave than do anything they don't want to. If it doesn't cost them anything, why does it matter in the end? Unless they just don't like learning, of course.

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

An outpouring of xenophobic, largely baseless comments coming in. . . oh, about 2-3 hours.

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

I just wanted to use "xenophobic" in a sentence.

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

Really, zealot? Man, on this board, the options are endless!

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 3 months ago

I teach in a building where all teachers are mandated to take 2 ESL classes in a year. We were required to do the text readings, complete assignments and have B.S. discussions about the topic. It was entirely paid for by our district and we had the option to take it for credit.

I did have a personal problem with this, as I was already completing a master's degree program. It was my preference that I invest my personal time for academic studies at my own degree program, rather than splitting time with a district mandate class or two, just so they can say I am now close to ESL certified.

Folks, the story didn't cover the real facts...federal/state monies are available for school districts that have teachers enrolled in, or completed, ESL certification.

It's all about money for the district.

(Side note: I really tried to use a big word, but had to settle for "certification." Just don't laugh at me jonas and geekin. I tried!)

formerksteacher 8 years, 3 months ago

So if you had worked in your present job 25 years and typically put in a 50-hour work week, YOU would have no problem with being told by your boss that you were now required to also take college classes once a week, adding reading assignments, projects and homework to your present schedule and this would have no effect on your homelife?? Try also to imagine that 7 hours per day are spent with approximately 20 children at a time. Somehow I suspect most people would pull their eyelashes out rather than spend much time with that many kids at once. Last - remember that there are two schools who are already doing this right now.

tot 8 years, 3 months ago

Why just Sunflower and Schwegler teachers? Can't they survey the whole lot and ask who would LIKE to be certified? Can't they move teachers around if they have to have this ESL in Sunflower and Schwegler?

geekin_topekan 8 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

classclown 8 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Ken Miller 8 years, 3 months ago

In 3-5 years this entire debate and ruckus will be forgotten. Look at the demographics.... a doubling of ESL students in 5 years? We are going to need a LOT of ESL teachers who are trained to do the job. It actually shows some foresight by the school board and the administration - kudos to them for showing some guts.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 3 months ago

I really liked Xena the first couple of seasons. It got silly after that.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 3 months ago

I got deleted! OK,I'll say it again.Where were all the "official language" zealots during this session?

RonBurgandy 8 years, 3 months ago

ESL is probably necessary training for schools, but let teachers decide if they want to be certified to teach it, don't force them. Provide a stipend for teachers who teach it, that way some teachers would want to become certified.

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 3 months ago

geekin--

I read your original post and did not see anything questionable. But maybe I hadn't downed enough coffee at that point and missed something offensive.

Odd.

Raider 8 years, 3 months ago

Some of the comments by the parents amaze me. Everywhere we turn in this country we hear things like "This is Amurica. If you're gonna live hear, speak English." But when school districts actually try and put programs in place to teach these kids our language then people get bent out of shape. I bet if Karen Ely and Jamy Taylor were the ones living in a new country and their kids needed to learn that language then they would change their attitude real quick.

People can't have it both ways. You can't demand that immigrants learn our language, but then refuse to teach them. What a bunch of hypocrites.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

Missing the point of the parents! The parents and teachers welcome the students and acceptable training. From what I understand the teachers believe, and I think Mr. Smith addressed this, there are more effective models of delivery. Instead of REQUIRING an endorsement looking for alternatives. Unfortunately, the only alternative in which the teachers of the two schools can become money makers for the district is the endorsement. I did not hear any board member or district member offer to go through the process with these teachers. Maybe they need a reality check to what they are REQUIRING the teachers to do. Where are the junior high and high schools at in this process? Why if the need is so intense at the elementary level, why isn't the board REQUIRING a junior high and high school full building endorsement? (After all they are the teachers with more plan time for all the paper writing and test prep.) Also, will the district be covering the subs that our children will have while these CERTIFIED teachers are STUDENT TEACHING?

Raider 8 years, 3 months ago

One thing that the district can do is require that ALL incoming teachers (new hires) have this certification before going through the application process. Also, work with the University to have this made part of the cirricullum for students to graduate with a teacher's certificate.

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 3 months ago

Raider--

Great point! I have long been stating that university schools of education must graduate preservice teachers with licensure in their respective content area AND special education endorsement.

