For the past 20 years, massive changes have been occurring in education in the United States, especially in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), that are continuing to influence the teaching and learning process as we embark on the new challenges of the 21 century. Some of these changes have been positive and had a profound impact on our diverse student population. For example, we have seen impressive advances in student achievement gains, higher graduation rates, progress in narrowing the achievement gap and a surge in the number of students attending college.
The district’s teachers have taken on this challenge. They continue to courageously raise the bar to achieve higher student achievement. The transition to more rigorous academic standards, enhanced applications of student assessment and a new emphasis on technology as a learning tool have made our teachers carry an incredible amount of responsibility, while continuing to attain higher student achievement.
Our teachers understand that students are growing up in a virtual world and can find almost anything they want by navigating through new devices. Teachers know that they are working with an increasingly diverse student body. They understand that in today’s high-tech society, they are preparing students who will compete for jobs in a global and technological marketplace where cooperation, critical thinking, problem solving and instant communication are the new basics.
Teachers make magic come alive in the classroom and they definitely are miracle workers. Our culture generously rewards celebrities, actors, and professional athletes, loading admiration and riches on them. Why shouldn’t an outstanding teacher be similarly respected, well-regarded and well-paid?
The job of a teacher has never been more critical to students’ success and the prosperity of Miami-Dade. We must do more to fully appreciate and support their work. We must ensure that the message of the four Rs — recruit, retain, reward and respect — resonates at the national, state and local levels. We must work collaboratively and cohesively with legislative leaders as we develop and implement programs and strategies to ensure teachers are valued. We welcome them to our schools so they can see firsthand the outstanding work teachers do every day.
To retain highly effective teachers, we must foster positive workplace cultures in our schools and create opportunities for professional growth to assure that teachers succeed and grow. We must make sure that teachers’ compensation is competitive and comparable to that of other occupations requiring similar levels of education and credentialing. We must do this for our students, citizens, and the future of this community that we cherish. More than ever before.Today’s financial and other complex challenges will require new ideas to reward teachers,
The School Board remains committed to prioritizing expenditures and considering different means to find the necessary funding to afford higher salaries for our teachers.
We will continue to strive for the moment when teachers are fully compensated and receive the respect they deserve. There was a superb teacher behind every great discoverer, political leader and idea that changed lives for the better.
It’s been a little over a year since I started my tenure as School Board member for District 6. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, working with a dedicated and committed School Board; an innovative superintendent; wonderful teachers, administrators and staff; and an incredible community that I am proud to represent. We should never give up the fight to assure that teachers are compensated and valued in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Mari Tere Rojas represents District 6 on the Miami-Dade School Board.