Oakland’s pink slip imprint, by school

Luc DeArmey, a pink-slipped teacher at Futures Elementary in East Oakland.The Oakland school district has ranked its schools based on how deeply they were hit by the 657 potential layoff notices sent to its teaching staff.

This spreadsheet, created by OUSD, also includes the turnover at each school between 2007 and 2010, the API gains during that period, the percentage of students who are African-American or Latino, and the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

The top five are (or were) small schools that opened between 2003 and 2007, many of them with new teaching staffs:West Oakland Middle School, Futures Elementary, Think College Now, Fred T. Korematsu Academy and McClymonds High School.

The five least affected schools are: Street Academy, Howard Elementary, Glenview Elementary, Fruitvale Elementary and Marshall Elementary.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Deborah Washington

    How will consolidation work?!Teachers with 7 years or less are numerous! Where will administrators go if offered jobs back in the classroom! Unions need to work with members to know rights per ed code for personnel. Otherwise my experience has been those that have been targeted will be let go and not notified. Even though it was public knowledge that the evil March 15th letters went out! the district is still going to make deals with people’s lives behind who they keep. Not every single certificated personnel member got letters. Some of these people need to file a suit against the district and the state for unfair labor practices.
    Oakland has not been able to get it right or maybe they have politically to their own agenda be it the board, community interests, private do gooder foundations since 2003 or there abouts! Bad Oakland Bad Bad!

  • Cranky Teacher

    So, if I am reading this right: The worst-case scenario OUSD is planning for is that we have 37% fewer teachers next year than this?

    And with the bad news from Sacto, that presumably might happen?


    Forget pay; perhaps in the Fall teachers will call a strike to protest working conditions when they have far more students than they have room in the class.

  • Can’t believe it

    sorry I just kept looking at “similar school ranking” in the last column and shaking my head. I know the conditions, but the ranking is just deplorable. With the exception of about three schools, what teacher or administrator should feel “safe”?

  • Muriel

    Thanks for reproducing the spreadsheet. In the spirit of interrogating data, one trend stands out.

    Of the first 49 schools, in terms of the proportion of teachers who received possible layoff letters, eleven or 22% have API scores of 750 or more.

    Of the second 49 schools, with smaller proportions of teachers with possible layoff letters, 24 or 49% have API scoress of 750 or greater. This group of schools are producing the state’s metric of success at twice the rate as the group of schools with largely less experienced teaching staffs.

    One probably could not make a case for direct causation between teacher experience and student outcomes using these data. This information does suggest that veteran teachers are not the explanation of poor student achievement.

    There’s much more to be gleaned from looking at elementary vs. middle school vs. high school trends. Looking at leadership, and its stability, as well as the course offerings and curriculum depth across schools also will offer more insights.

    Even in times of seeming crises it will serve children well if we move away from ideology, propoganda, clannishness, financial advantage and careerism. More computer credit recovery, whole school remedial coursework, AP classes without strong, prepared and accomplished instructors, vocational pathways with unprepared teachers and nonexistent equipment are of no use to our students.

    The reform Oakland’s children need is to receive, consistently, a strong curriculum from well prepared educators in a stable, responsive learning environment. Thanks to all the principals, faculty, and staff who continue to offer such every day.

  • teacher


    The API analysis you did was interesting, but you forgot at least one very important factor — experienced teachers are more likely to be in schools where the students come from more stable/affluent/educated homes and are more likely to speak English in those homes. The new teachers get placed in the most difficult to fill schools. You might be better off analyzing the “growth” of the API to see which teachers move their students forward more rapidly. That says more about the teacher and less about the parents, the home language and the home environment. But then again, it is only one measure.


  • teacher

    One more observation from this spreadsheet … It is very clear that African American and Latino students are more likely to see their teachers shuffled. In other words, the students who tend to have more turbulence in their home life also have to deal with instability in their schools. The hills school students get the benefit of a more stable teaching staff and to go along with generally more stable home lives.

  • AH

    “The API analysis you did was interesting, but you forgot at least one very important factor — experienced teachers are more likely to be in schools where the students come from more stable/affluent/educated homes and are more likely to speak English in those homes. The new teachers get placed in the most difficult to fill schools.”

    I’m not sure of this, at least not in Oakland. IMO, it’s akin to urban legend. IMO, many of these schools are staffed with new teachers because administrators want inexpensive staff.