I think if preservice teachers were licensed to teach an actual subject area and carry endorsement in special education and/or ESL it would be such a benefit for the job hunt process, and ultimately the students.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I agree that is an excellent idea for incoming teachers. And again, I believe every parent and current teacher at the two schools would not argue that point. What the board did last night was punish every teacher who has graduated college without that endorsement. Or, those who are not ready to become fulltime students again. I heard many options for the board. I did not hear any member ask for more information on any option. This is another prime example, of the board being lead to decision when there were no alternatives offered or investigated. MONEY TALKS!!! Oh, and when are school board elections?

prioress 8 years, 3 months ago

oscarfactor: In 3-5 years this entire debate and ruckus will be forgotten. Look at the demographics.... a doubling of ESL students in 5 years? We are going to need a LOT of ESL teachers who are trained to do the job. It actually shows some foresight by the school board and the administration - kudos to them for showing some guts.

"Big O"--Good points: Look to Olathe and Emporia for examples. There are already 12 Kansas districts which are "majority minority." Our future is staring us in the face and we need to get ready. Kudos to the administration's plan, and for showing some flexibility. Boos to Mr. Grant for pandering.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

Again, you are correct regarding Emporia, Olathe, and let's add Garden City demographics. Yet NONE of them have schools REQUIRING ALL classroom teachers have an ELL endorsement. Mr. Grant was not pandering over the ELL neighborhood site. I believe Mr. Grant's concerns were the "model" that the district wanted to cash in on. Mr. Weseman is very busy today counting his cash!

vinividivici 8 years, 3 months ago

Requiring ESL certification for incoming teachers sounds like a great idea, as does offering incentives for teachers who wish to obtain ESL certification. If there are not enough ESL teachers after a couple years, offer a better incentive to the first couple of teachers to step up and become certified. One would think that between the incentives and new hires, the schools would be able to come up with enough ESL certified teachers to accommodate the growing demand.
One thing to keep in mind is that teaching a child a second language is no easy task. Especially the English language. After speaking it 20 years (since I started speaking) and taking several language, grammar, and writing classes, I have realized that it takes YEARS to understand all the funny tics and tacs and rules and exceptions and exceptions to exceptions that English is so famous for. Students learning it need to have it re-enforced. I believe a good way to do this would be to require a monthly or bimonthly workshop for extracurricular and arts teachers to learn techniques for teaching ESL and re-inforcing the work that the ESL teachers are doing to help foreign language students.

NitroGoose 8 years, 3 months ago

+1 multiagelearner

This isn't so much an issue of none of the teachers being willing (or wanting) to have ESL training, or teach in an ESL environment. Despite popular belief, teachers generally love the kids they teach and want what is best for them. The issue is the board coming to the teachers with this demand AFTER the early retirement deadline had passed for this year AND with only a few months before the next school year starts (i.e. when the teachers would need to begin taking classes).

This isn't new. The district planners have known that Lawrence would have to do more to accomodate ELL students in the future. I think teachers (and parents) are upset that all this was sprung on them at the last moment with the demand that it's our way or the highway. Some feel they are being forced out of the school they love teaching at, because their outside commitments don't allow them to take on extra schoolwork learning right now.

Forcing the issue is going to make people retaliate. School board members....work with your teachers. They are bright, educated individuals whom I believe you'll find will bend over backward to teach their students if you'll help them do so. Give them ample notice. You've known this would be coming for at least a couple of years. Is it too much to ask that you give your empoyees at least a year's notice??

vinividivici 8 years, 3 months ago

Ah yes, I almost forgot........ Props to all of Lawrence's teachers! I know teachers are asked not only to be educators, but also mentors, mediators, psychologists, nurses.............so many things to so many kids! I don't think you recieve enough credit for all you are asked to do. You go into the teaching field to make a difference in kids' lives, but along the way school boards and parents and lawmakers seem to lose sight of what your priorities should be.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

If a foreign child starts kindergarten in Lawrence, for how many years is the child expected to need ESL classes? I would think that the child would catch up pretty quick and learn to read and write the same way the other children do.

feeble 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm pro-ESL, but my conern would be how this affects school ratings and funding in relation to the new "achievement" standards mandated by No Child Left Behind.

It is my understanding that ESL students scores on the required exams (math, reading comprehension, science, etc) are factored into a school's overall rating.

It is my understanding that this can potentially cause a school to lose funding as they are penalized by having students who may not be at grade level in the required coursework due to language issues (It is also my understanding that the exams are only administered in English.)

