INNOVATIVE TEACHERS
OF TEXAS
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR TEXAS TEACHERS, BY TEXAS TEACHERS
 
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EDITORIALS

ITT members are encouraged to submit editorials for possible publication.

Submissions need to be 1500 words or less.

Send your work for consideration to:  info@ittexas.org

  • January 11, 2022 8:49 AM | Kenneth Poppe (Administrator)

    (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). Microbiology was only a side expertise in my bachelor's degree program, but going into April of 2020, I could already see the coming medical whirlwind pushed by politicians and medical bureaucrats.  With the aid of the media, they were going to radically change the rules on how to deal with the rapidly moving infection curve common to other 21st Century viruses, which we typically endure, recover from, and then move on.  (Think SARS, Swine Flu, H1N1, West Nile, Zika, the regular “flu season,” etc.)  Remember those earliest days of the COVID pandemic?  I surely do.  When my wife and I heard our city was going into lockdown at midnight on 04/05/2020, we thought of escaping to the country in our RV, but we heard the state patrol was closing highway borders.  Then came the months of quarantined huddling in our houses, the emptying of food shelves, the stockpiling of toilet paper, and the closing of "unnecessary" buildings (e.g., churches) while only the "absolute" essentials remained open (e.g., liquor stores).  Meanwhile, schools basically shut their doors for the remaining spring of 2020, and only the most dedicated teachers and students gave any real effort toward the spotty futile attempts at remote instruction.

    When school resumed in the fall 2020, it was the panacea of proper N95 mask wearing and maintaining the “6-foot social distancing rule” ... or else!   The plexiglass industry boomed, as if a floating viral particle could not get around a single-plane barrier between desks and chairs.  Also, those silly face shields with (double?) masking supposedly offered “complete” protection - if others would just completely cover their faces as well.  And for teachers who had not quit?  Starting in August 2020, they spent the year writing TWO sets of daily lesson plans ... one for those in-building students to whom a muffled-speaking teacher words could not be understood, and another for those at-home students whose parents bought into the growing fear sweeping the nation.  (Imagine trying to teach dynamic lessons - especially for courses such as PE, music, and art - via a laptop.  Ridiculous.) Under the Trump administration, the “call through fall” was for personal compliance to reasonable hygiene procedures, as a vaccine was on the horizon for 2021.  Meanwhile, as the 2020 presidential election and 2021 inauguration came and went, the Democrat party kept calling for the most severe personal restrictions. 

    I was there in the public schools for all of 2020-2021, folks. I would characterize the year as a gargantuan administrator and teacher effort that produced minuscule learning, and the worst situation I have ever seen for student academic and social growth.  One reason is the teacher unions jumped with both feet into what had become the mass COVID hysteria of maximum separation.  That’s even though healthy adult teachers are far more in danger of dying on their drive to school than from the virus, and abnormal sicknesses and deaths among school age children are ... I won’t even say virtually nil, but in fact nonexistent.

    The vaccinations started to become available in early 2021, just as the Democrat party took power, and soon the talk of national mandates became daily language.  Since then, the mainstream news outlets constantly run stories that promote the call for vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, followed by booster, booster, booster, and the firestorm never seems to die down as the Delta and Omicron strains add new fuel to the blaze.  However, what you never hear are stories that mention the increasing body of evidence on side effects and adverse reactions to “the jab,” or that vaccinated people still spread the virus and develop infections, or that Big Pharma and government health agencies downplay many common inexpensive drugs proven to be very effective treatments, or that natural immunity afforded by one’s DNA or gained by exposure (thank you Omicronis superior to any vaccine immunity.  All throughout 2021 the US bureaucracy kept trying to convince the public that COVID was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” yet at the dawn of 2022, more people were realizing this narrative was patently false.  (I am especially offended that, as late as December 2021, the CDC was still running constant TV ads that urgently encourage parents to get their school children vaccinated.)  

