The readers’ forum

Broward budget shortchanges students, teachers

 

The Jan. 23 story, Schools chief gets high marks, about Broward schools Superintendant Robert Runcie only told part of the story.

He may have gotten high marks from the school board and found money to hire hundreds of additional teachers, but he found it by sacrificing the quality of education in Broward County’s high schools.

I have taught high school English in Broward since 1985. Until this year I have been responsible for five classes except for a few years under a state mandate called the Gordon Writing Act when I was responsible for only four classes. Schedules have changed, but I have had between 510 and 1,000 minutes per week to plan and prepare for my classes.

This year, Broward schools, the only ones in the state, instituted a policy for all high schools which requires that each high school teacher teach six classes per day and have 250 minutes of planning per week.

Like most high school teachers, I expect to work extra hours after school and at home. But we each only have 24 hours in a day, and there are other things besides work that must be attended to, so I can’t simply work an extra hour at home to make up for the time lost during the school day.

It saddens and angers me is that I cannot do the job I know I can do and should do for my students. Fifty minutes a day is barely enough time to check email, fill out required forms and attend parent conferences. It leaves no time for thoughtfully grading essays, planning innovative and engaging lessons, researching new methods, planning projects or working collegially with other teachers.

I teach three separate courses, so the schedule gives me about 17 minutes per day to prepare for each course. This isn’t sour grapes. I get high marks when I’m evaluated, but I know my students aren’t getting the quality of education that the students who came before them got, simply because I do not have time to do what I have done in the past.

Broward’s schools may be balancing the budget, but it is being done at the expense of high school students.

Paula Kirifides, Hollywood

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