February 11, 2014

 

In some areas, teachers continue to be overlooked and their opinions not considered when it comes to helping our community public schools succeed. Unfortunately, recent events at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) are examples of this.

 

If any one group could offer insight into how to better a district’s schools, it is the teachers who work inside classrooms with students every single day.

 

Upon beginning his tenure, Superintendent Ferebee announced a plan to reach certain goals in his first 100 days on the job. He detailed his goals in a document he called his “Entry Plan.”

 

A search of Ferebee’s 100 day entry plan however, shows teachers are only mentioned once in 12 pages.

 

This could be why he failed to formally meet with the local teacher association for months despite their requests to do so beginning in September.

 

In speaking to a local group recently, Ferebee was quoted as saying “The key to success of IPS is collaboration between schools, families, community organizations, businesses, and higher education.

 

We’re not sure what schools means, but Dr. Ferebee certainly didn’t go out of his way to bring up collaboration with teachers.

 

Obviously, ISTA believes it is valuable to have all stakeholders concerned about public schools to be involved in shaping how we can help challenged schools and the children they serve improve. It’s ridiculous to assert we think otherwise. Teachers routinely work with other stakeholders.

 

However, ISTA continues to believe that teachers hold a very special place in any dialogue about schools and student improvement—not a place relegated to chance meetings and fly-by commentaries—but rather a place that is intentionally carved out in which both the administrators and teacher leaders talk to each other and not at each other.

 

We urge the IPS board and Dr. Ferebee to engage with IPS teachers in a meaningful way and in a way that respects the process that Indiana has in law concerning these discussions.