Fredonia Teachers Send Letter Of Concern

A letter from the Fredonia Teachers Association expressing concern about a wide variety of issues, including curriculum and communication in the district, was sent Aug. 8 by FTA President Roger Pacos to Superintendent Jeff Sortisio and the Board of Education.

The letter — made public at the board’s meeting last week — states, “Overall, much of the problem comes from a great decline in genuine shared decision-making regarding curriculum, along with related policies and procedures. The expertise of veteran teachers is often disregarded or even belittled by administrators, resulting in intellectual and professional disrespect.”

The curricular concerns are mostly at the elementary school level. Pacos writes that the teachers there have been forced to teach modules that “are not age appropriate and are ineffective. … Teachers have watched our students struggle each year because of this decision.”

The letter also criticizes the use of an outside literacy specialist, alleging elementary teachers are unclear about the goal of that initiative. Despite that, “the middle school has seventh and eighth graders with second and third grade reading levels,” Pacos writes, suggesting the teaching modules could be to blame.

Pacos also writes that “Teachers believe there is a lack of confidentiality … Teachers also fear retaliation in the elementary and middle school if they question anything.” In addition, elementary teachers are often forced to shift grade level assignments, “which is not fair to the teacher or the students.” The assignments “are slow to be communicated… resulting in great confusion and frustration.” Finally, teacher evaluations were not completed in a timely manner, Pacos writes.

There are some solutions to the problems, the FTA president continues. First, “Return to a genuine shared decision-making process that was in place years ago. Ask the veteran teachers how this was accomplished. We do not wish to pretend we have this when we do not.”

Pacos also wants better communication, planning and follow-through within the district in general. Administrators should define the elements of effective leadership and make a plan to use them, he writes, and teachers should get “a tool whereby (they) can evaluate or have input on the effectiveness of administrators.”