Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teachers Complain about State Mandate; Reading Teachers Find the Training Requirements to Be Time and Money Consuming

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teachers Complain about State Mandate; Reading Teachers Find the Training Requirements to Be Time and Money Consuming

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

A group of Clay County reading teachers forced to complete as much as 600 hours of extra state-mandated training - at their own expense and with no additional salary compensation - pleaded with the School Board for relief.

One teacher said she was so frustrated that she planned to retire after 35 years in the profession.

"I am quite overwhelmed ... and angry," said Connie Hrisko, who retires in January. "I am feeling very betrayed by my lifelong career."

Eight teachers from Clay elementary, junior high and high schools addressed board members at a Nov. 21 meeting. Their complaints stem from the so-called reading endorsement created by the state Board of Education, which is a rider on a Florida teaching certificate that denotes a particular expertise in an instructional area.

The state board mandated that all Florida teachers of kindergarten through fifth grade who teach a reading class must have elementary certification, K-12 reading certification or a K-12 endorsement. Teachers of sixth through 12th grade who teach a reading class must have K-12 reading certification or the endorsement.

The rule applies to any educator who teaches reading, including those in exceptional education, dropout prevention and Title I programs, which target poverty or low-achieving students.

The mandate followed Gov. Jeb Bush's directive for all Florida students to be able to read on grade level or higher by 2012.

At the Clay meeting, reading teachers said the time and expense required for the 300-hour reading endorsement is unfair. Teachers who have English for Speakers of Other Languages students in their classes also have to take another 300 hours for ESOL certification, even if they have only one ESOL student.

In addition, teachers said some of the school district's methods of implementation were disrespectful.

The combined impact eats away at teachers' planning time and morale, adds stress to their personal lives and hinders new teacher recruitment, they said.

"I feel like a juggler with plates in the air," said teacher Lisa Powers. …

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