The following was shared with Scott E’s Blog as a response to the Carroll County Times “Reader Commentary” on December 19th: Carroll County teachers deserve support of school leaders, community
The pandemic has made it increasingly hard to ensure a bright future for our children. As parents, we share in the health and economic stressors that many in our community face, but we first and foremost must find a way to support our kids. We simply cannot allow the weight of the pandemic to rest on the backs of the younger generation.
We watched in dismay as our children suffered the consequences of school shutdowns and a year of remote learning. This was by no means was the fault of our great teachers but was instead due to failed leadership within Carroll County Public Schools’ central office and outside pressure from a teachers union serving its own interest. We now see our children facing an education gap that, coupled with setbacks to their social and emotional health, will affect our community for years to come.
However, there is a silver lining. Virtual learning provided a much-needed window into the classroom. We now see greater parent involvement in their children’s education, and overall, a renewed appreciation for our teachers and schools. A year of virtual learning taught us that schools are essential to our community. We learned that most parents, no matter how hard they tried, are not an adequate substitute for our teachers. Likewise, a computer screen does not replace the need for a physical classroom.
Parents want what is best for our teachers because, ultimately, their success is our children’s success. Yes, we have many concerns, but not with the hard-working teachers. Rather, our concerns are directed towards a union that purports to represent teachers, disregards parent interests, and pushes policies that harm our children.
This was evidenced by the recent Carroll County Times commentary from Teresa McCulloh, president of the Carroll County Education Association (CCEA), who marches in lockstep with the national teachers union to insert politics and drive a wedge between parents and teachers. In her piece, she argues that less classroom time, not more, is what’s needed for our students and teachers. Her proposal to add a monthly early dismissal day is tone-deaf, ignores the impact to working families, exacerbates the education gap, and falls short to provide the relief teachers so desperately need.
No doubt, teachers are facing additional pressure to help our students catch up from a lost academic year. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re being asked to enforce mask mandates, perform contact-tracing and are facing an increase in behavioral problems from kids who are also dealing with the stress of the pandemic.
Something absolutely must be done to relieve our teachers, but not at the expense of our children’s education. We’ve spoken to many teachers who have brought forward great ideas to reduce their workload, such as scaling back state/county requirements on administrative work, like testing and documentation, meetings, and professional development. Additionally, it is imperative to alleviate the burden of COVID policies on school staff by requesting the help of the health department, where these responsibilities belong. These and several other options could be explored to give our teachers the actual relief they need while maximizing much needed classroom time for our children.
Yet, Ms. McCulloh and the CCEA want to send our kids home.
Why the continued push for policy that we know goes against everything we learned from the pandemic? It’s simple: union politics. Knowing that parents will never willingly approve of less classroom time for their children, Ms. McCulloh openly accuses parents of obstructing the board from approving the early-dismissal request. She continues to blame the unrelated “politically neutral” policy discussion as a distraction and refers to parents as a “vocal minority” on a “witch hunt” that seeks to “punish any teacher who ‘steps out of line.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Ms. McCulloh’s attempt to group these two unrelated issues and demonize parents is a dishonest, blatantly political move to drum up support for policies she knows are unpopular.
If we are to “come together and move forward” as Ms. McCulloh suggests, the CCEA needs to first acknowledge the trust gap that exists between the teachers union and the community. We’ve watched for two years while the union inserted itself at the highest levels of government to influence COVID policy, school closures and emergency funding. And once again, we are seeing the union seize on an opportunity to pit teachers against parents to serve their own interests at the expense of our children’s education.
Rather than using our children as bargaining chips, we ask the CCEA to take parents’ concerns seriously and seek solutions that balance the needs of teachers and the students they serve. Less time in the classroom, as proposed by the CCEA, only harms our children and does little to lessen the burden teachers are facing.
Chair, Concerned Parents of Carroll County
I recommend you also read the “Reader Commentary” article in the Carroll County Times from Teresa Basler McCulloh (the president of the Carroll County Education Association): https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/opinion/cc-op-letters-19dec-20211219-3aaua224rfalpb73nnskfkwd6e-story.html