Sunday, April 1, 2012

Potsdam BOE - Save Jake Roberts!

    For much of the last three years, I have been vocal about the need to support the English Department's mandate to teach students how to write effectively. The weight of teaching writing does land primarily in the hands of English teachers and it is a very time-consuming mandate. By cutting Mr. Roberts' position in the English Department, class sizes will increase for the rest of the department. That means even more essays per teacher and possibly less time for each essay or other writing assignments. After all, there are only so many hours in a day.
   For years, Mrs. Chambers has been asked questions about the writing curriculum at the HS but has not had answers to all of our questions. Board members asked, How often are students given writing assignments? Is journal writing required in each grade and assigned weekly? Are requirements consistent from teacher-to-teacher and grade level-to-grade level? Should they be consistent? Is the English faculty given professional development time to coordinate their efforts and plan out, for grades 7-12, the best writing curriculum possible? The BOE was told last year that the HS principal would address the issue this year and report to the BOE.
    Most adults know how essential it is to be able to communicate effectively in any profession and in daily life. I believe the HS principal, Superintendent, and the BOE have made a mistake in recommending and supporting laying off Jake Roberts. English Departments have always had a burden not shared by other departments...namely, the countless hours that they devote to grading compositions, essays, journals, research papers, and the like. And let's not forget...assigning writing is very different from teaching writing. These teachers are also obligated to teach writing and then assess it.
    Writing is a skill that is required for every academic discipline and English teachers are the ones trained to handle this daunting obligation.

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