Well, being unionized, it’ll be a lot more civilized than that, but a week that started with my school being subject to “reconstitution” ended with me getting one of these. Keep a couple things in mind…
- Last week ended with a lot success and kudos from my peers and others at CUE. I was sharing what was going on in the lab with students, and getting great feedback.
- The seniority dates for pink slip notices under discussion were in the 7 year range, and seemed far away.
- Our school thought our principal was likely to get replaced, but as a staff, we were getting more focused, and organized in our instruction.
Now, my school is gonna be tossed to the four winds, and although I’ll probably be recalled since I’m right at the cutoff date, it’s highly unlikely I will be in the lab, or at my current site. I don’t know what to say. Random moments of absurdity from this week…
- The district, perhaps trying to be kind, responded to an inquiry about our site by teachers at another school, but saying that we had “won a state grant”. Well, only if we kick 50% of the staff out. Really, it doesn’t help with the humiliation factor!
- My district is recruiting TFA interns to fill positions that really aren’t open, and the district is claiming that they will not be filling any of the positions now made vacant by lay offs.
And this brings us to the rest of my post. You see, the only problem with this is they’ve sent pink slips out to high school teachers in math and science (the very “hard to fill” positions they claim they need under-qualified TFA interns for). They have also sent pink slips to a number of special education teachers at elementary, who would likely be better candidates for training to work in high school special ed classes than someone with absolutely no experience teaching anyone let alone high school kids with special needs.
I will not go into a long discussion about this, but many graduates of our two local public university teacher training programs would love to get jobs in my district. For a variety of reasons, the biggest having to do with the districts insistence on not opening classroom teaching positions when more students show up at the start of school than are planned for until a month after school starts, this hasn’t happened. Instead, these teachers leave the state to find a teaching job before my district even gets around to posting these openings.
Call me paranoid, but I’m seeing this as a really clumsy execution of a policy to undermine unionized teachers. I can’t help but think that they are trying to reach back as far as they can in the seniority pool, to clear out space for these interns, even though it would violate state labor law. They want to replace contracted teachers with inexperienced interns. I hope I’m wrong, and this is just poorly executed due to the new superintendent’s lack of experience, especially in working with a unionized teaching staff.
But, it’s not just about me, and my fellow teachers. We need to understand why this is important for the kids. This is what they should be doing:
- Improve the pipeline from CSUS, and UC Davis math and science teaching programs. Make a decision after week one to open new classes, and have those in the pipeline ready to go. They will have the advantage of already working in these schools, and be trained to work with language learner populations. In my opinion, using TFAers with minimal training working with this population would be a violation of those students’ civil rights.
- Offer unfilled high school special education positions to teachers in surplus pool, if they willing to work on getting the proper credentialing. They will at least have experience with special education populations, and a solid understanding of best practices. Once again, using TFAers for this when other more qualified candidates were available, would be a violation of those students’ rights.
- If you have teachers who are on emergency credentials in those positions now, they have one more year of experience than the TFA interns which makes them superior. Make sure they are in a decent alt cert program.(1) Most of the studies comparing TFAs effectiveness are comparing them to alt cert teachers and they usually come up about equal in the short run. Since TFA has such a high attrition rate (85% in four years), that’s not saying much. Also, if teachers on emergency credentials are not up to snuff, they are the one class of teacher than be removed with very little fanfare (2 weeks notice). You would then want to look back up at #1 for a higher quality replacement.
(1) Many of the teachers that are out of certification in science are only out because they are credentialed for another area. In other words, they’ve taken all their teaching theory classes, how to teach language learner classes, and science class in one subject (say Earth Science), they just are teaching in another science subject (say Biology). I’m more troubled by someone not having any training in teaching than a Geologist teaching Biology while he works on finishing up a couple classes in Biology while he’s teaching.
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