For some Oakland teachers, a job re-application

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 (kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com). 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:

Greetings Staff,

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.


Matthew Duffy

Executive Officer, School Transformation
Oakland Unified School District

Katy Murphy

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

  • Betty Olson-Jones

    If this is an example of the district’s “partnering” with the teachers and our union, they’ve miscalculated badly. Not only is this a blatant violation of our collective bargaining agreement, but we were not brought into any conversation about this until we saw the letter from Matt Duffy. Since they didn’t get their way with “mutual matching,” they apparently think they can do an end run around the contract by creating new positions. And what an insult to the hard-working teachers already putting in overtime (undertime, actually since it’s unpaid) at these campuses! We certainly support paying them for the extra work, but as part of having to reapply for their jobs? NO WAY!

  • CogInthe OUSDWheel

    Quite honestly, I don’t think I could be more disgusted with this district. What in the hell is an “Accelerated TSA?” TSAs generally are not full-time classroom teachers, but in a support capacity, perhaps as literacy coaches, math coaches, or perhaps working on a special project in technology or somethng else. This sounds like something dreamed up by HR to force out teachers who don’t do everything just the way the principal or district wants, or aren’t some young eager beavers who will basically do their two-year stint and leave.

    In that ridiculous Oakland Way paper, it says that OUSD wants to retain its teachers. Well, starting by alienating them is not the way to go. I don’t even work at any of those schools, but the whole things makes me want to go “occupy” the office of those incompetents who run HR. What a sleazy, dirty, underhanded trick.

    I can’t believe I’ve wasted so much of my career working for this corrupt organization. I’m so out of here at my next opportunity.

  • Cranky Teacher

    What I think strikes me about this at first blush is how seat-of-the-pants education reform in general is, and especially, perhaps, in OUSD. I mean, they just blurt this out, with no prior talks with union, parents, etc.?

    Here are three schools that were neglected for decades because the “right” kids didn’t go there. Then, as part of the state takeover and the co-option of the small schools movement, the Broad Fellows experimented on them be breaking them into small schools. Finally, when some of the schools thrived and others failed, as you might expect, they didn’t decide to support the “fittest” but instead decided to wad the ball of clay up and START ALL OVER with different teachers.

    I would be curious to know how this differs from RECONSTITUTION, a radical reform policy which has had some successes and many failures over the years. My understanding of reconstitution was that it was where all teachers had to reapply for their jobs.

    If the poorest kids in Oakland get the best teachers, who are paid more to work more hours, that sounds pretty cool. But, bottom line: Even if they get the best teachers, attendance at these schools will not recover because of demographic shifts and because parents/kids want to be at the bigger, more lively schools — Tech, Ohigh and Skyline, which also happen to be in safer neighborhoods.

    Then in five years, when this hasn’t worked MAGIC, they will scrap the whole thing and shutter them altogether, making the megagiant high school the Supe has reportedly mentioned as being the future.

  • Katy Murphy

    I don’t believe the superintendent has ever proposed creating a single high school in OUSD. I remember there being some confusion to that effect because of the wording of a document that referred to the merging of the Castlemont and Fremont high schools.

  • Peach


    This is a repeat of the slash and burn antics that accompanied the establishment of the small schools. For the sake of the children, I urge you to turn your anger and disgust into renewed collaborative efforts to provide students with a successful school year.

    For the sake of your professional and personal self-respect, I urge you to conduct yourself with dignity and do not let them see you cry or let them spur you to anger. That’s all part of their MO to slander you in public and on paper. During this busy year, take photos, videos, and work samples of students excelling in your classroom (with requisite permission as needed). Make portfoliios for yourself and encourage students to do the same. These experiences and artifacts will be tangible assurances that you are an effective educator, and that this chaos has nothing to do with your professional accomplishments. You can move forward with confidence.

    If you are interested in remaining at your school find out what HR will be asking. There will be people who are given a heads up (like talking points about the Core Curriculum Standards or data analysis) and you should find out what is on the agenda. Also find out all the parts of the process; often there is a call for a protfolio or written response or observation. If you are not asked for any part of the process, ask about it so you do not have holes in your application. And, of course, you need to be up-to-date on the content and pedagogy of your subject area.

    Lastly, treat your site administrators professinally and with empathy. They are place holders who have not been consulted about anything. They’re merely following orders and trying to keep their pensions. In fact, those of them who are experienced, those who are effective with your site, those who act in a principled manner,or those who do not meet certain standards of youthful attractiveness will join you in the classroom somewhere soon. Remain colleagues because this is all about divide and conquer.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Thks, Katy. I was told by some teachers it was in a letter to the community but I guess they misread it.

  • oakteach

    So teachers reapply at 3 hard to staff schools…for a pay increase. I’m not sure what the problem is.

    The existing contract does not allow teachers who work at hard to staff, “flatland” schools to make more than their counterparts in the hills. So if this is a means to attract more candidates and pay them closer to (but never all of) what their worth, what is the issue?

    Response, Betty?

  • oakteach

    *they’re, not their.

