My whole life, I looked up to my Aunt Marie. For as long as I can remember she has taught second grade in Connecticut. As a child I also envied the way her students looked at her as more than just a teacher. She always came home with cards and gifts, from both parents and students, praising her for being a great influence on her students and a great role model. She is my inspiration to become a teacher, and she is why I am now in Quinnipiac University’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program.
As I prepare myself for a future in teaching, I have been examining the education landscape in Connecticut. The proposals laid out in the original version of S.B. 24 gave me hope as a future teacher. I was particularly excited for the connection that the bill made between fair teacher evaluations and tenure. When I am teaching I want to know that I am doing a good job and that my students are getting a good education when they leave my classroom. How can I do this if I am not being evaluated? The evaluation process should be an incentive for teachers to do the best that they can, and great teachers will be able to use the information from evaluations to constantly improve how they teach. I also believe this kind of feedback and advancement system will help make teaching a more attractive and competitive profession than it currently is, and will encourage more people who love teaching to get into it.
Unfortunately, the Education Committee significantly changed the original version of S.B. 24 and brought us back nearly to where we are today. The version from the Committee does not bring about these changes with urgency, and lets down the children of Connecticut. The education field left in the wake of this bill is one that I do not want to join. This bill puts off real education reform and turns away high quality future teachers.
If the legislature is able to bring the bill back to where it started, teachers will be treated as professionals as they should be. Teachers like my Aunt Marie will be respected and appreciated much more as a result. It is teachers like her that parents should want in their children’s schools. She is also the type of person that future teachers strive to be. With the help of a strong bill that will bring about real reform, teachers will be able to know how successful they are and if they need improvements. With these improvements we can have more successful teachers and more successful students. I hope our leaders will do the right thing and bring back real education reform this year.
Jessica Joline is a junior at Quinnipiac University and a member of Students For Education Reform