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Amy Bartle 8 years, 3 months ago

I was also appalled at the comments of the teachers and parents in the article. I'm disappointed that my children's school was not selected to be an ESL school, because of the diversity that an ESL school provides. If I were a public school teacher, I'd welcome the opportunity to learn more at no cost to me.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

That is an excellent question. Unfortunately, we will not get that type of information from Mr. Passman, Mr. Weseman, Kim Young, or the School Board.
The only information given is the model which will make money for the district. It would have been nice for the board to actually investigate other possibilities. For a district that is data driven and wants to implement programs that are research based, they missed the boat on this one!! Oh, and Mr. Weseman's agruement that just because they have this program already started at two schools, therefore we can not change the model is outrageous. Are we not allowed to reflect and learn from our MISTAKES!!!

birdstone 8 years, 3 months ago

Based on the figures contained in previous posts on this topic, if the district paid the teachers for their time (as all other employers would be legally compelled to do) at a reasonable rate of $20 per hour (not an outrageous sum considering that the average teacher has at least five years of higher education) the district would need to pay each teacher in the neighborhood of $10,000 (that's 500 hours of coursework and study time multiplied by $20 per hour) for their time to complete the training. If the district opts not to pay teachers for their time, at the rate increase of $62 per pay period a teacher would receive following his/her second year in the training, it would take in the neighborhood of 161 pay periods (or the equivalent of 13.4 years) for the teachers to recover their initial time investment. Would you accept such a business arrangement? Is that a "great opportunity" to move up the pay scale or an unfair business deal for teachers?

NitroGoose 8 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, district admins aren't going to put time into researching scenarios that aren't going to make the district money. School districts are money driven, no matter how much they want to cloak it under the guise of 'what's best for the children'.

What's best for the children is to keep the staff and structure in place that is currently at your school. You want to disrupt the flow of learning at a school, the board proposal last night was certainly one of the best ways to do it!

When in management in the corporate world, if I needed to have the best knowledge about a situation before making a decision...I would go straight to the source. In short, my employees were the best equipped and most knowledgable to answer my questions before making an important choice that may affect them or the company.

Involve your employees. Ask them what they think. You create strong buy-in when those people feel their opinions are heard and respected. You want to create the best learning environment for students, then make sure your teachers are heard and understood.

dthroat 8 years, 3 months ago

Raider makes some interesting points. I am a strong proponent of speaking English in America, and firmly agree with his first post. If we want people to speak English then we MUST teach it to the children. Now, I am not an expert on which system would be best so I won't comment on that, but it does need to be done.

His second post also makes sense. If we start early, the kids should pick it up fairly quickly (no they may not know all the quirks - as many adults don't). Most kids seem to have the aptitude to pick up different languages much better then adults.

Overall the concept seems to be a good idea and starting early is the only way to go. Let's hope the board actually DOES work with the teachers affected. I personnally think they have a tough job, and know that at my job I would not want to be forced to spend my own time getting certified.

Chocoholic 8 years, 3 months ago

I'd be for a combo of the suggestions from RonBurgundy's 8:34am post and Raider's 10:08 post. And, while change is painful, it's better to be proactive now than to wait until the demographics have changed. I do understand the heavy workload that most teachers contend with. But surely there's a way to manage this change and still give the teachers options that would maintain morale.

Who are the parents that are complaining about this? My strong hunch is that it's NOT the parents of kids who NEED ESL services!!!

Above and beyond the ESL teaching issue, it would be nice to see more Americans in general learn other languages, instead of expecting those from other countries to cater to us by knowing English.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 3 months ago

"Based on the figures contained in previous posts on this topic, if the district paid the teachers for their time (as all other employers would be legally compelled to do) at a reasonable rate of $20 per hour (not an outrageous sum considering that the average teacher has at least five years of higher education)"

Hell you can get several bilingual illegal alien and pay them a third of that to teach the kids english!

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

"But surely there's a way to manage this change and still give the teachers options that would maintain morale."

I agree there is a way, however with last night's vote, the board has taken away that chance. I heard a repeated cry from the teachers to be involved in the process. And a repeated, this is the model we are tied to. It's too bad the district feels they must try to slip one by there teachers. The people they hired and we trust our children with.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

I would have to second, third, or fourth Raiders comment regarding those opposed to ESL and the connection to those who want "Official English" in Kansas.

What you are witnessing here is not the real debate (aculturation vs. assimilation and its effects on service infrastructure), but rather there is a alterior issue being pushed on us, and that is the uninformed and uneducated connection between everything non-english (American) and illegal immigration.

