Texas teachers are suffering due to a lack of enforcement and protection by district administrations, law enforcement, and administrative agencies that have left many teachers without a voice. Some teachers in this state have been dehumanized and oppressed; they have been stripped of their rights, their voices, and their basic utilities of instruction. It is time that educators be given back the power in their classrooms and be given the rights to speak, stand up, and most importantly educate. They are trained and degreed profressionals who have important input into the education system which is often wrongfully portrayed as dysfunctional. Their voices must be heard and taken into account.
When there is no discipline in a school environment coupled with a "pass students so they can graduate" mentality, students are not expected to participate in the education process. This scenario creates a feeling of entitlement amongst students and parents thereby making the teacher responsible for the students' grades rather than the student. The students cannot and will not learn in this environment.
The legislature cannot continue to try to enforce unreasonable constraints and expectations on schools and expect quality education. Until teachers begin to be heard and respected, education in Texas will continue to be a poor example of what our students can truly achieve.
It is time for change:
1. Teachers must have control and autonomy in the classroom based on their training and experience as professional educators. Administration should be there to protect and secure the integrity of the educational environment so that educators can educate. This should be a top priority.
2. When questions about what is best for students across the state arise, educators should be considered. Teacher can attest to the behavior, skills, and abilities of each individual student in relation to lessons, testing, and curriculum building at the campus and state level.
3. Teachers cannot be silenced as professionals or people. Administrations cannot protect students' 1st amendment rights and deny teachers theirs. It is unconstitutional for districts to silence teachers in any form, and doing so should have consequences. This is unethical, illegal, and must be remedied.
4. Disciplinary measures in schools must be enforced. Administrators must be held accountable for failure to implement disciplinary consequences in accordance with statutes and policy when appropriate and teacher input must have weight in this decision.
5. Passing students who do not work is unethical and contrary to the benefit of education. Pressuring teachers to participate in unethical practices such as grade changing and ignoring harmful behaviors to meet the state's standards is illegal, and administrations should be held accountable for practices that compromise academic integrity.
6. When administrations cover up crimes against educators and students, they become complicit in the crimes and should be held accountable. In order to protect teachers and students, consequences must be put in place for districts who violate the Texas Education Code. Legal standards are in place and should be enforced.
7. Teachers who are silenced by bureaucratic processes and the administrations who manipulate the system must be given an avenue for relief. There must be protections in place to guard against abusing them. A committee needs to be established to secure the safety and security of all teachers across the state. Law enforcement, administrations, and administrative agencies must be aligned and enforce the applicable laws and standards, so that teachers and students are not barred from seeking relief due to alternating definitions and interpretations within different branches of the systems.
8. The DOE's recent adoption of the Student Success Act has further put students, educators, and financial institutions in danger by removing the HQT status requirement for teachers. As it has left adoption of this requirement up to the states, it is imperative, that this change not be adopted. Replacing trained professionals with uneducated lay persons will be detrimental to student impact and success. Additionally, it will only serve to further degenerate the profession and further compact the difficulties in repaying educational loans causing economic and financial hardships and losses.
Teachers can no longer be the scapegoat for the failure of education in this state when teachers are dedicating themselves to the success of their students despite the obstacles and hurdles they face.