HFT President Carol Gale wrote to the Harford Board of Education about the many concerns expressed by HFT members regarding LincSpring. She also spoke to the board directly. Here is her letter:
Dear members of the Hartford Board of Education,
I feel compelled to write you after having witnessed last night’s Board of Education meeting. Of concern is the amount of services HPS is contracting out. As a Hartford resident, a long time teacher, and current president of the HFT, I question whether these are efficient uses of our tax dollars. Furthermore, I find that all your information comes from Central Office staff who do not work in schools or classrooms. Do you ever ask teachers or paras for direct feedback when questioning such expenditures?
The Lincspring program is still required of teachers and paraprofessionals. As Ms. Browdy indicated, the staff required to use this program do not find it efficient or necessarily effective. It is time-consuming and often feels like busywork. The biggest criticism is that every module requires three steps, one of which is the “application” of new learning. However, the only way to produce an “application” of a teaching strategy in a digital learning platform is to complete busywork. The true application is in the classroom. Many Lincspring videos can be found on Youtube. It was one thing to employ this product in an emergency, but when we employ instructional coaches, school administrators, and multiple levels of “support” in Central Office, we should be able to support our staff with professional learning in house.
Secondly, I must push back on the district’s use of Hartford Performs in place of a comprehensive music and arts program. Hartford Performs, though it may be in every school, does not provide every student a music and art curriculum. It enhances classrooms by incorporating the arts- and it is a wonderful enhancement at that. So though I support Hartford Performs as supplemental, I am dismayed that not one art or music teacher is being added to the district with ESSER funds, nor will the majority of our schools provide both an art and music teacher to our students again this year. That is an opportunity gap that continues to cause our students to lag behind their suburban counterparts and should no longer be acceptable to you as members of the board.
The more money you approve in contract services, the less money that goes directly into our schools where it is most needed. Central Office already comprises one third of our overall district budget, yet ESSER funds disproportionately adds 78 non-classroom/administrative positions and only 111 teacher/social worker positions that directly work with students. It was aptly expressed last night that the greatest impact on student learning is from teachers and principals. Why then aren’t we focusing on them?
Please incorporate the classroom perspective into your decisions. If there is any way I can assist you in that endeavor, do not hesitate to ask.