This is not mere happenstance, but rather a careful calculation by certain indivduals (wont mention names, but picture a large tusked mammal) attempting to tap into our fear or anything different, foreign, or unkown. It is their intention to use this topic and others to rally their troops in a self-prescribed war on American values. In other words, a shamless attempt to placate a certain section of the populations fears of the world and everyone else in it.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

It seems some in the community have confused their roles. The Board of Education is elected by the people to set policy and goals for the District. They have done so. It is now the job of their employees to clarify those goals and find the means to achieve them. If they want more input then they can get themselves elected to do that.

"When in management in the corporate world, if I needed to have the best knowledge about a situation before making a decision."

First of all, I don't know what fantasy world exists where the employees and not the employers determine what the purpose of the organization is.

Second, listening to employees is not the same as having the employees dictate terms. As anyone who has ever worked in any hierarchical organization can tell you, what workers want will always be colored by personal considerations - what's personally convenient, turf protection, status, dislike of change, etc.

Many of the teachers' concerns are valid (the parents' concern seem to be exceedingly vague and speculative; quintessential N.I.M.B.Y.) and, per the meeting, the Board and the Superintendent seem quite open to addressing any that do not disrupt the goal.

But other items seem like so much whinging. Welcome to the real world: salaried employees are frequently told to learn new skills or take on new tasks that require effort outside of their normal work. And they don't get paid extra for doing it (nor would occur to most to ask). Schools are not "professional associations" where the employees are the managers.

Raider 8 years, 3 months ago

The entire subject is very tricky. While there is a need for an "official language", there are those out there that want to take it to the extreme.

By using the English language as an "officiaL language for government documents, forms, etc you have a cohisive system that is uniform across the board. Everything from tax-documents to welfare applications are in the same language.

However, this means if we expect people to use one language, then it is up to us to teach people that language.

While there are programs to teach adults, what about the kids? That is where ESL comes in to play. If we want our kids to learn English then we have to do what is neccessary to teach them. If that means requiring teachers to be certified in ESL then that's what we'll have to do.

In terms of requirements, the state school board must work with the Universities and the local boards to add ESL to graduation requirements. One way to ensure this happens is to only hire new teachers that have this certification. By making this part of your hiring policy, then the Universities should follow suit with their degree programs.

It's going to take several organizations working together to get this done. The biggest problem will be getting over the stigma that every immigrant is "illegal", and every immigrant is a farm worker from Mexico. There are kids that come from all over the world and speak many languages in our country. This is not just about illegals from Mexico.

Just think about what would happen to your kids if all of a sudden you took a job in a foreign country that is non-English speaking. Wouldn't you want the school systems there to help your kids learn the language so they can go to school and be educated like everyone else?

Raider 8 years, 3 months ago

Jamesaust, very good post. You nailed it. In the corporate world you don't have employees dictating policy to the employers.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

Jamesaust~ "Second, listening to employees is not the same as having the employees dictate terms."
Once again, I believe the teachers and parents are frustrated with the lack of (there was no dialogue according to presentations last night) listening the district has done. You must understand that the arguement was not the neighborhood site, or welcoming the ELL families, but the manner in which the district went about leading the board to the decision. Generally, in the business world, a board is given multiple choices and research to base their decisions on. Not, here is a model, we have already used this model and even though it is known not to be an effective model, will you please pass this model for 2 more schools. After listening last night, I heard parents and teachers offering alternatives that were backed by research, data, and the staff.
Remember this is the same district that led the board down the paths of mulitage classrooms, curriculum mapping, literacy learning, and numerous other programs that last 3-5 years and then were eliminated. Not the best history when it comes to making good sound long term decisions.

lmb1977 8 years, 3 months ago

I am currently a third year elementary education major, with a minor in ESOL. I am appalled by some of the comments of teachers and parents from the article, and some of the posts here. When a teacher decides that he/she has learned all that there is to know about teaching then it IS time to think about retiring. Education is constantly evolving, and that is a GOOD thing. Professionals are always seeking to find what works and what does not. The ESOL programs are legitimate. The techniques that we learn in the ESOL classes are backed by scientifically based research, as required by NCLB. I plan on teaching in a regular K-6 classroom and I think that the skills that I have learned from my ESOL classes will enhance my teaching for all of my students, not just those who are ESOL. As I stated before, if you are a teacher who is unwilling to adapt to the dynamic educational system, retire; there are plenty of us who are willing to take your place.

