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At the District 65 School Board’s Dec. 16 meeting, Paula Zelinski, president of the District Educator’s Council (DEC, the teachers union), read a statement to the Board about recent increases in teacher workload – particularly for teachers in kindergarten through fifth grades.

“Designing and implementing coherent classroom instruction on a daily basis is why most of us went into the teaching profession,” Ms. Zelinski said. “And yet it is made difficult to address when there are 1,001 tasks ahead of you and your planning time is taken up with meetings.

“As you know, I am a middle school math teacher and I’ve been visiting all the schools and listening to teachers. Their workload, particularly in grades K-5, appears to be quite overwhelming. So DEC has been asking them to send in recent things that have been added to their plates. Most of this stuff has started or expanded this year. And when I say ‘participate,’ it’s really not an option.”

Ms. Zelinski read off 16 tasks, such as “implementing new guidelines for writing portfolios,” “entering writing assessment data online,” “entering developmental reading assessment data online,” and “completing additional progress reports for special education students.”

She said DEC had recent conversations with the administration about the teacher workload. “And we are asking when people are thinking about what more teachers can be doing … those same people need to think about what can be edited or eliminated. Our teachers are hard workers who deserve praise for their willingness to embrace change. But their time needs and deserves greater consideration.”