  • 5th year Oakland teacher

    I teach at Fremont. When this plan was announced to us this week it was framed as an opportunity to get paid more for the extra work we already do and have more PD time to collaborate and work on forming the “new” school. The claim was that most teachers would be retained. The majority of teachers I spoke with seemed to like the plan, but did not think they could actually do more work in the usual school days even with the TSA pay…it would just make them less underpaid. Also, at Fremont the admin also have to re-apply. I assume the same applies to Castlemont.

  • Livegreen

    It is interesting how Safety is often brought up by teachers as a reason why flatlands kids go to schools in other areas. I don’t doubt that. The lockdown today at Roosevelt is a case in point. But then the OEA protests police and law enforcement efforts.

    So teachers and your union, which do you want?

  • Rodney Brown

    In the article, “This spring, dozens of Oakland teachers will have to apply for their jobs” a Castlemont teachers says she wishes “administrators had been more upfront about the change and that they had involved teachers and parents in discussions earlier.” This is all you need know about these charlatans in the district and office of transformation. Last Tuesday, Castlemont had an all-staff faculty council meeting to discuss transformation. Earlier that day Betty Olson-Jones and CTA Regional UniServ Staff Gina Parish meet with OUSD Human Resources Department and presented the following from Castlemont teachers:

    “Communication is the main issue… it has been very difficult to communicate or visit classrooms on an individual basis. It would be very valuable to have regularly scheduled meetings – monthly where the entire [CCSS] staff has the opportunity to meet each other and to discuss issues relative to Castlemont becoming one school.

    When will important decisions be made? A timeline regarding Principal selection, other admin positions, what teacehrs will be retained, what we will teach, where our room assignments will be…when we will be informed of all the above.

    With all three schools having their own SSC how will next year’s Castlemont School Site Action Plan be presented/approved?

    Why is the Principal Selection Committee named the Principal Recommendation Committee? Confirm the responsibility of this committee is to make a single recommendation for Superintendent/Board approval and not to present a ‘top three.’

    What is the plan to have permanent on-site counselors? Not admin/TSA/CCIC acting as counselors.”

    The district could not answer one single question. Olson-Jones and Parish could not provide Castlemont with any answers at the 2/21 meeting because the district failed to provide any answers to OEA. Yet two days later Matthew Duffy’s memo materializes. Shameful. Matt Duffy is peddling the obliteration of the K-12 teacher position. And neighborhoods, parents, families, stakeholder are suppose to be okay with this? If OUSD were truly acting in the best interest of children then “Accelerated TSA” would not have been a strategic secret hidden from staff, but rather something shared and discussed openly.

  • J.R.

    It just mystifies me why anyone would be against gang(thug) measures when gang-bangers do far more harm such as murder and general chaos(by orders of magnitude)than any rogue cop ever did. Gangs(thugs) are a cancer on society, and must be dealt with if people wish to live peacefully in their city. People quote the bill of rights and so forth, when these thugs will violate your rights whenever and wherever they wish. Personally, I choose self protection(by permit of course)I follow the law, when these pukes could care less about the law except for their own benefit.OEA sides with the thugs and by extension gives the finger to all decent, hardworking, taxpaying people.

  • Happy to Re-Apply

    I am a Fremont teacher who was happy to hear about the changes for staffing. I am glad the district is working to make sure those who stay at Fremont are open to change and is willing to compensate them more for what it will take. Is it a bit scary? Yes. But to grow, one needs to take risks.

    Yet, the status quo is also risky … if we don’t change things significantly at Fremont, there will be no more Fremont. Half of the teaching jobs HAVE disappeared as our enrollment has dropped from close to 2,000 to under 900 in less than 10 years. OEA needs to be open to giving schools/principals more say in staffing or the charter schools will eat Fremont and other schools in the district alive. It’s already happening!

    I applaud OUSD for this move.

  • Cranky Teacher

    No proven link between more cops and less crime. No proof gang injunctions decrease gang behavior. No evidence reconstitution of schools helps more than it hurts.

    A lot of folks only want to “use the data” when it supports the position they’ve already taken.

  • Nextset

    And what’s wrong with that? OF COURSE you use data to make decisions including that to stay the course or double down.

    It’s one of the things educated people learn to do. Uneducated fail to get it.

    Gang injunctions are wonderful – they facilitate stop and search, arrest and other tactics used to “take back” gang territory.

    Or do you understand the term “territory”?

    Cranky – you are unequiped to opine on law enforcement matters, among other things. Do you do this to a class full of impressionable children? If you want to discuss criminal control – call in your local Police and DAs. It appears they believe these steps are important.

    The alternative – which is what the leftists want – is to Cede the city of Oakland to the criminals. Like in Detroit.

  • Gordon Danning


    I think the problem is that, for teachers, where and what you teach is very important, as I’m sure you know. When the District changes procedures for making those decisions without consulting those affected, that is upsetting. It is also poor policy, because in my experience, whenever the District does things without talking to people who are currently in the classroom, they end up creating unintended consequences that could have easily been avoided had they spoken to an actual teacher.

    Moreover, this particular policy seems problematic, in that every one of those teachers has a right to a job in the District. So, 3 schools get to pick their teachers, and the other schools have to take what those schools don’t want? How is that an appropriate policy?

  • Gordon Danning


    I understand that many people value safety over liberty, but to a large extent that decision was made for us by the people who wrote the Constitution, which is full of express limitations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, which limitations apply regardless of the crime at issue.

