Schools look to re­tain teach­ers, draw re­cruits

Com­mu­nity mem­bers speak out against trans­gen­der bath­room us­age

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Charles County Pub­lic Schools is mov­ing to­wards a year-round teacher re­cruit­ment cy­cle as it seeks to re­place ap­prox­i­mately 15 per­cent of its teach­ing staff an­nu­ally.

Pamela Mur­phy, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources, said the school sys­tem hired 194 new teach­ers for the 2016-17 school year, but still has 23 va­can­cies that are be­ing filled by long-term sub­sti­tute teach­ers.

Mur­phy gave a re­port on teacher re­cruit­ment ef­forts dur­ing the board of ed­u­ca­tion’s Oct. 18 meet­ing, stat­ing that the hu­man re­sources depart­ment screened more than 1,400

ap­pli­ca­tions for teach­ing po­si­tions — the ma­jor­ity of which were from un­qual­i­fied in­di­vid­u­als.

Ap­prox­i­mately 45 per­cent of the new hires grad­u­ated from a col­lege in Mary­land. Twenty new hires, or roughly 10 per­cent, were alumni of Charles County Pub­lic Schools, Mur­phy said.

The school sys­tem hired 67 teach­ers of color, only 28 per­cent of whom were from an his­tor­i­cally black col­lege or univer­sity, or HBCU.

“Over­all, we are see­ing a de­crease in the num­bers of teach­ers we are hir­ing from HBCUs and that’s just be­cause the num­bers just aren’t there,” Mur­phy said.

The ma­jor­ity of new teach­ers (56 per­cent) were re­cent col­lege grad­u­ates. Mur­phy said the hu­man re­sources depart­ment is look­ing into reach­ing out to more schools in other mar­kets, look­ing into hir­ing teach­ers from U.S. ter­ri­to­ries, ex­pand­ing its ef­forts year-round to re­cruit teach­ers, tar­get­ing win­ter grad­u­ates and cre­at­ing fo­cus groups to get feed­back on how to bet­ter keep teach­ers in the sys­tem.

The top rea­son teach­ers leave Charles County is to move out of state, Mur­phy said, of­ten to re­lo­cate closer to fam­ily.

Ear­lier in the meet­ing, Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Amy Holl­stein up­dated the board on teacher men­tor­ing. The board pro­vided ad­di­tional fund­ing for teacher men­tor­ing last year, al­low­ing the school sys­tem to ex­pand its men­tor­ing pro­gram with two new ini­tia­tives, Holl­stein said.

“We asked [prin­ci­pals] to bring us ideas of what else can we can do,” Holl­stein said. “And they came up with some great ideas, some things we can im­ple­ment in the fu­ture, and some things we can im­ple­ment now.”

Holl­stein said one of the ini­tia­tives is the de­vel­op­ment of a process whereby new teach­ers can go to an­other school to ob­serve more ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers, and those teach­ers can come and ob­serve and work with the new in­struc­tor.

An­other ini­tia­tive is pro­vid­ing a stipend to sup­port ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers work­ing and col­lab­o­rat­ing with new teach­ers af­ter school.

Trans­gen­der bath­rooms re­main a topic of com­ments

More than 60 peo­ple at­tended the pub­lic comment phase of the meet­ing. Sev­en­teen par­ents, stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers spoke on the is­sue of trans­gen­der stu­dents be­ing al­lowed to use bath­rooms and locker rooms cor­re­spond­ing with their gen­der iden­tity.

Last month, school sys­tem of­fi­cials said that 15 of the school sys­tem’s ap­prox­i­mately 26,000 stu­dents iden­ti­fied them­selves to school ad­min­is­tra­tors as trans­gen­der or gen­der non­con­form­ing, and of those, only three had re­quested use of school fa­cil­i­ties that con­form with their gen­der iden­tity.

Charles County res­i­dent Eu­gene Kirscht of La Plata said that an on­line pe­ti­tion op­posed to the pol­icy has gath­ered more than 2,000 sig­na­tures.

“As more peo­ple be­come aware of the pe­ti­tion, the num­ber will con­tinue to grow to the point where you have to re­peal it,” Kirscht said.

James Am­mons of In­dian Head said al­low­ing trans­gen­der stu­dents to use the fa­cil­i­ties match­ing their gen­der iden­tity was “open­ing a Pan­dora’s box.”

“I think that cooler heads should pre­vail, I think we should look at this ob­jec­tively, we should look at this hon­estly, and the needs of the many def­i­nitely out­weigh the needs of the few, the 10 or the 20, or the one,” Am­mons said, a ref­er­ence to “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Erin Fawls, a stu­dent at Pic­cow­axen Mid­dle School, said the pol­icy has made her un­com­fort­able us­ing the girls’ bath­room at school.

“My friends and I are afraid to use the bath­room be­cause there could be a boy in it,” Erin said.

Her fa­ther, Chris Fawls, said he be­lieved the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion guid­ance is­sued last spring iden­ti­fy­ing gen­der iden­tity as pro­tected un­der Ti­tle IX is in er­ror.

“I se­ri­ously be­lieve that the fed­eral guid­ance will open the door to sex­ual as­sault,” Fawls said.

Chris Ogne, pas­tor of the Lutheran Church of Our Sav­ior in Bryans Road, noted that this is the fourth school board meet­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers have come to speak out against the pol­icy.

“The whole com­mu­nity is against this,” Ogne said to the board. “What I’m ask­ing is that the board in­struct [Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim] Hill to change the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this pol­icy. You can do this.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.