Oakland: the “Broadway of teaching?”

I didn’t expect to find a zinger in a promotional flyer for a substitute teacher hiring fair, but there it was, at the end.

“Why would someone be a substitute teacher for Oakland Unified School District?

“You just can’t get this type of experience anywhere else.  Oakland Unified is like the ‘Broadway’ of teaching: if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere!”

image from yudis_asnar’s profile at flickr.com/creativecommons

So maybe it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Oakland public schools. But who knows? Maybe the blunt humor will draw top candidates. As long as they don’t leave for “anywhere” as soon as they “make it” in Oakland…

Anyway, the fair is tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon at the central office. Here is the info, straight from the flyer:

Oakland Unified School District
Substitute Teacher Hiring Fair

Thursday February 21st 3:30-5pm
OUSD Administration Building
1025 2nd Avenue, 2nd Floor

Day-to-Day and Full-Time Positions Available

Apply at www.edjoin.org before the event to receive additional directions for applicants

Requirements for ALL substitute positions:

Bachelor’s Degree, Eligibility for Substitute Teacher Permit, Passing Score on CBEST, Pass Fingerprinting Check, Tuberculosis Clearance, Pass Reference Check

Are you serious about being a substitute teacher in Alameda County? 

Register with the Alameda County Office of Education Substitute Consortium to be eligible for employment with any district in the county.  You will need to apply for your 30 Day Substitute Teacher Permit and submit fingerprints for the criminal background check.  Directions and more information can be found by calling 510-670-4263 or at http://www.acoe.org/acoe/HumanResources/Employment/SubstituteOpportunities

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com Former Oakland Teacher

    wow. As a teacher now subbing occasionally, I would warn people to RUN as far away from subbing in Oakland as fast as possible. I hate to say that because there are wonderful kids and wonderful teachers, but the system is SO BAD and support is SO BAD for subs. Don’t walk, run, and sub anywhere else!

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    That is slightly hilarious and also pretty sad.
    As a student in Oakland Public, I’ve seen subs treated horribly, so I can see why people would want to run away.
    But I’ve also had pretty bad subs who’ve refused to even speak to the students… (with the exception of those really kind, funny, and interesting subs who I’ve had throughout the years too).
    So at the same time I want all those patient substitutes to know this: We do appreciate you, and we need you!

  • cranky teacher

    If they want to support subs, here are some suggestions:

    — Train them to actually fulfill the lesson plans teachers make. If students are not doing real work, they will act out.

    — For even moderately difficult classes, an SSO or administrator should be posted to the room, or at least visit the room each period. It is simply too much to expect subs to keep order when the kids are truly behavioral problems.

    — Assign subs to permanent status at schools so that they learn who the students are and build relationships.

    As a teacher in Oakland, I am afraid of getting sick or leaving school for training, etc., because I know zero learning will happen while I’m out — and actual violence, theft or injury may happen in the room.

    I also am tired of making lesson plans that are not followed.

    But I don’t blame the subs. Too much is being asked of the subs. It is unrealistic. You can’t just throw people to the wolves and then expect them to stay, no matter how much bonus money you throw at them.

    In general, the current system expects everybody to be superhuman — teachers, administrators, students. Some thrive, and they are exceptional or extremely self-sacrificing. But we need a system that can work for the rest of us. That means a LOT more resources in the community and in the schools.

    Money alone won’t solve all the problems, but it is an essential component. Staffing alone is a huge problem. At my school we have so many kids in crisis that we need a good 10-20 more adults providing support resources, from special ed to nursing to psychological counseling to college prep to parent outreach.

    All I’m asking is that we spend $$ per student equivalent that spent in other *modern* states like New York and New Jersey. Why are we spending like Alabama?

  • hills parent

    I’m afraid that this type of advertising would only serve to scare away substitutes. With districts needing substitutes badly, why scare them off with such a negative portrayal of students in Oakland?

