To the Editor:
Recently, Irvington’s Board of Education voted (3-1-1 abstention) to advertise a curriculum position in Irvington. Those who voted yes or abstained noted that sound budget decisions are made only within the overall context of budget items. The Board member who voted “no” said nothing to explain.
Academic consistency provided by a full-time curriculum professional is key for students. Funding has already been identified, so it may be filled in an essentially spending-neutral fashion.
Curriculum: Curriculum management is a top-down proposition. Someone must ensure every teacher conveys to every student information and abilities needed to succeed at the next level. The top 20% of teachers don’t need this; they will benefit, but get the job done regardless. Teachers who need it are the 70-75% “good”/”very good” ones we’d like to challenge to improve. Then there is the 5-10% who need real support to become teachers who meet our community’s high standards.
Grade level coordinators (K-5), department chairs (6-12), or principals cannot do this work. Each focuses on students by grade, subject, or school, respectively. Only a curriculum leader focuses on ensuring that no matter what teacher a child has K-5 or in a 6-12 subject, all children have a solid learning experience.
Without a curriculum leader, the system will quickly begin to disintegrate, creating haphazard classroom experiences for kids. Then, only the “luckiest” taught by the “stars” will consistently benefit.
Instruction: This should be called, “Making Sure Our Teachers Receive the Highest Quality Professional Training and Development, Which They Can Then Use to Teach Our Children in the Most Effective Ways.” Curriculum leaders take charge of providing meaningful teacher professional development. Otherwise, we could only hope that most teachers figure out the best way to teach all kinds of students through experience from many years on the job.
Assessment: Although NY schools are awash in data from testing in grades 3-12, it becomes a waste of time for students and essentially meaningless for teachers and parents if there is no one to collate, analyze and report findings. Plus, requirements to report data to the state significantly increase in July 2011, as part of federal “Race to the Top” legislation.
A full-time curriculum professional could also direct creation of a policy that everyone understands regarding grading and homework at each level, K-12. Otherwise, such standards will vary as widely as the hundreds of individuals teaching our children.
Former Irvington School Board Member