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So why write about Fairfax teachers, this is Prince William County? Lots of Prince William residents teach in Fairfax County, in fact, any who could escape in yesteryear. Fairfax was always looked upon as higher paying and better, more professional working conditions. They even have better retirement. It sounds like the gild is off the lily now.
Hundreds of teachers expressed frustration and despair at a town hall meeting with Fairfax County school board members Monday night, detailing what many educators described as terrible morale in the workforce.
During the event, teachers gave testimony to the school board members and provided vignettes about how their workload and objectives set by the school administration was affecting their daily lives. Many of those who spoke to the school board members called for a shorter work day, pay raises or more time off to compensate for their packed schedules.
Lynn Schmauder, a math teacher at Woodson High School and mother of two Fairfax students told school board members: “I have two kids at home and I feel like I am missing their lives.”
Paul Rubenstein, an English teacher at Fairfax High School who got married last August, said: “I’m concerned as a recent newlywed that this is going to ruin my marriage.”
Dan Hale, a primary grade teacher at Orange Hunt elementary told the board: “In the 20 years I’ve worked in the school system, I’ve never felt so overwhelmed as I do today.”
About 350 teachers attended the Town Hall meeting. Many spoke, others waved green papers in support of those speaking. This helped the school board members determine the issues that teachers felt most most critical. Teacher evaluation system, the curriculum pacing guides, the amount of grading, data or the tests that the administration requires from educators, were all areas that teachers felt were simply overwhelming them.
I dare say if Fairfax teachers are feeling this kind of stress and low morale, the PWC teachers must feel even worse. I expect those same indicators expressed by the Fairfax teachers are felt here in Prince William County. Fairfax teachers get paid significantly more with better benefits.
One teacher went so far as to compare the work environment to a pressure cooker. Add safety and security issues on top of the already growing list of frustrations and throw in a few nasty parents and kids to deal with, then ask why anyone in their right mind would stick around and even WANT to teach. Many people are finding out that there are just other ways to make a living. Let’s face it, teachers are where the politics and reality come together. Most teachers are tired of being the whipping boys. More than that, they are tired of being the first in line for budget cuts and public enemy number one to the tax payers.
Wouldn’t it be a nice touch for the Prince William County School Board to invite their teachers in to have a town hall meeting to hear the frustrations and concerns felt by those to whom the most precious commodity is entrusted? I wonder how much it would increase morale just to show they cared?