We conveyed to the Board
Good Evening commissioners and interim Superintendent Johnson. My name is Cary Patterson. I am part of Indianapolis Teachers Society leadership as Treasurer. I am part of the 5-8% of IPS teachers who live and work in the district. I am the first educator to purchase a home in the Near Eastside Area Renewal (NEAR) Educator’s Village in St. Clair Place. I voted for the referendum and will be paying for it. I am sending my son to Theodore Potter School 74 for Kindergarten. I am representative of IPS at present. Our concerns today focus on Teacher Voice: The Experience of a New Teacher and Teaching Fellow.
I wanted to be a union member, but the price tag felt high: $842. They said that’s only $32 a pay. I asked what benefits I would be entitled to as a member, they changed the subject to travel credits. I shared concerned about liability coverage in my school environment; they touted discount rates on car insurance. When I asked if I would still benefit from their bargaining regardless of joining, they said yes. But I am here to say flat out myself and many teachers did not benefit from this latest round of salary increases and it correlates directly to the type of school we chose to work in.
My cohort and countless alumni of Indianapolis Teaching Fellows and Teacher For America are presently teaching in a dozen or more schools in the district. The majority of us take positions at schools with the highest teacher turnover rates. Our schools have the high suspension rates, chronic absenteeism, and the lowest test scores. Of those schools I am a Special Education teacher at Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48 a Transformation Zone school. Community members may not be aware a TZ school is on a school-wide improvement plan and is tasked to complete certain standardized measures and growth goals. District-wide individual teachers are also given yearly reviews reflecting performance in IPS Danielson Teacher Effectiveness Rubric in addition to the measures. Included in your folder today is a print out of my finalization worksheet for the 2017-18 school year. I was rated effective on my own merits. When my score was calculated in conjunction with the school-wide expectations I missed the effective bracket by a margin of 14 hundredths of a point. IEA does not proactively consider that all teachers who show up to do what’s best for students should be included in the salary bump. IEA does not proactively educate new teachers on how to read the Standards for Success data or create professional development opportunities to bolster skills.
We, as teaching fellows with ITF or TFA and AmeriCorps members, chose to invest professionally in urban schools so all students have access to high quality teachers and research-based interventions. All fellows and corp members buy in and commit personally to 1-3 years of service to impact our community in Indianapolis. ITF Alumni Brent Freeman said, “[IPS] is an environment conducive to new ideas and open to new talent, with lots of brilliant minds coming together to solve educational equity problems.” IEA is not cultivating our brilliant minds or providing wraparound service for our adaptable, gritty, resilient non-traditional teachers.
Across IPS we, the teachers, are providing services for wounded students. Where is the support for the wounded teacher? ITS plans to provide wraparound support for the wounded teacher. The teachers like me who experience secondary trauma in service to our students. Non-traditional teachers are on a mission to end the injustice of education inequality by providing excellent teachers to students who need them most (Indianapolis Teaching Fellows). Non-traditional teachers see the challenges in our classrooms as an opportunity to think expansively about solutions (Teach for America). ITSmyIPS so teachers can have a bank of mental health days. ITSmyIPS because teachers should be rewarded for taking on the neighborhood school positions not punished. ITSmyIPS because we could have better health insurance working for Starbucks.
ITSmyIPS. Collectively teaching fellows make up a diverse network of leaders committed to ending educational inequity(ITF, TNTP, TFA). It’s my IPS. We will be the change-makers all stakeholders need, so we can be the teachers our students deserve.