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Teacher union hunts for `hidden vacancies’

scavenger hunt sketch from ryanrocketship's site at flickr.com/creativecommonsLet’s say a teacher announces in April she’s retiring at the end of the school year. The teacher tells the district’s HR department, and if that position needs to be filled, the HR department tells the teachers union, which tells its members they may apply for that job.

Teacher contracts in many districts allow displaced teachers (usually, the most junior teachers from schools that have eliminated positions, teachers from shuttered schools, or those returning from leave) to choose another job from the list of openings, based on their credentials and seniority. 

The process is called “priority placement,” and it ended June 4. As of today, however, at least 18 of the teachers need to be placed, and the district is obligated to find jobs for them before hiring outside the organization, according to the union president, Betty Olson-Jones.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Principals hate this process — not because the displaced teachers are bad, but because they have no say about who will be joining their staffs. So some administrators keep their openings a secret from the district’s HR department until the displaced teachers have all found jobs and they can hire whomever they want (well, anyone who’s still looking for a teaching job in late June or July). They might, for example, ask a teacher to hold off on submitting his retirement or resignation paperwork until then.

The practice is so common there’s a term for it: “hiding vacancies.”

The Oakland teachers union is asking its members to help expose this open secret. It posted the district’s official vacancy list on its website, and is encouraging teachers to report any openings that are missing from it.

The union’s e-mail listserv has been ablaze with reported violations, including a number of Craigslist ads — though some have since been removed. Someone found a June 7 job listing, apparently placed by people with the district’s Middle School Staffing Initiative, for positions that weren’t included on the district’s vacancy list. (Although the ad was posted three days after the priority placement period ended, Olson-Jones said some of the displaced teachers — those still without jobs — are eligible for those positions.)

Another teacher wrote in about a principal who acknowledged asking departing teachers to keep their decisions hush-hush. Others wrote about instances in which teachers felt pushed into certain positions without adequate time to consider their options.

The district administration, as you might remember, proposed a compromise last month: a system that would let principals interview interested candidates from a pool of displaced teachers before the seniority preference kicked in. San Francisco Unified, where Superintendent Tony Smith last worked, does it that way.

The union leadership is opposed to such a change. So for now, the priority placement rules still stand — except for those who manage not to follow them.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Owen

    GOOD FOR PRINCIPALS for taking whatever steps they can to circumvent a policy that keeps them from hiring the best teachers for their schools.

    Look at the news out of Denver, DC and elsewhere: the nation’s public schools are moving towards merit factoring into teachers’ employment and compensation, and away from seniority ruling. Oakland will surely be one of the last to catch on to this trend, but catch on it will — eventually — OEA’s efforts notwithstanding.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Don’t forget Chicago, Owen, where it was tried and produced no gains for students (Education Week, June 9, 2010).

  • Owen

    Totally understood; there have been many others, in fact. But the trend seems inexorable at this point as unions’ former allies (Democrats) are turning away from tenure. Alternative programs’ success will vary, but as with any innovation trend the strongest options will come to the fore over time — and if the OEA doesn’t get on board they’ll soon be irrelevant.

  • J.R.

    Owen,

    That will be a day to celebrate, after the unions have been kicked in the teeth, and they become irrelevant. People should always be judged on merit ALONE.

  • Yet Another Oakland Teacher

    It never fails to amaze me, the amount of vitriol aimed at teachers, especially experienced ones. Would you prefer to have surgery performed by a doctor who had been practicing for one year or twenty? Would you prefer a lawyer who had only a few trials behind him or her, or one who had years of experience? Would you prefer the mechanic who checks your airplane in-between flights to be the one who just got out of school yesterday or the one with plenty of experience? Yet, when it comes to teaching children, there’s some sort of belief that newer teachers know something more experienced teachers don’t. Well, I’m twenty years in and absolutely the top of my game. There are no new beginning teachers who know half of what I know about curriculum, assessment, instruction, classroom management, methodology or, for that matter, have the connections and knowledge that I do about the district. Brand new teachers are great; but they’ll be even better after 10 or 20 years. So, when it comes to seniority, damned right, I have earned it. Any school that is “forced” to take me at my oh-so-inflated salary of $67 k per year is damned lucky to get me; I may cost twice as much as a new teacher, but I bring a great deal more than twice as much to my classroom. When I’m being consolidated because of school closures, as I am this yearm I know most principals would take one look at my step and column on the salary schedule and go right on the next, cheaper teacher. Thank god the union continues to protect seniority; otherwise, you’d have a school full of new teachers and no mentors. This district kids need experienced teachers, not exclusively newbies.

