Monday, May 17, 2010

Local education follies

In my home county, Wake County, the school system had mandated "early release Wednesdays" six times a year when students are sent home 2 1/2 hours early so that teachers would have more time for planning. Additional minutes have been added on to the rest of the school days to cover the required hours spent in school. But parents had complained because it was so difficult to arrange child care on those days. Parents desire, if there have to be early release days at all, they want them on Fridays so that they can get started out on weekend travel. If you had to do something so unnecessary as letting schools out early for teacher planning, you might as do it in a way that is least disruptive to parents. But the school board is resisting moving early release to Fridays. Why? Because, apparently, teachers won't work on a Friday afternoon. I kid you not.
Administrators said at the committee meeting that using Wednesdays would give schools the flexibility to have staff meet after students leave.

If Fridays are used, administrators said they wouldn't require schools to keep teachers in those afternoons.

Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens said they're recommending Wednesdays but recognize that Fridays "may be more family friendly."

Board member Kevin Hill isn't on the student achievement committee. But he attended Tuesday and was asked by the committee members which day he preferred.

Hill backed Wednesday, saying he wouldn't want "to take a car off the assemlby [sic] line built on a Friday."
Gee, if he wouldn't trust the work that teachers did in a staff meeting on Fridays, how about the teaching that is done on Friday afternoons.

I thought the idea of early release for teacher planning was ridiculous. First of all, there is rarely anything worthwhile of substance achieved in a general faculty meeting. While having an extra 2 1/2 hours for teacher planning might be nice, but it is not necessary. Yes, a teacher's job involves many hours of planning outside of the hours that students are present. That's part of the job. Period. But inconveniencing families and sending students home early so that the teachers can sit in longer faculty meetings is a terrible application of teachers' time whether it be on a Wednesday or a Friday. If teachers can't work on a Friday afternoon once students have been sent home 2 1/2 hours then we have more serious problems in the schools than can be fixed by holding more faculty meetings.