Concerns raised by the Community in Milford

Tomorrow night is the regularly scheduled meeting of the Milford Board of Education and on the agenda is a public communication piece whereby members of the community will be commenting on the new District Uniform policy. I know that many will be coming out to hear the discussion as this policy has many community members very emotional both for and against the idea of uniforms. I hope that all those coming out will allow the speakers to present their cases to the board and show them proper respect both during and after their presentations. Other business taking place after these discussions includes recognition of many of our students for both community involvement, and our many student/athletes for their seasons. Also we will be recognizing our staff members who have been recognized as the employees of the year in their respective areas. Finally, we will be discussing the contract between the district and the teachers association.
My posting tonight is not just about the up coming board meeting, but I also wanted to recognize that members of the community that have taken the time to express their concerns in the local media. This week a citizen expressed their concern for the current morale issues in the Milford district, but the issue actually goes even farther then our little town! If you look not only around our state at the struggling districts failing to meet the federal AYP mandated to us, but also just a few miles away to our neighbors you will see education taking a beating. In Pennsylvania there are somewhere around 500 teachers and paraprofessionals who are losing their jobs because of shrinking state budgets. Then look just over the Cape May ferry and see a governor who has taken more then a few potshots at the education community in New Jersey. So if you ask me do we have a morale issue in Milford I would say we are no different then those around us. Let me see if I can explain my own thoughts and opinions as to why I think educators are “not happy”.
First, the teachers I know have gone to college to learn how to educate the next generation in methods for the 21st century, but instead they are told by the federal and state “authorities” that the students just need to pass a standardize test to be ready for the future. Problem is that the test the teachers now have to teach too is not recognized by higher education programs, and actually has no bearing on students being promoted. Now add to the frustration of having your hands tied to a test the fact that the test your trying to get students to not only take, but do well in is being tied to your evaluations and pay! If this is not enough to make you a bit out of sorts here are a few more concerns.
Funding for Education is one of the largest pieces of both federal and state budgets so guess where the first place is that politicians look for “savings”. Today, districts around the country and state are competing for RTTT dollars that come with untried reform strings attached to them. These strings are further straining relations between administrators and teachers as unpopular decisions have to be made as to where the precious few dollars should go to best serve the students. Many of these decisions actually involve parents and their involvement in education, and because the teachers are the first line parents see guess whose first in line to hear parents’ frustrations. If I was a teacher I’m not sure I’d be happy after all these things come down to take the joy and fun out of teaching that so many got into it for.
The author of the commentary goes on to talk about how this teacher frustration is also due to a communication breakdown, and that may be more of a fall out from the lack of support teachers and administrators feel from so called experts at the federal and state levels. As I sat down to put together these thoughts I also had some ideas that might be a way to open future communications with all staff members and the Board of Education, and I will be sharing these with my peers and the administration. As a Board member I’ve tried to make myself available to all the staff, and I hope that even though I’m one voice they still feel its worth talking to me.

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
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