Letter: Egregious teacher churning at Scotland

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my alarm about recent actions taken by Scotland Elementary School Principal Joanna Genovese. Last week, I learned that six elementary teachers are being moved from their current grade levels to new grade levels against their wishes. In addition, there will be one entirely new teacher hired and three long-term substitutes.

Effectively, there will be 10 teachers in new positions for 2018-19 at Scotland, or 55% of the classroom teachers in the school! This unnecessary teacher churning is disruptive to the entire school community.

There has been no information shared regarding how this action will benefit student learning. In fact, recently, a study showed that switching a teacher to a new grade resulted in 42 to 50 fewer days of learning in the first year of the switch. Additionally, the practice of teacher churning hurts teacher retention.

During the recent town budget discussions, it was clear that Ridgefield spends less per student as compared to similar school districts, and yet we continue to have high-ranking schools. The many accolades for our schools come solely on the backs of our excellent teachers. We cannot afford to allow practices in our schools that could cause high-quality teachers to exit our system and make it more difficult to attract new teachers.

Given the large number of teacher grade-switches, Scotland-parent overwhelming disagreement with Joanna Genovese’s choices, and the high risk of probable negative outcomes based on published studies, I am asking the Board of Education to require an explanation for the need for each of these teacher moves.

While school principals do need to have discretion over their staffing needs, when there is an indication that unnecessary teacher churning is being employed to an egregious degree, there must be some oversight and accountability.

Rayda Krell

Wooster Heights Drive, May 21