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Oakland parents strike, demand teacher’s removal

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 8:18 pm in elementary schools, families, OUSD central office, parents, teachers.

Lazear Elementary School strike. Photo by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News GroupUPDATE: The school district has placed the teacher on administrative leave while they investigate the latest complaint, which alleges physical abuse.

Parents at Lazear Elementary went on strike today, which meant they kept their kids out of school. Only 60 of about 300 children showed up in the morning.

The protesting parents said they’ve filed complaints about a problematic third-grade teacher for more than a year, and nothing has happened. They said they were tired of hearing about “the process.”

On the other end of the teacher firing spectrum, parents and teachers at Claremont Middle School last night expressed shock and horror that one of their star, go-getter teachers — a newbie, without job protections — received a dismissal notice. As is often the case with these first- and second-year teachers, she was apparently released without even knowing why. (Lillian Mongeau from Oakland North wrote about it in more detail.)

One Claremont teacher said Thaler was a “truth-teller,” and wondered if that’s what did it. It’s possible, and we might never know. (It’s also possible that the school board will rescind her dismissal and give Thaler her job back.)

Where is the middle ground? I’ve heard people say there’s too much focus on the so-called “bad teachers,” and not enough on the average ones, who greatly outnumber them. One could argue the process in place in most districts perpetuates that dynamic by requiring administrators to spend a disproportionate amount of time to assist or remove poor teachers — in some cases, by transferring them (and their challenges) to other schools.

Or when a staffing situation bubbles over, as it has at Lazear.

OUSD Board Member Noel Gallo was at Lazear this morning to support the parents, and later at the district office protest. He said he expects this sort of response will keep happening as parents in less affluent neighborhoods continue to organize. He said a bad teacher “wouldn’t last a day at Hillcrest” or other more affluent schools, and that the system has to change. (I should note that I’ve heard a different story from hills parents.)

Do you agree with Gallo? What should be done? We discussed this in January, when AFT President Randi Weingarten called for “less glacial” due process.

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  • Katy Murphy

    No name-calling, please.

  • Sue

    @Cheuy-leuy,

    What was all that? It sounds kind of like my mother when she’s off her meds (bi-polar disorder, type II). I.e. lots and lots of words, but nothing that’s coherent, meaningful, or in context. And anger, lots of anger, but consistently misdirected anger.

    (Dad’s got her in a new hospital, since their rural county hospital closed last year, and he’s hopeful that she’ll be able to be released and come home sometime this week or next. Then he won’t be driving 60-miles one way for daily visits with her – which worries me.)

    Maybe some mental health/behavioral services could help you too?

    Sorry, I’m sure this is going to provoke another angry and incoherent rant, but I honestly didn’t get anything else out of those previous posts, and I can’t help noticing the strong similarities to someone who’s close to me, and has been in and out of numerous institutions for the last 45 years.

  • Cheuy_Leuy

    Sounds like Sue needs to take a civics class to understand why it is inappropriate for a School Board member on the Ethic committee especially, should follow democratic principles–and, why our County has a CPS unit to investigate any ‘valid’ claims of a teacher involved in any physical altercations with a student. Any clinical health worker or professional whole holds any ‘valid’ credential or higer-education degree would also agree that this type of vigilantism fally under ‘bully’ which this incident is clearly all about. I hope the Union and the teacher “SUE” for intentional infliction of emotional distress and other intentional and negligent acts with the support of a school board member….”SUE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>”

  • Cheuy_Leuy

    @SUE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    OAKLAND — An audit of Oaklands use of federal stimulus dollars provided to create jobs found “inflated job numbers,” “accounting mistakes” and incidents of the money being spent on things such as field trips to a water park, a state report released Tuesday said.

    Now who’s out of their minds???????????????????

  • J.R.

    If the parents do not “stand up”, the whole debacle will be “hushed up” and “swept under” the proverbial carpet. This is the way big organizations work, and the school system is pretty big. Haven’t you noticed that these procedures are laboriously slow and drawn out, because the people in charge know that the collective public has a short attention span.