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Norwalk teachers union President calls survey results ‘troubling’

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. – Most Norwalk teachers feel they’re regarded as “replaceable,” Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon said.

Yordon, at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, cited a recent survey of the union’s 1,000 members. “Fully 75 percent” of the teachers who responded to the survey disagree with the statement, “the district cares about retaining capable employees,” she said, commenting, “That’s very troubling to me.”

She had positive comments in her “quick” rendition of the survey results, delivered as a public speaker.

“Some things” have improved since the last survey in October and 75% of Norwalk teachers say they’ll “be able to muddle through the new strategies and resources that they’re expected to use… all of the changes of the curriculum in the beginning of the year,” she said.

Teachers are also appreciating some of the professional development they’ve received, she said, attributing the “useful” instruction to “the hard work of the curriculum staff.

Yordon’s comments come on the heels of national teacher survey showing that “satisfaction rates appear to have hit an all-time low.”

Results from the first Merrimack College Teacher Survey, commissioned by the Winston School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College and conducted by the nonprofit, nonpartisan EdWeek Research Center, came out in April.

“The survey results suggest a deep disillusionment of many teachers who feel overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated, with potential implications for a once-in-a-generation shift in the teaching profession,” EdWeek reports.

The survey of 1,324 of the nation’s teachers was done between Jan. 9 and Feb. 23.

“Just 12 percent of U.S. teachers describe themselves as ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs, a precipitous drop from the {a previous survey done by MetLife}, which was 39 percent when last administered in 2011 and generally hovered between 40 and 60 percent for previous decades,” Thomas B. Fordham Institute reports. “Given the profound Covid-driven disruptions under which schools have labored in the last a couple of years, it can’t be too much of a surprise that teachers are feeling the strain. That said, a majority (56 percent) still say they are somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs. Four in ten, however, say they are ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ to leave the profession in the next two years, though this not necessarily a new phenomenon, nor does their stated intention to leave necessarily translate into them actually doing so.”

James Martinez, Norwalk Public Schools Education Administrator for Counseling & Social Services, Homebound Instruction, and 504’s, in May mentioned concerns for the staff’s mental health.

“This has been the last couple of years education has been one of the most, I can’t, I’ve got no words. I don’t even know how teachers, you know, staff are, how they’re still standing,” Martinez said to the Common Council Public Safety & General Government Committee.

Yordon, on Tuesday said, “There are some troubling things happening in the district. Many teachers report that they feel replaceable, that they’re being treated in that way, and they feel particularly feel overwhelmed. There’s a disconnect between the expectations of the work that is possible, and the actual work that is possible. It’s too much.”

17 comments

C. H. June 16, 2022 at 6:29 am

This administration has levied personal attacks on many educators across the district over the past two years. It is beyond me why elected officials on the Board, Council, and in the Mayor’s office, do not show any oversight, especially considering the lawsuits in the media on a regular basis, that are COSTING TAX PAYERS MONEY. I guess we have to wait for election season to get answers.

Really!!! June 16, 2022 at 8:48 am

Teachers work 180 days a year…They should try the medical field….Everyone thinks the work they do is too much and want to be paid more, it’s not just teachers…

DrewT June 16, 2022 at 9:45 am

Maybe just maybe if we actually let teachers TEACH they wouldn’t feel this way. But NO we can’t do that. We have to worry about CRT, Gender Indoctrination and a host of other things that shouldn’t be in the schools! Plus oh and here’s a good one. Maybe if we actually held students accountable and punished bad kids (Yes there are bad kids) maybe the classrooms would be a better environment for the teachers. And being told at various meeting to concentrate on one particular group of students is WRONG!!! Period! And if a teacher tells one student they did a great job and not another student the parents go on Social Media and blast the teacher then head down not to the principals office but superintendent to demand action. Why wasn’t little Jimmy and Jane not told as well they did a great job too. They immediately want the teacher removed . Also how about we stop rising to judge and jury when something questionable is done?! Nope let’s force out great teachers because on 1 mistake. You can’t have it both ways! We either support our teachers or we don’t. And one last point, if we actually stop micromanaging then and let them do their jobs that would be incredibly beneficial to them and our students! And Mary if you’re so concerned about your members then have you and still so complacent on what’s going on. We haven’t heard a peep from you in months!!! Maybe it’s time for you to step down and get some real leadership. Stop listening and taking notes from Randi Weingarten , who is the worst thing ever to the teachers Union. There’s a reason the exodus of teachers in Norwalk is happening! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. WAKE UP!