  • Doowhopper

    I have subbed in Oakland for eight years on and off and the old saying,”Its not just a job,its an adventure”,most defintely applies.
    Someone really needs to write a book about some of the absurd tragi-comedies that go on every day in Oakland classrooms.Believe me,this is not Leave it to Beaver with Miss Landers going into hysterics because Whitey stayed too long at the drinking fountain.We are talking about young people going through very serious life and death issues every single day.There are times when I feel I am working in a place that is a combination psychiatric facility,prison and nightclub.
    Why do I still do it?Well,Oakland schools are never boring.And many of the kids are truly wonderful and enlightening.They have stories to tell that bowl me over sometimes.And it is rare when I have situations that are totally out of control.What irks me to no end are the little things-kids walking into class fifteen minutes late carrying their lunches and you have to let them in without a pass.Or students bumping to the beat of music on their I-Pods-CD players.Still don’t know why administrators allow those devices to even be in the schools period.
    Subbing in Oakland?Go for it.Sure beats Walmart or the Post Office!

  • Doowhopper

    Let me clarify a little about my previous comments.
    When I say it feels sometimes like I am working in a psychiartic facility or youth prison it is because many of the comments I hear are extremely troubling.I am referring to teenagers who casually comment about watching pornography,packing guns,selling drugs,”morking”innocent people,being”sexed”or pimped out by older men and a whole potporri of illegal and dangerous acts.
    If I wished,I guess I could report these various comments to school authorities.Yet that would end up being ALL I did and since I havea classroom to run and lesson plans that I am obligated to fulfill,I must hope and pray that some mental health professional can intervene with many of these kids before they go completely over the edge.

  • John

    Oakland high schools and some middle schools should recruit substitutes from the Oakland Police Department and other police agencies. Having substitutes able to call for effective back-up instead of an anemic passive administrator could make all the difference!

    Some students might benefit from the hands on learning experience provided by a substitute properly trained to respond to their special learning needs. It would also benefit other students not evidencing such needs.

    Although this breed of special need student wouldn’t be eligible to ride the “yellow bus,” a blue bus with secured windows would be available to transport them to a facility designed to meet society’s needs.

    Some previous Oakland ballot measures have been a compromise between adding more police and more social programs for Oakland’s troubled youth (e.g., “Measure Y”). Consequently there now exists some balance between police services and social programs on the streets of Oakland. Unfortunately the Oakland Schools lag far behind and corrective measures obviously need to be taken. Therefore, filling a percentage (say 30%) of the OPS substitute ranks with armed police officers would be a good start to correcting this imbalance in our schools.

  • Sue

    John, are you being sarcastic again? It’s awfully hard to tell on a blog, because we can’t hear your tone of voice, or see the expression on your face.

    Anyway, I’m going to treat your latest suggestion like a serious one, because you’ve complained before that I ignore or don’t get your points.

    Oakland needs more police officers doing police work. Would your suggestion be that we take OPD officers off the streets and out of their neighborhood policing patrols, and put them in the schools? That seems like a really bad idea – guaranteed to increase Oakland’s crime rates, while reducing the number of students in the schools.

    So, if we aren’t getting these police officer teachers from OPD, where do we get them? The city of Oakland has been trying unsuccessfully to increase their staffing for something like 3-4 years without success. If you have some previously unknown source for additional officers, please, please, please let the city of Oakland, the Mayor and the Chief of Police know about it.

    If I’ve completely misunderstood you again, I do apologize. But before you read me the riot act, again, may I respectfully suggest that you reread your own posts that you feel were misunderstood. Perhaps, the problems and miscommunications aren’t originating with me? Perhaps your posts are less than clear?

