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About that 2 percent raise…

Here’s a real-world word problem for you:

The across-the-board salary increase Oakland school district staff have built into the second half of next year’s planning budget (the raise would go into effect in January 2012) would cost about $2 million in general-purpose dollars. For a full year, of course, it’s double that amount.

What if the district tabled that idea in light of the 500-plus March 15 notices it plans to distribute? How many teaching positions could it afford to keep?

Annual cost of a 2 percent raise in OUSD: $4 million

Average teacher cost, according to HR: $73,000

That comes out to more than 54 full-time teaching positions. For the upcoming school year, it would be 27, since the raises wouldn’t start until January and therefore would cost half as much.

Of course, that doesn’t come close to the 538 jobs that could potentially be lost in Oakland’s public schools under the doomsday scenario of losing $900/student, or $30 million, in general-purpose money. (Yes, I’m told that is the scenario upon which the hundreds of March 15 notices were calculated in OUSD. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says that if the tax extension fails, and the state needs to close a $26.6 billion deficit, k-12 education will likely be cut by at least $4 billion — $700 per student — and possibly much more.)

Should the district reconsider the raises to save jobs and minimize disruption to schools and programs? At last night’s meeting, an Oakland adult ed teacher proposed furloughs for that reason. Do you agree?

Katy Murphy

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

  • TheTruthHurts

    I think teachers should speak to this issue as has been the case in other school districts and other workplaces – including San Jose firefighters. As a parent, I’d like to see more teachers, but not if they can’t feed their families and have a bad attitude.

    I also think management probably hasn’t been creative enough to free up dollars. Doesn’t Oakland still have WAY too many schools for the students it has?

    Doesn’t Oakland have its own custodians, payroll department, benefits department, gardening department, etc? Most companies give that work to outsiders who are cheaper, more efficient and more accountable. It amazes me the amount of school money not spent on educators.

  • livegreen

    I agree entirely with TheTruthHurts…

  • L.K.

    As a teacher, I would postpone a raise (especially a paltry 2%) to save jobs for some of my colleagues and reduce disruption for the students. I have lived without a raise for so many years I can’t remember. One more year isn’t going to make that much difference to me and could mean the world to 54 teachers who would otherwise get laid off. As for custodians, gardeners, etc. I fear that phasing out in-house employees would simply mean that those services would be pushed onto other staff (i.e. teachers and principals). The district laid off most of its plumbers, for example, and I’ve had a leaky sink for two years because there is no one to fix it. The head custodian at a school is not just someone who cleans. He or she is also the building and grounds manager. You can’t outsource that and principals have too much on their plates to take on the job. Also, the few employees in custodial, food, and buildings & grounds are mostly community members and the jobs are relatively decent. Laying off low paid locals to bring in lower paid locals just rubs me the wrong way. I understand that research was done to outsource payroll, but educational pay is very complicated and private firms lack the expertise to handle it.

  • seenitbefore

    As an OUSD teacher, I would also postpone a 2% raise if it meant saving TEACHER jobs.

    However, the bottom line after working for this district in various capacities at over 100 schools(some no longer in existence) during the past 15 years is….. that most of the teachers I have worked with have been dedicated and extraordinary. But, I continue to be appalled by the enormous waste of human and financial resources and the vast ineptitude I have witnessed from nearly every aspect of each and every other department within OUSD.

    There should be NO outside consultant contracts allowed at all…… period.

    All of the ridiculous “professional development” contractors brought in from Boston, Chicago, etc… needs to be stopped immediately! There are local experts, many of which work(ed) for OUSD that could provide more meaningful PD for Oakland teachers.

    All of the “packaged curriculum” needs to stop. All of the excessive test prep focus needs to be redirected towards meaningful classroom instruction where students actually engage in higher level thinking, problem solving, discussion, project presentation and creativity… which is not necessarily measurable on a fill-in-the-bubble test sheet.

    Value experience! Stop hiring non-credentialed teachers (and administrators) and allowing Americorps and OTF people to go through a revolving 3 year door. Hire only teachers who are fully credentialed and hang on to the ones who have proven successful results in their classrooms. Then, OUSD wouldn’t need to spend so much time and expense on trying to teach people HOW to teach.

    OUSD has driven out from our district SO MANY wonderful teachers. The good news is that each and every one of my former colleagues who is now teaching elsewhere are 1. HAPPY and less stressed and 2. making a lot more money.

    There is plenty of money in OUSD for the things that our students need. There always has been. It’s the people who have been allowed to prioritize the spending of that money who have wasted it on frivolous and unproven “programs” or used it to hire their relatives or to do business with companies on the basis of personal gain…… not the best interest of students in Oakland classrooms.

  • David R.

