Princeton Senior High School teacher Allen Kade was furious Tuesday.
When Mercer County students and teachers returned to school this year, members of the central office staff began matriculating into the schools to observe the teachers and provide feedback on their teaching methods. On Aug. 26, the observers found their way to Princeton Senior High School.
Kade said he found them to be disruptive, disrespectful and just plain rude that day.
“I ran into Joe Turner [Mercer County Schools Assistant Superintent] that day,” Kade told the Mercer County Board of Education Tuesday evening. “I was very rude. I apologize for the way I said what I said but not what I said.”
In the days following, the visitors appeared to have changed their attitude toward visiting the classroom. Still, Kade came to the Mercer County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening to voice his concerns.
“Teacher morale in Mercer County is at an all-time low,” Kade told the board.
He believed teachers were being forced to adopt teaching strategies designed to be unsuccessful and were being hamstrung by daily 120-minute requirements of math and reading. Kade said such regimented rules discourage students from being creative thinkers, because it leaves them extremely limited time for any creative studies.
Mercer County Board President Greg Prudich carries a list of policies from the state board of education with him during election campaigns to illustrate how little the Mercer County Board of Education controls. Also, board member Mary Alice Kaufman is a long-time champion of allowing teachers flexibility in the classroom.
Kade also alleged that the Mercer County Board of Education implements a bullying model of management when communicating with teachers. School administrators, he said, bully teachers because they were too insecure about their roles as administrators.
He alleged the problems start with Superintendent Dr. Deborah Akers.
“Teachers feel disenfranchised right now,” Kade added. He continued to say the renewal of Superintendent Akers' contract with a pay raise showed the board was divorced from teachers.
Teachers were asked last year, according to Kade, to buckle down on expenses. In his logic, that only applied to the “grunts” in the Mercer County Schools system.
Kade ended his time before the board by requesting a more respectful, communicative and open environment.
The teachers attending the meeting for moral support gave Kade a standing ovation as he finished his speech.
Prudich pledged the board would respond in the next meeting. Because the item wasn’t on the already published agenda, the board was unable to discuss it further.
Board member Paul Hodges ended the board meeting later by requesting the board discuss the item further possibly in executive session.
“I wouldn’t discuss [Kade’s concerns] in executive session,” Prudich replied. “We’ll discuss it next time in the public eye.”
The next meeting of the Mercer County Board of Education is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26.
— Contact Matt Christian at email@example.com.