  • John

    Sue: First let me express my appreciation for your civil response to what you don’t understand. I genuinely appreciate it. And YES Sue, I am “being sarcastic again.” I grew up in Oakland and worked in the Oakland Schools for a quarter century. During my time in Oakland I often involved myself in different activities and community efforts to “make things better.” Finally, with great regret, I decided I had no choice but to move away because, to paraphrase another writer: “Oakland takes from you, screws you, and takes from you again. Oakland has become the consummate whore!”

    There’s little point in trying make reasoned suggestions or be helpful because those who govern the city and schools, influenced by what is in large (majority) measure an ignorant self serving politic with an agenda focus that has little to nothing in common with essential public services and good schools.

    Few in Oakland pay much if any attention to reasoned suggestions. I’ve come to understand that sarcasm and strong statements are a better attention getter, at least from those who lack power and influence or the proper “diversity” ethnic credential. The amount of (news) paper containing my “reasonable” published Letters to the Editor about Oakland issues since 1980 could fill a frigging forest.

    MORE IMPORTANTLY (for ME) this Trib blog provides a cathartic outlet after many years of frustrated living in an increasingly hopeless circumstance NAMED OAKLAND.

    I’m also quite familiar with your posts Sue. Perhaps there are reasons (different than mine) for some to misunderstand you as well?

    Anyway, who gives a dam! This is just a blog containing the opinions (and anger) of a lot of powerless people. Although you and I are totally different people, we are both powerless (when it comes to Oakland) and no one (including us) can ever take that away from us!

    Being misunderstood is NOT an issue for me. I take my best shot at those who take a shot at me and quite frankly don’t GIVE A DAM if I’m misunderstood! It makes me feel better to express myself in any way I please and that’s all that matters to ME!

    So you see dear Sue, in a way I’ve become like so many others in (or the majority of) Oakland who only listen to themselves and what they want to say. Hey, now that I fit right in maybe I shouldn’t have moved away!?

    However I am totally focused on, and NOT sarcastic about, one critical point! Anyone who owns a home in Oakland or has a child enrolled in an Oakland Public School should GET THE HELL OUT….IF they’re able.

  • Sue

    Okay, John. Wow.

    So this isn’t about trying to communicate ideas with other people, for you. Okay, I shouldn’t bother trying to understand, it doesn’t matter.

    It’s about making yourself feel better. Um, maybe spending some time with a therapist or counselor would be more effective, though. And given that you’ve been previously warned about troll-like postings, it seems possible that you might end up losing your access to this forum, and be forced to find some other outlet for your unhappy feelings.

    Like all free advice, this is worth what you paid for it.

  • Nextset

    Maybe the Subs/OPD Officers can bring their Tasers and use them to impose order…

    The problem with OUSD is that they have not segregated the schools in the way San Francisco has with Lowell High School – an application-only school that is run the way schools should be – populated with students who will perform in order to be allowed to stay. The rest of the student body can sit in the failure factories we now have until they are ready for prison or welfare or whatever.

    What I’m suggesting is that OUSD divide the student population into at least two groups, the “academic” group, maybe 20%, and the ghetto group, the remainder – with campuses at the opposite ends of the territory. Then at least 20% of the students will have a real education that won’t be attempted in a war zone. You could have an initial cut by IQ or test scores only, with a further cut by deportment scores. No Affirmative Action allowed.

    It would really help the city property values also.

  • John

    Thank you Dr. Sue.

  • elliotness786

    watch season 4 of the HBO show “The Wire”…they depict the urban school thing spot on…

  • Nextset

    Sue, if you don’t like John’s comments in public discourse that’s your perogative. There is nothing in his comments that reach the point of being banned from the website other than not going along with the leftist party line and being blunt about it. Part of the reason I look at a blog such as this one is to get different viewpoints from people who have different experiences with the City and it’s problems. That doesn’t include following your self-serving comment about who you think is fit for publication.

    Katy Murphy runs the blog and she can probably take care of herself on editing comment and dealing with posters. This blog is being watched by people other than the Affirmative Action crowd. Get used to that.

