Guest Column: Teachers should be treated with respect

By Molly Phalen

Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals.

What happened on April 24 and 25 to hundreds of Rockford Public School teachers was anything but professional.

Many of our newest teachers applied for more than 50 jobs. Some were granted no interviews at all. Others had only a few interviews.

These teachers were forced to participate in what was called a job fair. In reality, what these teachers experienced looked and felt a lot more like speed dating.

There were just 20 total minutes for the teacher and the interviewer teams to meet and get to know each other.

Interview teams struggled to have a meaningful conversation with the teachers at the same time they were looking at a writing sample and thumbing through a portfolio that took hours to assemble. There was barely time for administrators to ask questions. Let alone allowing the teacher to ask any.

This was completely unprofessional.

The job fair was absolutely counter-productive to the goal of bringing together administrators and teachers who would make a great team for the students.

A real job fair isn’t anything like speed dating. It’s a professional experience in which there is time for deep conversation involving the applicant and an interview team. It’s important to take the time for both the teacher and the administrator to have that conversation. After all, their decision will impact the quality of education the students receive.

This so-called job fair was merely another smokescreen intended to obscure the fact that our school district is being mismanaged.

The students, the teachers and our community deserve better.

Molly Phalen is the president of the Rockford Education Association.

From the May 19-25, 2010 issue

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