Give teachers a break

Ames High students do not even know how much better it could be. If teachers were only required to teach five classes a day instead of six, then The WEB believes our education as students would have potential to be of much higher quality. To be full time at Ames High, a teacher must teach six classes a day. This was not true a decade ago, but in 2000, the teacher standards were raised from five to six classes. Over the summer, Social Studies teacher Kirk Daddow, ALP Program Coordinator Cary Justmann, and Principal Mike McGrory lobbied to the School Board to only teach five classes in the Social Studies Department. The measure that these teachers proposed would have cost the school no extra money. They proposed to teach the same amount of students but in only five classes a day. This proposal had the support of all major groups at Ames High including the Ames High administration. Class sizes would have risen but the argument was that having the extra planning period in the school day for a teacher would have greatly improved their efficiency while reducing stress. It was an experimental proposal, only for one year and only for the Social Studies Department. The school board and superintendent did not approve the measure and would not let it go through. “Things are not going well at Ames High School,” Social Studies teacher Kirk Daddow said. “We’re dying here. No one seems to appreciate that. The central office doesn’t and the school board really doesn’t appreciate this at all. They have had many times to weigh in on this and they haven’t.” Mr. Daddow went on to explain that the proposed measure had the support of the teachers at Ames High along with the administration of Ames High. He also noted that the school board “sat there like stumps” and were unresponsive to the proposed measure. The WEB emailed all the school board members and the superintendent and received responses from two board members; Gail Johnston and Francis Todey. Gail Johnston referred her answer to the superintendent, but Francis Todey explained the School Board’s position; “I don’t think it is correct to say the School Board turned down the proposal. If I remember correctly, there was never a vote for or against,” Todey wrote. “From my perspective there were aspects in the proposal that were positive and may be worth evaluating. However, I was concerned that the proposal needed additional development, including a well defined evaluation process.” Todey ended the email by stating that he would be open to further discussion on the issue. Many teachers other than Mr. Daddow agree that teaching six classes a day can detract from the education that they as teachers provide. “When I have to teach six classes a day then I am often going into classes feeling unprepared,” Social Studies teacher Tim Mooney said. “I feel as though I am not ready to teach students of the caliber that Ames High has. Teaching six classes often just makes teachers feel stressed and befuddled.” The School Board and central administration need to do something to help teachers. There is no significant evidence to show that the measure proposed by this group of teachers would have been detrimental to students. If teachers are as stressed as they say, then Ames High may not have a very bright future. This is an issue that has potential to make all of our educational experience more fulfilling and we as students need to care and keep the central administration in check. Students are encouraged to think “out of the box,” and it is sad that teachers cannot also think in creative ways and be rewarded for it. There may be hope in the future for the School Board to address the grievances of teachers, but until then, we as students must be aware of issues concerning us in the school district. -Editorial composed by Kevin Arritt on behalf of The WEB’s editorial board