Turning around schools starts with teachers

Two weeks ago, it was the The Sun’s editorial board proclaiming “training and resources” for teachers (“There are better ways for Baltimore County to promote school discipline than suspending students,” Oct. 30), and Monday it was an op-ed by Sheri Booker calling for volunteers (“Viral video of teacher punch reveals bigger issues in Baltimore,” Nov. 12) regarding school discipline issues and encourages the use of outside volunteers. Is anyone listening?

The insinuation that such problems could be solved if teachers were just a little smarter or if we could just get a couple more random adults in the building each week is exhausting to listen to as a teacher. People seem to recognize the problems causing some of our students to act out, but the solutions seem entirely removed from reality.

Teachers need help. We need more social workers to help students cope with the problems that start at home but filter into school. We need more counselors to help students manage the academic and social stressors of school. We need more behavior interventionists at the ready because when students go into crisis, waiting is the worst option. We need more advisers for clubs and after school activities to engage and enrich the school experience for students. We need more administrators to build relationships between teachers, students and parents. We need mentors for students and teachers to help everyone continue growing. We need more teachers so that we can devote sufficient time to understanding and preparing for students’ unique academic needs. How much individual attention does any student receive from a teacher managing 125 students each day?

Notice the trend. We need more skilled practitioners in our schools. These people’s skills mean they will command a decent wage. The road to improving our schools is going to be expensive, and it will be hard, frustrating work.

Think back to your days in school. What do you remember most? I’ll bet it’s a person. A person who was in your life every day watching, inquiring and caring about your growth and progress. That experience can’t be replaced by a training program or a volunteer or a computer.

Adam Sutton, Towson

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