MAILEY: Fulfill obligation to students before promotion

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mugshot_maileyBY SAM MAILEY
[email protected]

As students, we understand the ambition to climb ranks. We want to see ourselves perform and fulfill our potential and goals, and we don’t expect anything less from our teachers. If a desired next-level position opens, teachers should seize the opportunity.

Teachers deserve as much freedom to promote and shift positions as any other member of the district, as long as there is effective replacement to fill in their absence. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of that, either, as it’s not uncommon for teachers to accept district and site-level administrative positions; in fact, Roseville High School has had three: Granite Bay High School assistant principal Mike Fisher, coordinator of instructional technology Marie Criste, and the most recent being Lindsey Parker, who accepted an assistant principal position at Antelope High School.

Before Parker, the two teachers’ position transitions were inexcusably unprofessional, unfairly abrupt and irresponsibly negligent of staff and students. The two were teachers before becoming assistant principal and the coordinator of instructional technology, and they should have remained teachers until better planned-out replacements were in place.

In the argument of hypocrisy for denouncing teachers for leaving without a replacement but ignoring administrators leaving without a replacement, the assistant principal position opened because there were already two assistant principals on site to pick up slack while a third was found and “coordinator of instructional technology” wasn’t a real position prior. The teachers were leaving students, who need teachers, with two dysfunctional alternatives instead: a flip-flopping, teacher-assistant principal who tried to juggle two positions, and a quick relay of a heavy class and curriculum unto another pair of teachers’ responsibilities – both of which are fault of the impulse and poor judgement of the district, site administration and the teachers.

The primary obligation of a teaching position is self-explanatory, so incidents like this shouldn’t happen. It’s important for teachers to not allow future goals affect their current performance, to take their careers one step at a time, to hold students’ education in the highest regard and as their most important responsibility.

When teachers get distracted from their immediate students by an, administration should intervene to ensure they tend to students before moving to any new position.

The transfers bring more problems to the classroom for students and teachers than benefits at the district and site-level administration, which is especially evident in Criste’s case. In 2012-2013, 89 percent of enrolled RHS students took the AP European History exam with a 53 percent pass rate, this percentage dropped to 79 percent in 2013-2014 with 44 percent passing, the year Criste left, but jumped back up to 91 percent in 2014-2015 and a 58 percent pass rate.

These numbers may have been purely coincidental, but the complications it brought upon students and her replacement Carol Crabtree were not. Teaching styles undoubtedly vary regardless how similar the subject matter is, and abruptly switching from one teacher to another put students and teachers through an unnecessary learning curve six weeks before school ended – which is arguably the most crucial and intensive phase in a term.

The dire situation that required Criste leave RHS should have been recognized earlier, which would have left time to smooth the transition or even hire somebody who wasn’t preoccupied with students, who have been with her since August.

No position could hold such immediate demands that would compel a teacher who respects their responsibilities in any sense to uproot mid-year and drop their classes on the backs of unfamiliar teachers to manage just because they were called to fill in the open slot. Even if it was Criste’s idea to jump ship, and while admin may have been on board with it, the district should have foreseen the potential consequences that ensued.

Not only was the initial action to allow Criste’s mid-year transfer irresponsible, but to couple that decision with letting other teachers, instead of hiring a replacement, bear the weight of the classes she left behind was an embarrassment to the near-sighted, systematic operations at the district office.

As a school district, the performance of students and the well-being of faculty should be the first consideration before any site-level decision is made, yet the position transfers that the district and site administration oversaw exemplified that we are, in some cases, afterthoughts.

The dramatic effects of the awkwardly timed transfers may have been avoided altogether had the district and site administration taken extra steps to find a proper replacement before allowing their faculty members abandon students, which is why we hope that two mistakes are enough to learn from when dealing with Parker’s transition from RHS to AHS.

We support Parker’s decision to join AHS administration, but situations like the aforementioned make us concerned for the students. With a readily open assistant principal slot awaiting her arrival, Parker is planning to leave the week of April 11, as soon as the position transfer is approved by the district, but we urge proper preparation on admin’s part to make sure her classes won’t endure what Criste and Fisher’s classes went through by finding a replacement before she leaves. And we urge Parker to stand by her word that she won’t be abandoning her students and find a qualified supervisor in the case that a replacement isn’t hired by the time she leaves.