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Out of work and willing to cross a picket line? Oakland Unified is hiring.

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 1:35 pm in OEA, OUSD central office, teachers, union contract.

The Oakland school district has posted an ad on Craigslist, offering $300 a day for “emergency temporary teachers” in the event of an Oakland teacher strike. The district will conduct interviews next week in the hopes of finding enough subs willing to cross the picket line.

OEA

As of now, a one-day strike over the yet-unsettled teacher contract is planned for April 22. District Spokesman Troy Flint said the district administration hadn’t decided whether to close schools that day, but that “we didn’t want to be caught flat-footed.”

“We’re still holding out some hope that we will resolve this, but we’re trying to be realistic and have a fallback plan,” Flint said.

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  • Cranky Teacher

    “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab.

    A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

    When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out.

    No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

    Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust or corporation.

    Esau was a traitor to himself: Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a strikebreaker is a traitor to his God, his country, his wife, his family and his class.”

    – Jack London, 1915

  • David Orphal

    Really? Really? OUSD is really sending the message to parents that your child is soooo important to us that we will pick people up on Craig’s List? After they check out adds for a used stereo, they can sign up to provide quality education for your children?

    You child apparently not important enough to sit down and settle the labor agreement.

  • Oakland Teacher

    David,

    It is cheaper for them to pick up people on Craig’s list than to settle the labor agreement. It is never about best practice, importance or need, but always about money.

    It is also cheaper for them to pick people right out of college to replace their ever shifting labor force (who leave because of the working conditions and poor pay); their temporary force stays for a year or two, and never gets high on the salary scale. Who cares about experience or stability?? New teachers every year are cheaper!

    Comment to those who will cross the picket line to sub: Do not think it will lead to getting regular sub jobs; you will be hired for the one day only. The regular subs know that OEA negotiates for them too, and they will not want to cross. They also know that teachers will not be calling the scabs to come and sub for them again. Memories run long in OUSD; I have heard people talk about who crossed a picket line 10 years later.

  • harlemmoon

    Bravo to OUSD for being proactive.

    Learning – at least on some level – will go on in the event of a strike. That is why we’re all here. Right?

  • J.R.

    If we do up the ante for more money I hope the teachers will give their best efforts and push those kids to excel. I hate seeing kids who have reached sixth grade but are performing the three R’s at the second grade level. Whoever is passing the buck on these kids is worse than a scab.

  • Oakland Teacher

    And of course, only the teachers are responsible for “passing the buck” when it comes to students. It is never the responsibility of parents, the environment or the students themselves (high school).

    I already give my best effort; more money can’t increase that. What it can do is send a message that Oakland teachers are valued at least close to the level of teachers in neighboring school districts.

    And no, learning will not go on with substitutes who are not there day and day out. It’s nice to hear though, that people think that our students can be taught by anyone hired off Craig’s List, and that meaningful learning will take place. I love my students, but NO – I will not be writing lesson plans for any days my union is out on the picket line.

  • J.R.

    As I have stated in past post’s “The parents are the major factor in the success or failure of their kids education”, but that does not lessen the fact that the teachers are very important as well. In the real world if you take the position, then you must take the responsibility that comes with that. In the real world if you don’t perform to expectations you are gone, no grievances, no appeals, and no transfers! We all say kids are important, but do we really mean what we say, or is it just a maneuver?

  • aly

    the district has posted on craigslist for quite a while now, so it is interesting to me that folks are having such a strong reaction to that. i’m not sure why someone used a locally-based posting service somehow makes them a poor candidate for a job.

    the problem is $300/day for scabs instead of fair pay for contracted employees. it insults everyone who is in a classroom everyday, teachers or subs. it makes me sad that the state of our economy makes an offer like this tempting or necessary for some people. i want to be mad at folks who will apply, but it is not their fault the offer exists.

    and i second oaklandteacher- whatever happens in classrooms the day of the strike will be hardly more than glorified babysitting. i hope that parents coordinate to keep kids home and support the folks that make education happen.

  • walty barbaby

    you should see some of the people on ed join. oh snap.

