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City Life: Teachers are right to be mad

November 08, 2011|By Steve Smith

Teachers are not supposed to protest.

They're not supposed to complain or become frustrated or get upset in any way.

And they are certainly not supposed to cast a vote of "no confidence" in the school superintendent ("Teachers union denounces Hubbard," Nov. 4).

Teachers are supposed to be docile employees, happy to be in their noble profession and perfectly satisfied being paid in the smiles of the children they educate.

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Many teachers long ago gave up any notion of trying to inspire their charges. Instead, they navigate turbulent administrative waters, trying to teach far too much in far too little time.

These rules have them paying far more attention to the short-term goal of grades and test scores instead of the more beneficial, long-term goal of creating lifelong learners out of the kids who pass through their doors each semester.

Today's educator hears the nation talk about the importance of education and the value of our teachers, but then sees us paying millions to someone who can hit a baseball one time out of four at-bats, or throw a football 30 yards to land on a dime in the end zone.

They hear the talk, and then see the budget cuts.

At some point, the tipping point was bound to be reached. The teachers in Wisconsin reached their limit last February and forced the closure of Milwaukee Public Schools by walking out on their jobs. About 600 teachers called in sick to attend demonstrations, forcing the shutdown of more than 200 schools.

In Newport-Mesa, the no-confidence vote last week was not the tipping point, but a signal that teachers are moving closer to it.

Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers President Kimberly Claytor said that the vote was strictly a response to what many teachers see as unequal treatment on behalf of the superintendent.

"The vote was not about Supt. [Jeffrey] Hubbard's guilt or innocence [on his criminal charges]," she said. "We want [Hubbard] to be treated fairly according to the rules of due process."

So what was the vote all about? It started with the school board approving Hubbard's paid leave last January, a move she said would have been out of the question for most issues involving teacher infractions.

"There is an inequity as to how the rules are enforced," she said. "His paid leave is a distraction, an inequity, and it has a demoralizing impact."

It's easy to understand the position of the teachers who voted as there is a history of preferential treatment of school executives dating back at least 10 years.

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