  • anon

    I saw Roosevelt Middle had a whole slew of jobs up on CL this past week.

  • Gordon Danning

    Judging on merit alone is great, but of course it never happens in the real world – not in government, and not in private industry. In particular, where are these mythical principals who are able to accurately assess the merit of teacher applicants? I’ve never met one; principals have a hard enough time accurately assessing teachers with whom they have actually worked. For example, no principal has ever asked to look at work my students do, or have even looked in any detail at what I ask them to do.

    Moreover, it must be borne in mind that many, if not most, of the currently unassigned teachers are from small schools that didn’t make it. Do we want teachers to volunteer for such schools, or not? Right now, i am pretty much the senior social studies teacher at a large high school; my chances of ever getting laid off are nil. Why would I ever risk that security for a small school, if the system is changed so that I have no say in where i am placed if the small school doesn’t work out?

  • stephen marshall

    Owen–you have it perfectly right. But if the democrats bail on the unions, who will union membership vote for–republican candidates? That would be awesome.

    Yet Another Oakland Teacher–if you’re so effective, why on earth would your supervisor consolidate your position? Further, why wouldn’t another administrator snatch you up? Every administrator is under the gun for results in the classroom, and with all of your experience, you must get good test scores. You’re worth $87k + benefits, not a paltry $67k. You should be a commodity–what gives?

    These rules don’t protect good teachers; they enable bad teaching in the system and further constrain administrators from making hard decisions that benefit STUDENTS.

    Seniority is bad for kids. Bad for teachers. Bad for everyone.

  • Ivette

    Mutual consent is crucial to building and maintaining well functioning schools. Our current hiring practices make it difficult to staff our schools with people who are both wanted and who want to be there.

    Anon: I believe the article covered your point.

  • Ivette

    Yet Another Oakland Teacher:

    Principals prefer experienced teachers over new ones. If you don’t know this, I don’t know what principals you’ve been talking to…

    It is not experienced teachers that are the problem, the problem is that pricipals are not adequately involved in the placement process of priority placement teachers.

    While it is definitely important for a teacher to want to be at a school (of course!), it is equally important for principals to have a say in who is placed at their school. We cannot expect to build stable learning environments for our students if we do not base our hiring decisions on working relationships that will last– those where both parties agree that they want to work together.

  • Sara

    Yet Another Oakland Teacher , you really have a great opinion of yourself but I wonder if others do. The teachers I know who have been teaching the longest are among the worst. They don’t want to quit because they lose their health benefits but they are tired of teaching. They don’t bother to learn new technology and continue to use the same old lessons they have always used which bore the students to death and teach them nothing. Often their knowledge of their subject, apart from what is in their textbook is limited. At least the TFAs are well educated, unlike many of the teachers in their 50s and 60s. I fact, I know very few really good teachers and I worked at various middle schools, but the ones I do know are among the younger ones.

  • ousd funemployed

    The most important attribute of good teachers is their performance in the classroom. This is not the only attribute of good teachers.

    If you are a 10 on the teaching scale, you will probably always be able to find a job. However, if you are a 7 on the teaching scale, and a 10+ on the pain in the behind scale, why would a principal want to keep you around? Some people’s personalities are so toxic and infectious that it doesn’t matter how good they are at their jobs.

    This is not a knock on teachers; it is true in all professions. But all too often, especially on this blog, we talk about the potential for abuse in the review process of subordinates (teachers). This potential exists. it exists in the private sector, too. Good employees are terminated for lousy reasons on occasion, and this is too bad. If it happens to frequently, it comes back to bite the leader. On the flip side, a leader who keeps a single, toxic employee at the expense of everyone else is doomed. You either trust your leaders to make those decisions or you need to hire new leaders. Whoever you ultimately put in the position needs to be able to make that call.