SoundMind 8 years, 3 months ago

"the parents' concern seem to be exceedingly vague and speculative; quintessential N.I.M.B.Y"

I don't think it is, but since I'm a Sunflower parent, I'll lay it out for you. The concern has nothing to do with ESL coming to Sunflower, or these extra kids (although where we'll put 65 kids is beyond me - we're crowded enough as it is).

No. The concern is the school district forcing every single member of the teaching staff to take 18 credit hours (i.e., one three hour course per semester for three years) of high level college coursework and THEN being required to stay a minimum of 3-5 years BEYOND those three years.

The teachers will not be paid extra for this forced extra coursework. Many of the teachers at Sunflower are at or near early retirement age, or are at the maximum ono their pay scale So, because this is being forced on them, many teachers would just prefer to either take a transfer or take early retirement.

We have an awesome teaching staff and a real sense of community and family at Sunflower and THAT is what we do not want to lose.

This is about losing our teachers, plain and simple. I WELCOME the addition of the cultural diversity that the ESL students bring.

But, I doubt my comments will make any difference; everyone seems hell bent to make this into some sort of racial issue - which is exactly what we knew would happen, despite all efforts to the contrary.

NitroGoose 8 years, 3 months ago

Jamesaust,

There was no mention in my post of the employees determining the purpose (or direction) of the organization. A manager can listen to emplyees express concerns on an issue without emplementing all of their ideas. My statement points simply to the fact that the teachers were not given any opportunity for input or discussion beforehand. And it points to the fact that teachers nearing early retirement age were notified of the change AFTER the early retirement date had passed.

Just because the teachers are allowed to have input and discussion, doesn't necessarily mean the board will vote to go that route. BUT, it gives the teachers opportunity to be heard, which is 1,000 times better than blindsiding them with "hey, we decided you're going to do this next year, and we don't care what you think about it, just go and do it".

We're talking about people with at minimum a 4+ year college education. Most have extra hours of education required for recertification, some have a Master's Degree or more. The board trusts these people with the safety and education of our children. At very least, it would be appropriate to have given them earlier notification that something like this was happening....to respect them enough to give them some advance notification.

Bottom line is, I don't think the main issue is the incorporation of an ESL program. I believe most teachers would be fine with learning and teaching it. It's the manner in which the entire matter has been handled.

redtailhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

The requirement of 18 hours of Kansas University graduate level course work is an extreme hardship on professional educators that are working full-time. This would be a sizable commitment and possible burden on anyone attempting to work and raise a family. Perhaps members of the school board should have considered their response, if they were required to do the same. Perhaps the Superintendent should consider his position on this requirement for his teachers when he has been unable to complete his PhD program (coursework of his own choosing) while working for the district.

SoundMind 8 years, 3 months ago

BlindGoose - you can't see me, here, but I'm standing and applauding.

You summed it all PERFECTLY.

Confrontation 8 years, 3 months ago

If my employer gave me the summer off, I wouldn't complain about having to take some free courses. Plus, these courses would look good on a resume.

Hawkman 8 years, 3 months ago

I watched the board meeting on tv last night and I only have one thing to say...."Hey, Sunflower parents and teachers, can you spell arrogant." You were totally out of line in your behavior. Hope your kids were in bed and didn't have to see the mob mentality you presented to the rest of the community who was watching!

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

Hawkman please remember these were teachers and parents fighting for the right to spend time teaching and loving our kids. Sending my child to a school were teachers fight to work is an honor. Unlike some schools, Sunflower doesn't have a high staff turnover. The teachers are not arrogant, they were, if you were listening, making educated requests and suggestions. They want to welcome all students and be prepared for those students. I doubt you've ever dealt with a mob if that was your impression.

multiagelearner 8 years, 3 months ago

lmb1977 Beware... in four years after you are in the teaching profession with a degree and ESOL endorsement, you will be forced to go back another endorsement not of your choice. If you have small children, too bad. If you are retiring in 2 years, too bad. If you have a LIFE outside of your job, TOO BAD.
I am certain if you are in an education program they are teaching the need to read, interpret, and follow data and research. Have you read any research on this topic? If so please share...you will see there are other options.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

multiagelearner - I have little doubt that the district could have handled the matter more smoothly. But I believe you have an excessively romantic idea of the fluidity of most business models. Virtually every institutions muddles through, some just more effectively than others. There's nothing here than what you'll find in a typical business/organization environment.

I don't believe ESL can be termed a pedalogical 'fad.'

