Community View: Appreciating our teachers

During these last weeks, you may have noticed that our schools were celebrating the Day of the Teacher. At Bird Rock Elementary School, we are blessed with a parent community who is active and supportive. Not only did they make our designated week extra special, but they participate year-round to ensure that all of our students receive an excellent educational experience.

Their genuine appreciation of our work is in sharp contrast to recent articles in the media. Some of these suggest that somehow, experienced teachers are those who use tenure to guarantee a cushy job with no assessment of job performance. In reality, all experienced teachers go through an extensive formal assessment every two years (new teachers are assessed yearly). There are procedures in place for remediation and termination if a teacher is deemed “ineffective.”

Experienced teachers are those who have dedicated our lives to educating children. We have done this, year after year, despite being paid a salary lower than most other professional occupations. We have done this despite facing never-ending budget cuts. We have done this while dealing with the most serious issues facing society today, as we interact with our students and their families.

We continue to show up, joyfully, with all of this on our plates. In addition, many of us pursue advanced degrees, paid for out of our own pockets. In return, we face continued demands to cut our salaries, benefits and the quality of our working conditions, which directly affect our students’ learning environments.

Currently, the suggestion is on the table to cut four paid days from our contracted year--days that are used for opening and closing our classrooms. The unspoken assumption is that we will show up and do this work without pay, and many will.

It is unfair though, to take advantage of our professionalism and expect us to donate additional time on top of the many unpaid hours we already work. We all want what is best for our students, but doesn’t that mean respecting the time and energy of the teachers who have devoted themselves to the education of your children?

In light of our shared commitment, we would ask you all to support us in our negotiations with our district. Teachers are educated, participating members of communities throughout this city. San Diego Unified teachers, staff, and parents are all essential members of a team devoted to the same goal--bettering education for all of San Diego.

The following Bird Rock Elementary School teachers signed this letter: Lori Van Orden, Lorene LaCava, Jennifer Vick, Sandy Sibley, Margaret Wilkinson, Sue Newberry, Laura Martinez, Ryan Weiss, Melissa King, Peggy Ray, Ginny Gallagher LaRowe, Laura McCord, Katherine Radford, Shannon Warren, Judy McNutt, Carol Shear.