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A Teacher Speaks

Editor's note:

The following is the full text of a public comment addressed to the Moore County Board of Education at Tuesday's meeting and is being published with the permission of the author, who is a former Moore County Schools teacher and a current teacher in Montgomery County Schools.


The original public address can be watched at the link below (at the 2:06:30 mark) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-nCJF0myxY

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Address to the Moore County Board of Education October10, 2023 --Amy Dahl

Good evening. I’m sorry I missed you last month. I was ill with Covid.


I’d like to continue the thread of my former remarks on educator retention and the importance of making MCS a desirable place for teachers.


Now, you can easily research the things that teachers want in a workplace, so I don’t need to tell you that. I’m going to address teacher perceptions of your actions as the Board of Education.

It is really important to teachers that we can count on our leadership to look out for our interests.


Consider these public statements from Board members:


“Teachers are overpaid.”


“Teaching is a part-time job.”


“Teachers are indoctrinating students politically.”


“Teachers are ‘grooming’ students to be sexually exploited.”


Those don’t signal that you are looking out for teachers’ interests.


Here’s the worst one:


“We’re going to get rid of leftist teachers.”


That’s pretty scary. We don’t know how you define “leftist,” but we do know that some of the most effective strategies in education have been labeled “woke.” So if we use strategies that help kids learn, we’re in danger of being targeted as leftists.


Of course it’s against the law to fire a teacher for political reasons...but how easy is it to engineer a pretext?


Easy.


Consider this: among the very first things this Board did after the three newest members were seated was to pass policies against two of the three best proven strategies for reducing the achievement gap. From your comments, you are on your way to eliminating the third.

Yet your Strategic Plan calls for a one-third reduction in the achievement gap!

Take away our tools and raise expectations. Setting teachers up to fail. A perfect pretext to get rid of anyone you want.


You proudly point to four principals you forced out, ostensibly for their schools’ letter grades.

Now, teachers understand data. It’s in our job description. And we know that school letter grades do not measure school quality.


I will tell you teachers’ take on school letter grades. The Federal government has attached a system of carrots and sticks to pressure us. On the other hand, teaching directed at test performance is detrimental to education and to students’ well-being.


The more experience we gain, the more clearly we see how profoundly the focus on test results harms education and harms kids.


So it’s a legitimate question: do we sacrifice the kids on behalf of the carrots and sticks, or do we say, “that’s all very well, Federal government, we’re going to do what’s best for our children?

This is a leadership decision. And you’re the leadership.


But it is only fair to give directions, and then allow people the chance to comply.

You could have said “from now on this district will prioritize school letter grades,” given principals adequate time to act on the directive, then evaluated the result.


But you didn’t do that.


You didn’t give a directive. You didn’t give a chance to implement.


To teachers, that is a pretext. We don’t know the real reason you forced our colleagues out, but we know we could be next.


Your past actions suggest we can expect arbitrary and capricious treatment—or worse, because it appears the more we do for Moore County children, the more likely we’ll be targeted.


Teachers don’t feel safe from you, and we don’t expect that you will protect our interests.




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