The Juneau School District administration and school board, in ignoring the budget committee’s recommendations, continues to follow its own agenda, backed by school board members. That agenda: control how teachers teach. Nudge out those whose teaching is more holistic and child-centered. Put “teacher-proof” programs in place rather than providing appropriate training to teachers so that they can skillfully and mindfully respond to each child’s needs.
New curriculum materials are not needed at this time. In 2010, JSD’s literacy leaders carefully purchased beautiful literature and nonfiction book sets and other professional resources for the elementary schools. It is shameful that the district has decided to purchase more language arts materials, rather than retaining valued teachers, in order to continue to pursue their agenda.
Classroom teachers should be retained above all other needs. As teachers know, smaller class sizes make a huge difference. Three more students in a classroom means less time is available for getting to know each child. It takes more precious time to plan lessons so teachers can be sure that all boats are floating on the classroom sea. Establishing and maintaining a calm, collaborative learning environment is much more challenging when classes are crowded and children feel like one of many.
Manipulating teachers and children is the wrong path for a school district. Juneau’s schools were once on the cutting edge nationwide, but that is no longer the case. Put the money into teachers as the committee recommended. Materials can wait.