YORK — Teachers, district administrators and state legislators tackled education issues ranging from the need for preschool programs to teacher pay for performance during a Monday session hosted by the York Teacher Forum.
Diane Brown, York’s 2012 district Teacher of the Year, said the teacher group planned the session to “promote dialogue” between local educators, administrators and state legislators.
The purpose “is not so much for us to find answers to these questions as it us for each of us to share our perspective on these issues,” said Brown, an art teacher at Hunter Street Elementary.
The event was attended by about 40 educators and state leaders — including Sens. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, and Creighton Coleman, D-Winnsboro, and state Board of Education member John Rampey of Union. The York Teacher Forum is comprised of teachers of the year from each school.
Groups of teachers and district leaders discussed issues that included how to expand preschool education in the district; how to open lines of communication between educators and legislators; how to improve the funding discrepancy between traditional schools and charter schools; whether teacher pay should be based on performance; and how to deal with the effects of increasing student-teacher ratios that have resulted from declining funding.
Jennifer Sexton, a teacher at York Intermediate School, said her group discussed how to increase contact between teachers and legislators, such as inviting them to school events and hosting a webinar “where we can chat back and forth.”
Beverly Whitaker, a teacher at Cotton Belt Elementary, said ideas for expanding preschool education include community education programs that would help parents learn how to work with preschoolers, greater professional development for teachers and lower student-teacher ratios in classrooms.
Whitaker said preschool education is crucial because, as the public school curriculum continues to become more challenging, “kindergarteners are needing to come into kindergarten with more than they’ve ever had before.”
La Toya Lowry, the 2011 district Teacher of the Year, said teachers hope the discussion on Monday began “to open up the lines of communication that are necessary” to enhance education.
Shirley Harris, chairman of the York school board, said she was glad to see the dialogue begun and hopes it will continue. “We can’t stop with just this,” she said, adding, “Let’s do something that will make it better for all of us.”