By Victor Skinner
BROWNSVILLE, Pa. – The truth hurts.
That’s a lesson teachers at the Brownsville Area School District learned this week when school board members explained their reasoning for rejecting a proposed contract with the local teachers union.
In a public meeting, school board Director Nena Kaminsky said she couldn’t vote in favor of the contract because “we have the highest paid teachers in Fayette County and we have the worst test scores in the state,” the Herald Standard reports.
In other words, the community isn’t getting its money’s worth and the board will not settle for that.
The comments sent the teachers union into a tizzy.
The Brownsville Education Association held rallies at two local elementary schools where dozens of teachers held signs reading “we deserve respect.” The rallies, union officials said, were prompted by Kaminsky’s comments, not the rejected contract.
“Yes, we do have some schools that are struggling, but we are working toward trying to improve the test scores,” union president Barbara Gera told the newspaper. “We don’t have the worst test scores in the state. We are very upset with the school board’s perception of teachers.”
“We are not outraged or disappointed; we are just hurt,” said high school teacher Brian Nicholson, a union negotiator.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Whether the district’s student test scores are technically the worst in the state, or close to it, is beside the point. It’s clear that students aren’t learning as well as they could and the school board should be commended for demanding higher standards.
Too often, school boards adopt a go-along to get-along mentality that does nothing to improve student instruction. In Brownsville, school officials made it clear that classroom performance matters.
The BEA would be wise to take the criticism to heart, work with the district to improve teaching techniques, and implement new methods to help students achieve their potential.
Then, with student test scores on the rise, they’ll be in a much better position to negotiate for the amount of money they believe they’re worth. But first they will have to demonstrate their value.
That’s the way it should be in every school district in the nation.