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Posted: Oakland’s new high school teaching positions

By Katy Murphy
Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 6:18 pm in high schools, initiatives, school reform, small schools, teachers, Tony Smith.

OUSD is hiring an unspecified number of teachers (a.k.a. “teacher leaders” or “Acceleration High School: Teachers On Special Assignment”) to work an 11-month year at Castlemont, Fremont and McClymonds high school campuses. The jobs, which were posted on EdJoin.org late this afternoon, are open to candidates at other schools and even those outside of OUSD.

As most of you know, teachers already at the three high schools need to apply as well, if they wish to stay at their schools. (Unlike other candidates, they don’t need to submit letters of recommendation or resume — just the Ed Join form and a letter of introduction — and they will be guaranteed an interview, district staffers told teachers at Castlemont this week.)

The application window starts today and ends on March 30. Teachers will be hired on a rolling basis, said Brigitte Marshall, OUSD’s HR director.

The job description is mighty long. You can find the one for Castlemont here, and I’ve pasted it below. (I bolded the headers to make it easier to read.)

I’m curious: How many of these duties do you — and, from what you can tell — most of your colleagues do already? Which are less common? Which, in your mind, are the most (and/or least) important?

Do you plan to apply for one of these jobs? Why? I wonder what percentage of the schools’ existing faculties will choose to, and if this opportunity will draw many teachers from other schools.

 

Oakland Unified School District
Acceleration High School: TSA

Job Description

ACCELERATION HIGH SCHOOLS: TEACHER ON SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT

Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA) 11 months, 204 days

CONTEXT

As part of the Community Schools, Thriving Students strategic vision and as a result of a yearlong planning process led by the Office of School Transformation and the West Oakland Corridor, OUSD is excited to announce a new teacher leadership position. Specifically crafted to meet the needs of our students and driven by the urgency to accelerate student learning, OUSD has committed to resourcing a set of transformation teachers to lead our turnaround effort.

Representative Duties: (Incumbents may perform any combination of the essential functions shown below. This position description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all duties, knowledge, or abilities, associated with this classification, but is intended to reflect the principal job elements accurately.)

 

Essential Functions

All TSAs are expected to be teachers as well as leaders engaged in transforming a school into a high-quality, full service community school. This is an opportunity for those who wish to develop their leadership capacities, engage in rigorous and risk-taking professional development, make a deep and lasting commitment on behalf of students and take part in the transformation of a community. Expectations for TSAs are grounded in the California Standards for the Teaching Profession and in the national Teacher Leader Model Standards as well as the ongoing action-research of the Office of School Transformation, including the implementation of a Teacher Effectiveness Pilot.

As classroom teachers, TSAs will take primary responsibility for the academic acceleration of their students and contribute to the development of the social and emotional well being of their students and community.

 

Specifically, Transformation TSAs will:

Collaborate around school based decisions including curriculum, instructional strategies, discipline policy, grading policy, and parent engagement expectations

Develop and implement unit plans and weekly lesson plans aligned to both Linked Learning Pathways and school based instructional goals

Organize instructional plans to promote standards-based, cognitively engaging learning for students and establish standards-based learning objectives for instructional plans

Use data to guide planning, make instructional decisions and inform assessment

Implement rigorous, standards-based, grade level appropriate curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards

Implement assessments to ensure student mastery aligned to the Common Core State Standards

Create a classroom/community culture of learning by modeling positivity, love, risk-taking, support and the ability to revise and improve work

Manage student behavior through clear expectations and a balance of positive reinforcement, feedback and redirection

Commit to communicate learning objectives to students and to help students understand their proximity to reaching those objectives

Implement a range of instructional strategies including critical questioning, academic discourse, group structures and technology

Monitor student learning during instruction and make in class adjustments when necessary

Develop two-way communication with families about student learning and achievement