    Let me be the third avaricious, self-serving teacher to say: postpone the raise if it means saving positions. It isn’t just about saving teacher jobs, but offsetting the erosion of site stability and the increase in class sizes.

  • cookieOUSDteacher

    I too say postpone the 2% raise. 54 teachers are way more important to the students. One question I have is why haven’t furlough days or freezing pay for a year or two to save more jobs been discussed?

  • livegreen

    Thank you teachers for putting your students and colleagues ahead of immediate gain (however small). I know that you all put yourselves out there for our kids, often without enough support and at your own expense, day after day, year after year.

    On a personal note, this past year has been a difficult one for our middle income family, as we went from a two incomes to just one, and we have struggled to keep our house. For this reason alone we are loath to support further taxes without seeing OUSD and other government entities balance with cost reductions first. But if we see OUSD is making those efforts, we are more willing to cut our income even more by further contribution (that is, taxes).

    As has been suggested, we need OUSD to cut it’s Central HQ consultants, and close facilities or find revenue sources for them. Fast. Or get some more Foundation grants to continue that work (valuable as it is) off of OUSD’s shrinking resources.

    I hope the large Foundations that Tony is appealing to are shortening their grant cycles, with the understanding that the traditional cycles are leading to cuts in kids educations while they ponder, delay and otherwise act like their professions are divorced from reality (at least so it appears on the outside).

  • Public School Teacher

    I would be very weary of a raise, especially after so many teachers have been given pink slips. Think about the potential class-sizes current teachers will have to deal with next school year. This 2% raise the district offers coincides nicely with the 35-45 student classrooms that will soon follow.

  • Oakland Teacher

    1. There is never a good time for a raise in OUSD
    2. The consultants are well paid
    3. We spend too much money away from the classroom
    4. Parents should be demanding all cuts be away from the classroom
    5. Teachers should not have to feel guilty about anything except not doing a good job
    6. We have the highest paid superintendent in the county
    7. Our mayor took a voluntary large cut in salary to show good faith. How about some of the high paid central admin doing the same thing? Symbolically, it would mean a lot. I would like to see them raise a family on a teacher’s salary.
    8. I hate to admit it, but my salary is so low, that 2% is nothing. I would rather have teachers keep their jobs, but the reality is that it is never an even trade-off.The cuts will still happen no matter what sacrifices teachers make for the greater good.
    9. OUSD admin is in the “cat bird’s seat” when there are teachers (see #6) asking why we can’t just accept a pay freeze. Why are we always the ones who have to take less?
    10. They need to: close small schools (under 200 for elementary and more for middle/high), fire all the consultants, break the contract with edusoft, stop all the endless testing that wastes student time/money.

  • Oakland Educator

    When you ask why furloughs have never been put on the table, I suggest that you ask OEA and UAOS and their respective executive boards (FYI: ALL administrators received March 15 notices).

    They are so busy spinning philosophy and and social re-engineering, that they have never taken the time to meet and know young, committed, and innovative teachers and principals (20%+ of the teachers and principals).

    Why would they take the time? No cuts would touch their altitude, at 10+ years. Remember, state law says that if you stick it out the longest, you are the BEST educator, please silence the discussion… In less delicate terms, it’s a pissing match!

    OEA and UAOS are the only two labor organizations in the District that HAVE NOT agreed to a furlough at this point!

    Current numbers show a 3 day furlough for teachers and principals (perhaps the 3 Buy Back PD days?), would mean a 1.6% pay cut (roughly $75 per month per teacher or prncipal), which is a paltry sum, but it would save over 60 beginning teachers’ jobs (FYI: They are the ones getting March 15 notices).

    However, the “mandarins” of OEA and UOAS executive councils have yet to consider these options, as the waters of the floods are not, as this point, lapping at their silken toes. It’s all “quid pro quo” for them: “Give us something, and we MIGHT give you something…”

    What happened to unions representing ALL of their members, not just the ones with the grayest hair? Young teachers and principals, TAKE BACK YOUR UNIONS!!! You pay the same $800-$900 per year in dues! Isn’t your money as green as that of the other (older) members? Make your organizations fight for the REAL you, not just the “every educator is of equal quality and value” you!

  • Crab Feed

    I’m in the administrator’s union and I want nothing to do with it. Leave me alone and stop stealing my money. UAOS is useless and as a younger principal, I don’t respect the E-Board nor want any part of it–what a colossal waste of time.

    I support furloughs and no, I’m not retiring tomorrow, but if I was, I’d still support furloughs. If my site loses 16 of its 17 teachers, we’re done for. Next year will be so bad I can’t even conceive of it.

    When I was a teacher, it was the same. I didn’t have ANY need for the union but I was still forced to donate hard-won dollars to monthly dues. What did I get from my teacher union? Nothing at all. NOTHING.