  • Me

    There will be no “learning” on the one day teachers walk out. If you look at the posting, and see the number of requirements the district is willing to waive, it’s quite alarming. Pretty much anyone could be hired, and these people really will be glorified babysitters. Yes, some people will leap at the chance to make $300 for one day, but I wonder what parents would like to send their children to school to be under the supervision of someone who has had so many requirements waived….

  • localed

    Many educational researchers, including Darling-Hammond and Ball, agree upon the shared influences on learning; half of what impacts the learning of students happens because of what takes place at school (40% teacher quality, 10% class size), and half of what impacts their learning takes place because of what happens to them outside of school (26% socio-economic status, 24% parents educational attainment and commitment to education).

    It’s a shared responsibility folks, and teacher quality matters most.

  • Sue

    If the strike happens – and I sincerely hope it won’t – I’ll go to my corporate job, and my husband and our two OUSD students will go to the picket lines and support the teachers.

    Even though husband will miss his one-day-a-week part-time job, it’s more important to our family to support the people who are in the classrooms every single day, supporting our kids’ education.

    (And yes, we’re lucky to be able to live on my income, and be able to lose a day of my husband’s pay – very, very lucky. But I try to always remember to be thankful to the people who educated me, so that I am able to earn a living for my family. It took more than just luck.)

  • del

    Hey union! Where is the district supposed to get the money to give us a raise??? And isn’t making them pay $300/day to subs further breaking a broke district? And aren’t most of the above posts intimidation and wouldn’t that be bad faith negotiating? And please, don’t say that this is all about consultants, most of them were hired so that we as teachers wouldn’t have to do things like supervise lunch, etc. (Or were mandated because we as teachers were doing a lousy job with the kids, again, our fault). Yes, I want more money. We should be paid as much/more than anyone in the county/state, BUT you can’t get blood from a turnip. We’ve all seen the budget, and it’s a mess—-ignoring that is no different than looking at our test scores and ignoring what’s going on in the homes of these kids.

  • J.R.

    Del,
    I have to commend you, what a great caring teacher you must be, and it is a privilege to have such a fair minded, reasonable “kids first” person teaching our kids. And you are right teachers are very underpaid, but again it’s more difficult to make that case when the unions protect the bad, burnt-out or just uncaring teachers.

  • harlemmoon

    Del,

    Great job summarizing the obvious (at least to the rational among us). You are to be applauded.
    Sadly, you should also be prepared to be run out of town for your honesty. You see, based on the vitriolic posts here, these folk aren’t about to let a little thing like reason (or logic) get in the way of a good fight.

  • Harold

    re: the $300. All of Teachers who honor the picket line, will not be getting paid. So, the district will make money that day. And we all know even if the students don’t show up … the district will still get most of a regular days ADA money.

    @JR – no child deserves to waste a year, or a semester, or one class (secondary), with an ineffective Teacher. But you act as if, we have terrible Teachers throughout the district. And that OEA is keeping them in their positions. That perception just is not valid.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Del: “blood from a turnip”

    So, the fact that OUSD gets dinged every year by the state for having a top-heavy district which does not meet the MINIMUM requirements for percentage of funding directed to the classroom means nothing? All consultant fees are valid?

    As for “intimidation”, wow, man up, dude. All I see here is folks saying: If you cross a picket line, your peers will remember that and judge you for it. How is that intimidation? Actions have consequences. Cross the picket line if you feel so strongly about it — nobody’s going to hurt you.

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    Most teachers are very good at what they do(I am a PTA parent and have done classroom visits , and I know scads of teachers in multiple districts, and there are teachers who for one reason or another should not be teaching(and you know in your heart that it’s true). Let’s be honest about it, OK. What really upsets me is that we are stuck with these dancing lemons, but we have to cut loose some wonderful new and not so new teachers who are getting results and their students are learning. Why? because they don’t have seniority(it’s not about who’s fit to teach and who is not). Believe it or not it’s not your right to teach, it’s a privileged public trust, and if you do not want to do it then don’t, because no one is forcing you. Where kids are concerned the public wants the best teachers who “want to teach”. Once we get these kids achieving again and get rid of all the bad eggs, then we can boost the pay. The parents are beginning to wake up so you better hang on, it’s going to be a rough ride.