Engage in partnership with families and community organizations

Work to promote college and career awareness and access at all times

As Leaders in Transformation, TSAs, during their extended professional year, are expected to engage in professional learning activities to develop their capacities to:

Foster a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning

Access and use research to improve practice and student learning

Learn and reflect for continuous personal and professional self-improvement

Promote the use of assessments and data for school and district improvement

Partner with families to create inviting conditions to discuss student strengths and needs

Plan and develop cross-curricular/interdisciplinary content aligned to Linked Learning E framework including development of rigorous CTE courses and high quality internships and work based opportunities

 

TSAs will also:

Uphold and demonstrate their school’s vision, norms, and community agreements

Participate in at least one leadership committee or team

Participate in an increased professional work year

Participate in additional collaborative professional development and work with content coaches where available

Play a leadership role in promoting high expectations, rigorous instruction and expanding AP offerings to more under-represented student populations

Work to partner with Institutions of Higher Education to create concurrent enrollment options for students

Participate in the development and implementation of a safe and healthy school culture

 

Additionally:

All TSAs will participate in the TCRP Teacher Effectiveness Pilot and/or other Teacher Effectiveness Pilots in order to examine best practice around teacher development, evaluation and retention

 

Qualifications

Training, Education and Experience:

TSAs must have a valid California teaching credential in the area in which they will teach as well as a CLAD authorization.

Experience working with English Language Learners and a diverse population is required

Experience working with urban youth is required

Demonstrated success accelerating the academic achievement of urban students

Demonstrated success building the social and emotional development and resilience of urban students

Demonstrated capacity to fulfill the above listed “Essential Functions”

Knowledge and Abilities:

TSAs must have knowledge of California State Standards and Common Core State Standards in the content area they wish to teach, lesson design, using data to determine instruction, teaching English Language Learners and developing classroom communities of learners.

TSAs must have the ability to manage stress and the change process. Candidates with high emotional intelligence are preferred as are those who have demonstrated resilience, calm and a problem-solving attitude in the midst of constant unrest

TSAs should be culturally proficient leaders who are aware of how their own backgrounds, experiences and biases might impact their work at a school.

TSAs should be reflective practitioners invested in improving their practice regardless of how many years they have been in education. They should be eager to work with coaches, collaborate with colleagues, and receive feedback in order to improve their practice.

Final applications are due by March 30th

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  • Katy Murphy

    As I read through the document more closely, this bullet point really jumped out:

    “TSAs must have the ability to manage stress and the change process. Candidates with high emotional intelligence are preferred as are those who have demonstrated resilience, calm and a problem-solving attitude in the midst of constant unrest”

  • http://www.skylinehs.org David Orphal

    I wonder.. what will the district do with teachers who are in these schools now, and have contractual rights to employment with OUSD, if they DON”T apply for these TSA positions???

    Will these experienced teachers be sent to other schools, like Skyline, in turn bumping less experienced teachers out of their jobs? Will the then bumped teachers at Skyline have to apply for one of these TSA positions?

    I mean, I think it might work out if all of the teachers who want to stay at these three sites are excited about the new directions being explored AND is there is an equal number of teachers at non-TSA sites who would like to join these new TSA cadres as there are teachers at these three schools who don’t want to be TSA’s, but have a contractual right to a job.

    I wonder if Dr. Smith thinks that he can simply ignore the now half-decade stale, non-renewed collective bargaining agreement he has with OEA and let go any teachers who refuse to apply for the TSA positions.

    I wonder if teachers are fearful enough of the current economy to accept one of these TSA positions, and go to work with resentment filling his/her heart.

    I wonder what school turn-a-round could look like if the district and teachers were really in partnership over the scope and direction of the change.

    I finished reading _All Systems Go_ by Michael Fullan and _World Class Education_ by Vivian Stewart. Both of these books use Ontario, Canada as an example of a large school system that made a remarkable turnaround. I bring up Ontario rather than Finland or Singapore specifically because Ontario began their turnaround from a place of extreme antagonism between the teachers’ union on the one side, and district and elected leaders on the other.

