The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

I’m Back Again and Happy to Be Here

on February 13, 2019

How sweet it feels to put my fingers on my computer and speak to all of you again. Over the past month I was busy visiting members of my family living in different parts of the country.  Most of the places were pleasant and interesting.  The only bad situation I found  was the mistreatment of teachers in one part of Florida, reported in the Palm Beach Post on January 27th of this year.

What caught my eye as I opened the local newspaper where I was visiting, was a front page article with the headline: “In Poor Schools, Smaller Pay Raises.” Since I didn’t understand what that meant, I read the article immediately.  It reported that school principals were required to rate the quality of all teachers’ performance at the end of each school year, and that such ratings determined the amount of their salaries for the following year.

At most of the schools teachers’ ratings the next year were mixed, giving the impression that their skills and efforts were also mixed. But at one high poverty school the principal gave all his teachers zero ratings, which was unheard of before.  Now the article let everyone know. All zero rated teachers would be paid lower wages over the following school year–even if they moved to a different school–while teachers more highly rated would do much better wherever they went.

What I read made me furious, and immediately I wrote a letter to the editor. How could a principal make such a cruel decision for his entire staff knowing it would go public and destroy their careers?  Although my letter got a favorable response from the newspaper, it chose not to use it, instead posting only one much milder letter from a local person. Still, I can’t resist giving you my remembered version of what I wrote. Here it is below:

As a successful teacher for several years; then a principal of two schools, and later someone selected by the state of Wisconsin as “Principal of the Year”, I was deeply dismayed by the poor ratings of teachers at a high poverty school in your city.  If those teachers were really as bad as the principal rated them, he should have provided assistance for all of them early during the school year or dismissed them midyear as hopeless. By rating them as failures at the end of the year, he  achieved nothing more than disgracing himself along with his school. A principal’s job is to help teachers become the best they can be, to enjoy their job and care about everyone in it–even if they have to endure a block-headed principal.

Finally, I can’t help being glad that no other place I know of has such cruel and foolish practices. I strongly wish that the school system in Palm Beach County grows up and behaves like real professionals and wise educators.

8 responses to “I’m Back Again and Happy to Be Here

  1. Welcome back! So good to have you writing again. Having spent a majority of my teaching time in Title 1 buildings as both teacher and staff developer, I know for certain that with the proper support (inservice work and materials) teachers in such buildings can do amazing things. It is sad the principal in this building failed to realize that. I am glad that in your building(s) the teachers got the leadership and support they deserved. Equally happy that the state of Wisconsin recognized that. Thanks for all you’ve done and all you’re doing to promote literacy. We need more folks like you in the field! Dr. Sam from St. Louis.


    • writerjoney says:

      It’s really good to hear from you, but I’d also like to talk to you about your present work and persuade you to write something for my blog.


      • Sam Bommarito says:

        That will take no persuading at all. I’d be truly honored. Will e-mail you. Timing couldn’t be better. A major piece is coming out tomorrow. It’s not mine, but at least I was the editor. More about that when I write you; And again welcome back!


      • Sam Bommarito says:

        It would be an honor. Emailing you now. Major piece comes out tomorrow morning. Not mine but I was the editor. You’ll hear all about it in a minute. Again, glad you are back


  2. So happy that your back!!! Having spent most of my teaching career in TItle one buildings as a teacher of staff developer I know that with the proper support teachers in such buildings can do amazing things. It is said this principal failed to give that support. I am happy to see that in your time as principal you did provide support and at a level that merited the award from the state of WIsconsin. Well done! Today we need more folks like you. Thanks for all you’ve done and all your are doing to promote literacy in our country today. Dr. Sam from St. Louis


  3. K. Wilmore says:

    Hi, Ms. Yatvin. I’m a senior editor in Scholastic’s Classroom Magazines Group, and I’m looking for a way to contact you to ask if you would be interested in writing a short opinion piece for one of our magazines. (Topic: whether kids should be able to choose books they read for school.) I’m not able to find contact info for you, though. If you’re interested, would you please email me? (Today’s date is 2/21/19). THANK YOU!


  4. Frankey Jones says:

    This reader is very happy you’re back! Missed you and your sensibilities!


  5. Helen says:

    Well stated and so true!


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