Steve Dozier, the new superintendent of Webster Parish schools, spoke to members of the Minden Lions Club last week about his plans for the betterment of the local education system.
Dozier, who has been on the job for just a few days, spoke on a variety of issues currently facing the school system. However, the hot topic of conversation centered on teacher tenure and performance.
Numerous Lions Club members asked Dozier about problems with so-called lazy and unmotivated teachers – teachers who were tenured and “mailing it in” as one club member described.
“First of all, a teacher must teach properly,” Dozier said. “It doesn’t work if you don’t have a lesson plan and are just winging it.
Before high stakes testing, a teacher could do that. But not anymore.”
If a teacher hasn’t been successful, Dozier said a growth plan is initiated to help that teacher in areas of struggle.
If problems persist following training, Dozier said tenure does not guarantee security.
“Poor performance must be documented,” he said. “That is up to the principal. The measures of success of a principal are a well-run school and academics. Part of that is holding teachers accountable. The teachers are accountable to the principal and the principal is accountable to me.
“And a principal doesn’t want to answer to me [on poor teacher performance],” he added.
Dozier came to Minden from Union Parish. In that school system he oversaw a district that greatly improved test scores in a short time.
“You can teach anyone. You just have to prescribe properly,” he said. “We have to weed out any teachers who do not care. If you have a child or grandchild that has one of these teachers, call your principal.”
A good teacher is a great commodity he said, more valuable than many people realize and often taken for granted.
“All of you have a teacher to thank. All of us want to have our children and grandchildren taught by good teachers,” he said. “We must succeed. Just like someone took the time with you, we have to take time with these kids.”
He briefly touched on the money issues facing the district, as well as the recent transportation woes that have beset the newly-aligned schools.
“We are still working on our transportation issues,” he said. “We will make them better.”
As for the budget, he said, “there are tough decisions to make but we will make them and make them in a manner that will not hurt educating our kids.”