Dan Adiletta, a first-year teacher at Explore Middle School — which is closing at the end of the year — is leaving Oakland. He tells us why. -Katy
I stand up to and for your students and see to their learning with all the energy I can muster. I manage to stretch paycheck to paycheck while providing many of my own class supplies. I shoulder stress and come back for more. But despite having managed to drag myself this far, I’m being put into the very category I’ve struggled to avoid: the one-year teacher.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was placed (by a now-disbanded program) on a temporary contract, despite being told I was a one-year probationary teacher. Wouldn’t you know, I found myself in a school that is being closed. So my position and my contract are set to expire, and I am not invited to enter the priority placement process. My calls and e-mails to principals at other schools have gone unanswered. Employment in OUSD seems closed until at least the end of summer. But I simply cannot take that gamble. I’ve got to move.
Oakland’s situation is grim. Personally, I haven’t seen a shortage in talent and commitment—just the opposite. What needs to happen is a process of dramatic changes to the system. When reform eventually comes, I hope these posts demonstrate the benefit of simpler, more personal support for new teachers. To that end, I want to draw attention to a troubling announcement.
The OUSD history department has done amazing work with minuscule resources to develop an assessment program built around primary-source documents. In the absence of another seventh and eighth grade history teacher at my school, it has done so much to shape my instruction. The type of materials that have been developed are academically rigorous and have huge potential in the way we evaluate student learning.
The program is closing until funding returns.
I will not stop fighting the achievement gap. I am more determined of that than when I first started. I will be losing my spot on the front lines of this struggle. There is a rare position at a private school in Connecticut that could really help intensify the rigor of my instruction. Unburdened by the heartbreak that comes with my current position, I will be creative in the nonprofit sector and find a way to keep contributing.
I am angry at the guilt I have in going — it was not my choice to leave.