As we reported on Saturday night, teachers on Oakland’s Fremont and Castlemont campuses and at McClymonds High School have recently learned that if they want to stay at their schools they will have to reapply. And soon.
The Oakland school district administration says it will replace the current, 10-month teaching positions with an 11-month (204-day) job with a different job description entitled “Accelerated TSA,” for teacher-on-special-assignment.
Fremont and Castlemont are undergoing a second major transformation, as the small schools on each campus merge back into one. McClymonds already merged, in 2010, but OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint said Mack was included in the plan because it, along with Fremont and Castlemont, is one of “the three highest-need schools in historically under-served neighborhoods.”
Flint said the change will allow the district to “hand pick” teachers that are willing to fulfill the new role, which is designed to improve student achievement at those schools. The job description is likely to include such requirements as submitting weekly lesson plans and using data to inform instruction — things that many teachers already do, but that aren’t necessarily mandatory, he said.
Teachers in the new positions would be paid at the same rate they are now; with the additional time, he said, the average teacher would earn roughly $4,000 more per year.
CONTRACT DISPUTE: Flint says the administration has concluded that this move is allowed under the teacher contract, as the district already places TSAs at schools. The Oakland teachers union president says it’s a clear violation, pointing to the article that allows teachers at closed schools to follow their students when there are enough of them to necessitate an opening. (In the case of Castlemont and Fremont, existing small schools are closing and a new, larger school is opening on each campus.)
THE TIMELINE: The job description is expected to be released within the next week. Applications will be due in mid to late March, and the decisions will be announced by April 6, before spring break.
What do you make of all of this? What are your questions about the process? What is the mood like at these three campuses? Will you consider applying for one of these new “Accelerated TSA” positions?
I will be following this story, so please email me if you’d like to share your perspective on the issue and possibly set up a short phone interview (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear what teachers, parents, community members and other OUSD staff members think of this development.
Below is the memo which Matthew Duffy, OUSD’s executive officer for school transformation, sent to staff last week to announce the change:
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your patience as we have been working to solidify many aspects of the new school for next year. One very important piece of the puzzle for next year is staffing. Currently, we are underway with our Principal search committees. We are now ready to begin our work around teacher staffing. Our work this year has been to design a school that will uncompromisingly serve students and families and work to radically transform the lives of our students through their educational experience. To that end, we have decided to make a significant investment in our students and our teachers by putting forth a new teaching position that is founded on the belief that teachers need significant time to plan, work, collaborate and even teach in service of their students.
We are excited to announce that we will staff the new school with 11 month Teacher on Special Assignment Positions. These new TSA positions symbolize our commitment to create a high quality school with high quality teachers that can significantly accelerate student learning, strengthen school culture and actively partner with families. As part of the Community Schools, Thriving Students strategic vision and as a result of a yearlong planning process, OUSD is excited to announce this new position. This “Acceleration TSA” as it will be called has been specifically crafted to meet the needs of our students. All teachers who join the staff of the new school will be expected to invest additional time in their students and in their school, time that will be compensated. This is an opportunity for those who wish to develop their leadership capacities, engage in rigorous and risk-taking PD, make a deep and lasting commitment on behalf of students and take part in the transformation of a community. Beginning next Wednesday, I will be working with school leadership to meet with you to discuss this further, including the specifics of an application process. I am excited by the possibilities that are before us. I look forward to furthering the excellent work you have done to date and to continue to create transformational educational experiences for our students.
Executive Officer, School Transformation
Oakland Unified School District