  • Cranky Teacher

    J.R.,

    This is the most persistently misunderstood aspect of the public education system and I will keep responding to it here until my fingers fall off, I guess.

    Here’s the deal: You can get rid of a bad teacher as an administration by simply DOING EVALUATIONS ON A REGULAR AND SYSTEMATIC BASIS.

    The unions don’t “protect bad teachers,” they simply make sure that the employer must stick the evaluative and support process THEY AGREED TO IN THE CONTRACT.

    Truths:
    – Teachers are not regularly evaluated.
    – “Bad teachers” are identified by word of mouth.
    – Without tenure, personality conflicts between administrators and teachers would likely expunge as many good teachers as bad; many good teachers are outspoken leaders at the school advocating for the students, while many bad teachers lay low and kiss butt so nobody will notice them.

    The reality is, even in so-called “at-will” corporate environments, employers know they must create a paper trail of adequate evaluations for post-probationary employees (and in corporations, that’s usually three months, not two+ years!) because OTHERWISE THEY ARE LIKELY TO BE SUED, whether for discrimination, breach of contract, etc.

    More oft-ignored truths:

    – Schools have two years to separate the wheat from the chaff of new employees, but they can’t even adequately evaluate these prob teachers! Huh?
    – Districts like Oakland open every year with vacancies, and fill classrooms with untrained, well-meaning “intern” and “pipeline” teachers who have had 6-weeks of boot camp. A flatland school with 35% annual turnover is all too eager to keep a warm body in the classroom, no matter how mediocre, as long as they are not actually abusing anybody.
    – New teachers are often terrific, but just as often overwhelmed, and in both cases are likely to quit the district and/or the profession within three years.
    – Rather than being some mighty force, the union is a pretty weak force. Consider that the majority of OUSD’s panoply of small schools don’t even have union reps, and the union has not been able to secure a COLA raise for a decade. Yet somehow it is able to prevent the administration from evaluating its employees?

    Despite all this, we keep hearing about the all-too-real “lemons.” Well, stop blaming the union and do something about it! Here’s an idea: Massive system-wide investment in the evaluation process so that teachers can be targeted, “coached-up” and, if they fail to improve quickly, fired. Why won’t it happen? It costs a LOT of money!

    Finally, I’d like to point out that most crappy teachers started out as well-meaning, educated young people who were hired for their potential — and kept on probation for two years, plus a summer. If they eventually developed into terrible teachers, does the system not bear most of the responsibility, not the weak union?

    Oh, and on the lighter side, this book is a hilarious rebuttal to the idea that any sharp young person can walk into a class and be better than the vets:

    “Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity: One Season in a Progressive School,” by Elizabeth Gold

    http://www.amazon.com/Brief-Intervals-Horrible-Sanity-Elizabeth/dp/1585423777

  • Union Supporter-But

    We’re working on getting a bad teacher out of our son’s school. She often arrives to school 5-10 minutes late (at least 3 times a week) leaving students in the hall. She had stood within two inches of students’ faces and yelling at them in front of classmates. She has accused parents of unspeakable things. She often does not grade homework or assignments.

    So far it has taken two years of documentation; she has had several “coaches” and days and days of “training” and she is still here.

    For the sake of the students next year I hope the school succeeds in getting her out of the OUSD system. She admitted that she was asked to leave the last three schools – each was a “conspiracy” to get rid of her.

    So Cranky Teacher – the union has, does and will continue to move around poor, even destructive teachers. I am living the nightmare now.

  • J.R.