    Now, whether gang injunctions fall within those limitations is debatable, but your argument — policy X is OK because gang members are dangerous — is not consistent with the basic precepts of a liberal democracy.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Nextset — you completely missed my point: These folks are IGNORING THE DATA because it goes against their gut instincts. As are you.

    I know, you work as a lawyer and I am a mere teacher.

    I, too, always believed more cops equals less violence. As a victim of violence myself, I remember being happy when Clinton put 100,000 more cops on the streets in the 90s.

    However, having done a lot of research in the past few years, my understanding is there is NO CLEAR EVIDENCE MORE COPS EQUALS LESS VIOLENT CRIME.

    There is evidence that more beat cops will decrease public property crimes, like car theft.

    There is evidence that certain KINDS of policing decrease crime. Particularly the spectrum of engaged policing, including the NYPD “no broken windows” and community policing models.

    But let me know when I am allowed to opine on this by your eminence.

  • J.R.

    Libs stand around waiting for proof, while the stench of death is all around them. They fail to see that some cities refuse to be fertile ground for gang activity, while others tacitly, obliviously become a hothouse with fertile soil composed of: section 8,welfare,young mothers,kids without real parents but find acceptance in gangs. The citizens other cities(fully participating citizens, not just mouth breathers)report any and all suspicious activity immediately(there is no sacred unwritten no snitch rule).The fact of the matter is gang-bangers(thugs) rights end where decent law abiding peoples rights begin. A big factor in society is the dichotomy that children will learn from, and do as their parents do, and right now irresponsible people are out-breeding responsible people by a large margin. Libs will never, and I think don’t want to get it.


  • J.R.

    Which is why civilizations tend to crumble after a period of time, they rot from the inside out. How far do you let the rot go before you pull out the bleach and start cleaning? Do you wait until its academic? You need to face the fact that there are people who (create,design produce,teach,protect,supply) and then there are people who (destroy,rip-off,take,threaten,steal)and most people will never change what has been born,bred,raised into them. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when people say “this poor kid was raised in a bad home, he had no choice”. The kids take this as tacit permission and a green light.

  • J.R.

    Happy to re-apply,
    I must say KUDOS to you Fremont teacher. I have witnessed many hours your districts in-class work first hand(while setting up technology), and by and large I am impressed. You have a diverse student population(have difficult children just like anywhere else, and have some predominantly latino schools)SDC classes,continuation schools and you are funded in the bottom 20% of districts and yet you perform well. How, and why specifically(I bet I can guess)?

  • Gordon Danning


    It seems to me that the list of civilizations that have crumbled due to excessive respect for civil liberties is an awfully short one. Moreover, I would question whether a civilizatiin that does not respect civil liberties is worth saving in the first place.

    But, even accepting your premise, it is common knowledge (or should be) that vioent crime in the US has declined precipitously over the past 20 years, So, there is not much evidence of “rotting from within.” We might be better off worrying about real problems, such as how to improve education

  • Katy Murphy

    I believe that teacher was referring to the Fremont high school campus in Oakland, not the Fremont school district.

  • J.R.

    Oops, you are right! I need more coffee.

  • J.R.

    What you are seeing is an average(migration patterns have a lot to do with the increase and decrease of crime), if you were to look at it city by city, you would get a different picture altogether. Yes some cities are worse than others(L.A,Detroit,Oakland,St.Louis,and N.O. come to mind)Whether you like it or not education, welfare, housing, parental responsibility all have an effect on each other.They are in effect intertwined, so we either deal with all of them, or we might as well forget it. Take a look at this movie documenting what Oakland was like around 1960, and you will see what I mean about migration and crime increase/decrease.


  • J.R.

    I respect civil liberties,you respect civil liberties, as does the government(for now). The criminals respect no one and nothing, and to me gang injunction are not a threat to civil liberties. I mean you could say every time that I asked my son what business does he have being out after eleven is a violation of his civil liberties, but in reality I am just trying to maintain relative safety. This link pertains to an individual who went through someones window to get help(mama said),but were his civil rights violated or did was he the violator?


  • oakteach


    “Moreover, this particular policy seems problematic, in that every one of those teachers has a right to a job in the District. So, 3 schools get to pick their teachers, and the other schools have to take what those schools don’t want? How is that an appropriate policy?”

    If you flip the order of that, you just described the priority placement process. For 7 years I have worked in flatland secondary schools, and time and time again we lose quality candidates to charters or hills schools or the disfunction of our own Human Resources department. Then we take what’s left: priority placements who have no desire to teach in this environment and are poorly prepared to do so plus first year interns who are deemed more qualified by downtown than an experienced out of state teacher with the “wrong” credential.

    Mack, Fremont, and Castlemont are three of the toughest places to teach in this district. There is no shame in failure there, and the TSA’s would still be entitled to a job elsewhere, where they can be (and likely would be) more successful. I still fail to see the problem.