  • J.R.

    “Well, I’m twenty years in and absolutely the top of my game. There are no new beginning teachers who know half of what I know about curriculum, assessment, instruction, classroom management, methodology or, for that matter, have the connections and knowledge that I do about the district”.

    Since the inception of NCLB all prospective and new teachers have been through much more rigorous requirements than teachers from previous years.No matter how long a list you give “pedagogy” in and of itself is not the difficult part(and it isn’t rocket science either). differentiating instruction is probably as hard as it gets. you don’t get points for cronyism and connections, it would be more impressive if OUSD weren’t one of the worst districts in the state academically. The top of one persons game might be the bottom of another persons scale.The young teaching might know more than you, they just lack classroom time, and studies have shown that once a teacher hits 5 years they will have acquired all the experience that they need to do their job effectively(unless they picked the wrong profession of course).

  • Michael

    Owen, J.R., Ivette…couldn’t agree more. Where’s Michelle Rhee when you need her? We need a contract like D.C.’s to see some real change!

  • J.R.

    You could never compare doctors,lawyers and teachers, only one profession has a mapped out guide(curriculum)Teachers editions and so forth and you just have no need for a ton of experience. it’s really not useful in a teachers line of work. They’re just struggling with math um……….. re-teach, wow brilliant. there are just not very many variables involved. I prefer young college grads who are energetic knowledgeable and haven’t lost their patience. On the good side teachers(the good ones) do change lives and that is awesome. I just have no use for bad, ill mannered, impatient teachers.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I could not disagree more with #13 that you just open a teachers edition and start talking. I am still learning and developing as a teacher, even after more than 10 years. The first few years as a teacher are a blur for most people they are so stressful; that is why so many people leave teaching.

    I work at a school that the principal is holding back, but while I am very opposed to this practice, cannot seem to drum up the courage to “out” the opening. I agree it is unfortunate that principals do not get some type of input into who works at the school, but also agree that the policy of seniority is important to avoid unfair hiring practices. Positions are held back for two reasons: avoiding the higher salaries of veteran teachers (there could be a 30k difference over a new/young hire) and avoiding teachers who have been involuntarily transferred (with possibly really poor classroom skills). The one other reason is that the principal has someone in particular in mind and is hoping that everyone else has already found a position before theirs is actually listed.

    I wonder if in the private sector, people try to hire new and inexperienced people to save money?

  • jenna

    @ Yet Another Oakland Teacher Says-
    I would rather have a brand new surgeon who studied on animals that have the surgeon who successfully performed heart surgery and every patient died in May.

    My sons have had EXCELLENT teachers in Oakland. They have also had some of the worst 12 year / 14 year and 17 year teachers I have ever seen, heard or had. They were absolutely unfit.

    A teacher in a class for 12 years can have 12 years of experience or one year of experience 12 times.

  • Katy Murphy

    It’s a common perception that principals consolidate, or displace, their worst teachers. In reality, several principals and the director of labor relations told me, principals have little to no say in the matter. Union rules govern consolidations as well as the placement of those displaced teachers, so it’s usually the newest teachers who go if a school cuts a position. A veteran teacher will be displaced — and then receive “priority placement” — if her school closes or, possibly, if she’s returning from leave.

  • HS Math Teacher

    It’s not just the principals who prefer to hide the vacancies. As a teacher, I don’t want to be stuck with a tenured coworker who may not be a good fit for the school or has been out of the classroom for years and years – as is the case with some of the teachers in the current pool. We have much more knowledge about the teaching ability of teachers already in the system through word-of-mouth. In our case, it is not so we can higher a younger teacher; it is so we can hire the teacher that is the strongest and best fit for the open position.

  • oakey

    Yet Another Oakland Teacher Says:

    “It never fails to amaze me, the amount of vitriol aimed at teachers, especially experienced ones.”

    Hardly. It is possible to have great respect for teachers and teaching, and total loathing of the teacher’s union and what it has done in Oakland to prevent reform.

  • J.R.

    HS Math,
    You summed up the issue exactly, we need to hire the strongest teachers without regard to time served. What could be more fair than that. Let the principals do the job that they were hired to do, and the teachers union needs to be concerned with whats best for kids and shaddup.

