Jeffco teachers have called for a “timeout” on new programs for one school year in a resolution adopted April 4 by 155 members of the Representative Council of the Jefferson County Education Association.
“Teachers are overloaded with well-meaning but counterproductive district mandates that are getting in the way of our efforts to effectively plan and teach,” JCEA President Nancy Henderson says in a statement.
The resolution asks the school district to “focus its resources” on completing the curriculum alignment project.
District Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said the teachers were indeed working very hard but could not expect to get much relief very soon, and there would be no timeout as far as children’s education is concerned.
Teachers and the district began annual contract negotiations about a month ago, and a contract signing is expected sometime in May.
“In the 21st-century world, everybody has more work to do and more progress to make,” Stevenson said. “Our teachers really are working hard. They are working harder and longer than in the past ee . We are getting great results, and work is paying off.
“I would pose the question, what if all the physicians came together and said, ‘We don’t think we’ll adopt any new techniques or strategies?’ I think we would be shocked.
“I don’t believe most teachers would reject a new stategy if it would help kids,” Stevenson said.
She questioned whether the the JCEA resolution represented the majority of the 5,000 licensed teachers in the district.
“No one resolution represents all the teachers. Our teachers are incredibly professional ee What they really want is to figure out how children learn.”
But Henderson does not agree.
“With all of these programs, teachers see value in them. It’s not that we think they are unworthy. There are a lot of them. When you are doing a lot of them, it gets in the way of instructional time,” she said.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as a rebellion at all against standardized testing,” Henderson said. “We understand the value of instructional programs being mandated. Our teachers are finding there aren’t enough hours to do the programs and assessments. We are calling for a review and a timeout if possible.”
“Do I think workload is a real issue?” Stevenson said. “Yes. New programs? Yes. ee We are implementing our essential benchmarks and providing staff development.
“It’s hard. Everything is harder. There is not going to be a timeout as to what’s important for our kids,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said the district has done things to address the workload, such as adding a budget line for “alleviation of workload.” It has also added an extra workday for planning purposes, she said.