    And how did 2021 end?  I will be straight here.  In 2020, President Biden campaigned on how, unlike his predecessor, he would lead a government that would stop the pandemic dead in its tracks.  Now after all the threats, reversals, criticisms of non-compliant state governors, and "goalpost moving,” he publicly said on 12/27/2021 that “There is no federal solution” ... listen here.  https://youtu.be/_veYmrxAjn8.  (And if you read Amazon’s currently #1 ranked book The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., you may also conclude our highest paid “public servant” may face well-deserved prosecution someday for crimes against humanity.)

    In the professional rearview mirror?  Having taught most high school science courses for decades, my knowledge about virology kept me from buying into the hysteria from the start.  Having also taught advanced high school math, it is not hard to spot the manipulation of statistics.  For example, when cases of the common flu during 2020-21 disappeared from the radar of clinics and hospitals ... who receive federal funds for every reported COVID diagnosis ... it is not hard to connect the dots.  In other walks of life, I also have seen in the rearview mirror: 1) Members of Congress exempt themselves and their families from vaccine mandates, 2) Drug companies exempt themselves from lawsuits for products having no long term testing, 3) The administration threaten vaccination mandates for citizens while unvaxed masses of illegals are allowed to pour across the border. 4) Half a million maskless motorcyclers spend ten days in very close proximity, resulting in no so called “super-spreader events” after returning home. 5) The NBA (with close economic ties to China) go heavily into “bubble quarantine” and masks on the bench, while unmasked players breathe on, spit on, sweat on, and bleed on the same basketball they all grab. 6 A respected future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who was totally asymptomatic being forced by the league to sit out a game - after trying every way he could to maintain his right to choose while not disappointing his teammates and fans.  (He was later interviewed from a "safe" six-foot distance by a female reporter ... who immediately bear-hugged him afterwards.). 7) Football stadiums at all levels being filled with thousands of unmasked fans shoulder to shoulder shouting down at unmasked players, while coaches sometimes make a pretense of wearing masks on the sidelines.  8) Americans being encouraged to cancel or greatly curtail holiday celebrations like July 4th and Thanksgiving, and told to limit attendance at birthday parties and even funerals.  Meanwhile packed crowds of unmasked rioters roam major cities destroying property, and aren’t even prevented from setting fires to cars, churches, police department headquarters, and federal buildings.  9) Large presidential birthday parties and gala Hollywood events being held where all are maskless except for the peons waiting on the elite. 10)  As of late, how masks now much more represent political identity than a need for protection.  (The ultimate in N95 masks still allows 5% of particles to get through, and now the sheep consider you in total compliance if your face diaper only consists of a thin piece of cloth bearing an animal face.). What have your eyes seen?

    In the personal rearview mirror?  Working around the excessive restrictions as best I could, my family and I lived our normal life of individual freedom and choice, which I know is antithetical to many politicians.  We shopped, traveled, held family gatherings, and went to church as normally as allowed, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wore a mask less than I did.  Was I ever sick?  A year ago I had two days of some odd aches that quickly left – corona? – and much later a typical head cold that lasted for a week - but nothing more.  How about my extended family?  We had zero severe COVID illnesses, and our worst "crisis" was to occasionally share news of deaths of other people we heard about.  However, in every case if COVID was suspected, it was someone very advanced in years or someone with severe comorbidities.  So I ask you, how many healthy people that you know well provably died from COVID?  I suspect like me, few to none.  And my life today?  Since the start of the 2021-22 school year it has generally returned to normal here in Texas, despite a few strange practices going on around me - like the guy on a motorcycle wearing a mask.  And just like a teacher friend of mine in Florida, we don't even stuff an "emergency mask" in our pocket anymore when we are out and about.  By comparison, what is your life like ... especially if you live in places like California or New York?

    Through the national windshield, what does 2022 look like?  First, expect people to realize that scares such as Omicron (with mild symptoms and a chance for full immunity) has caused as many deaths as the invading “murder hornets” - remember them? Next, expect a massive political change come November.  This hopefully will bring wiser leaders who will put American interests over their own and support our Constitutional rights ... who then will appoint people in pivotal civil and military positions who will be sure the data isn’t skewed or falsified, and who will combat health problems by supporting sensible national measures based on valid science.