Piberman June 16, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Teachers unhappy . Parents unhappy with student achievement .. BOE and Administrators response ?

John O'Neill June 16, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Many things to decipher here, so let’s keep it short:
1) To James Martinez: In my opinion, the complete breakdown of discipline under current regime would make any normal person feel less than stellar. From Middle school on up, kids and teachers see everyday the byproduct of NPS “restorative” discipline. You may think your helping a small group of students, BUT your policies are crushing the vast majority of students and teachers. This has nothing to do with race as most of those kids effected by incivility are minorities.
2) Mary Yordon’s comments: None of her comments come as a surprise to anyone remotely connected to day to day running of schools, INCLUDING those administrators covering up or should I say covering their asses. While I believe teachers are fairly compensated to teach, they are NOT fairly compensated to be the Social Workers they’ve become. Do we want teachers or do we want babysitters masking as Social Workers?
3) “There are troubling signs in this district.” — Where the heck have you been for the last 3 years? It’s time to stop being a teammate of current administration and do your job. Maybe this meeting was a beginning for Union Head, but she has a lot of ground to make up. ANY teacher would’ve told anyone a year or two or three ago current climate in schools is unsustainable. Geez, this is not rocket science.
4) Please don’t bring in National Surveys to camouflage Norwalk’s failures. I consider that disingenuous.
5) BACK to FREAKING BASICS. Children understand and want order. Teachers understand and want order. Parents who actually care want order…This is not complicated. From my narrow vantage point the only ones who don’t seem to want order are the policymakers at the top of the food chain in Norwalk Education —
6) I want to send a shoutout to every teacher who hasn’t thrown in the towel. You should be commended. The headwinds in today’s environment have made your job almost impossible. Kudos to you. Shame on your bosses.

Justataxpayer June 16, 2022 at 8:54 pm

The breakdown of Norwalk schools and teacher morale probably started when West Rocks had Einstein and Lincoln in black face along with only pictures of Oprah, Obama, and Hillary in the walls. Think about it

Sarah June 17, 2022 at 1:43 am

State. And. Federal. Regulations. Tied. To. Funding. And. School. Assessments. Are. The. Root. Cause. Of. This. Issue.

Anyone who thinks this is on the BoE or central office probably also thinks Biden caused $5 gas. The more you take the time to read about the issues facing other communities in America, the more you realize they are systemic, and require systemic solutions. Go back and read NoN articles about NPS from previous years, boards, and central admin configurations. See what you think.

John O'Neill June 17, 2022 at 11:25 am

The last time I checked demanding respect, accountability and civility were free. Challenging Students as opposed to Coddling Students is a life changing experience. That is also free last time I checked.
While I agree Biden has not caused $5 gas, I would strongly suggest he’s caused $4 gasoline. I would also argue that when our electric bills show increases this summer they haven’t been caused by Biden. They’ve been caused by Malloy/Lamont administrations. AND the worst is yet to come. Electric bills will be 50-60% higher once windfarms are operational. Our elected leaders seemed to have forgotten to tell us that’s coming down the pike.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m tired of excuses and finger pointing.
I’m also sure I’m not alone when I say the current climate in our school system is setting students up to fail in the long run.

