Friday, October 31, 2003
Four-class teaching load benefits students and teachers alike
As contract negotiations continue between the Concord-Carlisle Teachers Association and the Regional School Committee, it has been interesting and highly educational to read the Mosquito's letters-to-the-editor from teachers and others associated with the high school. I was especially interested in former regional school committee member Harry Crowther's point of view in last week's paper, "About CCHS teachers' salaries." In his letter Crowther notes that the CCHS salaries for FY02 average just below $56,000, about $10,000 less than a few years ago. They are not the highest paid teachers in the state, he tells us; rather they rank number 20 in the state.
The other point that he makes clear, as do the letters from teachers, is that the faculty has a commitment to the four-class teaching load, rather than five. It has nothing to do with the salary or pay issue. It is because teachers want to have time to be available to their students and be able to address their specific needs. A five-class teaching load does not allow time for individual instruction.
I can attest to that. My older son, Will, is a high-school mathematics teacher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When I spoke to him not long ago about the situation at his alma mater, CCHS, he informed me that he was teaching a five-class load and that it wasn't easy. Later, in an e-mail he wrote, "I think people in Concord and Carlisle should trust their teachers to decide what they need to do their jobs well." Continuing on, he wrote, "I teach four periods (three different classes) in a row, with five minutes in between. Then I have 29 minutes for lunch before teaching my fifth class." This leaves little time to interact with his math students after school, before he heads off for cross-country coaching.
How can anyone in either of these well-educated communities of Concord and Carlisle not seek the best for their students? Teachers want to reach out to students. Students benefit from a one-on-one relationship with a teacher. Many of us remember a teacher from our own school years who gave us special attention or served as a mentor as we passed through the school system. Let's support the CCHS teachers to win a fair contract where they can teach a four-course load and have the time to "prepare our students for a bright future."
Francis: Hazel, I almost forgot. It's All Hallow's Eve and I'm not ready! God, I hope it rains. Sort of.
Hazel: I know what you mean, but you are not awfully charitable, I don't mind saying. I've taken care of the necessities. But it was a lot nicer when we could hand out homemade cookies, hand-pulled taffy, apples and the like. Feels like we're making a major contribution to the Tooth Decay Society, Obese Children of America and the Future Diabetics Foundation. The town should get a cut of all the junk that gets handed out; might go a ways toward funding some program or other.
F: And maybe we wouldn't have to look at a cell tower if the only reason to get one is for the revenue. Don't we still have a bagful of sweets left over from last year in the back of the pantry? You wouldn't let me eat it and wouldn't get rid of it either. Said it was wasteful. Maybe we can give it out this year. Does that stuff have expiration dates? Not that anybody would notice.
H: Even if it did, I don't suppose we'd ought to be giving out year-old junk. Probably discolored at least. Besides, I have a reputation even if no one else knows about it.
F: Then maybe we should turn off the light and go to bed early and pretend we aren't home.
H: We can't do that. I don't mind trying to figure out which kid belongs to which parent. And it's a rare opportunity for some folks to let their hair down and have a little fun — you know, in the dark but not dangerous. I must say, some of those costumes are awfully creative. Folks across the street still take the time to make their own. It would have been nice if folks had put that kind of effort into the cake decorating at Old Home Day. Some of those store-bought cakes were no prize, if you ask me!
F: Speaking of prizes, real ones, I miss Sarah. She brought a touch of living history to our town, and I don't think we should forget it. Town Hall shouldn't be just a building for bureaucrats to bustle in and out of. It should stand for those intangibles that make Carlisle special. Maybe we should name it Andreassen Hall. God knows she spent more time there than anybody else, far as I know.
H: Well, I think we should do something that memorializes someone who did so much for Carlisle. She didn't take kindly to threats or ultimatums from disgruntled citizens who didn't get their way with the town. She stood up for what she knew was right.
The ghosts of Carlisle-past still mutter, almost audibly, in the Old Conant House.
© 2003 The