At the MUAE forum to discuss education for gifted and talented students, it was disturbing to hear one candidate, Maya Cole for Seat #5, talk about eliminating REACH as a way to trade money to keep Eastside schools open. I was bothered on many levels.
One; REACH was developed to provide one additional and desperately needed hour of planning time for elementary teachers. It is in this hour that teachers might differentiate curriculum or do hundreds of other necessary tasks to keep their classrooms going. This precious hour, one of about a total of five permitted during the work week, is a negotiated term or part of the Teacher Bargaining Agreement. Maya Cole is suggesting it be eliminated. If this were possible, simply by saying it —- is not a friendly gesture to teachers. This will not save money. A different method of providing for children during the negotiated hour of planning time would need to be developed. Claiming to know what would help teachers and then suggesting to take away their planning time is down right nasty. Elementary planning time is beyond necessary for teacher sanity and is is the very basic component of being a thoughtful and reflective teacher!
On a second level, this was a disturbing suggestion made at a forum where the main topic was gifted and talented education. The original intent of REACH, when developed in the early nineties, was to promote curiosity, creativity, problem solving, cooperative learning and about six other similar criteria. In many instances these key aspects of REACH have been lost, but I rather hear about returning to these ideals to promote the giftedness in every child than hear about eliminating the program entirely at a forum of this nature.
Respectfully submitted, Nan Youngerman
Veteran teacher, parent, Madison community member, member of Teacher Bargaining Committee, 1990 committee for Elementary Planning, 1990 Committee to Design REACH Program and WI Presidential Teacher of Excellence
I took the liberty of uploading one of Ms Youngerman’s publications (linked to her name) so all can see what teachers who are given the time and tools can accomplish.
Thomas J. Mertz