    I have been a faithful OEA member and often union rep for my length of time in OUSD. But these endless fear mongering and chicken little warnings are finally getting to me. The district made a bold move unilaterally in the best interest of the three schools named. Do I agree with the way they went about it? Not entirely. But who cares if it’s going to be best for kids in the end. We have come to expect that anything put to discussion will end in propaganda, allegations of union busting, or personal attacks (especially if the school board gets involved). This district is so damn dysfunctional that we’ve reduced ourselves to two methods of decision making: a) isolation and b) deception [vacancy hiding being the most relevant here]. There are overwhelmingly more GREAT people in this district than the small minority that sucks all the attention. And I’m getting tired of being dragged into the muck.

    Less than 10% of eligible teachers participate in OEA voting and most likely less in actual meetings. I put the blame on the 90% for the state of affairs today – stop letting a small minority speak for the rest of you.

    Sorry for the rant, but that has been 7 years in the making.

  • J.R.

    Crime isn’t going down in these cities:


    The crime isn’t going down, it’s just moving to particular cities(who probably hate the statistics because the stats make taxpayers want to leave.

  • J.R.

    I sincerely feel bad for you all all the other great teachers that care. You should not be dragged through the mud with the imbeciles(admin and staff). It’s too bad the system is so perverted(rights to a job….this and preferred placement….that) it is just ridiculous. And you are right, everyone wants to teach in hills schools, it’s not so much that they care about kids, but this is what is borne and bred by preferential and seniority systems. Maybe the best and most fair(since that is truly what everyone is most concerned with) way is to rotate teachers every five years period end of story. Not easy but it’s fair, right?

  • Proud Fremont Teacher

    After reading this great Oakland teaching blog for many months, (thanks Katy!) I finally felt compelled to put in my two cents about an issue. I want to start out by saying that that I consider myself lucky to be a part of a union during a time in our country when union membership is at an all time low. I applaud the union for their fight to keep our health benefits, prevent unreasonable class sizes, and demand that we be fairly compensated for our work (even though we still earn nowhere close to what we deserve). However, it frustrates and upsets me when the union takes positions that maintain a failing status-quo, and seems to fight change that would be in the best interest of our students.

    I work at Fremont, and I am very excited about the possibilities of the new TSA positions – so are most of the teachers I’ve spoken with. The bottom line is that the flatland schools require teachers who want to be here, believe in the great potential of their students, and are willing to embrace the challenges and changes that will come with the next school year. If a teacher does not want this job, he or she is guaranteed a position somewhere else in the district. This move doesn’t disgust me. It motivates me. And I look forward to be working with a group of other motivated teachers who will be getting more compensation for the hard work they put in.

    I just think that some of the stances that OEA takes discourage teachers with different opinions and ideas from getting more involved in the union. When Betty Olson-Jones writes that the changes are an, “insult to the hard-working teachers,” I wonder how many teachers at these three schools she has talked with. I also wonder how representative these teachers’ opinions are of the the whole staff. Again, I’m thankful for my union, but I wish OEA would take more steps to get input from a larger variety of their members. Before taking up the fight, how about a survey to the Fremont, Castlemont and Mac teachers to see how most of us feel about this subject? How about a survey to see what all members think about more controversial issues such as mutual matching, tenure, etc? The results might be surprising.

  • livegreen

    Cranky, You are guilty of what you preach. What successfully fights crime, and keeps students safe on their way to & from school, is not just more cops or just less cops. It is a) having enough Police, and b) doing the RIGHT things with them.

    But the latter cannot be done without the former. And we cannot prevent the vast majority of murders, rapes, burglaries and robberies, child prostitution, and consequential school lockdowns without more Police Officers.

  • Harold

    @Proud Fremont Teacher:

    1. All OUSD Teachers need a raise. I already work the hours new TSA’s will be scheduled to work. Can I get more money too?

    2. Not everyone is going consider (applying at the three schools) this for benevolent reasons. It may come down to the bigger paycheck.

    3. I respect your opinion.

  • Gordon Danning


    I’m trying to be patient, and not be rude, but you make it difficult.

    1. It is common knowledge among anyone who reads a newspaper that violent crime is way down over the last 20 years: “Violent Crime Rate in US Keeps Dropping, Lowest Since 1960s” http://www.christianpost.com/news/violent-crime-rate-in-us-keeps-dropping-lowest-since-1960s-65266/

    Thus, the idea that crime is just moving is ludicrous

    2. The article you posted simply lists the 25 cities with the highest crime rates. It does not say that crime has increased in those places. In fact, for at least two cities listed — Compton and Oakland — the article states that violent crime is DOWN over the last several years.

  • Gordon Danning


    My concern is that it will not be best for the kids in the end. It might be best for the kids at those schools, but not for kids at Oakland High, or Tech, or Skyline, or the remaining small schools. There are tons of kids there who are just as deserving and in need as kids at Fremont, Mack, etc.

    I would certainly agree, however, that the current system isnt any better.

  • livegreen

    Gordon, Those stats are for 2010, when it even says murder rates decreased. After Oakland had raised the # of its Officers. It wasn’t just having more Officers, it was Chief Batts targeting the most violent felons and being smart about police allocation.

    In 2011 murder rates in Oakland went back up again. Counter to the trend in most other large cities…

  • MissMatched

    I’m almost as astonished by the remarks of some teachers on this blog, as I am by the actions of the district. The district is simply setting the stage for making EVERYONE reapply for their jobs. This is a practice run. It is amazing that people lap this stuff up. No one with any institutional memory of this district has any illusions about what is really going on.

