I have been inundated recently with emails from the Shenandoah County school superintendent telling me what superior work the division's employees are doing. The emails often cited some award that the division or an employee received. Unfortunately, a lot of those awards were from organizations with ties to school or teacher organizations.
The only award or measurement with any real value is the annual Virginia Department of Education Report Card for Shenandoah County schools. The report card shows worsening results in almost every category of student performance from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013. SOL test score results show a drop of at least 10 points in all categories but one during the same period.
The Shenandoah County Education Association says our public schools should provide a vital role in strengthening our community. I agree. Based on information the state is providing, our schools are not currently fulfilling that role. Therefore, I don't believe school instructional administrators and employees deserve rewards until these disturbing performance measurements are improved.
In an act of self-indulgence, these administrators and employees are asking us to give them a raise by increasing the tax burden of their neighbors during an economic period when few can afford the increase. Worse, they hide their request behind the timeworn mantra, "it's for the kids." It's not for the kids. It's for increases of salaries and benefits. Very little is for improving educational tools or methods. Go to a School Board meeting and observe how much time is spent discussing quality of education. Again, very little. If you don't have time to attend, look through the minutes of the meetings.
I have always felt that our military, police, firefighters and teachers are not paid in an amount comparable to their contribution to society. But our school administrators and teachers are paid a comparable amount to those in neighboring communities. At this time we can't afford to give them a raise, and frankly, based on their report card, they don't deserve one. It's unfortunate the School Board doesn't have the courage to tell them so. Hopefully, the Board of Supervisors will.
Fred Hughes, Woodstock