    Oh I never said they couldn’t be fired, only that it is a long drawn out laborious process(which is by design)and cost a lot of money(convening appeal boards and the like)a pope can also be thrown out but that don’t mean it’s easy . As it pertains to vets versus new teachers, here is a story that illustrates it well.
    One of my friends(a vet teacher)was asked by her principal to do intervention for a different grade because all 6 teachers at that grade level refused(tenured all), but as it turns out a new teacher from a different grade had accepted the work(and those kids are doing very well(the principal was impressed). As an aside one of the very same teachers pulled up to school in the morning and her numbered parking space was taken(by a parent I’m guessing)and she was so enraged that she went back home, and the principal had to call her and demand that she get back to work. I have seen this attitude of entitlement, and self centered-ness way too much and in too many individuals (thankfully the majority of teachers are above this) in my decade of involvement with these school districts that I have served.

  • J.R.

    Union supporter,
    We’ve got screamers here too, and we share that nightmare.There is nothing worse than a petulant, ill mannered, arrogant teacher, I agree with you. We have a particular teacher who insists that she was given the worst students so that she would look bad, but last year this same group(most of them are together) was good academically and socially. It reminds me of the quip that my four times divorced friend would say ” I’ve had the worst luck I’ve married four real lemons in a row”, and my reply was ” have you ever wondered what they all have in common?” I seriously don’t think he got it.

  • J.R.

    Union supporter,
    BTW, good luck in getting rid of the lemon, I think your child will be in high school before it happens though, thats the way the system is designed. The kids welfare is not top priority like it should be.

  • the truth

    Folks,

    As a former OUSD teacher of ten years and who enjoys the distance away now, let me share a few truths with you all.

    First off, the days of good teaching in Oakland are over. Bottom line is that this district and its principals are preferring two-year teachers like TFA and OTF teachers than independently trained, critically thinking, outspoken career teachers. The former are just so much more obedient than the latter, they cost less, and they are typically quite uninformed on their rights via the contract, etc. OUSD is turning into sweatshops where they hire cheap, temporary labor.

    Second off, OUSD needs to begin making some bigger decisions with more transparency. Major administrators (OAL Commissioner, principals, etc) are frequently hired without a selection process; nepotism, running deep like it does in city hall, enables unqualified, incompetent people to be hired as “administrators.” This ruins education just as much as the crime problem here in Oakland.

    Thirdly, it is a shame the union will protect its bad teachers, but…it does here in Oakland.

  • Nextset

    I agree with the above postson many points.

    The bad public school systems don’t care about the kids or their futures.

    The bad school systems were always able to fire the bad teachers but really don’t want to.

    It’s is just not that hard to fire a teacher who fails to do her (it’s usually a “her”) job. You write them up for everything, use progressive discipline, then fire them. You get collect interviews and written statements of witnesses as it goes. You hope for open insubordination and fire them on the spot for that. And if you can detect or document criminal conduct such as narcotics on campus, sex violations with kids, or whatever else you can use – call the cops and see them arrested. Whenever possible you use private investigators, police reports and other outside presumably non-biased reports. And if they are doing criminal and dangerous things in their private life you get the proof and fire them for that also. Perhaps they will see what is coming and move on while they can before you make them far less employable.

    No. The issue here is that management has no intention of moving against the teachers WE think are intolerable. The truth is management doesn’t really give a damn, they just pay lip service to the problem.

    The real problem is management. Replace management of bad school systems with retired military or such personalities who can be expected to eliminate pests. Get an exterminator and put them in charge.

  • David Laub

    Del, it is the corupt abuse of policy making power and the criminal (read as conflict of interest)misuse of public education money that has created this “turnip”. Privateering contractors, and Eli Broad graduates have riddled our district ever since the orchestration of OUSD’s “bankruptsy” and takeover by Sacramento-in cahoots with the likes of the privateering venture capital “philanthropists” like Eli Broad and Bill Gates. Do some serious research. Follow the money trail.
    The blood that you allude to has literally been squeezed out of every student, family and certificated and classified education worker in OUSD. The state Administrators and their hired guns, the private consultants that leech out tens of millions of dollars every year from OUSD have had their sights firmly trained on the system of public education-and that means on the democratic civil rights of the citizens of California to equal access to quality education. Quality public education is being sold out to the interests of venture capital, and is being turned into a profit generating industrial complex. RESEARCH THIS, don’t just react. Although this may read rhetorical, it is by no means rhetoric. Empirical data bears this out.
    In these times of Wall Street stealing the heart and soul of Main Street, stealing the material blood, sweat, and tears of the honest labor of Main Street I thank every member of organized labor, and every union out there for having the guts to stand strong and united against the criminal rape of our country’s public trust. I thank every rank and file teacher for standing together. I am proud to be a union brother in the midst of every union sister and brother.