    This “Accelerated TSA” nonsense is something dreamed up by OUSD Human Resources. “Accelerated” suggests increasing speed; and TSAs are NOT full-time classroom teachers, so the whole thing makes no sense. We should ALL be compensated for overtime; which is endless. As far as teachers as McCly, Fremont and Castlemont being underpaid, we are ALL underpaid. I doubt they put in more hours than any of the rest of the OUSD teaching staff. There are no easy teaching jobs in OUSD anywhere.

    This is a test run; and it is only a matter of time before the rest of us are forced to follow. As far as the Fremont teachers who claim to be so thrilled to apply for their jobs; (and I noticed one posted with her real name last night, had the posting removed and reposted with an anonymous moniker, “Happy to Re-Apply,” what does THAT say?) I wonder if they’ll be so happy if they don’t get chosen. You would be surprised by the number of things you can dinged for as a teacher; just disagreeing with the principal usually results in a quite a bit of vengeance; but at least, it’s somewhat under control. I guarantee a few of these eager-to-re-apply-for-jobs-they’re-already-doing teachers will not be chosen, no matter how good they think they are. Or their best teaching buddy won’t be. Because one thing the process won’t be is fair. I’ve already seen a ton of favoritism and bias. And administrators, as a group, are hardly free of these things. In fact, I’ve seen rampant nepotism, and other outrageous violations of the hiring process.

    The CBS Evening News has just reported that these teachers will have to reapply for their jobs EVERY YEAR. (They also framed the story as the OEA “turning down a raise.” Well, I interpret a raise in pay meaning getting more money for the same amount of time. This is not a raise, it is more work, which increase the number of paid days, not the pay per hours.) Having to reapply every years means you are at the mercy of whoever this year’s administrator is. I’ve had admins who loved me and those who tried to run me out of town. Since I didn’t have to reapply every year, I was able to survive (and I’m considered by all to be a great teacher, BTW, but admins don’t like me because I ask questions they don’t like).

    The district also wants “weekly lesson plans” and wants teachers to use data to drive instruction. Well, I do lesson plans every week, but after 20+ years, I use a shorthand that works for me, but you can guarantee the district will have some sort of form to fill out, and it simply add another layer of work to the already nearly impossible workload. As far as “data” to drive instruction; are we talking test scores? I just can’t wait to plan everything I do in class according to the latest batch of test scores.

    And I do know some teachers at those schools, and it turns out that not everyone is so thrilled, and many teachers who are older also feel targeted.

    Since, from what I can tell, administrators are also up for reapplication, it seems pretty weird to be interviewed by someone who might not even be your supervisor. And can you imagine how low morale is going to be for those last few weeks of school?

    In reference to other matters in this thread: more police will NOT stop crime. Think about it: why don’t YOU commit crime (assuming you don’t…)? Is it because there’s a cop on the corner? Police have nothing to do with why I am not a criminal. Police catch criminals, but they sure don’t prevent much crime; maybe a crime might be delayed if a cop comes cruising by, but, as the OPD then-top cop once said (some years ago), “You can’t arrest your way out of crime.” Of course, I do believe police could become part of a community organizing plan to help reduce crime, but cops themselves have little impact on crime. Families, schools, societal values, (some folks would probably add churches or other religious institutions); these are what prevent crime. Not cops.

    The question of liberty vs. safety is not a new one, and it is always a very tought call. However, you cannot really compare gangsters to teachers. I find that almost as damned insulting as “Human Capital” and “Talent Development Office.”

  • Rodney Brown

    Proud Fremont Teacher, it isn’t just an “insult to the hard-working teachers” of these three campuses, but also to the teachers whose schools aren’t being given this “significant investment” in their students. These teachers are being told that you have to become an “Accelerated TSA” to “make a deep and lasting commitment” or be a high quality teacher. At least quality enough for east and west Oakland high school students. Instead of “increase rigor” now the district buzz-phrase is “accelerate teachers.” This letter implies that these things can’t be reached with our students from a 9-12 classroom teacher. BTW, OEA already has done the surveys… held the mutual matching forum. Actually the results weren’t surprising.

    In addition to last week’s all-Castlemont meeting I mentioned above where it was reported to staff that OUSD Labor Relations couldn’t provide any clarity to the transformation process or clarify staffing only to have Principals tells us the next day to be on the lookout for an email announcing “staffing at our high schools” the following morning, we’ve actually held additional teacher meetings on campus. One consensus is that no one knows what an “Accelerated TSA” is. What is the job description? What are the qualifications for or requirements of the job? So what exactly is Happy to re-apply happily reapplying for? What precisely is Proud Fremont Teacher “excited” about? Excited about the ability of Matt Duffy to create a brand new position in this district? That’s high praise for Matthew Duffy to be able to excite anyone over an undisclosed, unprecedented position.

    Teachers know that this process has not been transparent and consistently honest with schools. Selective honestly and selective transparency doesn’t excite me. It isn’t good enough for our students. So we say “lets reserve judgment until we hear what an actual ‘Accelerated TSA’ actually is.” It’s only nearly March and “Accelerated TSAs” are merely replacing classroom teachers in two East and possibly one West Oakland high school in August.