    How about through the educational windshield?  Most teachers I talk to - especially the dedicated ones truly out for the students - now realize how much they have been hoodwinked.  I find that in districts where the stranglehold of teacher union policies has ruled the least, already teachers have been gravitating back to their face-to-face “best instructional practices,” and this will accelerate as we wise up.  In the teaching ranks, perhaps some of the “deadwood” that have left the profession needed to go, and hopefully a new crop of educators entering the profession will be true to the calling. This will require some major overhauling in typical leftist collegiate teacher certification programs (check out www.snu.edu).  It will also require some “teacher union busting,” and a rise in membership in professional teacher organizations (check out www.ittexas.org.)  Will such changes take place?  I'm going to be optimistic.  I think that is why windshields are so much bigger than rearview mirrors.  We need to concentrate much more on where we are going than where we have been.


  • January 09, 2022 4:58 PM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    Thoughts on TEA K-3 Mandated Reading Academy by ITT Member

    January 2022

     (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). I am a first-grade teacher and have been teaching in the same district in Texas for seven years.  My district is currently requiring all K-2 teachers and 3rd grade reading teachers to participate in the Science of Reading program, no exceptions.  This course is equivalent to an Associate Degree, which takes most people 2 years to complete.  This course was not something I chose to participate in, but instead, I was mandated to participate in.  We started in the middle of July and are expected to finish by February 2022. 

    This 60-hour course is extremely time consuming and is packed with too much information for me to consume and assimilate in the time allotted. Because of the stress caused by needing to learn so much information in a small timeframe, I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to retain much of anything to add to my classes.   The time projected by TEA for each module is always significantly lower than the time it takes me. There are pre-test, tests, post-tests, reflections, and artifacts to submit.  All need to be done on our own time, excluding the five days we've been given since we started. At this point today, our district expects us to have completed modules 1-10. We have only been given 5 days to work on this, everything else has been completed on our own time. I have even used my own personal days to stay home and work on the course. We have been told that if this course is not completed, we will lose our teaching certificate. This is extremely disheartening!! I went to college, took courses, passed my teaching certification test, have taught for almost 7 years, and not completing this course could take all that away from me.

    The last few years as a teacher have been extremely challenging and adding this course, which we have been given very little time to work on, has made this year even more stressful. This course has added a huge amount of stress and honestly has been a huge waste of time and taxpayer money.  When I think of the taxpayer money being wasted on forcing teachers to take this superfluous course, I wonder who is profiting and I’d like to follow the money trail. 

    This experience has also caused me some depression because I’m sure that taxpayer money could be better used helping students and teachers directly, based upon answers provided from teachers in a simple district survey.  I feel like this TEA mandated course helps school districts proceed with their agenda while they keep teachers buried and occupied with all the requirements for successful course completing or as I like to call it, “checking off the box”. 

    If I fail to complete this course or leave before completing it, I will be required to pay for it out of my own pocket. At this point, I am behind! I am only on module 9 and find it very hard to believe I will be able to complete it along with the other 3 modules by February. Teaching is my job, and my students are my priority.  Sadly, focusing on my students and how to best serve and teach them, may be what costs me my job.  kh


  • January 09, 2022 4:13 PM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    Editorial by ITT Member regarding K-3 Reading Academy Course

    January 2022

     (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). I have been a first-grade teacher for seventeen years; all of those years I have taught in the same district in Texas. My district is requiring K-2 teachers to participate in the Science of Teaching Reading course. We started mid-July 2021 and are required to be finished in Feb. 2022; at the very latest, April 2022.



    This “60 hour” course is grueling. TEA constantly underestimates the projected timeframe for completing each module.  I often need double the amount of time TEA estimates I will need.  There are reflections to complete, pre-tests, post- tests, and artifacts to submit. If I fail to complete this course in the time allotted, TEA let me know that I will lose my certification.  I went to college and took courses and tests to earn my teaching certificates, so it makes no sense to me how this one class can strip all of that away?!

