Support McAuliffe in November | Letter
August 16, 2012 · 11:02 AM
I read with interest two recent letters to the editor related to the candidates running for the District 1 state rep position. I agree with the writers that Dawn McCravey and Rosemary McAuliffe represent very different choices for this district.
I am proud to be a teacher in the Northshore school district, and grateful for the thoughtful leadership provided by Rosemary McAuliffe on education issues. Some may consider it a problem that she does not support charter schools, but I, and my colleagues, support Rosemary McAuliffe’s stance on this question.
As professionals, teachers welcome an evaluation system that is rigorous, fair, substantive, and tied to our performance and that of our students. Such a system for both teachers and principals is now in implementation stages. For those who fear that the teacher union protects bad teachers (despite the fact that as a group we do not want to protect our jobs at all costs, nor do we welcome working alongside non-performing teachers), the new evaluation system is an appropriate and supportive response to teachers who need interventions in order to meet standard.
Charter schools are not the “magic bullet” solution to under-performing schools that those outside the field would like to believe. They are businesses that may or may not be run in a manner that best addresses educational high standards. Studies have shown that in comparing charter schools to public schools, a larger percentage of charter schools perform worse rather than better, and most perform around the same. They may or may not provide professional development for teachers which is critical to the outcomes for students, may or may not have good curriculum support or curriculum that is non-biased, do not have economy of scale when it comes to administrative support, and have little oversight. At best, I find this kind of solution to low performing public schools a risky and expensive experiment.
A recent conversation with a charter school teacher from Phoenix confirmed my worst fears. He noted that the teachers in his school were consistently threatened with losing their jobs if they didn’t like directives, were given a 15 percent pay cut at the end of the year due to cost overruns, and had no professional development or curriculum guidance. Needless to say, morale was at an all time low and those who could (including him), jumped ship. Obviously, students were negatively impacted. No one can perform to optimum standards in a threatening, and non-supportive negative environment.
I’m thankful for Rosemary McAuliffe’s work in supporting teachers, rather than blindly blaming teacher unions. We are the resource that most affects your child’s education. A rigorous evaluation system, strong curriculum support, continuing professional development, along with fully funding education, will go a long way toward improving education in our state. This is the kind of leadership that has been provided by Rosemary McAuliffe. My hope is that voters will not embrace the charter school solution, and those who support them. I believe the future of education in Washington State is at stake.
Jennie Knapp, Kirkland