  • J.R.

    David,
    There is a some truth in what you say, but there is an inescapable truth that public education was sliding “before” there were charter schools. I see your point as well, as I have noticed that one part of the political spectrum has been trying to destroy public education for years now(They see it as tax relief,they send their offspring to private school anyway).

  • Harold

    its about the money… they had an internet bubble… a real estate bubble… commodities (oil) bubble during the real estate bubble… now they want to raid public education to create a new economic bubble… and this cynical drive to make every student “college ready” is just a ploy to get more young adults in debt, through the student loan process…this bad teacher stuff is just a (red herring) created by the corporate thieves, to prepare the public for their “master plan’…

  • bigsouth

    Just heard a sta….I heard that the OUSD budget shortfall more than twice the size of the entire state of Montana’s who is at 43 million. If this is true…I want to know just how exactly OUSD will exit this financial mess.

    Didnt they have the original bailout of 100 million in 02?

    What a mess…even further<we all know this district is lost….borad's fault or citizens for electing?

  • David Laub

    Thankyou, J.R.

    FYI-California was in the TOP 10 states with respect to quality public education before the spectre of Reaganomics landed in Sacramento, when Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1967. His policies towards “Trickle Down Capitalism”, along with the debacle of Jarvis-Gann and Proposition 13, and the state initiative that required a 2/3 legislative majority to pass policy reduced California’s system of public education to the ranks of the BOTTOM 10 states in the nation. His neoconservative policies towards fostering plutocracy at the expense of democracy spread to the national level upon his Madison Avenue and Wall Street engineered election in 1980. It is worthy for all of us to spend the time to research this.

    Yes, the OUSD was suffering before the state takeover, and empirical data shows that this has been exacerabated as a result of the privatization mentality that the tyranny of the neoconservative minority pursues in our state legislature. And, as I understand the historical and current data, this does include the ruse of using charters to pursue this end.

    Thomas Paine stated that (and I paraphrase), “…and such is the irrepressible nature of the truth…that all it requires the liberty of appearing”.

    Ms. Murphy, you seem to be attempting to do serious investigative journalism, generally something seriously lacking in corporate media today. It would be a tremendous service to the citizens of Oakland to dig as deeply and uncompromisingly as you can to reveal the depth and breadth of the political and economic interests that have brought OUSD to this condition.

    I look forward to the fruits of your efforts.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Where to begin? If I were a person of hate, I’d hate Ronald Reagan. We are living what he accelerated if not set in motion himself.

    What to do about it? WAKE UP.

    OUSD would not be the most improved large urban if we did not have some magnificent teachers and a good number of really good ones as well. Many of Oakland’s talented teachers came here to take on a Herculian task and remain committed. They deserve recognition and yes, more pay. Unfortunately, for a District facing $85M+ in cuts, that’s not likely. I’m sure there’s some mismanagement locally, but if Oakland would get out of its “bubble mentality” it would see money is short all over. On the way to work, I got another call from a friend laid off this morning and asking me to be a reference. This is the reality folks! In a time of cuts, job security alone costs extra money.

    As for scabs, I might have shared that mentality years ago. Right now, people are trying to feed their families and while we hope a strike (if it happens) is only one day, I would not begrudge anyone who braves a few job-entitled teachers to put food on their table. I do agree however, that letting folks know there are non-violent consequences for their actions is not a big deal. People trying to feed their families won’t care too much.

  • TheTruthHurts

    As for dealing with the poor teachers out there, I think everyone is right. I’m trying to track down indisputable statistics (Katy, help), but at least one source is quoting the Feds that private schools dismiss 9.8% of teachers and public schools in CA dismiss 0.03% of tenured teachers and 6.91% of probationary teachers (much lower tenured and higher probationary numbers than New York). http://teachersunionexposed.com/state.cfm?state=ca. I believe that’s 3 out of 10,000 for the whole state. If you want a laugh, here’s a graphical description of the process in New York and an article with an idea of the cost. http://commongood.org/assets/attachments/firing_chart.pdf and http://teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.cfm.