DrewT June 17, 2022 at 4:35 pm

@Sarah It’s so nice how you just repeat the lies and company line. Biden DID and there is absolutely no denying caused Inflation and the now OVER $5 Gas. But let me guess its Putin’s fault, Trumps fault and who else can you all blame?!!?v

Seriously? June 17, 2022 at 9:23 pm

Sarah,

I say this with all due respect, but yours is the input of a former board of education member, not an employee of the district, and so you have never had the experience of educators in the district. Further, while Mrs. Yordon’s survey addresses only the responses of teachers, I also know enough NPS employees who are not teachers or administrators, who also believe that they are no longer valued. Look, I don’t expect an idyllic work environment, but I am aware of far more shabby treatment of NPS employees than I have ever known before. What makes some of it all the more shocking is that even effective and hard working employees have also been openly disrespected, even threatened, all because of some of the colossal egoes that the superintendent has hired.

Andy June 18, 2022 at 8:32 am

Is Anyone surprised

The whole blame should be place on the Board of Education in Norwalk for hiring these top people in Central Office who don’t care about the children or the teachers. They only care about themselves and their big salaries. The Norwalk Public schools is being run into the ground. The lack of support for the teachers, the lack of aids in the classrooms and in the special ed department, the lack of discipline when dealing with unruly students, the feeling of being devalued as staff members, the lack of pay, pay raises for paras, and hardly any substitute teachers, plus no benefits and little pay for custodians, the list goes on. Why are so many people being hired in Central Office, and making huge salaries when teachers can’t even get basic aid support for teaching in the classrooms? Why does Norwalk need 4 Asssistant Superintendents each making $200,000 salaries? Why does Norwalk need millions of dollars for a Welcome Center which is not needed. Norwalk is out of control, and Parents and tax Payers better wake up, or else things will get even worse. Last but not least how is it Norwalk is launching a big campaign on Billboards across I-95 in CT and down to New York City, yet Central Office in Norwalk is planning to cut 38 aids and 40 teachers next year. What is going on dear people? Norwalk residents should demand much better, and get rid of these people at the top who are doing nothing to support or help our children or teachers.. Somebody look into this and do something to change it.

Ellen June 20, 2022 at 12:02 pm

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
When will the citizens of Norwalk realize they keep making the same mistakes over and over? A packed central office never helped students. A Welcome Center is a gimmick to appease someone, but I’m not sure who. Let’s look back several years and read the same complaints written now. People almost never learn.

Shady June 21, 2022 at 9:29 am

@DrewT Well said sir. I hope someone has the nerve to run against Mary for Union President. She is a kind person and works well with us in general but has laid down for central office way too many times. If you are so concerned about these things Mary, why don’t you start pushing back a little? I can’t tell you how many teachers I know have gotten railroaded just to be told that the union cant do anything, or the district as a whole plays games with the entire teacher force (like that little “work 7-5 on Monday and we will let you out ten minutes early the rest of the week” nonsense they pulled a few years ago with absolutely ZERO union pushback) Just because it says on paper we cannot win a fight doesn’t mean a fight doesn’t need to be had to make the point that we wont take these things without resistance. I’ve heard so often from Mary about what our union CAN’T do that I am beginning to wonder what our Union CAN do. Meanwhile other unions around the state are winning battles our union doesn’t even have the nerve to bring up.

@REALLY and DryAsABone- Teachers only get PAID for 180 days of work, would YOU work for a job that forces unpaid furlough on your two and a half months a year where you need to either put a little every week in escrow just to survive over the summer or find other work every year for months at a time? You probably never educated yourself on this issue but when teachers choose to spread their already think paycheck over the whole year we are giving the city of Norwalk an interest free loan for ten months while our money earns interest in their bank account. Also do nurses have their patients families patrolling their social media accounts, calling them at home and threatening to have your job if you don’t answer right away? Do nurses have to worry that if they say the wrong thing, go to the wrong restaurant or get pulled over in the wrong town it will be front page news the next day? NOPE they don’t. So take a seat with that uninformed nonsense because teachers have to endure more abuse that any other profession that requires graduate education just to START. Doctors, RNs, Lawyers, Accountants…none of these professions deal with the level of constant harassment teachers do ON TOP of having to find ANOTHER job two months a year. If you didn’t know, now you do.

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