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Where is the Moral Obligation?

The Five Fish: Where is the Moral Obligation?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where is the Moral Obligation?

Okay, folks I so plan to give you the Five Fish "FREE" Week Day 3 review....its a WIP (work in progress) but this is something I am absolutely, most definitely passionate about...EDUCATION!

As most have read I have finished my college career (thus far) so you know I love education, I am an advocate for learning, I love to learn, I love to teach my children, and most of all I love that they love to learn and my oldest, Big G, is in school. He is in kindergarten but not your standard kindergarten program. He is in a program that you would call a YLK (Young Learner Kindergarten). What is YLK? Well this program is designed for children who's birthdays fall after the school deadline for standard kindergarten registration. So say school starts in August and your child's birthday is in September, well they have to wait another year. Not my kid!! He got to go to a FREE, yes FREE, program with the city of Mesa Public Schools.

He did three weeks of all day with a teacher who did not fit his personality and the poor boy suffered. So we got him into this program and I can say he is a changed boy and ready for next year. However, I don't think that Big G would have been such a changed boy or been at the aptitude he is had he not had Mrs. Burton and Mrs. Long by his side. Why are Mrs. Burton and Mrs. Long so fantastic? Well let me tell you!!

Mrs. Burton has been teaching for 15 years with Mesa Public School and for the last 10 years she has done the YLK program. Now I must confess and most any other parent will tell you that to get a 4 or 5 year old to listen to you, follow your directions, and be fully engaged is a FEAT!! This woman and her partner in crime Mrs. Long can engage these children, teach them, and get them to follow directions!!! To have that ability with over 20 children ranging from age 4-5 is expertise and experience, not to mention a whole BOAT load of patience.

So upon speaking with Mrs. Burton yesterday I saw that AZ is keeping all day kindergarten. (This is what has fueled my passion......) I was ecstatic! My boy will be gone all day to learn and run off RAW energy next year! HOORAY!! But I was informed that Mrs. Burton and Mrs. Long will be let go. I was pissed!! Even worse, they will be replaced by a teacher who has about a year, maybe two, of teaching experience. So we are looking at a teacher who is roughly 21 years of age!! UM??!!! HELLO!!!??? I am all about the younger generation teaching, but not to my kid! I want a teacher who has been around the block, is loving, patient, kind, and can give my child the educational attention he needs to strive and excel. Mrs. Burton and I chatted up for a while and then I went on my mission. I came home, bitched to DH, bitched to my mom, I bitched to anyone who would listen........including the Superintendent and the School Board for Mesa Public Schools. Below is my email correspondence back and forth as of 10:05am AZ time. I would love to hear from you about this!!! If you live in AZ or Mesa, help me stir the pot to save the jobs and education of our children!!

Dear Sirs and Madam,
The topic of the Young Learner Kindergarten program was brought to my attention recently and how the program would be losing some of the finest, experienced, and trusting educators I have met as a parent. I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the lack of judgment on behalf of the board, superintendent, and those involved in the decision to terminate the employment of seasoned, experienced, and well respected educators only to be replaced with younger, less experienced, cheaper paid contract educators.
Are you able to put a price on the value of a young learner’s education? As a parent and continuing education adult I cannot! Had my son, who’s birthday falls after the cutoff for the 2008-2009 full day kindergarten school year, not been able to attend the Young Learner program with Mrs. Burton and Mrs. Long at Hermosa Vista Elementary he would be just that much more behind entering the 2009-2010 full-day kindergarten. This program with the EXPERIENCED educators that currently are involved in the program are the foundation and first stepping stone in our children’s education. These educators have readied my son to a level where he would almost be bored in an all day kindergarten class. Their experience is what sets them apart from the lower paid, younger, less experienced (1-2 years teaching) educators. These educators know how to help these children LEARN, they don’t just teach, they help these children to use the power of his or her own minds to grasp for everything that is endless in this world to learn. If you eliminate these teachers you are eliminating the endless power that a young learner beholds!!
I know that the objection that will be brought to my attention is that of funds, money, the economy, and added pressure from the state due to a financial deficit. To which I will respond to you as a frustrated and angry parent…..HOG WASH!!! I am a finance major and I could tell you that I am sure you have not completely weighed all the creative financial loopholes, ideas, opportunities available to save these educators jobs. I am sure you have another means to reduce expenses. I am sure a portion of the educators may be close to retirement, or say within a year or two… financial decision would be to meet his or her vestment and cut losses now rather than to continue to pay the added expense of certain benefits and tax payments. How about those who have less tenure teaching or who only have a few years under his or her belt, cut their contract payments by 15% or more. They are younger, they are less experienced. Mesa needs, DEMANDS the top notch educators that have allowed these younger children the opportunity to be our future, the pioneers, and educational prodigies. Please note that as a parent and member of the Mesa community I hope to band other parents in an attempt to sway the board to save these educators positions with the schools. I will also use the power of social media and networking with Twitter, Facebook, and blogging in hopes to get the word out that education cannot be sacrificed, nor can experienced educators. Although, if the decision is not swayed I can only chalk the decision up to par based on the national rankings of Arizona schools which suggests that Arizona cannot afford to lose experienced, top notch educators. Attached is a flyer “raving” about the YLK program…..which in my opinion would include the staff that has been teaching and involved in the program for the last 10 years.

I thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Karie Herring

Response from the Superintendent :
Thank you for your e-mail about the YLK program. Your disappointment is misplaced; please address your support for YLK programming to your elected state officials. It is their position that children whose 5th birthday falls after September 1, will not generate funding to pay for teachers, supplies, etc. Before I became Superintendent, I put the YLK in place. I recognize the value of this program and have data to show its impact. The 2003 newsletter you included reference that success and it continues today.However, as sad as this is, this is a funding issue at the state level. As a finance major, you might want to investigate the manner in which Arizona funds education and the multitude of rules and regulations that dictate our actions. Someone with your passion and a fresh look might garner the attention of those with the power to change things. With reference to Mrs. Burton, and other experienced part-time teachers, we are obligated to follow adopted policies and procedures. Currently, we must be assured that all full-time continuing-contract employees have jobs. Once our obligation to them is settled, we will address those valued staff members who were not guaranteed employment by virtue of the contract they signed.
Deb Duvall
Alice Swinehart
Executive Secretary to Superintendent/Governing Board Dr. Debra Duvall
Mesa Public Schools

And now my response TODAY, and probably not my last:
Dr. Duvall,
I am a smart individual and find hard to believe that my disappointment should placed with the state….when as you stated
“With reference to Mrs. Burton, and other experienced part-time teachers, we are obligated to follow adopted policies and procedures. Currently, we must be assured that all full-time continuing-contract employees have jobs. Once our obligation to them is settled, we will address those valued staff members who were not guaranteed employment by virtue of the contract they signed”
So how is this a matter of the state, other than a funding issue? Again my disappointment, as do other parents within the Hermosa Vista Elementary boundaries, place blame on the district and Mesa Public Schools. I do carry disappointment with the state in the mismanagement of funds but I am disappointed that the first obligation is to the full time continuing contract teachers and NOT the students who will be greatly and most definitely adversely affected by this decision. I beg the question in the future of child education……where is your obligation? The fulltime employees or the children who need the experience and expertise showcased by teachers such as Mrs. Burton.

Karie Herring

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