We protest today in support of the continued employment of Lewis Goff. The best aspect of PVPA has always been its incredible and devoted teachers, and we count Lewis among their number. We are aware of complaints about the way he has returned work and entered grades in the fall semester, and we believe that this is insufficient grounds for termination considering his long tenure at PVPA and impact on students. Lewis provides one of the only environments at PVPA --indeed at schools all over the Valley--where students can learn, discuss and write at the college level. Frequently students and alumni describe his classes as life-changing.
Charter schools have been criticized for treating their teachers unjustly, providing poor benefits and no job security. We like to think that PVPA is different, and if that is true, Lewis should not be fired on an administrative whim. Unfortunately, there are many teachers throughout the school who have been subject to repeated complaints from students and parents about performance. In this context, Lewis’ selection for possible termination feels nothing if not arbitrary and unjust.
We pride ourselves on our community, which means that all community members must be involved in such monumental decisions. We understand that termination must be confidential, but we also need to be heard. If we are asked, we will answer any question about any teacher to the best of our abilities. We do not need to know why we are being asked. PVPA prides itself on including students in every part of their education, and the total opacity of this process has been very disappointing.
As far as we are aware, student input on his teaching as a whole has been limited to a brief multiple-choice survey, a tool that provides a one-sided view with no provision for explanation or depth.
The administration makes the final decision on the process of termination despite having limited information. Lewis’ colleagues work with him every day; his students are the direct beneficiaries of his teaching. Despite this, we have been shut out of the process in every possible way. PVPA has trained us to fight injustice wherever we find it. Today, we choose to fight injustice at PVPA.
We ask you to consider the way Lewis has changed our ways of thinking, of writing, and our lives, for the better.
The Class of 2017.
We protest with the support of alumni, younger students, and parents.