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Our View: Support teachers

Students need in-person instruction; say no to single-issue board candidates

Teachers nationwide are under fierce pressure this fall as they work to help their students recover from an unproductive previous school year, stay alert to the possible arrival of the virus which would disrupt the all-important in-person learning – and impact their own health – and defend against the shouting that mask-wearing and critical race theory critics has produced.

One state education leader has said, right now no matter what a teacher does it’s considered villainous. That is not a mood that anyone wants to be a part of.

Providing the foundations for student success and reaching necessary student outcomes are all-important. This is no time to elect single-issue candidates to a school board.

Experience especially favors board incumbents, and newcomers have to appreciate the importance of group dynamics and creating and supporting shared directions. Delivering education is a complex undertaking. Choose talented administrators and then give them room. Do not meddle.

Even in the best of times in rural areas there are too few teachers, and in both rural and urban environments, turnover is high. Almost 50% of teachers drop out after five years. For whatever reasons teaching turned out to be a career that did not fit.

No one wants the percentages to be even higher after this school year because of forces beyond an individual’s control. And we certainly do not want to lose longer term, more experienced teachers.

Students were rightly passed along to the next grade at the end of last year’s schooling. They should not have been labeled as failing during that chaotic year. And because of the obstacles associated with online learning, in some schools there were no grades, and no testing. Right now, in October, teachers are discovering where and how deep the gaps are and considering how to fill them. For many students what is missing, and needed, is very different.

Substitutes to fill in for emergencies? Statewide, there aren’t enough of them. Thus teachers can find themselves filling in for others in addition to completing their regular day. There goes the one planning period that might be applied to catch-up lessons.

Masks reduce the chance of catching or spreading the virus, and when an in-person learning environment is critical, as it is, masks are needed. But teaching through a mask, and learning through a mask, has its challenges.

Teachers may not be accosted personally about masks, or the teaching of critical race theory, but they know their school board members are, and that the language in those meetings can be heated. It is uncomfortable to be in that environment, even indirectly.

This fall and winter, defend a teacher and add a compliment. Colorado and the country need them. And say no to single-issue candidates for a school board.