2018-03-15 / Opinion


As Important as a Report Card

In the minds of many elementary school children, the day (or evening) a parent visits school for parent-teacher conferences is one of the school year’s anticipated fall events. Desks are cleaned, best work put out on display and bulletin boards freshened. Students may be excited and nervous at the same time about the meeting of their home caregivers with the person they spend the majority of their day with in school. During a short time-slot, the teacher gives attendees a quick overview of strengths and goals for the pupil’s year ahead.

To think that the fall parent/teacher conferences were postponed in Newport is unfortunate to say the least, regardless of what the circumstances were between the school administration and district with the teachers and their union.

Now, we fast-forward to March. With barely three months of the school year remaining, the conferences were in jeopardy of not happening.

Thankfully, the differences have been resolved well enough, but the strife this has caused leaves everyone wondering if we’re keeping the interests of the students at the top of the list. The results of these actions result only in hurting the students. The needs of our students should have been the top priority.

During a phone interview with NTW on March 11, prior to the two parties coming to an agreement, Jennifer Azevedo, the Teachers Association of Newport (TAN’s) attorney, who is also the assistant executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, told NTW that Newport teachers aren’t contractually obligated to hold conferences outside of normal school hours.

“Our opinion is that the school day is the school day,” Azevedo said, adding that teachers planned to work normal school-day hours from March 13-15. “I want to make it clear that we are not refusing to hold parent-teacher conferences,” she said. “If a parent says they are only available after the school day, it’s up to the teacher to decide if they want to do that, but they aren’t going to be directed to do that by the district.”

She went on to say that TAN has only agreed to hold conferences from 1-6 p.m. until the end of this school year. The topic will likely come up again during future negotiations for new-teacher contracts.

Let’s hope this scenario does not repeat itself. If it does, we should all get an “F” on our report cards.

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