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Letter: Local legislators are wrong on education

To the editor,

I wanted to take some time to share my experiences with you regarding teaching and the most current legislation. As a teacher from Farmington and a resident of Lakeville, it saddens me that my thoughts on teaching and learning are consistently ignored by District 36 legislators.

I recently completed post graduate work in education and have the background in education you think a lawmaker would want to hear from. That is just not the case where I live and work.

The legislation that has been produced by these lawmakers is a travesty to education.

Continuing contract law, commonly known as tenure, allows me to teach not only content, but citizenship and integrity. When a student misses my class excessively in a 50-day trimester, they are going to struggle learning the material. Often these students may fail.

Tenure allows me to hold students accountable and assign the grade reflective of their work. It allows what I practice not to be held hostage by the politics that take place in St. Paul every day.

With a five year evaluation cycle and standardized assessments used to evaluate my value as a teacher, it is ludicrous that student attendance is not a cornerstone. How can teachers teach the students that frequently miss school?

If a student is expected to learn from my pedagogical instruction, they need to be present. It is shameful to evaluate a teacher on a student's test performance when the student does not attend regularly.

It took me seven years of experience teaching and a master's degree to earn a salary of $40,000 a year, the same as a first-year Minnesota legislator that works five months of the year.

I have become a much more effective teacher due to my pursuit of higher education beyond a bachelor's degree at a personal cost of $30,000.

The system we have in place works: No. one ACT scores in the nation, some of the best scores in the world in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, excellent graduation rates and teachers sharing best practices. What are you trying to fix?

It saddens me that if we move to a five year continuing contract cycle, that, thanks to the alternative licensure bill that was signed into law, I will be replaced by someone with limited training and education when it comes to teaching kids, someone who sees teaching as a fall back job until they can "find something better." I love teaching; it is an art! It was and is my first choice as a profession. However, if a five-year evaluation cycle is put into effect, and standardized assessments continue to be the yardstick for measuring teacher competency, I know in five years the amount of my salary will be what I am truly evaluated on. Is that what is best for kids?

Todd Karich,

Teacher ISD 192