• 61°

School board reflects on meeting with UNC dean of education

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

CHAPEL HILL — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education began its retreat with a look towards the future. On Thursday, all seven members of the board met with the University of North Carolina’s new Dean of Education, Fouad And-El-Khalick.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody and the board Saturday morning shared their impressions of the meeting with representatives from the Alvin Independent School District of Alvin, Texas. Moody shared that in the past year, 15 new deans of education have been appointed in North Carolina universities and colleges, and the UNC system received a new president.

“We’re all kind of anxious of how that’s going to play out in the colleges of education,” she said.

And-El-Khalick is a young educator from Lebannon, Moody said, and the board spent an hour with him discussing the future of public education. For Moody, the main takeaway from the conversation was that teachers often feel like factory workers, instead of professionals. She said she hoped she could “bring some honor back to the profession” by making changes in the future to make teachers know that they are valued and respected.

“So I’m taking that home with me as a real challenge,” she said.

One of the chief issues that struck a chord with board members was that of recruiting and retaining teachers. Board Chair Josh Wagner said he found that part of the conversation a little “disheartening.”

“It does not seem like there’s hope that we’re going to turn this corner on teacher recruitment and teacher retention,” he said.

And-El-Khalick told the board that UNC’s college of education has shifted focus from raising up teachers to training lateral entry teachers in order to meet the desperate need of understaffed districts.

Board member Susan Cox agreed with Wagner, and said something that struck her was a discussion about the school systems in other nations. Finland, she said And-El-Khalick told the board, has a fraction of the number of regulations American schools have — and it’s one of the best education systems in the world. Meanwhile, teachers in the U.S. have their hands tied by rules, policy and red tape.

“We can’t teach what our insides are telling us to do,” she said of her fellow teachers.

Cox said that, “we have moved in the wrong direction in this country, and it’s very sad.”

School systems often focus on how to attract and retain teachers, without focusing on the issues that make teachers difficult to attract and retain in the first place, board member Dean Hunter added. Many of those come from a place of state or federal policy.

“I think a lot of times we’re treating the effects of the disease rather than the disease,” Hunter said.

Board member Travis Allen expressed frustration at the disconnect between the direction schools were moving and the reality of colleges and universities. He referenced Rowan-Salisbury School’s move away from row-style desks and older modes of teaching. But when Rowan-Salisbury students arrive at college, they are forced back into that factory model. The university system has not caught up, Allen said, and often equates rigor with the quantity of work assigned, not the quality.

“Rigor should mean substantial, meaningful,” he said.

Moody agreed that some regulations put negative pressure on teachers, and may prevent good teachers from going to work in struggling schools, where they are needed most.

“If you wanted to do that work, why would you choose to,” she wondered. “There’s no incentive.”

Moody also spoke about educators not advocating for the profession. Often, educators may discourage their own students, or others, from entering the profession.

“We are our own worst enemy,” she said.

The board spent much of Saturday discussing how the district can move away from modes of thought that may make teachers feel unvalued, and how it can empower its employees.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

Comments

Coronavirus

Three deaths, 29 new COVID-19 positives reported

Crime

Blotter: Bullet holes found in woman’s Park Avenue apartment

Crime

Man faces assault charges for domestic incident

High School

Photo gallery: Carson girls win West Regional, headed to state championship

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls headed to state championship game

Local

Commissioners set date for public hearing on potential solar energy system rule changes

Health

Two of Rep. Sasser’s bills successfully pass through Health Committee

Local

Rep. Warren’s measure to allow removal of public notices from newspapers put on back burner

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs future of previously rejected housing development

Local

Salisbury City Council hears public comments, receives presentation on Main Street reconfiguration

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with felony drug offenses

Nation/World

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

Nation/World

Biden vows enough vaccines by end of May

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill