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Friday, August 3, 2018

Nick Howland goes after teachers over and over again at the district 2 school board forum

I can't imagine Nick Howland was especially pleased after his performance at the district 2 school board forum. He was light on details about his plans and said some things that had the crowd scratching their heads.

Candidates were given opening and closing statements and in between them 4 questions. That is six opportunities to talk and three times he went after teachers. Once even saying we have a lot of terrible teachers.

I was a bit dumbstruck so I wanted to make sure I got it right so I hung around to get some clarification.

I started with, if you are a teacher at a D or F schools you aren't very good are you?

He paused and seemed to be struggling for an answer when he said, yeah.

This is a common thought by many people on the right. Only terrible teachers work at F and D schools and that is why the schools are Fs and Ds.

They don't think about the crushing poverty that many of the children live in or the institutional racism that many of the communities go through. See Howland and his side blame the teachers for the school grades where I get down on my knees and thank them because without those teaches I know those children's lives would be much worse off.

This isn't to say there aren't things we could do better. We put a lot of our newest teachers in our most struggling schools because that's where the jobs are and then put them through incredible pressure and often unrealistic expectations instead of having them master their craft.

Mr. Howland talked about teacher quality and said he wants to attract better teachers through more pay and I agree completely with him that teachers are under paid but there are two points I would like to make.

First the district has limits on what it can pay teachers and I sincerely believe DCPS and DTU have done the best they can. If he wants to improve teacher salary because he thinks that will attract "better teachers" then he should run for the state legislature, they are the ones that control the purse strings.

Next paying teachers more money is not going to fix the ills in our most struggling schools, nope not at all but you know what might? Wrap around services for the children, mental health services and a longer school year. Throw in smaller classes and academic and behavior supports and then a commitment to the arts, PE and relevant programs that keep kids engaged and interested and we can turn those schools around.

Should teachers be paid more money, absolutely, will higher salaries attract more or higher quality people to teaching? I think the jury is out on that because teaching is a calling that often goes beyond money.

Mr Howland did not seem like a bad guy, he may be more Fel Lee than Scott Shine but we have other great candidates in the race and we have already done the rich white guy in district 2 the last two times. It is time for a change.       


  1. Nothing in this post is right. I clearly said I support higher compensation for our teachers so that we can attract, reward and retain the best. Teachers are most critical part of a child's education. Here's the link to the video:

  2. Mr. Howland,

    But you're not denying that you said it's bad teachers that cause schools to earn D's or F's? Not very supportive of those who bust hump in the trenches every day. District 2 has more viable candidates than yourself.

  3. Mr. Howland--

    Have watched/listened to the forum twice. At the 28-minute and 35-minute marks you distinctly referred to District 2 as having the best teachers--specifically indicating colors of the JPEF chart to link to school grades. Your denotation and connotation are clear: District 2 students have the best teachers, while the Northwest (District 4, where I live and teach) has low grades, so, therefore, the worst teachers. 9,000+ teachers can't all teach in District 2, sir. What is your plan to help retain high quality teachers in ALL districts, particularly Districts 4 & 5, with high turnover? Business-backed TFA does NOT solve that problem; it exacerbates turnover.

  4. I’m sorry that my comments weren’t more clear. I believe teachers are THE main driver of student achievement. It’s teachers - not tests, text books or curriculum - that make a difference in kids’ lives. My teachers made a huge difference in mine. I believe teachers should be appreciated and compensated significantly more than they are. Please visit my website for more info. You can also reach me directly through the site if you’d like to chat more.

  5. In the school classroom teachers do impact the child's learning but other factors outside of the teacher's control probably have a greater impact coming into the school. That said, we need to give teachers the tools they need and stop expecting them to pay for what the state does not provide. They need books and good curriculum that is appropriate and they need professional development to use the curriculum.