    Younger and sensible teachers need to take back the unions. If furlough is on the table and we balk and then layoff 500+ awesome teachers, the children in OUSD will suffer once again.

    Unions are like corporations. They serve THEMSELVES. Grrrrrowl.

    Get rid of all the unions, get rid of many of the consultants, trim the fat further at central office, and get rid of ineffective principals and teachers, who are a drain on the budget. Then, central office can do something besides putting fires out that are started by these people.

    Close schools, too. We have WAY too many.

  • Oakland Teacher

    It’s nice to know now I am hated because my hair is gray. Last week at my school site, I heard the (young) principal talking about how older teachers have no business still being in the classroom, and they should all retire and make room for the younger teachers. I am grateful that I have a union that protects me from such ageism and hatred. What #10 suggests is right out of the book “Make Room” and the movie “Soylent Green”.

    If we allowed layoffs to be anything other than by seniority, 95% of principals would choose to lay off all of the their most senior (expensive) staff. Next, they would choose by who they had personal grudges against/who had ever questioned their leadership/who had ever asked that the contract be followed.

    I am unaware of any unions in OUSD taking furloughs – particularly SEIU.What OUSD unions have taken furloughs? I can’t even imagine how that would work – one day a week my students have a sub or get spread to other classes? Does that sound like it would benefit students?

  • Katy Murphy

    Oakland Teacher,

    Do you think the same would be true — principals choosing to lay off all of their most senior/expensive staff — if actual teacher salaries (as opposed to average salaries) were taken out of the equation for individual school budgets?

  • David Laub

    Katy-

    You not too long ago ran a piece on the tens of millions of dollars questionably spent by OUSD on private consultants and the programs that they sell to OUSD-many times more than other districts spend per pupil on private consultants.

    You would do well for your readers to compare the 7% cut that Superintendent Tony Smith and the OUSD School Board are guaranteeing at the school sites with $ spent on these private consultants -and what profits the business interests that they represent make from OUSD-when raising a challenge to us regarding pay cuts and furloughs.

    Tony Smith is, if my data is correct, the highest paid superintendent in California, making almost the President of the United States salary. Why are you not putting this in perspective when challenging us to think abot furloughs and pay cuts on your blog? Is it easier and more provocative for your blog to posit that OUSD employees are the ones to take further cuts to nobly protect the jobs that are being lost due to the mismanagement-BY CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION AND THE SCHOOL BOARD-of the district budget?

    HERE IS THE REAL QUESTION-
    WHY SHOULD WE BE TALKING ABOUT FURLOUGHS AND PAY CUTS WHEN MISMANAGEMENT OF OUSD’S $ BY THE CENTRAL ADMIISTRATION OF OUSD, THE SCHOOL BOARD, THE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION-under Superintendent Shiela Jordan-THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION-under Jack O’Connell, during which this dramatic shift towards private profiteers invading Oakland Unified began-HAS RESULTED IN THIS 7% CUT TO THE SCHOOLS? THIS CUT IS SEPARATE FROM WHATEVER HAPPENS WITH THE CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I think that most experienced principals would choose to throw RBB in the garbage if given the opportunity. According to most of the posters above, experienced principals (like experienced teachers) are all “ineffective” and “insensible”, since only new and young teachers/principals are “effective” or “sensible”.

    But yes Katie, I agree that principals would NOT choose to lay off their more senior staff if teacher salaries were taken out of the equation. However, newer and younger principals sometimes resent more senior teachers who are: older than them, do not completely “bend” to their will, know our contract and try to make sure it is followed within reason. Might they like to get rid of those teachers? Yes, but not at the same rate as when you factor in their salaries, which can be significantly higher than new teachers.

    It’s a sad day in Oakland, when teachers and site administrators are infighting like this, and the central admin sitting in their offices eating it up.

    One other comment: I do not understand the “bumping” concept that may happen. Previously whenever a teacher was consolidated at a school (due to school closing, becoming a small or charter school, or declining enrollment), they were given priority for open positions. That meant no one was getting “bumped”. The idea of seeing many dedicated teachers at my school bumped to other schools by other teachers does not sound right. While I disagree with most of what the principal above (#11) wrote, I cannot agree that rotating teachers all over the place is going to help anything. It seems like it would send schools into chaos. It is unfortunate that anyone has to be laid off, but it seems like the people who are staying should be allowed to stay at their current placement. Destabilizing schools that way is harmful and unnecessary.

  • Oakland Educator

    Teacher are paid for 186 days, and teach 180 days. A furlough of up to six days (while not great because it would be a cut in pay and a cut in “paid time” for planning and preparing classrooms) would save as many as 96 teaching positions and would not reduce the number of days of learning for the kids.