  • Fremont

    I am in my 5th year at Fremont, and I support the district’s decision. This is the first time in the entire “school transformation” process I have felt that the district was acknowledging the gargantuan size of the task they’ve assigned us.

    I have worked hard for my small school and have been tremendously proud of the gains we’ve made, so the decision to merge the schools hurt deeply. HOWEVER, our small school, despite steady improvements was not perfect. Perhaps with more time we could have….but that decision has been made. And since that decision has been made, Fremont and the students on our campus need extra-dedicated staff to enable the transition. We were already going to have to put in many extra days before school starts, so this at least is a gesture to acknowledge that work. I am sure it is a challenge to teach in any Oakland school, but surely others must concede that the flatland schools serve the highest-need students–and those highest-need students need the most dedicated teachers. If this means “re-applying” for my job, I’m fine with it. Also, I don’t really consider it re-applying for my job, it’s applying for a new position that openly acknowledges the challenges of flatland schools. Why shouldn’t the positions at the highest-need schools have different job descriptions?

  • makeitgoaway

    OK, I’ll say it. When schools are failing students then simply extending the hours teachers work will not change the fact students are failing because the cultural and socio- economic conditions which underlie the educational problems are just too pervasive. The only way to break the cycle of failure is to put the children into dorms like in the Harlem Children’s Zone, or kick out all troublemakers, like the AI school and go to drill and kill in a highly regimented environment.

    These are terrible schools with mediocre and ineffective teachers mixed with a few good ones. It is almost insulting that only now will everything be alright. Parents are voting with their feet. What’s the sell to parents? “Come back! Now all the teachers really want to be here and will really work hard for another month on your behalf”. ??? Don’t expect parents to rush the door.

  • livegreen

    I can understand frustration with changes being made to small schools to make things better, then things get changed back and it’s supposed to work better than before. But there is something different here. The district is going to have to prove its not just on the backs of the teachers.

    On the other hand, you know what they say. If something isn’t working, if something is failing, keep on doing the same thing.

  • Catherine

    By the time the students reach the high school – with teachers who want to be there, are highly qualified, and who are working together to integrate learning – they have had 9 years in Oakland public schools. Many of these students are reading at third, fourth or fifth grade levels and have years and years of learning to catch up.

    I agree that they need to be in dorms with extreme structure and quiet for studying and practicing, regular meals, regular bedtimes, regular exercise and away from the influences of those around them who are working at third grade levels who are not working to change their own lives. How does a young person change the direction of his or her life if they do not see a model of behavior that works to make the change?

  • Livegreen

    You can’t introduce extreme structure to a kid in high school. It’s already too late, bad habits are already formed. If kids aren’t getting it at home, it’s got to start in K-8, supplemented by after school programs. IF it’s going to work at all…

  • Steve Neat

    Acceleration TSAs: Another Ill-Conceived Experiment to Be Performed Upon Oakland’s Youth

    After significant questions and concerns were raised by members of the Oakland Education Association (OEA) and OEA leadership about “Mutual Matching,” OUSD administration dropped this ill-conceived plan and adopted the OEA blueprint for transfers and consolidations from closed schools. Now OUSD has initiated an even more poorly designed plan. Castlemont, Fremont, and McClymonds are all scheduled to be “transformed.” If Superintendent Tony Smith and the District have their way, the entire teaching staff will have to apply for new positions as “Acceleration Teachers-on-Special-Assignment (TSAs),” 11-month jobs for which teachers would have to reapply on a yearly basis. There was no consultation with most of the current teachers at these sites or with the OEA, no effort to bargain the effects of these changes in working conditions.
    Tony Smith and Matt Duffy, from the OUSD “Office of Transformation,” have postponed their visit to meet with Castlemont teachers on Monday, March 5. Why? Well, they heard that teachers from across Oakland were coming to listen to what they had to say about their thus far poorly defined “Acceleration TSA” position. Oakland teachers understand that no school is an island. We understand that we are the OEA, we are the union, and that we are all in this together. We agree that reforms could be a positive force in the education of Oakland’s children. However, reforms should be implemented in collaboration and cooperation with the entire OUSD community: parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Reforms should be put in place considerately and thoughtfully, with what’s best for students always guiding our plans. OUSD decided that Castlemont, Fremont, and McClymonds would need to be reconstituted before the school year began, and they have had months to initiate and implement such collaboration and cooperation.
    Instead, Superintendent Tony Smith, Matt Duffy, head of Labor Relations Troy Christmas, Human Resources consultant Brigitte Marshall, and other OUSD administration have made minimal efforts to work with teachers or parents at the affected schools. At Castlemont, for example, OUSD has frittered away two-thirds of the school year that could have been spent consulting with teachers and the community about the details of the restructuring plan for the school. Instead, OUSD meets with some small groups of teachers and not others. Instead, OUSD works behind closed doors with corporate-funded groups like Great Oakland Public Schools. Instead, once again, OUSD decides to perform an unproven experiment upon children of color in the flatlands of Oakland. The OUSD plan to staff high schools with year-to-year employees—hired and fired at the whim of a principal—will result in even more instability for Fremont, Castlemont, & McClymonds. Of course, whether or not the experiment succeeds, its designers will move on to six-figure jobs in other school districts, or for corporate contractors, like so many in OUSD administration before them. Meanwhile, Oakland’s students, parents, and teachers will be stuck with the mess they’ve left behind.
    OEA leadership has given the District numerous opportunities to work with teachers on restructuring the flatlands high schools. In fact, twice this year at OEA Executive Board Meetings, Superintendent Smith has been a guest. At both these meetings, the first on September 21, Castlemont teacher and Executive Board member Rodney Brown brought it to Smith’s attention that the principal selection process for Castlemont was not being followed according to OUSD policy. Brown also pointed out that teachers and parents had—so far—been minimally involved in the high school reconstitution process, at least at the Castlemont Business & Information Technology (CBIT) campus. On both occasions Superintendent Tony Smith expressed his concern and promised to take action. Nothing was done.
    Oakland teachers and the OEA are not against reform. We believe we should look at real solutions, at real reform. Let’s talk about class size reduction. Let’s talk about split reading for grades K-3, where half of a class is taught reading for an hour in the morning and the other half for an hour in the afternoon with smaller teacher:student ratios, because it’s one-on-one and small-group instructional time that will improve student achievement in Oakland. Let’s talk about expanding programs like Teach Tomorrow in Oakland that bring local candidates and people of color to teach in our city, so that students can be taught by young role models who look like them and are from their community, because the personal connection between student and teacher matters far more than whether the school year is 180 or 190 days long. Let’s talk about addressing truancy, because however long the school year is, students won’t learn if they’re not in the classroom. Let’s talk about funding and staffing academic counselors at all Oakland high schools, because if we really want Oakland students to go to college that’s what it will take. The OEA is fighting for real reform, not the latest corporate-inspired flavor of the month. The OEA is fighting for our students.

