FRAMINGHAM – My name is Marianne Manning Gately. I have worked for Framingham Schools for the past 32 years.
During that time I have seen many programs come and go. I have seen the Inclusion Model change from one in which you had a full time teacher and assistant with you to help service all of the children all day, to one in which there is a Special Education teacher in the room with you for some of the day to just cover IEP minutes, and that is only if they are not pulled to cover for a teacher who is out. The regular education teacher is then required to provide special education services to the students who are on IEPs while giving every other student in the room exactly what they need. Unfortunately, some classrooms have upwards of 6 or more students on IEPs, many students on 504s, and students who are dealing with traumatic events in their lives. If you throw in a student or two who cannot speak any English, but are placed in your room because all the programs that they would truly benefit from are full, it is a recipe for, I guess, a level 3 school.
Children need their teachers to be able to teach. They need their teachers to, not only feel respected, but to be respected. Teachers should not feel like they are not trusted, nor should they feel like the bottom of some great hierarchy. Teachers should feel like they are the most important piece of the Framingham Public Schools, along with the students, and should be
treated as such.
I get that teachers need plans. Everyone needs plans. I also get that the district wants to make sure that the curriculum is covered, that all students’ needs are met, that lessons have meaningful tasks and are challenging, and that we have both language and content objectives. This is happening.
What I don’t get is that I don’t get to be creative any longer. I don’t get that my plans have to look the same as my colleagues’ plans. I don’t get that I don’t get to be excited about my plans and lessons because they are not my plans, nor are they my lessons.
Teachers have left or are planning on leaving Framingham. These are not teachers that are just okay; these are great teachers. I know quite a few who are already looking. It is not because of the teaching, it’s because of the demands put on us by administrators. These demands are seeping into the personal lives of everyone. They are taking over our nights and weekends.
They are taking the place of really preparing for a day in an elementary school classroom: calling parents, making anchor charts, correcting papers, decorating and cleaning rooms, doing bulletin boards, setting up for experiments, and everything else that we do to make our rooms special places where our students want to come each day.
I am close to retirement. I am tired…not because of my age, but because of all of the expectations.
The old saying, “If you give an inch, they’ll take a mile,” certainly applies here.
We’ve given our inches, you’ve taken your miles, and our students are not better off for it.
Marianne Manning Gately
Editor’s Note: The letter above was read at the Framingham School Committee meeting on Wednesday. It was submitted to SOURCE afterwards for publication.