    Now looking at this, you might want to blame the unions alone. I don’t. If you read the Widget Effect, it talks about how in most of the nation there is no differentiation among teachers (good or bad) and that most teachers get very high ratings despite individual and collective poor performance. http://widgeteffect.org/. That’s in the administrators control and yet they give high marks to poor performers. Why?

    What I don’t get is what kind of profession doesn’t police itself? All teachers are demeaned by the protection of the bad apple. Protecting the bad apple seems counterproductive to everyone but the bad apple. We have two anecdotal stories here on this blog. If the process is so cumbersome all across the state, shouldn’t we parents be the ones trying to change it? We are the ones who vote. I want teachers to have due process, I just want my kids to have the same.

    @Cranky. If the entire state and indeed the nation aren’t letting go of poor performers as in private schools, I find your argument that it’s simple, simply not credible.

    I do agree however that there is a responsibility at the hiring and probationary steps and that most teachers of all qualities come in educated, well-meaning people. I just think it’s a hard job not suited to everyone. Further, I cannot for the life of me get why 2 years equals a lifetime position??? I would not be great at some of the things I could do 20 years ago. I’ve changed, the world has changed and my colleagues have changed. It’s silly to think that even some good teachers don’t burn out and need to move on. It seems like that is blasphemy or something.

    Seems like common sense (or the TRUTH) to me.

  • Harold

    @ TheTruth – those numbers … the ones where private schools fire more Teachers. Did you consider that their dismissal rate might be higher, because they don’t have the same standards (for hiring) as public schools? That maybe, some of them made bad choices by hiring Teachers who haven’t gone to a credential program?

    The credential and tenure system isn’t perfect, but i’ll take that over “no system!”

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Harold, I do think the systems are different and as I indicated, I’d like a different source for my numbers. However, these numbers are consistent with the anecdotal information I hear. I don’t think anyone could credibly argue that CA districts as a whole have weeded out all poor performers by the end of probation. I actually agree with Cranky, that most teachers are well-meaning and educated. Teaching is just hard and it’s silly to assume most will remain sharp for 30 years. Some will and love it, but many won’t.

  • J.R.

    I actually agree with Cranky, that most teachers are well-meaning and educated. Teaching is just hard and it’s silly to assume most will remain sharp for 30 years. Some will and love it, but many won’t.

    I agree on both points, most are well meaning(some are misfit rejects), but teaching takes a certain type of individual, and there are some tenured teachers that don’t measure up. There are so many kids having “lost” years because of this flawed system that we have. I will repeat, “we do not owe anyone a job in perpetuity”. Much less people that handle one of the most valuable resources that we have, “our children”.

  • Cranky Teacher

    “@Cranky. If the entire state and indeed the nation aren’t letting go of poor performers as in private schools, I find your argument that it’s simple, simply not credible.”

    OK, let me be clear on this: As the systems are currently set-up (and thanks to those who point out that these are nationwide issues hardly unique to Oakland), firing a tenured teachers is not as simple as it should be. And yes, I’ve been through this from the other side as a parent who led a successful parent campaign to push a teacher out of our son’s classroom and school.

    That said, it is the school districts which are responsible for hiring, firing, training, supporting, evaluating and disciplining teachers. Furthermore, the district negotiates that contracts that the union then asks the district to live up to.

    My sense of the history is that over a century, districts gave the teachers overly generous job security rights RATHER THAN PAY THEM wages commensurate with other unionized and educated civic employees — bureaucrats, firemen, police, etc.

    Here’s what I’d like to see the nation/state/districts to do, and then we’d see what this is all about:

    Start teachers at 50K instead of 35K and let them top out at 90K instead of 70K after 20 years, in exchange for something much closer to “at-will” employment.

    Put something like that on the table, OUSD, and you’s have a lot of teachers confident in their abilities calling their union leaders demanding they take such an offer seriously.