    We are expected to complete all the course modules on our own time.  We are not paid for any of the time we spend to complete the modules.  I have taken a day off work to work on the modules. If we drop out or retire early, we owe the district $450 for this class. We have had campus “work-days” which have been set aside solely for us to work on the class but MANY times there are other things/meetings from administration that take precedence over my time to work on this class, with their excuse being “Don’t worry, WE (administrators) are taking this course too.” 

    Why is the state requiring us to do this course on our own time for free? Years ago, I had to attend a 3- day Math training from TEA but I was paid for it!

    The stress level from the unrealistic expectations this year is just overwhelming, not just from this class, but from my new principal and assistant principal who have new initiatives that the teachers are required to implement.  I am planning for 6 subjects because I’m self-contained and also planning guided reading, guided math, and a daily 45 min intervention time to target struggling students.

    Needless to say, I’m behind on this course because I have decided on a few weekends to choose my family over this course. I have a husband and 3 boys who miss their wife and mom.

    Because of all of this, I’m planning to make an exit from education in May 2022.  ab

  • December 01, 2021 11:46 AM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). Most teachers enter our profession because they love kids and want to teach. However, far too many leave their jobs due to a lack of respect; extraneous external pressure, and general frustration. Of course, many teachers are likely to stay, even though they feel “locked in.” Yet, they yearn for greater freedom to teach and to be free from divisive government mandates.

    Innovative Teachers of Texas (ITT) applauds the Texas Legislature for passing House Bill 3979 and Gov. Greg Abbott for signing it into law. Now we urge the Legislature to stay strong and not weaken the guidelines as carefully articulated in the bill. HB 3979 holds that teachers may not be compelled to discuss particular current events or any particular issues of public policy or social affairs.

    ITT is a new organization created by teachers—to give us a “conservative” choice in professional teacher representation, in contrast with the long-tenured Texas teachers organizations. All four major Texas teacher associations testified against the bill; ITT did not.

    Just like the Texas branch of the NEA [Texas State Teachers Association] and the AFT (Texas Federation of Teachers), the other two Texas organizations, Association of Texas Professional Educators [ATPE] and Texas Classroom Teachers Association [TCTA], also effectively endorsed the teaching of the critical race theory (CRT) in Texas by opposing this critical bill. Bottom line all four major teachers organizations aligned themselves with the radical left.

    ITT believes in free speech, critical thinking, open dialogue, brainstorming, empowering teachers and students, and edifying the professionalism in education. HB 3979 bars teachers from being ordered to teach the concept that racism is systemic and embedded in our legal systems. We view its mandated teaching as an unnecessary overreach. Texans overwhelmingly oppose its teaching. And most kids today are more inclusive than ever in their view of the world they live in.

    The agenda that teaches the critical race theory unnecessarily creates schisms, sometimes even between like-minded people. Educators want the best for all. We want to keep students safe. We want to see our students prosper. When you divide teachers, mentors, and leaders in a school, it paralyzes us in our jobs to nurture children.

    Under Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the first needs are food and water, then comes shelter, and then comes love. And only after you have all of those, can you start to learn. It seems that CRT stops us in our tracks right around love, loving ourselves.

    The new law contains changes teachers will have to know about as they head back into their classrooms. ITT is a resource for teachers to fully understand HB 3979.

    Make no mistake, ITT supports teachers who want to bring current events into their classrooms. We promote free speech; we're pro-dialogue; we're pro-conversation, and we're pro-critical thinking.

    Jennifer Winter is a teacher and director of Innovative Teachers of Texas. She earned B.A. in Spanish from Western Washington University and M.A. in Educational Administration from Seattle University. She taught Spanish in public and private schools in Washington State for 11 years. She taught with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Oakland, CA for two years. www.ittexas.org

    Her email is Jennifer.winter@ittexas.org



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