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Teachers without time to plan would be baby sitters


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POSTED: Friday, November 27, 2009

I write neither as a state Department of Education employee nor as a parent of a child in public school (yet), but rather as an objective citizen.

Gov. Linda Lingle's latest populist idea that teachers ought to surrender non-teaching days as furlough days instead of teaching days, and the echoed support of this idea by many parents and legislators, is either shortsighted or it belies the real view the governor and parents seem to have of public education.

Lingle and others would claim that by getting rid of all preparation days instead of the same number of teaching days that such a plan would better serve students since they would have more class time.

This claim is absurd. Getting rid of all teacher prep days would be tantamount to converting all teaching days into “;teaching”; days in name only; under this plan teachers' new job would be baby-sitting children instead of providing them with the professional services that these young citizens have a right to receive.

Teachers would, in effect, become baby sitters, since they would have no time to conduct the necessary preparatory work required to effectively fulfill their roles as educators.

I can think of no more efficient way of undermining the education of students than to take away any and all of the teacher prep days; indeed, this scenario would be far worse than keeping the governor's original furlough deal (which teachers already negotiated down) as the option producing the least amount of harm to the education of the state's youth.

Teachers have already done their part by sacrificing in these hard times.

To now demand that children go to school more days but not receive the benefit of having prepared teachers is to effectively ask the children to do their part and sacrifice having any quality education at all. That would be criminal.

Teachers are not baby sitters, but implementing this idea would make them into just that.

We all need to just suck it up and deal with the temporary furloughs or demand that the governor increase state revenues to pay for both the services and the compensation that the children and the professionals contracted to educate them deserve.

Implementing this idea clearly demonstrates that while everyone talks about caring about education, the parents who support it only care about having the state run some service where they can send their kids for day care, and that (surprise!) politicians will respond to the loudest crying citizens with populist actions that actually hurt everyone in the long run.

Actions speak louder than words. This action clearly hurts the keiki more than any other plan I've heard.

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Matthew LoPresti, Ph.D., is a resident of Aiea.