The Lewiston School Committee and the teachers' union are the usual suspects in the failure of local public education. Quietly, perhaps surreptitiously, they are presently negotiating a two-year teachers' contract.
In Lewiston, approximately 50 percent of grade-school children fail to demonstrate proficiency in reading and mathematics. The actual numbers are 58 percent and 49 percent respectively.
Auburn’s numbers, with more favorable demographics, are 67 percent and 61 percent.
In Montgomery, Vt., a small community with demographics similar to Auburn’s, the numbers for my grandchild’s sixth-grade class are 96 percent for both subjects.
If our schools are to be improved, the teachers' contract has to be modified to benefit students.
Unfortunately, the demonstrated purpose of the teacher’s contract has been to incrementally improve employment conditions for teachers, while providing only lip service for students. Thus, teachers, with a coin-toss success rate, have a reduced work day of no more than 7 hours, further reduced by a 25-minute, duty-free lunch period; additionally, they have 15 days sick leave and five days bereavement leave per occurrence, for both family members and in-laws.
In the teachers' contract, the 182 (or less) teaching days are short and so are the careers; teachers, depending upon age, may retire in 10 or 25 years.
Thus, teachers are enviably employed and have a promising future; their students have neither.
And, when the usual suspects have quietly completed their negotiations, and again favored teachers, our schools, by this mutual agreement, will remain the same, or worse, for another two years.
Richard Sabine, Lewiston