    Thanks for your time & Consideration,
    Steve Neat,
    5th Grade Teacher,
    OEA Officer

  • Nextset

    Catherine: Re Post 41.

    If you take the chillun’ away from their mothers and put them in dorms you are fundamentally changing who and what they are. This is the same silly nonsense Oprah tried to do in Africa when she created a girls’ finishing school and restricted family visits and communication.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    As in the case of Oprah, the chillun and their families wanted the money and the lifestyle Oprah promised them if they’d do her finishing school. They never fundamentally wanted to change who and what they were. So the whole thing didn’t go well..

    The Oakland single mothers (who produce the worst students) want to send the kiddies to “school” – they don’t necessarily want to send them to a real school and certainly not to any school that will raise them as white kids. I rather suspect the parents of the problem kiddies like OUSD the way it is. OUSD is a slum school district that is very respectful of slum dwellers and slum values. OUSD will never do things that would make them feel bad about themselves or denigrate slum culture. OUSD will never force them to change.

    What you propose really is to force change – to make students live in an alien culture of quiet time and homework and regular everything.

    Not going to happen – mainly because the people we speak of rescuing don’t want to be “rescued”. If they did, things would be different in OUSD. They do want more money (welfare, actually) upon ‘graduation” so they can have all the good things in life without taking Calculus, College Prep or working a job where they’d have to follow a lot of rules. But I doubt the OUSD students would even take kindly to having to wear uniform dress to school – or anything that in any way infringed on their “right” to do what they want 24/7.

    To the extent your suggestion is to create a school where those who want to go to Negro Finishing School can do so – (exactly what Oprah did in Africa) – We already have Charter Schools for that (AIM anyone?). Perhaps AIM should open a residential high school too. It’d be fun to see how many black OUSD students would volunteer for that.

    I’d love to have an exclusive black finishing school in the East Bay. I don’t see a huge demand. You’re asking a whole lot to take someone’s kid into residential care and raise them as something else. It’s hard enough for the black kids to go to Catholic Schools, and they aren’t exactly beating down the doors to do so.

    When you send a kid to such places to change them into what the school is selling, you affect who they date and marry, what society they run with, and what occupations they take up, and ultimately where they live. Most parents don’t want little Otis and Latifah to marry out of their own society and leave town.

    So the residential school is not really feasible. Not on any significant scale.

    I still think OUSD can open a Lowell High type of High School – but I admit it will be populated with Asians, Whites, Jews and immigrants first, with minimal black participation. Still I think OUSD should do it.

    And I cannot fight human nature to stay with your family and culture. You can’t force this kind of change on people, it has to be voluntary.

    Been there, done it, got the T shirt.

    Brave New World!

  • Committed Teacher

    I am glad to see teachers at these schools speaking up for the new program. The union seems to fight change at every turn. We NEED to change or the future for Oakland’s kids is not very bright. Things are not working and the status quo is not an option.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Committed Teacher:

    The Tony Smith Superintendent Administration of OUSD started its full year of administration of the District’s budget in 2009-10 and was out of compliance with the law requiring the District spend 55% of its budget on the classroom. Again in 2010-2011 it was short of the minimum percentage it was suppose to spend on the classroom. Following the law would be one corner the OEA would like to see the Smith administration turn.

    Another corner would be properly administering the money the Smith Administration is given in grants. For QEIA it was given millions to improve the teaching conditions in some of the lowest performing schools in Oakland and California. It was given three years to lower class size and provide a staff 100% qualified by credential and 100% qualified by meeting the average teaching experience of the District, and finally make year to year average grow of API, I believe of 1 point.