  • J.R.

    Oakey,
    I too have great respect and love for the great teachers(the majority) who have changed lives, and their good names, and reputations are being dragged through the mud for the sake of an agenda to protect people who are unfit to teach our children. The teachers unions have been an impediment and they must be removed.

  • J.R.

    Katy,

    “It’s a common perception that principals consolidate, or displace, their worst teachers. In reality, several principals and the director of labor relations told me, principals have little to no say in the matter. Union rules govern consolidations as well as the placement of those displaced teachers”

    I am glad you are putting these fallacies to rest, one more fallacy is that principals will hire new teachers to save money, could we research and expose this one too. As I understand it principals are not given “x” amount of money to hire “x” amount of teachers, and would a principal really put their jobs in jeopardy from angry parents reacting to inferior teachers, just to save some money? It just doesn’t make any sense.

  • harold

    unions are under attack. Thankfully, the anti-union voices who contribute to this blog, have no say in the of the OEA!

    Should we get rid of the Administrators union?

    how about getting rid of the Fireman and Policeman union(s), and have them work under a merit system?

    let’s pay the fireman based on how many fires they put out and how fast they do it? if fire engine No. 2, regularly puts out fires so fast that more private property is salvaged – lets pay them more!

    Also, lets pay Policeman on a merit system … more moving violation citations equals more pay!

    bust more drug dealers, get a bonus check!!

    how about Newspaper writers? the more hits you get on the papers website, the more money you get!

    no more unions… no more regulation … straight up, free-market capitalism for everyone!

  • Gordon Danning

    JR:

    My understanding is that, under Result Based Budgeting, principals DO get X number of dollars to hire X number of teachers, and based on my conversations with administrators, of course they take that into account when making decisions, at least at the margins: eg: can we afford to have a teacher teach an extra period after school? Well, it depends on the teacher’s salary. That being said, that is a flaw in the current budgeting process, and is not inherent in the seniority system.

  • J.R.

    Here is a good article on teacher averaging that substantiates some of my claims:

    http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/124013_seattleschools29.html

    Most teachers will probably ignore it though.

  • Ivette

    Harold:

    There is a difference between a profession and a trade. Teaching is a profession– it’s about time we start treating it like one.

    If we want teachers to be a respected as professionals(like doctors, lawyers, etc.), we need to put an end to the trade mentality. Teachers are not widgets, the individual filling a specific teaching position makes a huge difference. This is part of the reason performance matters in the teaching profession.

    It’s easy to ridicule the merit system when you’re not addressing it in the proper context, try doing the same thing with professions and you’ll see that the merit system makes sense. It is the backbone of establishing and maintaining successful/well functioning organizations and businesses.

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    I do not want to name names, but at some schools this year, parents are angry when children are not doing grade level work and several teachers had lesson plan books that were rather skimpy and incomplete and few tests were given during the year.Let me ask you, should these teachers be paid as much as the others whose lesson plan books are full? At certain schools smart boards were used, these are computerized white-boards that store data(lessons being taught on the board)on a laptop to be used to gauge what is being taught and what the children are learning. Many older teachers objected, can you tell me why?

  • J.R.

    “So, when it comes to seniority, damned right, I have earned it. Any school that is “forced” to take me at my oh-so-inflated salary of $67 k per year is damned lucky to get me; I may cost twice as much as a new teacher, but I bring a great deal more than twice as much to my classroom”.

    This mindset of entitlement and arrogance can no longer be tolerated.

  • Go Stan Go

    Harold-

    I like it!! Go and get itism is what free market capitalists like.

    Whats the opposite-government reliance. Yeah – that’l work.

  • J.R.

    Yet another Oak teacher,
    I am assuming you must have at least ten “teacher of the year” awards at home. You must bring at least 70% of your students to or above grade level every year. You must really stand out, and others teachers come and observe you to see how you have bucked the OUSD trend and have been an educational light in the darkness. WOW, I’m really impressed, but if you haven’t done those things you aren’t exactly at the top are you?

  • harold

    J.R.,

    I am earning the lowest (Teacher)pay in Alameda Co. I am good at what i do. Until that changes, i can’t even hear you.

