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How to get — and keep — good teachers

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 at 11:00 am in elementary schools, families, finances, high schools, middle schools, OEA, school reform, students, teachers.

Each year, some 14 percent of Oakland’s public school teachers leave the district, and many of those vacancies are filled with rookies. The Tribune has devoted quite a bit of space and ink to the subject of teacher quality, most recently in our series following first-year teacher Andy Kwok through his year at EXCEL High School.

Want to learn more about how OUSD hires and supports teachers, or to offer your own two cents? There’s a District 1 (North Oakland) town hall meeting on that very topic at 7 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 17 at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School, 4314 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland.

The speakers include Laura Moran, the chief operating officer for the district; Betty Olson-Jones, the teachers union president; and Carla Aiello, a third-year teacher at Emerson Elementary School.

This is the second town hall meeting this fall organized by District 1 board member-elect Jody London, and co-sponsored by outgoing board member Kerry Hamill. London said the last one, held at Claremont Middle School on the subject of community involvement, drew about 100 people, even though it took place on the night of the vice presidential debate.

“I’m just going to keep doing this until there’s nothing left to talk about,” London said.

If you want to learn more about this forum, e-mail London at oaklandjody@gmail.com. She says that snacks will be provided, but that participants are welcome to bring cookies.

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  • Sue

    I’m just not sure what talking about retaining teachers is going to accomplish.

    Don’t we all know that OUSD teachers get a lower salary than neighboring school districts pay their teachers? So, the simple answer is to raise our teachers’ salaries – but apparently we can’t until the district is out of state control. And even after we have local control, we have to have sources of funds for the salary increases.

    What are we going to talk about – more PTA fundraisers?

    Am I missing something?

  • Tracy

    I have been a teacher in OUSD for ten years. I have loved the diversity within the community. I feel that a person should not get into the teaching career if they want to buy a home if they are single, or do not have a large down payment. (That is what I’m saving for)

  • Tracy

    Again- Good teachers are hard to find.
    A good teacher is not looking for an amazing salary. Well me anyway. An awesome teacher is looking for a challenge. Children that they I can teach and support. It is a love, and feeling that goes into the soul.

  • Sue

    Tracy, you (and all the other OUSD teachers I’ve met in 13 years in the district) rock!

    I think the district should be paying all of you what you are worth. I’d love to see OUSD paying the highest teacher salaries in the Bay Area instead of the lowest. I’d love it if we could entice/steal the best teachers from SF, Berkeley, Albany, and the rest of the adjacent school districts.

    But that’s a long way from the reality – watching many, many good and great teachers leave our district because they could have less stress, more district and parental support, and better pay somewhere else.

    The ones like you, who stay in spite of the challenges, or even because they *want* those challenges, WOW! I’m usually a bit more articulate (and a lot more garrulous!) but there are no better words for the teachers who stay long-term in Oakland – just WOW!

    I’m glad someone is talking about getting the turnover rate down and keeping more of our teachers, but I just don’t see much likelihood of success coming from these discussions.