NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Reading recovery teachers are speaking out about the proposed metro schools budget after finding out their jobs are on the chopping block.
Lauren Powell said, "I don't think there was a dry eye there. We were shocked and sad."
Teachers walked out of the board meeting in tears Monday night after learning a popular program meant to help struggling readers was being eliminated.
Nearly 90 of Metro's most highly-trained teachers could soon be out of a job.
Powell said, "We didn't know we were on the chopping block."
The board voted to eliminate the long-time literacy program after an audit found the "initial positive effects of reading recovery fade over time."
Teachers feel the audit doesn't tell the whole story.
Powell said, "As it was being presented, you could hear the murmurs and the gasps in the room. Especially because some of the information they presented was not accurate."
Every semester Powell helps more than 20 struggling first graders learn to read.
Powell said, "I have a little one that's teaching her parents how to read through my job at reading recovery. She feels confident now, and she's teaching her parents."
Another student was in the process of being put in special education classes until Brandy Johnson taught her how to read.
Johnson said, "She wasn't reading at the beginning of the school year, and nobody knew how to help her. Well I picked her up in reading recovery and she is now reading. She is close to grade level now. She's confident in her reading."
School Board member Jill Speering has championed the Reading Recovery program for years. She worries cutting the program means we will lose these highly-qualified teachers to other school districts.
Speering said, "We will lose these people, they will go to other districts where they can work with other low performing kids because that's what they want to do!"
Metro plans to offer the teachers regular classroom jobs. In fact, the district will pay them a $2,500 stipend to teach kindergarten through 2nd grade at one of our 21 lowest-performing schools.
But taking a job as a classroom teacher means they will lose their Reading Recovery certification.
Powell said, "We're just kind of at a loss."
At the school board meeting, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph said he was nixing 86.5 reading recovery teacher positions in his proposed budget due to statistics found by the consultant.
“The people that will suffer the most are our children. The lowest of the 20% will suffer," Johnson said.
Metro Schools will present its budget plan to the mayor Wednesday morning. Then, the Metro Council will vote on whether or not to approve it.