CCS administrators are seeing the need for a laser focus on literacy. We applaud the decision to focus on the Common Core State Standards in reading and math and on instructional coaching support. We are happy to see that high schools will have reading specialists.
We said back in 2007, when 183 Title I safety net teachers switched their focus to science and math—placing a greater burden on regular classroom teachers for specialized reading instruction—that students would suffer. Five years ago, our president, Rhonda Johnson, said, “Everyone knows that the math and science tests are essentially reading tests. Continue to provide intensive reading instruction, introduce complex vocabulary and provide intervention. The math and science scores will rise, too.”
But there is still a problem. The interview process for these positions has been centralized, and we believe this is wrong thinking. Instead of letting building interview committees work with their principals to consider the best candidates for their buildings’, our central administration is taking the process to Northgate. Afterwards, building principals will be asked for their “consideration” of finalists.
Everyone learns in Classroom Management 101 that you don’t need to keep the whole class in for recess just because a few students misbehave. Maybe we have examples of cronyism in the district, but most building administrators work well with their interview teams and select the most appropriate applicants.
Maybe it’s time for principals to organize and speak out. Although technically this new interview arrangement does not violate the CEA Agreement, we believe that it sends a negative message to principals that they don’t know how to choose the best people for their buildings.
Selection of these specialists is important, and we should not exclude building leaders and colleagues who understand what their students need. Given that academic success is directly related to reading ability and that nearly 40 percent of high school graduates do not have the sophisticated reading skills employers expect, we must be inclusive, if not for ourselves, then for future generations.