    I didn’t take me very long to do this math. My question is why the OEA Executive Board hasn’t even raised it as a possibility?

  • Nextset

    OUSD Teachers should not agree to any pay cuts.

    OUSD is not a “school” in the actual sense. They are something else involving leftist policy and patronage. This is why they spend money on things that don’t make the difference in the student’s outcomes (endless consultants, etc) and continue to push expensive administration rather than educational programs that actually lead to higher earning power for the students.

    I have in the past thought of OUSD as a funny farm, a Soviet Style failure factory or words like that.

    This being the case, if the teachers volunteer to take a cut in their standards of living for benefit of OUSD the money will only go into more consultants and more administration, with little or none into more teachers. Besides, why should teachers with some seniority take a pay cut so junior teachers can have jobs, to the extent it would mean a junior teacher would even actually keep that job anyway?

    So forget pay cuts. Let the school layoff anyway they can or will. The right thing to do here is for the teachers to keep the pay they have negotiated to date. The school to raise classroom size to whatever it takes, and automation to be used to try to bolster whatever education is actually going on. In times like these we can’t afford to continue the old secondary school business model, we should (may have to) move it towards the college business model of larger classes with lectures followed by study and work groups attended by lower paid (non-credentialed) staff.

    your bright students will manage, your dull students need to go get a job anyway.

  • gee yu

    David Laub
    I guess Katy forgot about the professioal services consultants too.
    listed below are the contracts approved in the past year in addition to the OUSD lawyers on staff we are now paying out money to 3 other law firms,
    an inspection servies co to review the police dept
    (but what are we paying the ousd chief of police to do?)and then I found a contract for a consultant to help with the transition of the new leadership team at PEC (why can’t PEC read the ed code laws and figure out what they say without paying for a 75,000.00 consultant?)
    and the last one we paid to teach students how to answer questions, and then somebody created interview and focus group guides
    I cannot believe all this waste another parent told me that their school’s music teacher just got a layoff notice…. there is OUSD money out there you see it in these contracts but how come this money is not going into the classroom and being spent like this?????

    File #: 11-0641 Version: 1
    Name: Professional Services Contract – Executive Inspectional Services – Legal Department
    Type: Agreement or Contract
    Status: Committee General Consent Report
    File created: 3/15/2011
    In control: Safety Committee
    Title: Ratification by the Board of Education of the Professional Services Contract between the District and Executive Inspectional Services (“EIS”), Dublin, CA, for the latter to provide up to 160 hours of consulting services relating to an independent review of Police Services and to confer with the General Counsel, for an amount not to exceed $ 20,000 for the period of February 7, 2011 through June 30, 2011.

    File #: 11-0602 Version: 1
    Name: Memorandum of Understanding – Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy LLP Law Firm – General Counsel
    Type: Agreement or Contract
    Status: Committee General Consent Report
    File created: 3/14/2011
    In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Memorandum of Understanding between the District and EDRINGTON, SCHIRMER & MURPHY LLP, Pleasant Hill, CA, for the latter to provide legal services to the District for general advice matters and litigation, for the period of March 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014, in an amount not to exceed $200,000 in a fiscal year.
    Contact: Jacqueline.Minor@ousd.k12.ca.us

    File #: 09-3539 Version: 1
    Name: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – Liebert,
    Cassidy & Whitmore – General Counsel
    In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    Title:Approval by the Board of Education of Memorandum of Understanding between the District and Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore, Los Angeles, CA, for the latter to provide legal services to the District for civil litigation and general advice matters, as described in the Scope of Work, incorporated herein by reference as though fully set forth, for the period December 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011, in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 in a fiscal year.

    File # 09-3492 Version: 1
    Name: Memorandum of Understanding – Stubbs & Leone -
    General Counsel
    In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    On agenda: Final action: 6/23/2010
    Enactment date: 6/23/2010 Enactment #: 10-1183
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Memorandum of Understanding between District and Stubbs & Leone, as Special Counsel, under direction and supervision of General Counsel, pursuant to terms and conditions stated therein, providing specialized expert service on civil litigation matters, for the period December 1, 2009 through June 30, 2013, at a cost not to exceed $300,000 in a fiscal year.

