HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – For Huntsville City Schools, 2016 has been a school year jam-packed with change and controversy.
The new Code of Conduct compiled with a newly enforced desegregation order has put the system in an uncomfortable place with many vocal parents and students.
Pam Hill is a 4th grade teacher at J.E. Williams Elementary School who has turned in her resignation after 19 years in the Huntsville City School system.
Tuesday she opened up about why she is choosing to leave a job she has loved well before she intended to teach her last school year.
“I cannot treat the children this way anymore,” explained Hill. “I have too much integrity to teach a test day in and day out. If we aren’t testing the test, we’re teaching the test.”
It’s a fundamental issue Hill says has created a culture of fear within the system.
“There is so much intimidation among teachers right now that if their scores aren’t up you’ll get moved or fired or looked down upon. Even though we spend our nights and our weekends and our own money,” said Hill.
Huntsville City Schools are also merging into a paperless system. Textbooks are being removed from the classrooms for a digital platform.
“They told every teacher which room to go stack all their books in. We have 100 fourth graders at my school and there is going to be a set of 4th grade books downstairs,” explained Hill.
And for children with special needs, Hill says this technology can be a detriment when used as a primary teaching tool.
“You do not read the same way off of a laptop or an iPad that you read from a book,” said Hill.
Parents have voiced concern about the desegregation order and new Code of Conduct. From Hill’s perspective inside the classroom, “Yes, there are discipline problems and they are going to have to be worked out. But you have to let parents in, you have to listen to teachers and believe them. You have to find teachers that really care about students and not teaching to a test.”
For this teacher, she now believes her place is best outside the classroom.
“I don’t think we matter anymore,” stated Hill. “I will not stand and say I’m teaching them when I’m only preparing them for a test that may not matter in real life.”
The newly formed Huntsville Education Alliance (HEAL) held a community meeting Tuesday night at the Huntsville Public Library about these very issues.
There have been many meetings throughout the community to discuss school system concerns. It’s evident the community wants to work toward a better system that works best for students and teachers.