Wash Co School Board candidate pens fictional letter to the editor

By Ryan Miner 

13876192_872127869588104_1344911454555044990_n

Last Monday, Washington County School Board candidate Linda Murray, a fierce proponent of Common Core State Standards, wrote a fictional letter to the editor, inferring that Washington County public school teachers and paraprofessionals are disrespected by their respective administrators. Alarmingly, that wasn’t even Murray’s most eye-catching, indecorous claim.

She went on to write,

Teachers barely have time during the workday to use the restroom or run copies. Some of their planning time is already designated for meetings with lead teachers, corresponding with parents and discussions with administrators.

Murray’s contention that teachers “barely have time during the workday to use the restroom or run copies” is unbearably false. Having been a substitute teacher in Washington County Public Schools – a job that I loved doing while in between college and careers – I can personally attest that Murray’s claim is unembellished balderdash. Teachers – God bless them – are some of the hardest working and most passionate people I have ever met. They deserve our respect for the work that they do; their devotion to our education system is unmatched.

But Murray’s nonsensical claim is nothing more than pandering to the lowest common denominator in her bid for the School Board. Murray is inextricably linked with the Mike Guessford, Karen Harshman, Melissa Williams and Dottie Gruhler cabal – the inveterate naysayers who spend their every waking moment blaming anything and everything on school administrators, Clayton Wilcox and the School Board majority.

After Murray’s letter was printed in the Herald-Mail, I decided to fact check her. That same day, I contacted Richard Wright, Washington County Public School’s scrupulous public information officer, to find out if any of Murray’s public claims in her letter had any veracity.

Below are the questions I emailed Wright; his responses are written verbatim in italics.

1) Are teaching professionals treated with respect in Washington County Public Schools? 

Wright:

 Yes, all employees are respected for their contributions to students and families in Washington County.

2) Do teachers, as Mrs. Murray suggested in her letter, have time — during the workday —- to use the restroom and run copies? 

Wright:

Yes, all employees are provided time and coverage to take care of necessary personal and work related tasks.

3) How much of a teacher’s planning time is consumed by meetings with lead teachers? 

Wright:

Planning time is outlined in Article 7.15 of the Negotiated Agreement. http://wcpshr.com/sites/wcpshr.com/files/documents/2014-2017%20Revised%20Teachers%20Agreement.pdf

4) How much of a teacher’s planning time is consumed by meeting with administrators? 

Wright:

Planning time is outlined in Article 7.15 of the Negotiated Agreement. http://wcpshr.com/sites/wcpshr.com/files/documents/2014-2017%20Revised%20Teachers%20Agreement.pdf

5) Are paraprofessionals who work in Washington County Public Schools allotted time for lunch, restroom breaks and copy runs?  

Wright:

Yes, all employees are provided time and coverage to take care of necessary personal and work related tasks

If you are interested in reading Murray’s letter to the editor in its entirety, click here.

I simply cannot understand why Murray and others like her prop up a false dichotomy for political reasons – a disjunction that doesn’t exist. Or, perhaps, I understand all-to-well her motivations.

Teachers, by every verifiable account, have, as Murphy falsely disputes, “self-directed planning time.” Don’t take my word for it; ask any Washington County school administrator to give you an unvarnished run-down of teacher planning time. Be sure to ask as many administrators as possible. You can find out the facts, and then you’ll understand exactly why Murray’s letter is bunk.

Teachers are surely provided an equitable and fair amount of time to plan their lessons while also meeting with lead teachers and administrators.  If a problem truly existed, as Murray wants you to believe, this issue would have already been hoisted into the public sphere and discussed ad nauseam, without restraint.

Murray concluded here letter with this:

We should stop micromanaging every minute of a teacher’s day and let them get back to the business of educating our children.

Mrs. Murray should stop playing election politics and start telling the truth about Washington County Public Schools. Teachers are undoubtedly treated with respect and dignity. Is it any wonder why Washington Couty Public Schools is consistently voted the best place to work in Washington County? Is it any wonder why a significant fraction of teachers from out of state come to Washington County to teach in its public schools? Teachers are given every possible tool and device they need to succeed as educators in Washington County Public Schools. And teachers are always provided with adequate time to plan their lessons.

It’s not hard to figure out Murray’s political strategy; she’s taking cues from the same worn-out playbook as Karen Harshman, Stan Stouffer, Mike Guessford and Melissa Williams use over and over again: claim with robust rigor that teachers are disrespected by administrators; worship at the altar of the Washington County Teachers’ Association; attempt to drive a public wedge between administrators and educators; and work swiftly to convince the public that teachers aren’t being paid their worth.

That strategy may have worked in the past, but it’s not going to work this time. You can fool some people, Mrs. Murray, but you can’t fool me.