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

SoundMind - I've never heard a 'consumer' whose concern seems to be work contract issues. When I'm at the drive-through, visiting the dentist, or buying insurance, the last thing that comes to my mind is the contractual work relations between employer and employee. What's more, at least per the article, the only parental concerns summarized were along the lines of "the teachers will be too stressed by this to teach well." (Granted, that summary may result from poor journalism.) All I'm getting from your (valid) observations is a "hear, hear" to the teachers' complaints - not solid parental concerns.

Kathy Getto 8 years, 3 months ago

ljreader:

Of course the children are taught using their native tongues. Have you ever taken a foreign language? How else would one teach a second language? ELL children are in the regular classroom, and are pulled out to the ELL classes. Most schools also have bilingual paras in the regular classrooms to assist. You would be amazed how quickly those little ones learn the English language.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

NitroGoose - I appreciate your points but again I believe you're blurring together different decisions.

I remember a situation a few years back when a client of mine suddenly took upon a new contract that required some extensive work in Latin America. A significant number of employees were going to have to become more capable in Spanish (although the company also was hiring a few fluent Spanish-speakers). No one consulted with the employees first about whether the contract should be pursued or not - that wasn't the employees' business. Nonetheless, in the next stage - implementation - management listened extensively to employee imput JUST AS this article at least makes it seem that the Board and Weseman are prepared to do. (Indeed, it sounds like there'll be special dispensation for near-retirees, and a different policy on those who leave the district.)

I'm sure in a perfect world this would have been the end result of a long series of consultation forums. But its been no secret what direction the district was thinking of going on this and there's not really a lot of time to be spent in making the core decision that the Board has now made.

As to the whole "degree" thing - don't get me started!

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

cool - I can think of several major Kansas businesses where Spanish is the language of commerce.

Kathy Getto 8 years, 3 months ago

Marion, what the hell do you mean by that statement? English is dealt with as the primary language. Unless one has actually spent several days in an ELL environment, one can't possibly understand how it works. These children have no racial biases that hinder them as many ignorant of the process obviously have. You are forgetting the benefits an ELL school provides the English speaking children. Get over your fears and learn Spanish!

denak 8 years, 3 months ago

In order to teach effectively, teachers must keep up with new learning techniques and technology. I was a para at a local school about a year ago, and routinely, the teachers used power point presentations to augment their classroom instruction.

Most of these teachers were not new teachers. Most of them had at least 10 years under their belt. When they went to school and got their teaching degree, computers were not as common in the classroom as today.

In order to be effective and meet the changing demands, they had to become proficient in computers.

The same with ESL. If the teacher wants to continue teaching, then the teacher needs to adapt to the changing times.

I do not think it is too much to ask of the teachers in these schools.

It is my understanding that teachers need to take continuing ed. classes anyway. This is part of the job.

Most companies require/encourage their employees to keep up their certifications through continuing ed. So, the district isn't any different then most major companies.

However, to be fair, teachers who are nearing retirement shouldn't have to go through it nor should teachers be required to continue working for the school district for 3-5 extra years.

Personally, if I were a teacher, I would applaud this move. Not only does it address the needs of my student population, it makes me more marketable. If I leave this district, I could easily get a job somewhere else because of this training.

Dena

SoundMind 8 years, 3 months ago

"SoundMind - I've never heard a 'consumer' whose concern seems to be work contract issues. When I'm at the drive-through, visiting the dentist, or buying insurance, the last thing that comes to my mind is the contractual work relations between employer and employee. What's more, at least per the article, the only parental concerns summarized were along the lines of "the teachers will be too stressed by this to teach well." (Granted, that summary may result from poor journalism.) All I'm getting from your (valid) observations is a "hear, hear" to the teachers' complaints - not solid parental concerns."

My concerns ARE the teachers concerns - I'm not sure why that's not valid. I feel like myself and BlindGoose have made it as clear as possible what the parents' concerns are and yet still people refuse to believe (or perhaps read and understand) what we've written.

Why is it so difficult to understand that implementing this requirement is deciminating our beloved, experienced teaching staff?

Why is it so difficult to understand that we don't want that. We want the teachers that we KNOW do a good job.

Yet because of the board's short-sightedness and refusal to bring this to the table and discuss it with the teachers and parents - and instead ram it down our throats, fully half of the teachers now at Sunflower won't be there come fall.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

deciminating (aka decimating) means reducing by one-tenth.

That many will probably retire next year, anyway.

When will teachers ever teach the proper use of the term, "decimate?"

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

Or, better yet, why do they not know it in the first place?

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