    File #: 10-2054 Version: 1
    Name: Professional Services Contract – Marie Souza – Programs for Exceptional Children
    Type: Agreement or Contract
    File created: 1/3/2011
    In control: Teaching and Learning Committee

    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of a Professional Services Contract between District and Marie Souza, Danville, CA, for the latter to provide 1000 hours to support the transition of the new leadership team at Programs for Exceptional Children (“PEC”) by supporting compliance with laws and regulations governing special education and the redesign of special education to provide services to children in alignment with the Strategic Plan that was approved by the Board on June 9, 2010, for the period of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, in an amount not to exceed $75,000.00.
    Contact: Sharon.Casanares@ousd.k12.ca.us

    File #: 11-0552 Version: 1
    Name: Resolution – Non-Public Schools/Agencies – Programs for Exceptional Children
    Type: Agreement or Contract Status: Committee General Consent Report
    File created: 3/14/2011
    In control: Teaching and Learning Committee
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Resolution No. 1011-0130 Approving Amended and/or New Master Agreements or Contracts and Individual Service Agreements with Non-Public Schools and Non-Public Agencies 2010-2011, pursuant to terms and conditions stated in said Resolution, including Attachments A and B, at a cost not to exceed $14,451,132.88.
    Attachments: Document(s)

    Contact: sharon.casanares@ousd.k12.ca.us
    Funding source: Special Education
    Coherent gov. no.: OE-11 Resource code: 6500-975
    File #: 11-0302 Version: 1
    Name: Professional Service Contract – Data Center – Quality Community School Delvelopment
    Type: Agreement or Contract
    Status: Committee General Consent Report
    File created: 3/14/2011
    In control: Teaching and Learning Committee

    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of a Professional Services Contract between District and Data Center, Oakland, CA, for the latter to provide 100 hours of engagement with students in the District to answer the following questions: How do we know if our schools are effective? And What makes a good school? through facilitating a team of OUSD youth to organize and facilitate peer listening circles and create interview and focus group guides for the period of December 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, in the amount not to exceed $5,000.00.
    Attachments: Document(s)

    Contact: david.montes@ousd.k12.ca.us

    Vendor number: I004903

  • livegreen

    Oakland Teacher appears to believe in “ageism” of a different sort. Against the young. Not all young principals and teachers think there’s a problem with experienced teachers. And without support that this is in fact the case you have no reason to so generalize.

    The challenge is when there are below proficient teachers who also have senority, protecting them base on only half the equation, pretending it is the whole equation, and making your argument by pretending another group has said something they haven’t said. That is disingenuous and argumentative just for the sake.

    It is also what the OEA is engaged in. Want to prove me wrong? Then start representing your entire constituency. And recruit younger teachers to your meetings and show you’re interested in representing them too.

  • livegreen

    At the same time I agree with Oakland Teacher comments in #9. Central HQ cuts are the key. As I do with David Laub’s in #14 (about historical budget mismanagement) & Gee Yu in #18 (about continuous unchecked consulting fees. Some of those are recent and the Board shows no signs of stopping in the face of a budget crisis).

  • Starshaped

    As a teacher who is getting a pink slip and who has been in the district 5 years, I take offense at the anti union rhetoric spewed by some of my colleagues. YOU ARE THE UNION! If you want change, you must be willing to put in the work. Despite getting slipped, I support seniority because youth/new to the career doesn’t denote more passion/ability to do the job. I’ve been teaching for ten years and I’m just hitting my stride as an educator. Being pink slipped sucks hardcore. The mere thought of changing schools when I’ve put my all into my community is heartbreaking. In fact it would cause me to look for employment elsewhere but I would double dog dare you to blame the OEA for this kerfuffle. Furloughs haven’t been brought to the table because as a contract issue, they must be bargained on and this has not been brought to the table by the district as of yet, that I know of. If, as Oakland Teacher pointed out, those at the district office, including Dr Smith took a pay decrease, it may ease the wheels of compromise. The burdon of the budget shouldn’t have to be shouldered by principals and teachers. More importantly, it shouldn’t be shouldered by the children of Oakland.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I never thought I would be saying this, but: thank you Nextset for the following:

    “This being the case, if the teachers volunteer to take a cut in their standards of living for benefit of OUSD the money will only go into more consultants and more administration, with little or none into more teachers. Besides, why should teachers with some seniority take a pay cut so junior teachers can have jobs, to the extent it would mean a junior teacher would even actually keep that job anyway?”

    Frankly, I have seen so many teachers come in go in recent years, that I am loathe to take a pay cut for someone who will leave soon anyway. I also do not trust that the money would actually be available to keep more teachers teaching.

    Those contracts are impressive! Especially special education. There was one for $14,451,132.88. That is 14 million dollars to send Oakland kids to private and non-public schools! That is astonishing. Supposedly they are not cutting any positions either. It would be interesting to know where that money is coming from, as it definitely isn’t coming from the state.I thought the district was supposed to have lowered the amount it spends on those types of schools; I hate to think what they were spending before they made “cuts”.