    Instead, we’re told: Take less, work more, feel guilty about the crappy teacher down the hall we never visit.

    Fun!

    Oh, and how is the union supposed to know which of its members are not good teachers? Gossip? Set up a massive evaluation process of its own? With what money?

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Cranky. I could agree with that one 1000% and glad you wrote it.

    First point though is that if you look on CDE’s website, there are already districts that do this. In fact some teachers could bring home $100K+ with the right credential and additional education.

    Second, problem is NEA/CTA is so strong the dismissal policies are in the LAW, not just the contracts at least from what I’ve read. I’m probably not as familiar with the history as you, but IMHO the reason the issues are so consistent across the state (and nation) is the law.

    Do you know of any larger group of unionized employees than teachers? I don’t. That power is what has allowed this situation IMHO. Also, because there are more teachers than firefighters, police, bureaucrats or anything else (probably combined), a $1 raise for that group costs much more in aggregate. Add that to unions not wanting to differentiate among teachers and you have a prescription for low wages (or much higher taxes).

    The concept of tenure seems such a strange one whether in K-12 or higher ed. In most places, job security is based on performance and company finances. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like that security, but it creates perverse incentives for some.

    I would gladly see teachers with higher salaries (bonuses even) in exchange for a simpler form of due process. I understand the fear some have of arbitrary decisions by principal/parentss. That should be dealt with regardless.

    BTW, when you ran the teacher out of the school, was he/she still moved elsewhere in the district???

    It is remarkable on this blog that we’ve got three examples of difficulty removing a poor teacher on the same post.

  • del

    David: No Sh**. I’ve been saying that and various things along those lines since Marcus Foster was superintendent. None of it being true puts money back in the district. There’s just no money for raises, and letting them divide and conquer the few who give a crap about Oakland kids is playing into their hands. There’s your research. Notice the irony: we argue about teachers vs admin, yet to the right on this page there’s an ad for BayTech Charter, one of the most consistently underperforming charters in the district, yet they have money for internet ads.
    Secondly, these claims of money floating around are just not right—look at the post about the cuts (other) unions posted, all those (mostly illegal or unfeasible cuts STILL wouldn’t provide for a raise, so how would a strike change that? Meanwhile, this thread about the strike has turned into a list of people who have and major problems with OEA members… so again, I don’t want to be divided and conquered, but that’s exactly what we’re asking for if we strike. Lastly, you may not think its intimidation, but I work with kids and hear the same “argument”. Everyday, one group of the fighters says, “we weren’t threatening them, we were just asking them why they had a problem!” or “just reminding them that I had a brother at XYZ school.” I don’t accept this behavior from kids or colleagues. Then again, I think we have a far more pressing problem if we decide to strike—it’s called reality.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Glad someone else noticed the irony of the ads that frequent this blog. Parents see the drivel here and then look at the shiny Flash ads in the sidebar.

  • Big Duke6

    Folks, it is not a good idea to go on strike in the biggest recession in the last 60 years. Particularly since the schools, state and federal government are running record deficits.

    Nor is it a good idea to fight social change.

    California has 12% unemployment. If you don’t want your jobs, I do. And I have no problem crossing a picket line.

    Have a nice day!

  • Oakland Educator

    Oakland Teacher is right. Veterans still remember who crossed the line last time. We will be on the picket lines with cameras. Any sub who crosses will not get another job on our campus.

    Learning goes on during strikes anyway, Harlemmoon. Last time many teachers ran strike schools for weeks. They didn’t sunbathe and wait around for a better paycheck. They went to work every day and ran their own schools in community centers and homes to make sure the children still learned. Meanwhile, the strikebreakers babysat kids in the cafeteria and played movies.

    And it’s completely true that the district promotes turnover to help the bottom line. We are in year two of NExO pressure to give low evaluation scores to tenured teachers to get rid of them. I’m not talking checked-out, bitter, ineffective teachers; I’m talking 1′s and 2′s to dedicated, National Board Certified teachers who run tutoring, serve as BTSA coaches, and make the district a better place. But who cares? They cost more, even though they get paid less than those in any of the other 16 districts in our county.