    Merit pay will drive down wages in cities like Oakland. I cannot support that.

    Show me a system where we can measure the “merit” through testing, of: P.E., Visual Arts and Performing Arts Teachers?

    I have never heard of any.

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    I know you can’t or wont hear me, thats because you are still hoping to think of a cogent response, and far as P.E. visual arts, etc go, the children are in school to enrich and nurture their magnificent brains. All other pursuit are secondary and tertiary at best. these are just “straw men” that are practically irrelevant. As far as your pay you can look at it this way, the district is not in the top half in the whole state, it’s on the bottom, so there you go, something to shoot for. I suggest you start by helping to rid the district of inferior teacher and then the academic scores might rise and people will take notice, and you will get your raise.

  • J.R.

    I am making this an open question because Harold can’t or wont answer it:

    I do not want to name names, but at some schools this year, parents are angry when children are not doing grade level work and several teachers had lesson plan books that were rather skimpy and incomplete and few tests were given during the year.Let me ask you, should these teachers be paid as much as the others whose lesson plan books are full? At certain schools smart boards were used, these are computerized white-boards that store data(lessons being taught on the board)on a laptop to be used to gauge what is being taught and what the children are learning. Many older teachers objected, can you tell me why?

  • harold

    ANOTHER OPEN QUESTION:

    Show me a system where we can measure the “merit” through testing, of: P.E., Visual Arts and Performing Arts Teachers?

    I have never heard of any.

  • J.R.

    Harold,

    Like I said before, those disciplines are nearly irrelevant to the major educational issues that stand before us, but if I had a preference for teachers in those disciplines I would opt for highly motivated, energetic, demanding and patient teachers irregardless of time served, does that answer your question? Are you going to attempt to answer mine?

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    This brings to mind an incident from this year, a district terminated some PE positions which then resulted in tenured multi-credentialed PE teachers bumping junior classroom teachers. Some of them were miserable and complaining, and the kids were subjected to displays of anger and yelling throughout the year with very little graded work done(most parents felt that it was a wasted year). Parents complained and of course it was all hushed up and nothing was done. After all those kids and parents won’t be there next year to raise a stink, and so on it will go year after year.

  • Gordon Danning

    JR:

    You complain in #36 that things were “hushed up,” yet in #33 that you don’t want to name names. That’s part of the problem — no one ever wants to name names. How does silence help students?

    There is something to be said about the motivating power of shame. It’s too bad that no enterprising reporter came by my school this week to see what is going on in many, many classrooms during what ostensibly are final exams. A story on exactly what is happening in each teacher’s classroom might lead to some welome changes.

  • seenitbefore

    Yes…. those stupid “straw men” teachers!!! Why do Oakland students need art, music, dance, theater, physical education or culture!!! What a waste!

    Critical thinking, logic, reasoning and problem solving skills? Noooooo! Too hard to measure on a fill in the circle standardized test.

    The inherent value of learning to work together with others to create magnificent and unique and life altering learning moment? To understand one’s own responsibility and the part each person plays in a group or in a society successfully achieving it’s goal??? As J.R stated…Irrelevant!

    Who the heck says any of THIS stuff is important for the adequate education of a human being??????

    Oh! I remember now! The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Mayans, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Indigenous people of all lands and of course those darn Europeans! <- always trying to make trouble!

    But OAKLAND kids don't need ANY of that stuff!!!!!

    THIS is exactly why enrollment is down, our students and families become unengaged and teachers LEAVE OUSD! But of course…. good riddance right!?

    When they excavate the ruins of ancient civilizations, they find cultural treasures and piece together how each society lived and what it valued enough to preserve. When they dig up Oakland in 500 or 1000 years…. what will they find?

  • J.R.

    Gordon,
    Such is the beast that we have borne, in the vast expanse that is the education system, the parental shouts of anger are almost silenced, and the system is in full defensive mode and that is a tough nut to crack. Make no mistake, this is by design. We will shatter this system and build anew.I can tell just from your posts that you are a thoughtful person who carefully measures his words.You need to really objectively look at this and decide for youself. This has eerie parallels to the Catholic church debacle in some ways. As for shame, it only works where a conscience is present, and you have read some of these posts, “they are entitled to it all”, and damn the children.