    There were 19 elementary and middle schools provided millions in grant money and after three years the District had to appeal to the State Board of Education to forgive 12 schools not complying with the targets required by the seven year grant. In other words the Smith Administration failed to administer the grant according to its terms. In contrast Los Angeles with about 94 QEIA schools was able to provide administrative support that met all the QEIA compliance targets with the except of the ARI target that wasn’t something the Los Angeles administration could control.

    Bottom line was under the Smith Administration it was the administration that couldn’t change and live up to grant conditions of improving learning conditions of the lowest performing students when provided the money.

    Committed Teacher I do not understand why you like the idea of yet another new program for the Smith Administration to administer with its history of not living up to its promises and not turning the corner and changing?

    Finally, Committed Teacher are you in one of these Oakland high schools being asked to give up your job to work another month for undefined hours, working conditions, and pay?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    Reading over my post #44 made me think about how hard it is to expect OUSD to change the black students – and perhaps have a better read on why OUSD works so hard to keep the chillun’ happy.

    If we were to make OUSD’s administration seriously combat the low verbal and math scores and behavior of the black students, they would probably have to adopt some of the tactics the Nuns used when they opened black schools in the flats of Oakland in the Mid 20th Century. That would include culling the students who failed to perform and working the cream pretty hard.

    Change in the students would occur. What you would get would not be the blacks you started with. And you would set them and their families up for one heck of a lot of strife and conflict between the family norms and the new norms you’d have installed in the children. Cognitive Dissonance is not pretty. I studied that in Political Science classes at Berkeley – and I’ve been there.

    I just remembered a black classmate in the early ’60s Catholic School in the East Bay. He became an engineer, relocated from East Bay to Alaska and married a white girl. To say this was not what his black parents had in mind when they sent him to Catholic Grade School is probably an understatement. I thought about the others I knew… I don’t even want to go down the list. Similar things..

    Our parents’ generation went to all black colleges and some white grad schools. They all were in the military (the grad schools were all militarized after Pearl Harbor – everybody was sworn in and went to class in uniform). That generation went into professions and moved into a more integrated society but fundamentally they preferred apartheid in their personal affairs. They sent their kids to white schools because they wanted the academics and a smoother entry to white colleges. They always thought this would not change their children’s selection of the society they would life in. What they got was the law of unintended consequences and mixed grandchildren. In the end maybe they came to accept it, but the new reality was not what they had planned. (that’s not to say all experienced this departure from parent’s society – only that change was extraordinary)

    OUSD takes all the kids as they find them and clearly has an unwritten policy not to change their cultural values. This is the real reason why the schools aren’t going to do much about the deportment of the kiddies. To do otherwise really declares war on the culture or society of the black ghetto.

    This is why the math and verbal scores of the OUSD blacks will stay in the basement and why Black English will not be corrected. Ditto the “problems” with VD, crime and pregnancy (problems to us maybe, norms to the chillun’).

    Absent explicit legislation that the School Districts are to eradicate lower class culture and replace it with a higher culture, it’s too much to expect OUSD to try to do so.

    Back to the thread here about the teachers having to re-apply for their jobs: Baloney. Nothing is going to change. Repeat after me, OUSD has no intention of changing the students away from what they enter the school as.

    OUSD will re-shuffle the deck chairs continuously to justify the consultant fees. Nothing will change except the demographics of the student body. OUSD will become an Hispanic district with a minority Black and no significant white/jewish population. You’ll see this with the High Schools first. Just like LAUSD. College prep will exist for those who demand it. That will become less and less.

  • anon

    At the end of the day, this is about the students. I am one of the teachers affected by this and I agree with it. If this is better for kids, which I believe it is, than this is why I teach in Oakland and why I choose to teach at Castlemont.

    There are always going to be positives and negatives to every decision but this is about the students that I work hard for. These are the students who are our future and I demand to serve them better than we are currently serving them. I think this is a bold move in the right direction for our kids.

  • J.R.

    I am so glad to see professional teachers who want to teach where they are needed(this speaks volumes about their character and makeup). I am weary of the so called UAW style blue-collar, brother-sister, political prancing(when they just as soon would throw that alleged brother-sister under the bus to keep their own pay and benefits). I would(and will) take the side of a determined, caring,capable,well educated teacher who wants to make a difference before any on the sole basis of years alone.

  • Committed Teacher


    I don’t buy into this demonization of Tony Smith and OUSD. Our schools have problems, but OEA isn’t suggesting any solutions (well, okay, they suggested a 15% raise for all teachers and a limit of 15 students per class). OEA’s contempt for Dr. Smith in particular and the District in general bewilders me -it is counterproductive at best.

    I am not one of the teachers affected. but I would have no problem re-applying for my job and I would love the opportunity to work with teachers who have decided to join a team and put their best effort into helping these kids. I think it would be inspiring.

    p.s. At one OEA meeting, a teacher at a school that is closing said to me, “I interviewed for my job 12 years ago and I’ll be damned if I’m going to interview again.” Lifetime employment regardless of attitude or effectiveness seems to be the accepted goal. Not for me.