I hope you are having a good summer. And, a nod to those celebrating Bastille Day yesterday. Also, Wednesday was my birthday, perfect timing for my book release
Many of you know that I was disappointed that we did not take the opportunity to really look at our communities and do a reset during the pandemic. Well, the pandemic is not over. I have read that we can expect two new variants by the fall. Unfortunately, policies in some schools are not keeping up with our reality. In one school district, officials decided to do away with COVID leave, which means that any staff member who has COVID will have to take sick leave or personal days to stay home.
Imagine the impact that will have system-wide. You may have teachers coming to work while they're ill because they don't want to use up their sick leave.
I'm curious because I've seen different reports of teacher resignations. And while schools generally see significant turnover, this year feels very different. PENAmerica's Jonathan Friedman shared a partial list:
One way to combat this is by lowering the requirements to become a teacher, as Arizona and Missouri have done. In Missouri, anyone looking to teach with a passing grade on the exam and a 3.0-grade point average in college can teach. Substitute teachers need to complete a 20-hour course. And in Arizona, teachers can enter the profession with no college degree.
Remember that in some districts, tenured teachers have until July 15th to submit their resignations.
I see a trend, and once again, this is not sustainable. When schools are short-staffed, it stresses out the system - from the grade level teams who either have to absorb additional students into their classroom or give up their planning periods to cover other positions. Most school districts lack sufficient substitutes. And teachers have reported feeling guilty for staying home with sick children, going to a doctor's appointment, or attending a funeral because they don't want to burden their colleagues.
We need a better way of doing this.
My guest on this week's Livestream was Donna Jay, who works for the U.S. Department of Education, overseeing grants to Native American communities. Our conversation centered around the Four Things we Can Learn from Our Indigenous Students. We discussed the need for cultural understanding, building a deep discussion on historical community relations, how living among Indigenous people doesn't make you one, and representation matters. Reminding us that there are over 500 different tribes with their own history and culture, Donna concluded that silencing the history of Indigenous people is violence. Give the Livestream a watch, and don't forget to subscribe to the channel when you get a chance. I think you'll learn from it, as I did.
Finally, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support from the Leading Equity: Becoming An Advocate For All Students book launch. You can grab a signed copy here. Reply to this email if you want to join our FREE book study starting next Saturday.
Until then, I appreciate all the well wishes and words of encouragement.
P.S. Are you an educator in Illinois? I'm coming to you! Check out this upcoming training happening in August!
- Baruti K. Kafele, Retired Principal, Education Consultant, Author
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