  • Cranky Teacher

    “The young teaching might know more than you, they just lack classroom time, and studies have shown that once a teacher hits 5 years they will have acquired all the experience that they need to do their job effectively(unless they picked the wrong profession of course).”

    And after five years, most will have quit already.

    But I’m sure you’ll find a way to blame that on the union, too.

    What folks keep ignoring is that the need for teachers over the next 20 years is so massive that we will need both the young and old teachers if we are to staff our schools.

    As for J.R., your ignorance of what it takes to teach our students is phenomenal. Just go with the textbook guide? Yeah, that works for middle-class kids at middle-class schools. But what if you are facing 35 kids who can NOT MAKE MEANING FROM THE ‘GRADE-LEVEL’ TEXTBOOK written for the “average” kid in Massachusetts or Orinda? Well, then, you have to find or make appropriate curriculum which can engage the students you have. But you are teaching two other subjects as well, and these are different from the subjects you taught the year before. Meanwhile, two of your students are in juvenile hall and you need to send them modified assignments, another slept in his friend’s car last night because his mom threw him out of the house for the umpteenth time so you need to figure out referral services and whether to call CPS, and your special ed aide is out sick today so you have three children who need one-on-one attention or they will be just rotting there half the day and you have that school-site council meeting tonight, don’t forget, plus the piece of the WASC report you were asked to write, there’s a mom on the phone who wants to know why you took her son’s iPod away from him during class, and the district person called, you have to finish your BTSA paperwork or you might lose your credential and wait, does that hat qualify as gang paraphenalia? Was it Norteno or Sureno? Never mind, gotta get my Donor’s Choose reminder up on Facebook so my friends and family will pay for the frogs we need to buy for the dissection unit, since the district/state/country has no money and WOULD SOMEBODY STOP PULLING THE FIRE ALARM too bad the security guard was laid off and the school secretary and the school nurse and the custodian is half time now, so I better mop my own damn floor — oh, and remember to check the boy’s bathroom twice a day, so it doesn’t get TOO nasty, don’t forget to take those essays home — dare I bring some on the camping trip or will the girlfriend kill me? Remember what happened with the last one; she said, ‘I’ve lost you to teaching and I can’t honestly think I’m going to get you back.’ Oh well, she probably wasn’t The One, anyway, right? Good news is summer is here — gotta get a job! And redo my curriculum, since I’ll have a different age group…and I’m teaching that new elective, for which there IS no textbook…hmmn… could I get a grant to write the curriculum? Better research that…Oh, and I wanted to pain these walls — they haven’t seen paint in a few decades — but is that against the union? even if nobody is going to paint them if I don’t? uh oh stop writing on the blog, lunch is over and grades are almost due…

  • jenna

    Harold:

    My sons’ elementary teachers never taught ANY of those subjects with the exception of in kindergarten and first grade. They simply chose to avoid those subjects even in the Open Court readers they skipped them.

    Middle school PE is okay – but because my son is advanced in math his principal is making him take advanced math as his elective. No visual or performing arts to measure if none is taught.

  • Kim Shipp

    I agree #14, we need a better system. One like Washington DC’s. As for yet another Oakland Teacher.

    I would take my chances on the less experienced if I received the type of results that have been produced over the last twenty to thirty years in education. At least I’d know they were trained in the lastest technology and I would not have to spend a lot of time determining whether or not they are effective or be stuck without a choice if they were not. I could dismiss them and move on.

    I would not want my Toyota worked on from a 20 year mechanic that have not gone back to school to learn to work on computer chip intergrated cars but yet was kept on the job just because….

    I see private and Christian schools getting it done without unions. And it not just a matter of money. These schools are suffering from budget cuts as well.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Once again, “The Truth Hurts”

    The Truth
    It is clear from the teachers and parents who have posted here that “hiding vacancies” is warranted. It is simply asinine to have a system where the supervisor has no say in the staff and then is held accountable for the results of a staff who themselves can’t be held accountable for the same results. It just makes no sense!