    It is definitely time to revolt against these types of expenditures. Note the dates on those; it was all last week. If we ask questions, they will respond “It is already budgeted and we have a contract to uphold.”
    So, while there are carefully placed rumors about how teachers are responsible for this mess, and we could make it all go away, OUSD continues to do BUSINESS AS USUAL.

  • Steve Neat

    I’m not sure how UAOS works but every member of the OEA Executive Board (excluding the president) is a full-time teacher elected by their colleagues to represent them for two-year terms. At least 5 are under 40 and at least 3 have received pink slips themselves. This is not about a smoke-and-mirrors, yet-to-be-approved 2% raise. This is not about seniority. This is about funding choices plain and simple, both in OUSD and at the state level. In OUSD, it’s time to take desperate measures to deal with desperate times. Set an OUSD-wide salary cap for ALL non-school-site employees at the top of the teacher pay scale. Do not renew any OUSD-wide contracts that don’t have to do with food or other basic supplies. Is Si Swun more important than teachers in the classroom? Edusoft? Action Learning Systems? BayCES? Rescind the Reduction-In-Force letters. Put students first.

    Steve Neat,
    5th Grade Teacher,
    OEA Secretary

  • seenitbefore

    re: post #18 from Gee Yu
    “I cannot believe all this waste another parent told me that their school’s music teacher just got a layoff notice…. there is OUSD money out there you see it in these contracts but how come this money is not going into the classroom and being spent like this?????”

    March is national “Music in Our Schools Month”

    I was informed that in addition to many art teachers and other “non-essential” teachers, at least 12 OUSD music teachers were getting March 15th pink slips. I have already heard confirmations from 5 music teachers of the most successful middle and high school music programs in OUSD. And it’s not even the 15th yet.

    Oakland students and families are being shortchanged of a well rounded, quality education which INCLUDES the ARTS. Oakland teachers can barely survive on the lowest salaries in the area and the highest cost of living.

    Yet, OUSD continues to ignore the CA Ed Code mandating the appropriate percentage of the overall district budget be spent on teacher salaries. Sheila Jordan grants OUSD a waiver every year.

    OUSD continues approving and encouraging the use of expensive consulting contracts instead of focusing on supporting and fully funding classroom teachers.

    OUSD needs to spend more and more money for lawyers and legal help because they knowingly allow administrators and principals to perpetrate all sorts of harassment, unfair labor practices and in some cases illegal work actions against teachers and staff they are SUPPOSED to be supporting.

    The school board wonders why the district enrollment has declined so far…..and what they can do to get Oakland families to return to the public schools. DUH! How about making the schools a supportive, caring and outstanding place to work and learn by supporting the teachers who actually teach the students? How about putting the SCHOOL COMMUNITY first and not allowing the revolving door of principals with their own personal agendas to traipse into established school communities and tear them apart? How about we stop spending millions and millions of dollars per year on outside consultants and programs that take the focus away from the important work that OUSD teachers are striving to provide in their classrooms each day?

    I truly believe that there is a much larger agenda being implemented upon Oakland. Losing music, art and many, many wonderful teachers is just a part of the destabilization plan.

  • gee yu

    Hi, when I started looking at the contracts I did not include the ones that are title I funded… all are given to out side contracted LLC and organitions and these were in the millions too!
    I can put them up on this site if you want me tooo
    I couldn’t believe these contracts either GY

  • Gordon Danning

    1. Re: furloughs. I would oppose furloughs. A furlough is like a pay cut, except students lose a week of school. So I would prefer a straight pay cut before a furlough. If kids matter at all, we would not go the furlough route.

    2. Re: outside services contracts: I believe it was Nextset who argued that the District should contract out services, because it would save money. Of course, when they do, then people complain about “outside services contracts” (eg, the legal contract set forth in #18 above). The District is damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    3. Re bumping (#15) — it is not going to happen. The contract doesn’t work that way. A senior teacher without a position can only be placed in an open position (albeit one that might have been created by a layoff). A teacher w/o a position cannot bump someone who has not been laid off.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Gordon – I think you are wrong re bumping. I have heard that it is going to happen. Talk to your site admin. I know it sounds crazy, but I have heard it numerous times.

  • Yastrzemski

    @`Gordon,
    So, if you are a teacher getting a pink slip because you have only 2 or 3 years experience, you are out of a job. Then, the District places a teacher with more seniority in your spot…what happens if you are one of the teachers re-hired? Would you get your spot back at your school, or would you be placed in an open position at another site? Put another way, do they “re-hire” by seniority, or by school site?

  • Trish Gorham

    There is no bumping of teachers by seniority. It can not happen. The District may be thinking, on top of everything else it is doing to create chaos, of issuing mass administrative transfers to teachers based on some “need”. For example, because of the lay-offs, many bilingual classrooms are affected. The district might transfer a teacher who has a BCLAD credential but who is not teaching currently in a bilingual classroom to a bilingual school. This can be done within the contract.

