by Krystal Paco
Guam - Now that the Guam Education Board has moved meeting times to evening hours, stakeholders are able to attend and can speak up. Teachers from all over the island voiced concerns at last night's GEB meet held at J.Q. San Miguel Elementary School.
Southern High School math teacher Shuichi Ema has an impressive resume, but not enough to keep him a highly qualified teacher. "I have a bachelor of engineering and actually I taught Japanese and math for ten years on Guam and I'm a licensed architect, and I have a master of education I graduated from UOG and I passed the PRAXIS II for ESL," Ema said.
At last night's board meeting, Ema pleaded to board members requesting they revisit teacher standards. After all, he fell points shy in reading and writing but excelled in math, resulting in a composite score of 514 - a point above the minimum requirement of 513. Ema is one of 40+ teachers who couldn't pass the PRAXIS. As a result, he took a pay cut and lost his full-time status with the department effective second semester of this school year.
Juan M. Guerrero Elementary teacher Jan Rudolph followed Ema. "When we cut their salaries like we have when we demote them like we have to an unclassified position that is demoralizing. I admire these teachers who are continuing on because they value their job. Their job is so important to them they want to be an educator they went to college to be an educator," Rudolph said.
And although DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez maintains his duty is to enforce the laws set by the Legislature and the Guam Commission for Educator Certification on teacher standards, GEB chairman Dr. Jose Cruz agreed to look into the matter.
On behalf of her Mangilao school, George Washington High's Francine Clement cried for help from board members regarding a bullying situation and the school's longtime battle with overcrowding resulting in more fights. "I want George Washington students teachers and staff to feel safe once again, many students have mentioned that they don't feel safe on our campus and that does not sit well with me and it should not sit well with you. I'm sorry I believe our campus is in a state of emergency," she said.
DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "We recognize that last semester when it was in double session things were easier there was less population on campus but I think the students that I visited with yesterday mentioned that they would prefer the double session if it were possible to do it again."
Fernandez met with school officials earlier today to discuss the matter.