  • Oakland Educator

    Re: the second year of low evals, it takes more than one year to dismiss a tenured teacher. There are a number of steps in the process. If the pattern continues into next year, there will be a new wave, particularly if the effort remains coordinated. In the past, when only one or two principals have taken this tack, many teachers have transferred to avoid termination.

  • concerned parent

    Why not a professional teacher’s organization to self-regulate? Unions are helpful in labor/management issues but couldn’t teachers have an organization to discipline itself?

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Concerned Parent, not unless parents demand it – ain’t gonna happen. So far parents just leave.

  • Union Supporter-But

    Concerned Parent and The Truth Hurts:

    Our family along with other families have spent two full years documenting a several teachers who simply fail to teach. My son learned this year how to democratically select the Disney or Star Wars movie they would watch during school time.

    You may be right in that parents and families leave the district – but I want you to know that when you have over 50% of the school years spent with a teacher that is so poor at their job that your child spends all summer in classes to learn the grade level material AND they have excellent behavior (as noted by current teacher, principal, previous teachers, parent volunteers and other students) AND your family and other families spend over 200 hours per school year trying to make up for the inadequacies of the teacher, the families do finally give up and move. The Universal Complaint form that parents have filled out has caused a great deal of retaliation to the families and students.

    Teachers lobby other parents to create pressure to back off the complaining. We have received notes sent with our son, parents stopping us in the hallways, teachers turning their backs to avoid us because we refused to accept teachers who don’t have lesson plans, have little to no class management skills and do not know or teach the curriculum.

    After a six years, what would you do?

  • Union Supporter-But

    The child has the excellent behavior, not the teacher.

  • Harold

    good luck to all the families who tried, but now have decided to leave the OUSD. My wife and I will be staying. We love our (OUSD) neighborhood school(s).

    This thread is supposed to be about crossing picket lines, but it turned into another anti-union rant.

    There’s a link to the Skyline H.S. musical “Joseph” above … they must have great Drama, Music and Dance Teachers. You wouldn’t know with the lack of comments on that thread, and the general attitude toward the Teachers in Oakland.

  • Union Supporter-But

    Harold:

    We too, had three great teachers – And we had three teachers who were inadequate at best. You must have a very strong principal with a staff who has been in place for a while and use peer support to advance teaching.

    We naively believed that if we had one bad year positioned between two good years everything would be fine. I still believe that. However when you have three consecutive years with a teacher who is out one day out of every 10 and movies are built into the curriculum time – as well as the teacher not knowing the grade level material, then it is a real problem.

    Back to the strike. Our family has decided not to cross the line for the one day strike. We have decided we will skip up to a week – and may extend to two weeks, but will not miss beyond that number. We will also walk to school rather than drive and drop. I wonder how many other families have decided their “strike tolerance?”

  • TheTruthHurts

    @union supporter. You are more forgiving than me and I applaud what you’re willing to put your kids through in the name of supporting the union and its ideals. My tolerance for shenanigans with children is quite low. If it takes families as committed (or with no options) as you, OUSD is in for a very tough time.

    When I said parents would need to apply the pressure, it was to the union/teachers who support/protect poor teaching, not to the poor teacher. That is the administration’s job and the pressure should be on them for that. The union could support high standards or protect low standards – that was my point.

    While each of these stories are just anecdotes of poor teaching, they point to a severely broken system that seems broken nationwide. I wish you luck with your situation, it sounds extremely frustrating.

  • parent sub

    I’m an OUSD parent, graduate, and wannabe substitute.

    I wouldn’t be a strikebreaker if it was a truck drivers strike or a fruit picking strike, because I would never say, “Hey comrades, let’s remember, at the end of the day it’s all about the FRUIT!”

    The effect of forcing the district to pay “emergency subs” $300 a day would be plenty enough for a strike. It is not necessary to force thousands of single working parents to scramble for daycare.

    I hope to get the chance to substitute should the situation require it. And if I could do it at my children’s school, the parents, teachers, and principal would be very pleased.