    I’d like to see some real employment data on this.

  • Starshaped

    The math is funny here. It seems that they have included non-classroom teachers into the mix. At my school, we have 18 classroom teachers and 6 have recieved pink slips, it gave the pink slip percentage at 27% when its more like 33%. I’m sure there are similar problems with other schools. As Benjamin Disreali once said “There are lies, damnable lies, and statistics.”

    Also, I agree with AH, the schools with high turnover often want teachers who are cheap and easy to push around.

  • Muriel

    Thanks for the reminder Teacher and the very true comment AH.
    Yes, experienced teachers tend to stay in the more stable, successful schools especially at the elementary level. However, most of the new small schools have novice teachers because the largely novice leadership chose not to “rehire” any of the veteran teachers, many of whom were long time residents of Oakland and who had years of commitment to their students. A good number of these veteran teachers are now pursuing their careers at the more successful hills and foothills schools of Oakland.

    In most cases, new small schools have filled their schools with interns, TFAs, and newly certificated teachers. In addition, over the past few years, these same schools who hold our most underserved students have released the majority of their probationary teachers, new teachers who are credentialed. I have encountered many of these discarded teachers, now appreciated educators, doing phenomenal work in neighboring urban districts. These practices have prolonged the tenuousness of their staffing; although one must admit that Oakland has not been kind to probationary teachers under most administrations.

    To be fair and accurate, there are new and new small schools that are led by instructional leaders that recognize that new and inexpensive are not always valuable characteristics. These principals have built faculty and support staff that are racially and experientially diverse, adults who work together for student success in a sustainable manner.

  • Cranky Teacher

    AH — urban legend??

    Dude, it’s the easiest stat in the world to find — just go to the state school data site and cross-reference average years of experience with free lunch stats and you’ll see that across the board turnover and a lack of experience are tightly linked to low-income schools, among other things.

    And it’s the same in Berkeley, same in S.F., same everywhere.

    Biggest reason: Burnout and reliance on young teachers who are not yet sure if they want to make a career out of teaching poor children.

  • Nextset

    Reading the above comments I notice something missing from the reader’s concerns and comments:

    It’s all about the money.

    Say what you will about wanting to help black boys and girls – or insert any other euphemisms for them (“under served” and so forth). When you run a school district it’s all about covering the payroll. Labor costs are the largest expense category.

    When these kinds of budget cuts are imposed we can all just forget about notions of “helping” and “equity”. The school districts are going to slash labor costs to live within the budgets the state gives them until what’s left is not recognizable as a “school”. Special needs and low IQ kids are just going to be on their own. They’ll have to teach themselves from the Internet I suppose. There will be no more money to spend extra time and extra man-hours handholding any child who doesn’t “get it” on the first reading of the lesson.

    This process may be aggravated by holding on to higher paid consultants and administrators while slashing all the veteran workers (teachers). But even so, the kids are going to be “taught” by lower paid thinly credentialed, inexpensive workers. What else do you expect? The shrinking middle class and their children have fled the urban public schools and if required will be attending non-public schools.

    Public safety, prisons, & law enforcement has priority. Education is a luxury compared to that. If CA state government has been run into the ground the public schools can’t expect to be protected. We can argue that the University of California should be closed or sold before we collapse public elementary and secondary schools. But whatever dollars are (going to be) allocated to OUSD in this budget fight, the good old days seems to be gone forever. Time to change the way we teach, and maybe who we teach.

    LA Unified, Oakland Unified and the like are going to have to face historic change. The money is being cut off. There will be no funds to continue as before.

    The urban schools need to automate and triage their students to add value using limited funds and to not waste or spend money on those who aren’t going to fairly & quickly use the “education”. That is not PC but there it is.

    And while we are refusing to change to something so drastic, the only other thing to do is to champion budget cuts elsewhere in the state budget to favor keeping business as usual in the urban schools. That means de-funding UC and Cal State, CalTrans, The Prison System, The Courts, Section 8 and Food Stamps, or some other money pit. I personally don’t believe that will ever work since the taxpayers like all of them more than the urban public schools, with the possible exception of UC & Section 8 Housing.

    I’ve said it before – we will see a lot more automation. Computers are as cheap as televisions and broadband internet is as available as cable TV and cheaper than cable TV. Sharply limited classroom time supplemented with 20 hours a day computer time for middle and high school students will arrive. Teachers will manage a larger span of control.