    Whether you are rehired at your site depends on when the decision is made to rescind. If rescinded before the principal has to make a hiring decision (June 30?), you remain at your site. If you are called back later in the summer, you might have to take an available vacancy if your position has been filled. Most principals will hold off filling positions as they are informed of the probability of the final cut-off point.

  • gee yu

    # 28 and Gordon

    another parent just called me and said that a music teacher who had been hired in 1993 got a pink slip. so if your hired after 1992 you were laid off???
    isn’t art and music an elective in middle school and high school? what are the a-g regs?

  • Harold

    How much money did OEA, CTA and NEA give Obama’s campaign? He has completely abandoned his base. I can’t wait to vote his a$$ OUT OF OFFICE!

  • Yastrzemski

    Thank you Trish…so it seems that there is some discretion at the site, as long as no one has been offered the position. It is scary to think that OUSD could wait until August to rescind a pink slip, how many great, young teachers will be long gone by then!?!

  • Trish Gorham

    #30-The music teacher(s) likely did not get a pink slip. Any teacher whose salary is paid for, all or in part, by categorical funds receive a certified notice of potential reassignment. In most cases it is a formality.

  • Zinnia

    Hey you all- don’t forget about the 11 school counselors and 6 psychologists on the pink slip list as well.
    I agree, the consultants have got to go.

  • J.R.

    “How much money did OEA, CTA and NEA give Obama’s campaign? He has completely abandoned his base”.

    This speaks volumes about the real problem with the system as it exists today. Our own tax money is used to buy politicians who financially pound the real taxpayers into submission(one hand washes the other, and all that).

  • Gordon Danning

    Oakland Teacher: I’ve spoken to my principal and union folks. It just doesn’t work that way in OUSD. No bumping.

    Yastrzemski: I don’t know, but my guess is that a rehired teacher would go to an open assignment.

    Gee Yu: A year of art or music is on of the A-G requirements (H, I beleive), and I think it is a graduation requirement. But many schools (such as Oakland High) offer advanced art; it is certainly possible that a principal might decide to eliminate all art classes beyond Art I, and thereby eliminate an art position.

    Harold: What does Obama have to do with teacher layoffs? How do you figure that he has “abandoned his base.”

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    Contrary to what some people think, Barry doesn’t have a money tree in the back, that money is borrowed and will have to be paid back with interest by taxpaying citizens.American citizen’s kids and grandkids are saddled with this debt, each essentially owing tens of thousands of dollars in debt years before they would even start looking for work. Since you will be retired by then I guess you don’t care, but it seems as though that is a rather common sentiment. It’s just too bad, but like they say (the character shows itself).

  • The Bottom Third

    JR!

    Yes! You’re right. Obama owes the unions a favor, right? At the expense of kids?

    We have substandard teachers in this district–not horrible or bad–but substandard. Read this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/opinion/13kristof.html?_r=2&src=me&ref=general

    Let’s pay teachers more and get rid of tenure and mediocrity. An awesome senior teacher is worth her weight in gold, as well! Too bad a lot of veterans are so ineffective. Let principals do their jobs, which is to serve communities awesome educational opportunities.

  • gordon danning

    JR:

    Can you explain this odd propensity of those who oppose Pres. Obama to refer to him as “Barry”? What’s the deal with that? Yeah, I know he used to go by that when he was, like 20, but can you shed some light on it?

    PS: Re the debt:

    A) “Tens of thousands of debt” isn’t all that much, since most people owe more than that on their homes, and many owe that on their cars. Not to mention student loans.

    B) It isnt that high as a percentage of GDP, compared to the international norm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_by_public_debt

    c) It is how the money is used that is crucial. If it is used to make us richer in the future, like for infrastructure, R&D, education and the like, then no problem. If it is used for tax breaks for rich folks, then it can be far more problematic. But, then, that wasn’t “Barry’s” doing.

  • J.R.

    Gordon,
    First of all, don’t use wikipedia(you do know how the info is uploaded don’t you?) unless you verify its info with at least two other reputable sources.

    http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-countries-spend-their-money/

    Tens of thousands(I think the latest figure is 30K+ per child) of debt on each child who has bought and owns nothing is insane and it’s too much before they have even started their own independent lives(BTW, children will have this debt in addition to mortgages and car payments).

    Barry is responsible for ballooning the debt 3-4 trillion in just a few years. One thing that really bothers me is the contention that tax breaks come out of the budget(that assumes that the government already owns a good part of peoples money before they even make it, although, you being paid by taxes is a different story altogether).

