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TVEA President's Speech to School Board April 21, 2015

Good Evening Governing Board, Superintendent Ritter and District Staff:

In my role as TVEA President, I am making an effort to visit school sites. Since returning from Spring Break, I have visited seven different sites: CHES, AES, GMS, DMS, TMS, VRMS, and MMS. How is that for a bowl of TVUSD alphabet soup? Actually, this is an opportunity to meet with groups of our teachers, listen to their concerns and questions, and to clarify the roles of TVEA and our policy-making procedures.

Often another member of our elected Executive Board will join me. It is all part of our effort to “Create an Organizing Culture” within TVEA. In meeting members on their turf and making ourselves accessible we hope to improve communication and build relationships in a way electronic mail cannot.

At the elementary sites concerns continue over the number of assessments and in particular the use of summative exams after state testing. Many teachers are frustrated by the time involved in seeking resources they need to effectively deliver Common Core Instruction, particularly in Language Arts. Combo classes, such as classes of 4th and 5th grade students exacerbate these issues for our teachers. On the positive side, upper grade teachers seem encouraged about the instructional effectiveness of Smart Boards and the accompanying microphone system.

At the middle school level, teachers spoke to the reach of Risk Management and that decisions related to employees returning to are often perceived as arbitrary. Perhaps a clarification of policies to employees and the role of one’s medical doctor in the process would be helpful.

Language Arts Middle School Teachers report occasionally needing to take personal days to keep up with grading and to provide the necessary feedback on practice, teacher, and district writing assessments.

On the “positive” side of things many middle school TVEA members seem intrigued by a potential incentive related to retirement.

That brings me to my visit to Margarita Middle School yesterday. We had nearly 25 teachers attend a voluntary after school meeting. A few things came of listening to our members that may be of interest to you.

MMS appears to have a long road ahead to move toward being a unified staff. They will need ongoing visible support from both TVEA and TVUSD. Teachers shared an interest in meeting with district officials to discuss the next steps and timeline for hiring a new leader. There are ongoing concerns about employee-employee conflicts and steps employees should take if they believe harassment is occurring. Clarification of these district related policies and offering in-service workshops were mentioned as needs. In embracing our duty of Full and Fair Representation to all members, TVEA is willing to assist in facilitating a positive future at Margarita Middle School.

Thank you

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