    This kind of economic pressure usually drives change.

    Best way to deal with painful change is to get out in front of it.

  • Piedmont Avenue Elementary Dad

    The funny thing in all of this is that people are buying the government line about being broke. It’s a crock! They have revenue sources but they refuse to tap them. Under Eisenhower the top tax rate was 91% under Nixon it was 70%, now it’s about 35%. The rich are getting insanely wealthy while our kids get the shaft. What’s lacking here is a spine on the part of our elected officials at the state and federal level. The top rate in England is currently 50%. Our millionaires are getting tax breaks while our kids suffer. We don’t need more cuts we need more politicians that represent the majority and not just the wealthy elite. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have shown any willingness to do the right thing so perhaps they should all be replaced. There are other parties you know…

  • Bones

    Some of those “interns, TFAs, and newly certificated teachers” are at some of our best schools. TCN is losing 80% of its staff.

    Nobody seems to notice that many of our best teachers are our youngest. To me, this is one of the most striking pieces of evidence that seniority-based layoffs will hurt our children

  • TheThruthHurts

    They are we.

  • Can’t believe it

    Nextset you nailed it.

  • Starshaped

    As a ten year teacher, with 5 in OUSD and who has subsequentially been pink slipped, I take GREAT offense to Bones comment about seniority. I am a better teacher NOW than I was 8 years ago. So this malarky about young-TFA’s being better than older teachers is inaccurate at best and ignorant at worst. I went to the BEST teaching college in Northern California, had experienced, talented master teachers help me through student teaching, and have a natuaral aptitude to teach. I know I was a better prepared for my first years as a teacher than ANY TFA with their BA and their 4 weeks of training. So when you so rudely say that seniority is the problem, you are sadly and pathetically mistaken.

  • Nextset

    I agree with post # 12. Maybe it is time to stop with the tax breaks for the wealthy.

    I just also feel it’s first time to destroy the welfare entitlements and the treatments that keep the criminal element alive and well.

    The social policy that feeds anti-socials while simultaneously killing the middle class is dangerous to the survival of this nation in a recognizable form. Gouging “the rich” so we can continue to feed/clothe/house and medically treat drug addicts, mental defectives and criminals and their rapidly reproducing broods is just going to hasten Civil War II.

    Maybe the solution is a new constitutional convention with the plan being to finally limit federal power while allowing the states to experiment with these optional “rights” and social policies – throwing the entitlement battles back to the states.

    But then that was supposed to be the Constitution we already had.

  • J.R.

    I too agree with post #12, the middle class are being destroyed for the sake of the top and bottom.

    Bones is right, some of our best teachers have been swept away(statewide), and that is a direct consequence of seniority policies. You cannot dispute that. You may not like it, but that does not change the facts. Some of the best teachers have indeed been new teachers. Being a good teacher is so many different things(patience, determination, energy, subject knowledge, ability to adapt etc) that experience is just a very small piece of the puzzle of what goes into making a good teacher.

  • Turanga_teach

    Wow–look at the spreadsheet. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of teachers at West Oakland Middle. Every single teacher.

    Hundreds of kids, right now, going to a school in which every single education professional they interact with is teaching to the best of their ability while simultaneously wondering whether they’ll have a job next year.

    We can argue all we want about where to go from here, but first, let’s take a minute to acknowledge: it’s screwed up.

  • Trish Gorham

    PINK STINKS. Show your outrage, along with others across the nation this Monday. Support threatened and overburdened educators. STAND UP!


  • Maureen

    AH, Muriel and Starshaped, can you share evidence to support your claim that schools are staffed with new teachers because administrators want inexpensive staff? or Teachers to be able to push around?
    As a former administrator in a school where I desperately tried to stop the turnover of teachers (exactly in alignment with the horrifying statistic that 70% of teachers leave within the first 5 years of working in urban districts), I’m saddened by this assumption. What we didn’t spend on salary (due to EVERY staff member having 5 years or less experience) we spent on coaching, extra prep periods for PLC’s and other forms of support…..that might not have been needed so intensely if we had a balance of veteran teachers and newer teachers. I think operating from an assumption that schools who have less experienced teachers are doing that on purpose is an unfair assumption and perpetuates the divide we need to close if we’re going to unify against the state and federal governments to SIGNIFICANTLY increase resources for pay, preparation and development for teachers.