This morning, I finished my duties for 2008-2009 by taking a qualifying exam for MELA-O administrators. I have to wonder why I bothered….. the MELA-O qualifying test requires that I determine where a LEP student’s language acquisition lands when compared to Native English speakers of the same grade level. Here’s the catch: I am certified to teach grade 1-6, but 60 percent of the QMA exam was an assessment of 7th grade and up! As a teacher in a multi-lingual school district, I truly believe in the process of language acquisition and determining a student’s language leve is part of the process. However, it seems the process to become a QMA is destined to ensure that I will fail. I am expecting to have to take a retest in order to qualify, but it seems unfair that the original qualifying test is so skewed to grade levels that I am not certified to teach and never will teach.
The local school committee recently finished what can only be described a draconian cuts. At one point in the budget process, there was a need to cut over $9 million dollars. An entire middle school will close this year. Teachers and students ended their year with trepidation about the future. But not just the teachers in the school which has closed — the “bumping” process has impacted nearly every school in Lowell as teachers who had not yet received professional status found themselves at risk for displacement. Add to job insecurity from a closed school the ritual of pink slips that must go out by June 15 when the budget is uncertain, the agenda of the local daily newspaper in portraying any spending on schools or teachers as a waste of money, makes for morale in the hopper.
The energy has been sucked dry.