Jack Dale discusses time issues for teachers, but fails to mention need to change the student schedule

Michael Burrell recently sent Fairfax County Superintendent Jack D. Dale an email which urged him to work with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to simplify the procedures and reporting requirements that No Child Left Behind has mandated. This was one of many comments made to the The Washington Post in response to Robert McCartney’s column about the paperwork burden on teachers.  The  Post printed this email and the response from Dale:

What should be our policy direction for the future? First and foremost, revise federal and state policy to set common-sense standards of performance, with flexibility to achieve those standards.

Recognize the dramatically changed teaching profession: Make it full time, with commensurate pay, and allow for school and work calendars much more like countries that score higher than the U.S. on international assessments. (We began such a conversion in Fairfax, but budget constraints and calendar constraints prevent full implementation.)

Teachers must be given additional time to work with colleagues to continue to perfect the art and craft of teaching. We don’t give teachers and principals sufficient time to do so currently.

We have a choice to make necessary changes to the profession or to continue to frustrate the educators who are doing exceptional work with limited time and resources. The only other option is to regress to the past. We know which path to take, but we need the collective courage to do so.

— Jack D. Dale

Once again, Superintendent Dale focuses on the possibility of added contract time for teachers without even mentioning the possibility that reform of the student schedule is not only desirable, it is necessary. It is unacceptable to have a student schedule that limits recess to 10 minutes per day. It is unacceptable to have a widespread practice in Fairfax of allowing students to have a longer time for recess while failing to meeting state requirements for the length of the standard school day. Fairfax must end the practice of dismissing elementary school students two hours early every Monday. This is a simple requirement for being in compliance with state law. While changing this schedule, be sure to add different methods for teacher planning time. Hire more specialists or paraprofessionals to be in charge of the class for activities such as physical education or recess in order to give classroom teachers more planning time. Consider changes in the teacher contract hours, with changes in pay. Just remember–significant changes in the schedule for teachers should not even be considered without an equal attention to time issues relating to students.

[I also posted this comment after the Post article in the link above.]




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