Letter to the editor: Former teacher responds to criticism of school district
From Linda Hoffman, Two Harbors
I feel personally compelled to respond to a recent letter published in the Lake County News-Chronicle and the North Shore Journal (“Say no to four-day week” from Mark Broin appeared in the Feb. 21 issue of the News-Chronicle). First off, since I am a retired school teacher from Lake Superior Public Schools, I am sure my comments are biased; however, I will continue on.
I am not sure what the writer’s point is with his letters, but firstly I would invite him into the schools to actually see what is going on there on a daily basis. Unless someone has been in a school since they themselves were a student, they don’t really have a leg to stand on to criticize what is happening. From what I have heard from parents in the district, the four-day week has been wonderful. I know that prior to that program, absenteeism was a big issue. With the four-day week, that problem has been settled, with parents being able to schedule their children’s appointments on a day when school is not in session. Children like having time off and still being able to get their homework completed, participate in activities, and being refreshed as well.
Test results seem to be an issue with the writer. When there appears to be a drop in scores, is that because the tests have been changed? Tests change on a regular basis and comparing scores is comparing two different tests. Score drops don’t mean poor teachers! I know that with the federal law, No Child Left Behind, that whole system was flawed, in my opinion, since not every child will ever achieve the same thing. Look within your own family and ask that question. Are your children all given the same gifts of intelligence, artistic, musical, athletic, mathematic, language abilities, etc…? My guess is no, they each have their own special gifts and hopefully are being encouraged to develop them to their fullest by the parents as well as the teachers. I believe that in 2012, the Minnesota Department of Education recognized William Kelly as a celebration-eligible school and this year Minnehaha is a celebration school. This distinction is based on attendance, closing the achievement gap and test scores at the school.
Over my career, many teaching developments took place and I had to monitor and adjust regularly to keep up. Teachers have so many details to tend to each and every day. I still believe their prime goal is to teach our children to the best of their ability. I know that for many years in my tenure, my salary was frozen due to financial constraints within the district and still I continued to teach. From what I have learned, the current staff had a salary freeze from 2009-2011. I find it difficult that people so easily criticize what a teacher makes and needs to live just like everyone else. Yes, there are those that say you get summers off, holidays, snow days, and so on, and yet folks don’t realize that those aren’t paid days. A teacher gets paid for so many contract days, period. There is no overtime for more than eight hours per day, or more than 40 hours per week like other jobs. The letter writer makes the statement that essentially all the savings from the four-day week go to teacher salaries and benefit programs for staff. Is not the education of our children the biggest expense?
I am hoping that with positive cooperation on all parties’ sides a just solution can be reached that truly benefits our children and community. Even though I have lived in Two Harbors the majority of my life, I am still not considered a native. However, I paid taxes all these years, owned a home, raised three children here and called Two Harbors home. Get involved, don’t criticize, and make our community better.