Editorial: Teacher Hiring Restrictions Compromise Equity Initiatives

Editorial: Teacher Hiring Restrictions Compromise Equity Initiatives

By NWN Editors

During the district 219 Board of Education meeting on May 8, the board heard public comments on human resources hiring restrictions, limiting new hires to teachers with fewer than five years of experience and, at most, a Master’s degree. The reasoning behind this restriction is likely that new, more inexperienced teachers can be paid less and therefore save the district money. However, where does this leave students? Should we, the students, have our education and experience degraded because of the district’s desire to save money?

No, we should not.

This guideline has been met with heavy backlash from some students, since it has primarily impacted certain applicants, specifically a teaching candidate of color. At the meeting, students and teachers spoke against such hiring restrictions, since they may have denied science paraprofessional Maria Issac a fair interview for a teaching position. Issac holds a doctorate degree and is one of the few staff of color at Niles North.

How is a district that promotes its equity initiatives and diversity not going to hire a teacher, who is not only qualified, but seemingly more qualified than other candidates? Not only has Issac encouraged Niles North students to invest in science, but she has represented students of color at the school. She is well respected, intelligent, and most importantly a role model to the students she has interacted with. Despite her obvious qualifications and popularity, her education level exceeds guideline maximums.

This issue is evidently not purely a Niles North issue, but rather a district-wide issue. If one were to walk through Niles West’s hallways, you could see the famous slogan “Be seen. Be heard. Belong.” This slogan is meant to promote the school’s agenda towards equity of all different shapes, such as race and sexual orientation. Some of the Niles West News staff went to the Niles West racial equity workshop in early March, where students worked alongside teachers to find ways in which classes can implement equity within their curriculum. Niles West has claimed to fight for this equity through workshops and assemblies, yet only 1.6 percent of teachers are black, and 14.3 percent are identified as teachers of color. Words only mean so much when actions show true intentions.

Besides the equity aspect, having more experienced and educated teachers is extremely beneficial to the students in general. With more experienced teachers comes higher standardized testing scores, improved school attendance, and overall increases the effectiveness of teaching. Outside of the classroom, the longer teachers stay at a school, the closer they become with the community around it.

Additionally, it may be more beneficial for the district to hire experienced teachers in the first place. With more inexperienced teachers being hired, there comes a higher rate of teacher turnover. The district would have to spend more time and money recruiting, mentoring, and training newcomers. This time and money would be better allocated if the district decided to hire experienced teachers, since they tend to have a lower turnover rate.

This disastrous new restriction should be a red flag to every student, parent, and teacher within the district. The main goal of schools is to provide the best possible education for its students. Therefore, district 219 should hire the best candidates. This may be a new teacher right out of college, or an experienced educator with an advanced degree, but under no circumstances should a qualified candidate be dismissed due to their years of education and experience. We, the students, should not face the consequences of arbitrary financial wishes of the district and must be given the best opportunities available to better ensure our success.


CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly attributed discussion of hiring restrictions to board president David Ko prior to the start of the board meeting. Human resources hiring guidelines are not board policies; references to policy have been corrected. An earlier version also incorrectly identified 1.6 percent of teachers at West as teachers of color, when in fact 1.6 percent are black. We have updated these statistics.