To the Brookline Public School Community:
In recent months, amidst difficult contract negotiations, there has been some talk about teachers refusing to write college recommendations. Some have even suggested that teachers are “working to rule.” We would like to clarify … It should be clear to students, parents, and anyone paying attention, that we are not working to rule. Brookline teachers continue to spend untold hours preparing lessons, evaluating and offering feedback on student work, and conferencing with students after school.
We also spend many, many hours writing recommendations for college, for summer camps, for summer internships, and for jobs both during the school year and beyond. It is important to be clear: the High School staff is committed to our students, and to making sure that every child gets a good letter from a teacher who knows them well. However, with the increase in class sizes and non-teaching demands, the available time that we require in order to write quality letters of recommendation has eroded. In order to maintain quality, we have had to reduce the quantity of letters we write.
This year, we will all, as many of us have done in the past, put a limit on the number of letters each of us individually writes.
Because we care about our students, we care about these letters–because we care about these letters, we take the time to do them right. Recommendations are not form letters; while a few students have transcripts that jump off the page, most will need the advocacy of our letters, which point out a students’ humor or their kindness, their grit or their passion. Teachers who write recommendations for 20 or more students (not uncommon) make a commitment to approximately 35-50 (or more) hours of writing and administrative time outside of their regular job responsibilities, responsibilities which already far exceed our official working day. In the face of an increasing workload, teachers have decided to affirm our right and responsibility to cap our recommendations at numbers, which allow each of us, to perform our teaching and other required duties effectively.
Our primary commitment and passion is meeting student needs in the classroom and establishing the kinds of meaningful relationships that will allow us not only to teach effectively but also to write strong, powerful and persuasive recommendations.