Dr. Holtz on: Attracting and Retaining Great Teachers

Empower Our Teachers

Wisconsin needs great teachers.  Unfortunately, many are leaving the profession due to behavioral issues and a negative culture, combined with an unnecessary increase in administrative burdens – all of which has developed under the current superintendent.

DPI has failed our teachers in the large urban areas by turning their back on the issues that stop our principals and administrators from taking back control of their buildings and making them a safe environment where children enjoy going to school.  A recent investigation report by Dan O’Donnell, of WISN radio in Milwaukee, reveals just how out of control some of our urban schools are – teachers are getting hit and threatened, and principals are not being allowed to suspend or expel the students, because of pressure from the federal government to keep suspensions and expulsions of minorities down.  It is time to take back control of our schools and make all of our schools a safe place for children, teachers, and parents.

I have the experience to turn this tragedy around.  By focusing on collaboration, I united a very diverse urban community in support of a school district that was facing sanctions for failing academically, had major safety and security concerns, major truancy issues, and a declining graduation rate. I forged strong collaborative partnerships with teachers, administrators, business leaders, law enforcement, religious leaders, and city leaders to return a positive and safe environment to a large urban school district that was having the same issues of students being out of control.  We were able to not only make it a safe environment for students and teachers alike, but we increased academic achievement because the kids could focus on education rather than worry about the violence.

DPI has failed our teachers by dumping so many administrative requirements on them that they are losing the time necessary to plan lessons and meet the needs of their students.  A guidance counselor regularly holds grief counseling sessions for children who have lost their parents through service to our country or personal tragedies told me that she was unable to run the sessions last year because she had to focus on the requirements associated with her evaluation.  This is a counselor has been very successful for the past 20+ years meeting the emotional needs of the students so they can succeed in the classroom; but, because of the DPI mandated evaluation system, she could not do that this year.

A recent informal poll of teachers across the state revealed that their biggest concern was all of the extra requirements that have been added over the past several years that steal time away from their kids in the classroom.  It was not ACT 10. It was not union issues. It was Educator Effectiveness and Teachscape both of which failed and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

No one can change the culture and climate of our school systems all on their own. Just as I did in all of the districts in which I have been a leader, I have a plan to collaborate with schools and teachers around the state to return safety, respect and control of the classroom to the teachers.