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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.

Washington Post:

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?


15 Thoughts to “Fairfax teachers overwhelmed, low morale”

  1. As if things weren’t bad enough, here is the criteria for the new “grading system” for schools:

    A – fully accredited by the state, achieve at least a 25% advanced proficiency pass rate on SOL, meet all federal benchmarks for testing.

    B – fully accredited but fall short of the advanced proficiency SOL pass rate.

    C – has been accredited with a warning in one subject area.

    D – accredited with warning in more than one subject area or fall short of target graduation rate.

    F – denied accreditation or in the process of a government-mandated overhaul.

    This is simply part of class warfare. The most affluent will go to the A schools. the economically deprived will go to the D and F schools.

    Thanks Governor Know-Nothing.

  2. punchak

    I’m so intensely against this grading of schools.
    Agree with you that this is a part of class warfare.

  3. Kelly_3406

    Do teachers and principals receive annual performance assessments in PWC? (Hopefully not too far off topic).

    1. Kelly, I don’t know. It recently changed and then rechanged. The State of Virginia determines how often. it used to be that teachers who were on continuing contract got a full evaluation every 3 year. Before continuing contract they got full evaluation annually.

      On the off years you got a mini evaluation with set goals, observation, etc.

      I am not sure what actually happens now. I think it might be annually. That might be what the Fairfax teachers are complaining about. It is a very time consuming evaluation.

  4. Kelly_3406

    Why do you assume only the affluent will change schools? From a parent’s point of view, why shouldn’t we be able to see how the school’s rate? Why should we be forced to send our kids to a poor-performing school?

    On the plus side, if PWC schools do poorly systatically compared to other counties, it could provide the rationale to increase funding.

  5. Just had my 1st student teaching practicum day at the new school. English teacher, 8th grade.

    O.M.G. I had spoken to him about his “philosophy” and how he controls his class. He says that he treats them like people, and shows them respect…and they show him respect.

    If that was respect, he needs to go back to school, himself. It took all of my will power not to correct those students. They achieved, perhap at most, 40 minutes of instruction in a 90 minute class. The rest was correcting students. Some were completely ignoring the teacher and the work, talking to each other, etc.

    What in hell has happened to respect and fear of parents? I guarantee if my child ever acts like that, she will have a very, very hard life.

    1. Good for you. She should have a very very hard life. So you were in observing this teacher?

      My eyes are already rolling to the the back of my head. Students don’t fear school personnel and their parents don’t know how they are behaving. If anyone tries to tell them, many won’t believe their little Johnny did anything.

  6. I didn’t mention anyone changing schools.

    This new rating system does not have a provision for parents to change schools that I am aware of.

    This rating system is for all Virginia public schools, not just Prince William County Schools.

    I said the most affluent will go to the schools that are A schools. There is strong correlation between academic success and economic advantage. There always has been and there always will be.

    I could drive through PWC with a school boundary map and assign the grades right now. I wouldn’t be off but one letter grade in most cases and I would be 95% accurate.

    Fair or not fair, its very predictable.

    Elementary schools will have the most A’s simply because they serve neighborhoods and are smaller. By the time one gets to high schools its more difficult to keep boundaries set that just include economic advantaged kids. The A’s will be harder to come by.

    The last I read, they weren’t going to put more money into the D and F schools. The state is planning on taking over the F schools.

    Who would want to go to those schools to teach?

    An involved parent would be aware of their schools standing without A-F grading system.

    This is elitism at its worst. It won’t make schools better.

  7. Lyssa


    I feel for you, Cargo.

  8. The beatings WILL continue until morale improves.

    1. Cargo, you don’t know how close you are to telling the truth.

      Part of the problem is that most counties around here do beat the love of teaching out of their teachers. Prince William County is no exception.

      There is always some AH who knows nothing about it coming along with a better mousetrap. Ex: the new grading system that will pit schools full of affluent kids against kids with less affluent populations. A moron could tell that was going to happen. Not our governor. Not our General Assembly.

      All this time and money is spent trying to make kids and parents think there is no disparity between schools ….. Now that it will show with the report card, the teachers will be blamed. They can’t blame the kids. Its never kids’ faults now. It is only the teachers.

  9. @Moon-howler
    Oh I know… mother was a teacher and consultant iin the Orleans Parish school system during the 70’s and early 80’s.

    The “We must do SOMETHING – ANYTHING! ” disease is 90% of the problem and one size fits all actually means that it doesn’t actually fit anyone.

    Heck..after seeing that class, I’m checking out the Catholic School around the corner.

  10. Moon – the ABC’s you provided are the new grading system from the state? I’ll have to run the advanced stats, but I think the vast majority of our schools will be A rated. A few will be B rated, but I think every school in our county meets the federal benchmarks for testing, most are fully accredited by the state, and our pass advanced rates tend to be well North of 25% in many, maybe even the vast majority of our schools. I had thought that to get an A schools had to receive some of the state issues, which our schools don’t generally apply for because we have the Standards of Excellence. Maybe I’m getting cynical, but I tend to think the A – F rating system will just be another silly thing that means nothing but gets everyone running in all directions and stressed out.

    1. I forget where I got it, Kim. some newspaper, not from Virginia dept of Ed. Those AYPs are bound to slip in there. I think you are being an optimist.

    2. Not sure what advanced stats you have at your disposal to run. I went to the VDoe and looked at a few random schools in PWC. I think there are a whole lot right here in PWC who aren’t going to be getting that A. How did I know where to look? Boundaries. Neighborhoods. Of course those indicators are my main point.

      I don’t know if they state will take an average or not but that 25% pass advance is going to be mighty difficult for some schools to achieve with the math SOL being so much more difficult. Talk about a drop in scores. Was the state just stupid to do that? Were they displeased that so many kids were passing?

      I have no idea how the stats will be compiled for the school report card. If everyone gets an A, then why bother to do it?

      I do expect that the A-F report card will do just what you said about getting everyone running in all directions and stressed out.

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