Several teachers spoke out against the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) during the public comment section of the district’s Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, claiming that safety issues in the classroom are contributing to poor teacher retention.
DISD instructor Elizabeth Farris told the trustees that “denigration and disrespect” toward public school teachers are the “primary contributing factor[s] for the teacher shortage rampant across the country.”
Farris claimed that DISD is exhibiting that very culture of denigration and disrespect.
“It is reflected in policy, in the inequitable, unethical compensation system, in the absence of teacher’s voices and policy-making within the district,” Farris said. “We have teachers who are routinely facing classroom disruption, aggression, and violence without appropriate supportive solutions, which has led to teachers and students experiencing serious injury.”
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, a teaching assistant died following her assault by a DISD student with special needs. The deceased woman’s sons are currently suing the district for gross negligence, alleging the district knew the student was violent and had assaulted staff twice before the most recent attack.
Farris spoke the woman’s name, Sharla Sims. Members of the Alliance AFT teachers union stood up in solidarity, some with t-shirts representing the labor group.
Farris further claimed that money from the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), a state program designed to give districts money to disburse to high-performing teachers, was not being paid to teachers.
“This money has been stolen from the teachers, and it’s a continuing reflection of the culture of contempt, disregarding, and devaluing its teachers by the district board leadership,” Farris said.
The statewide union has been critical of TIA since its inception, even as it was advanced to shore up public school staffing in the wake of the ongoing teacher shortage.
In a meeting last December, desperate for instructors, the board approved agreements with Dallas College and the University of North Texas to allow undergraduates to work in schools as interns or residents, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Trustee Edwin Flores told The Dallas Express at the time that teacher turnover is normal, comparing DISD’s turnover favorably to other urban school districts.
Danielle Hernandez, who said she was a teacher at DISD for 10 years, said that while the teacher retention problem was a serious issue, there were also fundamental safety issues at the district, pointing out that teachers were given keys to buildings that do not work.
“What will happen if an active shooter or a school lockdown is in effect and we have to rush students to safety?” Hernandez asked the board.
Rena Honea, president of Alliance AFT, also spoke at the board meeting, reiterating some of the points that Farris made.
Honea said the teaching environment in many schools was that of “fear, anxiety, and constant stress.”
“Climate surveys are not accurate,” she said, referring to surveys meant to determine the quality of interactions in an institution such as a school. “Many school administrators tell their employees a negative survey result for the campus will result in a negative TIA score.”
Honea also complained that lesson plans were “out of control,” with teachers being told that they had to model plans that were sometimes 20 pages long.
“So why are these issues still prevalent? As long as the culture of fear mixed with minimal to no repercussions for administrators exist (sic), these problems are not going to change,” Hornea said.
The Dallas Express reached out to DISD for comment on the teachers’ allegations but did not receive a response by press time.
MY GOD, can you imagine any other industry where employees can DEMAND RESPECT, and DEMAND to be able to SET POLICY. These teachers are actually quite insane thinking that they control policy at all. They forget the basic “right to manage” buy management.
With regard to lesson plans, 50 years ago teachers made their lesson plans. Within three years they had all the plans for that grade complete and never had to do it again. Today, there is very little to plan as the districts use books and systems and are ordered to use them as designed.
Which are not helpful with students being 2 years behind, and STAAR is expecting 3rd graders to comprehend what they are reading, type short and extended responses and they still lack basic foundational skills, and in some areas without parental support.
She’s not lying about the TEI allotment. It was used to fund the raises for every teacher in DISD and funding of ACE schools. Or so I was told in an email after I inquired about my allotment that I worked hard for!
It’s a sad time working for DISD right now,the kids know they can do and say anything to us staff and the district will back them
What does it take to perform a full recall, reelect the entire board and fire all the administrators involve in all the abuse of authority? Begin there.