Letter: Teachers not the problem

I am the husband of a recognized, award-winning chemistry and physics teacher in the public school system in the Baton Rouge area. I guess I should say I am the husband of an ex-chemistry and physics teacher in the public school system.

The changes required by the new educational system have finally caused her to quit in despair. The changes in teacher evaluation methods, and the implications to staff, were the first unsettling change. She saw many friends and acquaintances quit or retire because they felt unwanted, were eligible for retirement or had opportunities elsewhere. So, the new rules resulted in a mass exodus of experienced teachers who cared.

But my wife persevered and has gotten excellent evaluations under the new system. She is cherished by her administrators and students. But the attack on teachers from the governor’s administration, the hours she has to put in documenting everything she does, and its effect on her life outside of work were taking a toll.

The last straw came this week when she found out she would be required to evaluate, in writing, how every student performed on every test question on every test she gave. The new system provided no training on how to do such an evaluation, no additional time in the work day to undertake such an effort, and no increase in salary to pay for the increase in work load. It’s just another bureaucratic hurdle to jump for the teachers and another time suck in a day with not enough hours. It’s as if the present administration is trying to force teachers to quit.

Teachers are not what is wrong with the educational system these days. In the vast majority of cases they never have been. The problem has been in recent years with the lack of emphasis at home on the importance of a good education.

But the governor’s administration can’t legislate better parenting and they want to appear to be proponents of a better system. So they attack the problem through the only thing they have any control over, the teachers.

The shortage of qualified, caring teachers in a number of important areas is going to get worse. But by the time the impacts of these changes become apparent, the Jindal administration will have moved on to other endeavors and this fiasco of a new educational system will be left to others to try to fix. We are not taking a step forward, we are taking a step back.

As for my wife, she will be fine and will move on to other things. I just feel sorry for the hundreds of students that will never have the opportunity to have her as a teacher.

Richard Hartman

biologist

Baton Rouge