Letters to the editor and other opinion pieces submitted to SweetwaterNOW.com do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the company or management.
Sweetwater Education Association President
There has been talk that the Sweetwater Education Association and the school administration are on opposite sides. There is only one side, What is good for students. I would like to inform the board and the public that the administration and SEA are on the same side. Our collaboration has been ongoing in solving district-‐wide issues and supporting students. We have partnered with administration time and time again to make sure that we continue to put the most important issues for students at the forefront of our work as a district.
There is perceived opposition between administration and SEA. I would say that there is opposition between the board and SEA. It was this body that several years ago publically announced that staff was no longer the priority it used to be as part of the long-term plans for the district. It was the board that decided that our support staff are no longer valuable individuals and key components to the success of our district when it stripped them of all due process rights. It was the board that decided to leave the communication with legislators about the budget to others in the state. It was the board who hired our last administrator and continued to back him with staunch support even after many people came to you to begging for relief from his misguided leadership of our district. It was this board who has abandoned the leadership of the district solely to the superintendent and the lawyer. It is this board that refuses to negotiate anything associated with working conditions. The board has opted out of any discussions that would impact the overall moral of the district.
Our superintendent has been left to manage alone while this district has faced some of the most difficult decisions in decades. Changes in standards, curriculum, school accountability, and special education and the budget plague our district. At the same time, leadership in our district is at an all time low when it comes to experience and training. We have new directors, new principals, and new teachers throughout the district and inexperience out numbers experience in nearly every building. Worse we cannot keep the staff we find from year to year. Our students need consistency to progress and our district is in the midst of some of the biggest changes in every aspect of education.
Our staff is overwhelmed. With change comes additional work. While the district overall is taking a long-term approach to curriculum alignment, students are being tested on these standards now. Teachers have risen to the challenge and aligned to new math and language arts standards, selected materials and planned effective lessons. This is hours and hours of work each week that has been left on the shoulders of the individual classroom teachers while our outdated curriculum is shelved and new curriculum is being developed. Special educators are completely overwhelmed by their additional work responsibilities and case loads.
At the same time, the relief of smaller class sizes promised by the new buildings is not being realized across the district. Some classrooms are at the 16 to 1 ratio recommended by the state but many classes in our district remain as crowded as before. Equally dismaying is the removal of much of the support staff that provided support for our elementary teachers who have taken on those additional tasks as well.
Our district needs support from the board. You don’t give a new employee the keys and say “here ya go, as you walk away.” This district needs the board to provide structure, guidance and leadership for the administration and the staff so that we can resolve these issues.
At this time, SEA invites the board to join the administration and SEA to meet and seriously discuss teacher workloads and the priorities of this district.