    This is not about teacher-bashing or even teachers. It’s about having a rational system to best deploy talent for the benefit of CHILDREN. Remember them???

    Is it any wonder people are running, not walking away from such systems – including our Democratic president and even some unions (albeit east of California).

    Why it Hurts
    If folks continue to insist on such nonsense, they will simply get what they deserve. The shame of it is, the schools with the most turnover (the poorest) suffer the most. They have more vacancies to fill with no say in who fills them. How’s that for institutionalized racism and classism? How is this in line with the mission of a school district? In Oakland???

    What to do??? I don’t know, but
    There ought to be a better way to protect against principal abuse than giving them NO say on who joins their staff. Seems a bit of an overreach to me. Katy mentioned an idea from SF that might be better than the current mess.

    Great teaching is worth so much more respect than it gets, but it is hamstrung by these stupid rules that facilitate poor teaching and mismatched staffing which WE collectively seem unable to deal with – while having students and not adults as the focus. (I blame the districts, unions and us as the public for tolerating such nonsense)

    We should expect the union to fight for what its adults want. However, I’m not even sure their adults want this. Seniority is not a bad concept when given the proper weight. But to use it in deciding who teaches a child – it’s ludicrous. There are so many variables regarding that child, that teacher, that school, that community, that someone with responsibility for all of the above should be in a decision-making role.

    OUSD doesn’t use such inane rules in selecting principals – who teachers will tell us are less important than a teacher.

    “Hide” on principals – it’s a rational response to an irrational system and the teachers who support such a system should be ashamed. Clearly, many teachers don’t support the system because it is these very teachers who allow the principals to do the hiding.

  • J.R.

    Cranky,
    Tell me that is your last card to play, the “I teach a room of nothing but gang-bangers card”, well then it just isn’t your fault. There, do you feel better? Good back to reality: I have spent years in those classrooms, and I have witnessed it all. Even in the worst of schools in every classroom there are kids that want to learn. I can promise you something with absolute certainty, that you can leave the teaching profession any time you wish, it is your choice, and no one will force you to stay.

  • harold

    @J.R. – we both want the kind of Teachers you described in #35. But, that doesn’t answer my question:

    Show me a system where we can measure the “merit” through testing, of: P.E., Visual Arts and Performing Arts Teachers?

    I have never heard of any.

    How can these Teachers get more money, if we are not testing the Arts?

  • J.R.

    Truth,
    Just so you know, your well thought out and reasoned post is very likely being ignored(as a matter of fact Harold is probably holding his breath, stomping his feet, and cupping his hands over his ears because he wont hear anything until he gets more “allowance”.

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    I don’t know about you, but I’m just a crazy person that worries about the most important things first. I’m sorry but PE and the arts are just not important in the scheme of things. You can’t get fit in one hour of low activity per day, it’s not possible and irrelevant to the big problems.

  • harold

    “the Truth” spoke on the process of filling vacancies, not your anti-union diatribe.

    I have no problem with *competent* Principal’s, hiring their staff(s).

    J.R.- i know your heart is in the right place (kids first). Me too. That’s why i took a job in Oakland and not in the burbs. Have i seen poor-quality Teaching in Oakland? yes. But, i will just agree to disagree with you on how to make our district better for the Children and the Teachers.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @J.R.

    I am well aware that on most blogs/discussions, there are 10x or more “lurkers” than posters. They are the audience.

    I’m also aware that some “can’t” hear what is being said for whatever reason. For them, there is simply Darwinism and their goal may be to forestall the inevitable. Not that everyone should agree, but only that those who choose not to mentally engage with ideas presented will ultimately be left behind by those who do. Given the state of public education, particularly in CA, you’d think many more would see the writing on their walls.

    Interestingly, there are unions elsewhere that are engaging with the world around them and there are others that are not. Only time will show the result, but I have a sinking suspicion that those that engage will ultimately benefit their constituents and their organizations far more.

    Having lived away from the Bay Area for some time, it is remarkable how willing some are to avoid the real issues staring them in the face. Everyone is struggling, but some at least choose to recognize, the truth hurts, and struggle directly with the issue at hand instead of so much ignoring, band-aids and scapegoating.

    We’ll see . . .