Today, the Union Leader reported through the anonymous whistleblowing of public school teachers that Manchester public schools don’t have enough math textbooks or workbooks for students. The story revealed that Manchester hasn’t had an elementary math curriculum in the city for three years, and teachers are defaulting to old, out-of-date textbooks. Teachers are being forced to reach into their own pockets to pay for school materials. As Chairman of the School Board, Mayor Gatsas has direct oversight of the school district and is not addressing critical issues in our schools that directly impact student success.
From the Mark Hayward at the Union Leader:
When Manchester schools started earlier this month, it marked the third year without a common, district-wide program for teaching mathematics in elementary schools, a situation that is drawing criticism from school officials, teachers and parents.
Critics, some who asked to speak anonymously for fear of reprisal from fellow teachers, say children in the city’s 14 elementary schools don’t get the same textbook or workbook — or even any book — that provides the tangible, step-by-step continuity that is helpful to mathematics instruction.
Without a district-wide curriculum, teachers cobble together lessons from various sources, meaning no conformity for lesson plans and teaching material in the district.
…Teachers use math workbooks left over from previous years, the teacher wrote.
They also download material from websites such as teacherspayteachers at their own expense (one 3rd-grade workbook bundle goes for $72). Lesson plans cost less for individual topics. For example, a lesson plan about sums costs $7. The district provides some materials.
…At another elementary school, a veteran teacher said teachers collaborate, but it comes down to whatever a teacher decides is best for her class. The teacher did not want her school or name published, fearing repercussions. Manchester students come from such diverse backgrounds, she said, that she’s not sure one curriculum would work for all.
“I wish we did have some kind of a book or program we all could use,” she said, “but on the other hand, I don’t know what it would be.”
She uses the teacherspayteachers website for some lessons. Her school, she said, has an active parent-teacher group that provides stipends that cover the lesson. Other schools don’t.
“There are a lot of teachers buying a lot of things,” she said. She said teachers also use their own printers at home to print out the lessons.
A teacher of more than 20 years, she relies on her experience.
“You’re pulling pieces of what you used to use, a game, a book,” she said. “For a new teacher, I don’t know what they’re doing.”
After the article published, Manchester Mayoral candidate, Joyce Craig issued this statement:
“As Chairman of the School Board, Mayor Gatsas is failing our students with his mismanagement of resources and lack of oversight of the school district. Textbooks and curriculums are a basic necessity for a quality education. Mayor Gatsas lets problems go unaddressed and shows he is not focused on leading discussions to improve student achievement.
My 13-year-old daughter is learning algebra, but she doesn’t even have an algebra textbook. There are hundreds of kids with the same problem. We can and must do better, and we can’t let Mayor Gatsas continue to shortchange our children’s education. We need fresh leadership that takes a proactive approach to solving our city’s problems and our families can’t afford more of Mayor Gatsas’ inaction.
My vision of Manchester is one where students and teachers have the resources they need to learn and succeed. As mayor, I will set goals and review results with the school board and community on a regular basis to ensure we are focused on improving student achievement.”
Joyce Craig will face off against Manchester’s current Mayor, Ted Gatsas, in the citywide elections on Nov. 7th.