    If John is raw or has negative experiences I will decide how I want to use that info, not you for me.

  • Sue

    Okay, Nextset. Interesting “nom de blog”, by the way. Is there a story or explanation for it? That is if you’d care to share?

    As for John, first, I don’t think he needs much help defending himself… And I don’t make the rules around here, just try to observe them. John’s said that he’s been warned in the past, I just jogged his memory, because he’s starting to *really* sound like he did just before that warning.

    For me, blog posts are about respectfully sharing ideas. John said above that posting here was about making himself feel better. That led me to the conclusion that it was a waste of my time to try to have any meaningful discussions with him.

    Also, from the amount of vitriol I’ve seen in his posts over time, I don’t think his self-treatment is effective. He doesn’t seem to be any less unhappy now than he was the first time I read one of his posts. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. John keeps posting, but doesn’t change his feelings, so maybe it’s time to try something else. I can’t speak for Katy, or the rest of this site’s staff, but I doubt they’re here to provide a therapeutic service.

    Finally, the majority of posters seem to be here for two purposes, celebrating the good things in our school district, and fixing the bad. John’s other stated purpose for posting here is to convince everyone that we should abandon our schools and follow him to – where was it you moved, John, Orinda? – and that’s counter to what most of us want.

    Since he doesn’t live in our district, and doesn’t have the same goals, I see no problem with calling him on it when his trollish tendencies are over-the-top. If Katy has a problem with my behavior/posts, I expect I’ll get the same treatment as John – first, a warning.

    In the future if you have a problem with what I post, I’m sure you’ll call me on it. One request, if I’ve gotten facts wrong, give me sources so I can learn. If you just don’t like the way I address another poster, you might consider that you need to know more of our history.

  • John

    Sue: You’re right! “One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” It’s also good advice. I think its best we follow it by not communicating with each other or commenting on one another’s posts, because there’s ample evidence to suggest doing this “same thing” will never achieve a different result.

    The blog host did ask me to “knock off the sarcasm” in the wake of my response to one of your posted comments. I have subsequently made a conscious (sometimes challenging) effort to abide by my promise to the blog host and not be sarcastic in response to a number of your subsequent posts (even when at the conclusion of one of your post stated you were (trying to be) sarcastic toward me.

    During my years in education (as a student and teacher) I became overly well acquainted with a particular kind of student (‘teacher’s pet candidate’) who took independent initiative to “help teacher” discipline the “bad kids.” Perhaps your expressed wish for blog participant homogeneity (as in: “he doesn’t have the (our) same goals”) and your policing tendencies (“calling” people (e.g., me) on “trollish tendencies” when (you think) “they are over the-top”) are not required by this blog host? If she’s made you her blogroom “pet,” with the authority to determine what’s not acceptable and act as her agent I’m not informed of it.

    I agree with your comment to Nextset that I ‘don’t need help defending myself,’ which I DO NOT believe was Nexset’s intention. I believe he/she was simply defending his/her right to hear a range of opinions instead of those that reflect the (our) “same goals.”

    I agree with the substance of Nexset’s remarks, and appreciate your response to them as it provides further confirmation of our inability to have any productive mutual communication.

    Perhaps, to borrow a term from the divorce courts, we should declare ourselves as having “irreconcilable differences” (without assigning fault to either party). In short let us henceforth agree to ignore one another and refrain from commenting on, or drawing attention to, one another’s comments for the rest of our lives and (if possible) beyond.

  • cary cohen

    Wow: You people are worried about Oakland? I am a sub and para in Maryland and at a couple of affluent middle schools. These kids are rude and disrespectful. (Some of those :my child would never do that.”

    The only fall back for a sub when things get out of hand is the administration. I recently had a Principal who told me “that she does not want to deal with disciplinary problems.” We chatted and reached resolution. I told her I will never walk through the doors of her school anymore. And I don’t. They call for subs several times per week. I wonder how staff would feel if they knew?