The following is a submission from an educator as part of the Your Soapbox feature, which explores the experiences of educators in North Carolina through their own words. Check out more first person stories here, or if you are an educator, submit your own.
I remember when teachers were well respected.
When I began teaching professionally, Ronald Reagan was president and my full-year salary was only $9,500 per year. I would not have survived the first year without the counsel of the veteran teachers in the building. They were so helpful and supportive. Most of what I learned in teacher-education classes was not helpful. There was a great team spirit. We looked out for each other. Faculty meetings had a secret ballot box, and we voted on everything. We were all teachers. One of us was a principal teacher. “Principal” was an adjective: principal teacher. Somewhere along the way it became a noun.
It has been many years now since a “principal” asked my professional opinion about a purchase. They do the buying without our information. The results have been disastrous. They cut the book-buying budget in half since we earned School of Distinction. They buy canned reading programs for millions of dollars that are little more than nonsense words printed on card stock. Teachers are told to follow the canned scripts with fidelity. “Spell the word with your finger in the air. Now spell it backwards.” It is so absurd to have a young teacher with a masters degree in reading, following a ridiculous script: Ask a 5-year-old child who does not understand English to spell a nonsense word and then do it backwards!
When the child goes “in the red” on assessments of nonsense word fluency, a parent meeting is called. I have to translate the message “your child is failing nonsense word fluency.” What is going on here?
People who have never taught a child to read are making decisions about reading curriculum.
Some people are making a lot of money. Kids are not learning. Teachers are demoralized.
This is Readicide:
-32 years Before the Class