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Respect for Experience and an Expanded Role in School Decision-Making Resonate on National TV Program

Veteran teachers may have felt their ears burning yesterday and wondered why.  BlogCEA has the answer.  Bloomfield teacher Mary Kay Rendock was on national TV delivering a public expression of gratitude to experienced teachers for the value they deliver to students and younger teachers in their school buildings.

“A big shout-out to all the senior teachers out there,” said Rendock on a MSNBC-TV forum about the challenges facing public education and what the country can do to address them.  Rendock suggested that self-styled school reformers are trying to find ways in the state legislature to terminate experienced teachers and replace them with inexperienced teachers whose salaries will be far lower.

CEA believes that any effort to dismantle respect for seniority will do nothing to improve student achievement.  On the contrary, schools need experienced educators because the knowledge and skills they’ve accumulated, plus their ability to mentor their newer colleagues, are invaluable to student learning and school climate.  Rendock said, “If you’re a veteran educator, you’ve earned that status.  All I want is to be next to someone in my school building who’s terrific and loves the job.”

The town hall aired yesterday from noon-2 pm EST and was hosted by NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who described the event simply as “two hours for educators to talk about what they know best” – a voice many in the profession believe was absent from last year’s summit.

Although the discussion was wide-ranging, key themes emerged throughout – teachers demand respect as professionals, lack of funding is a crippling problem, teachers need more support from administration and parents.

Stratford teacher Kristin Ann Record commented that respect, support and a greater voice would compel newer educators to stay on the job.  She suggested that giving teachers a voice in school decision-making and heightening the importance of teacher collaboration trumps increasing teacher salary as a top priority.

“I want a seat at the table to make decisions,” Record said to applause.   Record added that keeping beginning teacher salaries competitive with other professions needs continued attention.

You can watch video of the complete town hall here.

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