Parent and taxpayer response

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Poster Child For C.18A:27-10.1 to 18A:27-10.4

Meet A Poster Child for AN ACT concerning certain teaching paraprofessionals C.18A:27-10.1 to  18A:27-10.4

My name is Sharon Vanterpool. I have been a paraprofessional for over 25 years.
I can still remember the first day I walked into Roosevelt School as a substitute paraprofessional. The class was a sixth grade self contained class. Kathy Rimmer was the teacher. I worked in Roosevelt School and eventually was offered the job as fulltime paraprofessional. I stayed at Roosevelt School until it closed. I was transferred to Lincoln School. At this time, I only had a high school diploma. I worked in a first grade classroom with Maria Meeks. I thoroughly enjoyed working with children. I decided to attend Bergen Community College to further my education. I went to school at night and graduated with an Associate’s Degree. My thirst for education was still unfulfilled,
I was assigned to work at Dwight Morrow High School in 1992, because I was the only paraprofessional in the district who had an Associate’s Degree. While working at Dwight Morrow, I decided to go back to college. I enrolled in New Jersey City University. I had to take three buses to get to NJCU, but I knew I wanted to become a teacher. I graduated from New Jersey City University with a BA and the honor of Cum Laude. I really worked hard for this achievement.
While working at the High School with students with disabilities I decided to go back to New Jersey City University to obtain a Masters of Art in Teaching with certifications in Early Childhood Education Pre K through 3rd grade and teacher of Students with disabilities.  MAT ECE/SPEC. On May 16, 2012, I graduated with my Masters and dual certification. 

Sharon Vanterpool is now a full fledged teacher with a Master's Degree. She has a standard NJ state certification. She is far more qualified and experienced than the novice teachers that have been hired since the position of paraprofessional was abolished in the Englewood Public School District.

It is not clear why the paraprofessionals were dismissed. 31 of these former employees were actually given promises of employment by the school district. Yes, they had written promises of employment when the position was abolished on July 31, 2012. Law mandates that teachers, paraprofessionals and other employees be given written notification that promises them a job or that dismisses them. They were not dismissed prior to May 15. They were hired in writing. Then they were fired by way of jobs being abolished on July 31, 2012. It appears to me that these 31 employees were still employed and should have reported to work on September 6. There were orders left to escort any of them off school grounds if they showed up for work.

During over 4 months of marching and speeches, the NJEA never mentioned the fact that these employees had been promised employment, in writing. This fact was also not important to the writers employed by the monopolized press. Why? Is it because the truth reveals the true nature of the Board and Dr. Carlisle? Does it also demonstrate that union leaders are lacking compassion,  wisdom, and the overwhelming need to know the truth or stand for what is right?

A great deal of lip service has been given to this ever widening "achievement gap" that exists in education. Part of this gap is created by the increasing number of special needs children returning to school districts. Many are now being mainstreamed.
As the law states, the need for paraprofessionals in the classroom is greater than ever before. The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards have been dumbed down to Common Core State Standards. More than ever, teachers are expected to teach to the test. In a time when teacher performance will be tied to student achievement, one would think that teachers would understand that paraprofessionals are a large part of their support system. Most importantly, without the paraprofessional the lowest performers and most vulnerable students have no consistent support.

While the state and federal governments play their games and get school districts all caught up in their "race to the top" so they may claim millions, the achievement gap is fast becoming a grand canyon. Teachers, principals, superintendentsguidance counselors and students have already been caught cheating and fixing test scores. Did the originators of this "race to the top fund" actually consider all of the variables. 

It seems quite contrary that on one hand the race is to the top and on the other hand the complaint is about an achievement GAP. Isn't the race to the top creating a grand canyon of a GAP? In a perfect world, where everyone is honest, it will be a great idea.