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Choices of a lifetime

Pink slips. Teacher layoffs. Wearing pink to support teachers on Tuesday, March 15th. Every single one of us in Arcadia is affected by this ominous disaster, no matter if one cares or not. This affects you, your children, students, and family.

Emily Zheng

<Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion blog by Emily Zheng, a student at Dana Middle School. – Click here to read Emily’s blog about Tiger Moms.> At the moment, pink slips are being handed out. But to who? Teachers who have been working at a school for over ten years get to keep their job solely because they have been working at a certain place for a certain amount of time. So what? Ten years of work? The unions protect these teachers, but the truth is that there are “ancient” teachers whose teaching is inferior to the teaching of new teachers who have been at a school for only a couple years. Experience and tenure, in the case of teachers, may actually cause inefficiency. Once teachers receive tenure, or the like, they do not have to worry about losing their job ever again because no one can take their jobs away, no matter how well they do. Yes, there are some incredible teachers out there who teach better with time, but in general, when a teacher gets an opportunity to relax, they will relax. These pink slips that are being given out are ridiculous. A teacher who has worked for over ten years receives about double the salary of a new teacher. So, instead of keeping two new teachers, we keep an old and perhaps incompetent one and kick out two bright, eager, and enthusiastic teachers. It’s just not worth it. Most students thought Arcadia was about education and about teaching us students how to prepare for college and for a future career. Keeping a teacher just because of how long they worked will perhaps make that one teacher happy, but the truth is that it will ruin hundreds of student’s lives. One teacher approximately teaches 30 students per period every day and teaches about 150 students for an entire year. That one teacher can determine whether the student will enjoy or dread the subject, whether the student will struggle trying to understand how to do work or whether the student will excel in class, and whether the student will possibly excel in life. Teachers should not only teach students about their subject, but in an indirect way, they should also give emotional and moral support to students to plan their future. But there’s another option, probably for the good of Arcadia. Yes, some of you teachers out there will disagree, because your job is on the line, but it’s either your job or maiming the lives of hundreds of students. Here’s the deal: why don’t we have a poll on which teachers to keep, based on the students’ opinions? When administrators come to evaluate classes, teachers always teach and act accordingly to how the standard should be, but in real life, some teachers do not teach as expected. In classrooms, students know best. Students spend seven hours at school five days a week, spending about an hour with each teacher and learning from them. They do required homework and even judge how teachers teach outside of class. Students spend over half their days with teachers, but they are never asked to voice their opinions. They are affected most by the choices of teachers, but they never get the chance to speak out. Students truly know best, so shouldn’t we ask the students which teachers to keep? Not only could we have a “popular” vote of students currently in the teacher’s classes, but also we should include past students’ opinions. In addition, instead of just a popular vote, we may also have a special student committee to anonymously meet with school officials to discuss how well their teachers teach. That way, the student vote will not be overruled by favoritism and will include an “electoral” vote also. Teachers should teach. Polls should be based on how well they teach and how effective their teaching is, not based upon how nice or easy they are. Teachers are the primary step stone for every single student who attends school: teachers give us knowledge, and knowledge is power. Abuse of this privilege should not be allowed at Arcadia – we should strive for the best in order to be the best. — By Emily Zheng


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