EES: Oahu teachers demand course correction
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Mahalo to all members for taking the time to give input. HSTA is listening. We have gone to schools, RAs, and participated in forums around the state to hear about how teachers feel about the EES; teachers are leading the way on the EES Advisory Committee and the Joint Committee; and, HSTA has been collecting member input throughout the year through monthly school polling, the EES feedback form, and surveys.
Teachers from every Oahu school district packed the BOE teacher talk story session in the Kaimuki Middle School library on May 8 to share their passion for teaching, their professionalism, and why EES does not support student success. Their comments reflected what survey data shows, that the EES is a work in progress.
Mahalo for standing for education!
Teacher comments throughout the meeting with Board of Education representatives always circled back to teachers’ caring for their students.
Throughout the evening, Board of Education Chairman Don Horner thanked teachers for educating him. According to Horner, EES Joint Survey results have not been shared with the BOE. He said the EES is organic, which means that there will be improvements. He apologized for the angst the rollout caused this year.
HSTA President Wil Okabe acknowledged the work of the Joint Committee this year to inform changes to the EES. Tonight, however, was an opportunity for the Board of Education to hear directly from teachers. New teachers joined veteran teachers in presenting a number of important points that in the end Okabe said add up to the general sentiment of teachers around the state.
Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi will review Joint Committee final recommendations make decisions on the EES by June 6, 2014. Teachers hope she will give weight to teacher input like comments shared during this BOE talk story session.
A meeting with Kauai teachers was held on April 1, 2014.
HSTA members demand course correction
A middle school teacher says the EES is like trying to build a ship while trying to sail. (https://vimeo.com/95929628) His comments were made at a BOE talk story session held in the Kaimuki Middle School Library on May 8, 2014. Teachers from every Oahu school district came to share their passion for teaching, their professionalism, and why EES does not support student success. Their comments reflected what survey data shows and what the superintendent has acknowledged, the EES is “a work in progress.”
Teachers have been evaluated for 40 years and are not afraid of being evaluated
Teachers support high quality teacher evaluation designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student learning. Teachers welcome the opportunity to improve their skills but they are concerned about how the undeveloped evaluation system is being implemented and the negative impacts it has on teaching, learning, and our school communities.
Irresponsible to rush forward in the face of deep flaws and serious problems.
“Where is the logic behind some of the thinking?” a teacher asked. Teachers pointed to how the EES was not fully developed and systems of support were not in place when it was rolled out at the beginning of the school year. Yet, the undeveloped evaluation instrument attempts to implement an unprecedented amount of change to an entire school system squeezed into a narrow window, just two semesters.
High school teacher and HSTA Vice President Joan Lewis stood up for her colleagues throughout the meeting. She underscored what many teachers said—teachers and administrators have had to adjust to continuous changes. Lewis said this adds unreasonable and unrealistic tasks for teachers that take away from valuable classroom preparation time and other ways teachers use time for their students. She said it is an understatement to say that the EES has not been implemented consistently in all schools and she asked the DOE to listen to teachers. Teachers have been flexible and responsive to the obstacles. Right now, we need time, resources, and professional development to get this right and move forward in a positive direction some said.
Impossible timelines and ill-conceived mandates
Teachers are concerned about the way EES is done. Teachers have been forced to get major changes right without the resources or time that they need and deserve. Speakers said that they are not opposed to change but change without proper planning, input, and support, especially when there is so much at state is ill considered and potentially destructive. An example given was that many of those who are conducting the evaluations have not been trained or are trained just before evaluating a teacher. In addition, evaluators are pressed for time. The system buries administrators and teachers in paperwork and bureaucracy that interferes with the real work of educating students. Others expressed concerns about the student survey language that is not grade-level appropriate or sensitive to special needs of various student groups, and language generally confusing to many students.
“Worst year of my professional career.”
With the school year focus on evaluation, a number of teachers said they are likely to leave the profession rather than continue in a school system where innovation and caring for the whole child are no longer valued qualities.
How does EES improve the quality of learning? Why is the DOE investing in assessments but not learning?
Finally teachers described how the EES takes away from the collaborative school community and does not support good teaching or learning. Many felt that they have lost control of their classrooms. HSTA historically has had the position that teachers know what works best in their classrooms.
Still time to right the ship.
HSTA President Wil Okabe acknowledged the work of the Joint Committee this year to inform changes to the EES. The Kaimuki meeting, however, was an opportunity for the Board of Education to hear directly from teachers. New teachers joined veteran teachers in presenting a number of important points that in the end Okabe said add up to the general sentiment of teachers around the state.
Throughout the evening, Board of Education Chairman Don Horner thanked teachers for educating him. According to Horner, EES Joint Survey results have not been shared with the BOE. He said the EES is organic, which he explained means that there will be improvements. He apologized for the angst the rollout caused this year. Horner is confident that the system won’t look the same next year. He ended the evening by saying that teachers are solutions, not the problem.
Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi will review Joint Committee final recommendations and make decisions on the EES by June 6, 2014. Teachers hope she will give weight to their input like comments shared during this BOE talk story session.
Last month, the HSTA Board of Directors authorized Executive Director Al Nagasako to request to enter into negotiations with the Hawaii BOE and DOE on the impacts related to teacher working conditions.
Note: The Kaimuki BOE talk story session included Chairman Don Horner, Board Member Amy Asselbye, and two Complex Area Superintendents.
A talk story session was held with Kauai teachers on April 1, 2014 (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/i-think-it-has-failed/article_b1c2522c-baf4-11e3-b677-001a4bcf887a.html).