    To shed a little light on Barry, he is just a normal man(with an abnormal expectations and an even bigger ego)who is in over his head(much like Bush Jr. only worse. Not very presidential at all in any way shape or form.

    The shame here is that we will never get out of this because people(in general) choose to be oblivious of the situation and self centered at the same time.

  • seenitbefore

    re: #33 @Trish

    I can attest that the music teacher referred to in #30 has definitely
    received a pink slip, along with at least 4 other music teachers. The teachers were told that at least 12 music reachers would receive pink slips but I have not been able to confirm the other 7 have actually been notified as yet. We have been informed that there will be a meeting for the district music department later this week.

  • J.R.

    Bottom Third,

    “Look, I’m not a fan of teachers’ unions. They used their clout to gain job security more than pay, thus making the field safe for low achievers. Teaching work rules are often inflexible, benefits are generous relative to salaries, and it is difficult or impossible to dismiss teachers who are ineffective”.

    The way the system is designed to pay everyone the same regardless of ability(relative to years served is the problem). The ineffective teachers are overpaid, and the effective teachers end up being paid less than they are worth as a result. We could simplify the system by not even having to rank teachers by best to worst, but by simply discharging those that are not doing a good job regardless of service time. None of this would be necessary if some so called professionals weren’t taking the cruise down the path of least resistance. Just look at the breakdown of students who are/are not proficient(also the amount of remediation in high school and college), and that tells you the the story without the need to bring up test scores.

  • gordon danning

    JR: The Wikipedia article cites its source (the CIA Factbook), which is one reason that Wikipedia is often more reliable than normal dictionaries, which almost never cite their sources.

    More importantly, you didn’t answer my question re: the “Barry” thing

  • J.R.

    Gordon,
    Re: Barry

    “To shed a little light on Barry, he is just a normal man(with an abnormal expectations and an even bigger ego)who is in over his head(much like Bush Jr. only worse. Not very presidential at all in any way shape or form”.

    Bottom line is He is not Presidential material(therefore he is just Barry).

  • Peaches

    They call President Obama “Barry” as a sign of disrespect. What they really mean is “boy” but they don’t dare type it out loud.

  • seenitbefore

    re: #42 @J.R.

    I hear you dumping on teachers (again) and holding them completely accountable for student failure. Tell me…. where do you place STUDENT accountability in your perfect, teacher-less world of the (near) future?

    How do you plan to address the needs of students who are apathetic towards education, society and life in general? Do they need to assume any responsibility for their own actions? I hate to burst your bubble…. but there are actually some students in our classrooms (when not cutting) who are simply dealing with their own personal or familiar issues to such a degree that they are unwilling or unable to control their behavior and allow others to learn.

    It’s difficult enough to try and reach these kids with smaller class size. Once they start loading up the classrooms with a larger percentage of troubled Oakland youth, more chaos will ensure.

    At what point do we teach the lesson that we as humans are responsible for our own actions and their consequences?

  • J.R.

    SIB,
    Everyone seems to be oblivious to the actual written words(or maybe the union propaganda is so deeply ingrained that you don’t even realize it)I think good and great teachers should be paid more(they do a terrific job), but many in the trade(I’ll call it trade because of the teamster-like tactics of the union)are underperforming. Come to think of it, parents that sit in classes and or are closely involved in student progress can tell if the students are performing better than your colleagues can, after all aren’t these teachers busy with their own classes? How do other teachers know if colleagues are performing well or not(do you just take their word for it)? Believe it or not parents do know when their kids are progressing or not. The bad apples should be taken out of the bunch, whether teachers or kids. Small schools and small class sizes have been tried, and they didn’t make much difference, because the parents matter more, but we can’t fire parents and it’s the liberal philosophy that is to blame for irresponsible people being given housing,food,money that has allowed them to procreate, and now you(the teachers) are stuck with the little darlings. Surprise, surprise! The responsible people are living life the responsible way and paying taxes for those that are irresponsible, now you tell me where to put the blame. You have been reduced to babysitter status by(in part) your own hand.Until you make the connection yourself I can’t help you.

  • J.R.

    Peaches,
    Unless you have the ability to read minds and know the heart of the person or follow their action in minute detail, your opinion(and that is what it is)is almost meaningless. I wrote exactly why I refer to Barry as I do, and It was no different from calling Bush (Shrub).

  • J.R.

    “At what point do we teach the lesson that we as humans are responsible for our own actions and their consequences”?

    How utterly ironic that statement is(I really hope you think about it in depth).

  • gordon danning

    JR:

    You are right – it is the same as calling Bush, “Shrub,” but isn’t also equally devoid of content? Both are beneath serious consideration, aren’t they?

    PS, re: US gov’t debt, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/america-is-not-broke/2011/03/10/ABOiNBV_blog.html