Recently, our teachers received two messages containing information from our administration. In one, administration notified us of “voluntary” training dates throughout much of summer vacation. The other message from our Superintendent clarified that according to the RISE evaluation model, anyone, even highly effective teachers, could be riffed. These highly effective teachers, if recalled, potentially would not be rehired if a new-hire candidate from out of corporation was found to be a better match for the school; which ultimately, the Superintendent can decide.
At first glance, these two messages might seem unrelated. But upon further inspection, one sees the “hidden message”: if you want to keep your job, you should attend “voluntary” training.
The current RISE system forces teachers to make one of two choices:
Choice 1: We can fight each other.
Choice 2: We can fight FOR each other.
Choice 1: If we want to fight each other, we can start by sacrificing our vacation time, our time with family, by volunteering for training over the summer. However, realize the demands won’t stop there. This fall we can sign up to be on every committee possible, we can fill our plate with new duties – all of which we have been told might give us an elbow up on our competition. I mean, colleagues.
Choice 2: We can refuse to compete with each other by sticking together. We can ALL simply agree not to volunteer for anything, especially training over summer vacation.
The consequences for choice one are these: Administration expectations will continually push teachers to the limit of what they will bleed for the corporation. Can we pay for one less janitor if teachers will clean their own room? Will you work two or three nights over per week to raise some needed number on a form to send to the state? In fact, just how little monetary compensation will you need? What will be your lowest bid for your job in years to come?
If you do not read the “hidden message” into the RISE evaluation, if you do not realize that a $30,000 a year new-hire is always better than a $45 to 60,000 candidate, you need to sit down with the world history teachers. It’s a lesson that has been repeated time and time again.
The paradox of choice one (fighting each other) is that it inevitably leads to choice two (fighting for each other). It is simply a matter of how much compensation you are willing to give up; how denigrated you allow yourself to feel, before you have so little left you realize fighting for each other was the correct choice all along.
The consequence for choice two is a united front that begins to bring about positive change for teachers, students, families, and the entire community.
As for us, we refuse to participate at any volunteer training. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, attending “voluntary” training has always been an unprofessional thing to do. This is especially true considering the manipulative aspects of the RISE evaluation.
There is only one real choice: We must begin uniting and fighting FOR each other now.