One of the proudest moments of my professional (non-personal) career was receiving the endorsement of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers during this campaign.
For those of you who, like me, believe that our values are upside down with regard to teacher support, this is good news.
To start, there are two teacher issues I plan to address as your school board member. One is the lack of respect shown during problem solving. Twice in recent weeks, teachers have been asked to clean up messes created by the district administration and the school board. The first was when they were asked to conduct grade audits to uncover any computer hacking after the cheating incident at CdM High. The low level of district security caused the cheating problem and it seems to me that the district and the board should solve it. Teachers do not have to be the ones to conduct the audits.
The second example is even more outrageous. Because the administration and the school board has failed for years to install air conditioning, kids and teachers are suffering for many days during the school year. Even board president Karen Yelsey believes that there are more hot days than before. The solution? Ask teachers to go out and buy fans. Here is what should have been done instead for the short-term:
1) Send an e-mail to all teachers asking them how many fans they need, with a specific cap for each classroom.
2) Total the amount, which is likely to be in the hundreds, and approach a fan manufacturer or distributor for a large quantity discount that includes delivery to district headquarters.
3) Instead of having tens or hundreds of teachers wasting fossil fuel (on their own time!) running around town looking for fans, they need only drive to HQ and pick them up. (Or… since the school buses are going to each school anyway, perhaps they can take the fans to the schools.)
But none of this was done because despite their rhetoric, the administration and the school board don’t care very much about teachers and their time. None of this was done, because no one at HQ thinks about saving hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Even my opponent, who has been on the board only a few months, is cavalier with your tax dollars. At a candidate forum in which I mentioned the wastefulness of the district’s conference and travel budget, she replied that the amount was peanuts or a drop in the bucket (I’d tell you exactly how she worded it but the video is 2.5 hours long…) as though it matters whether it’s $200,000 or $2,000,000. That’s the attitude you can stop.
The other area of concern is even more important. Teachers in our district are afraid to speak up and offer even constructive criticism for fear of retaliation. Not just a few teachers, but many. This toxic environment is bad for everyone.
“In Retention of New Teachers in California, the authors find that 13 percent of new teachers leave public schools by the end of their second year, and 22 percent leave by the end of their fourth year.” This is from 2006 but the recent data is not much different.
And people wonder why teachers quit…
I am supported by the teachers and I’m proud of it. It is long past the time when someone on the school board made the connection between teacher job satisfaction and higher grades and test scores.
Want to support teachers? Here’s how:
1) Vote for Steve Smith on November 4
2) Tell your friends, family and co-workers to vote for Steve Smith on November 4th.
3) Put a beautiful, limited edition “Steve Smith for School Board” sign on your lawn or in your window.
4) Make a donation: “Steve Smith for NMUSD School Board 2014” and mail to P.O. Box 2361, Costa Mesa, CA 92628. Or by credit card at SteveSmithForSchoolBoard.com.