    I think both OEA and OUSD leaders should invents the time and the $45 to read these two books together – studying specifically the Ontario case-study. Oakland has a long way to go before the district leadership regains the trust of the teachers.

    I think it is vitally important to note, that no educational reform can happen without our teachers engaging in the daily work to make reform real. The classroom is where the rubber of reform and policy meets the road of learning and teaching.

  • Katy Murphy

    I just got this tweet from Michael Siegel, an Oakland civil rights attorney and son of former OUSD board member Dan Siegel:

    Need disclaimer: “Union likely to file legal challenge; may invalidate hiring process”

  • http://www.skylinehs.org David Orphal

    So instead of taking the time to go slow, and build a vision together… OEA and OUSD will fight it out in court.

    Basically, instead of being slow-going and cooperative, we’ll be slow-going and antagonist.

    Please, please, please Dr. Smith, sit down with your teachers and listen to their ideas for school reform. Share with them your ideas for school reform. Build a compelling vision for Oakland schools together. Your teachers are not happy with the status quo either. We really, really want what’s best for our students.

  • Relieved and Excited

    I’m an OUSD teacher – have been in the district for 15 years – and the mother of an OUSD African American male student. I’m relieved and excited by this news.

    I am pro-union, pro-labor, but I do not support OEA’s opposition to this.

    I am considering leaving the school I currently teach at (which I love and am committed to) in order to apply for one of these positions. I see possibilities to play a leadership role that I haven’t seen at many schools. I already work the long hours but I want to be involved in transformation.

    I’m also inspired by the district’s guts – it’s about time someone stood up and interrupted the gross structural inequities that have been a factor at these schools for so long – that in part are due to the hiring processes. For all those in opposition to this initiative, I wish you could visit these schools, observe the classrooms where students have been verbally humiliated and abused for decades, and where their learning needs have been ignored. As a BTSA coach I’ve been in these two high school and have been horrified by what I’ve seen. It’s about time.

    Thank you, Dr. Smith and whomever else was involved.

  • J.R.

    Relieved,
    Are you saying that the CTA code of ethics has been violated?

    http://www.cta.org/About-CTA/Who-We-Are/Code-of-Ethics.aspx

  • Peach

    The parents of students at the three soon-to-be Acceleration High schools might be concerned by what the district is going to offer to their children. If one looks at the comments section of the Edjoin postings you will see the courses that are to be staffed. The list represents the barest minimum of what a school can legally get away with in California.

    Fremont has more than two electives, but its proposed program is as anemic as the ones being prepared for Castlemont and McClymonds.

    Parents and community members might want to compare these programs with the course descriptions of Skyline and Oakland Tech (which are available for view on the district website). We’re talkng, once again, about separate and very unequal opportunities to learn between hills vs flatlands schools.

  • J.R.

    @relieved,
    When you say “gross structural inequities that have been a factor at these schools for so long – that in part are due to the hiring processes” do you mean the seniority priority placement and bumping leave only flatland schools as options for new and junior teachers? In other words, mostly new and junior teachers work at flatland schools, is that correct?

    This study confirms the damage done by seniority driven policies:

    http://www.edtrust.org/west/publication/victims-of-the-churn-the-damaging-impact-of-california%E2%80%99s-teacher-layoff-policies-on

  • Stevie

    David Orphal: I think that Tony Smith IS listening to teachers. He’s listening to the vast majority of teachers who want to see systemic change and are held hostage by the OEA oligarchy. The OEA oligarchy who wants to 1. protect seniority even if it means that ineffective teachers continue to drain the district through some of the biggest salaries 2. keep ineffective teachers even if it means that generations of young people and society as a whole suffer 3. disrespect effective teachers by letting them get bumped out by ineffective ones 4. discourage young, motivated, and energetic teachers to enter the district by negotiating an attractive compensation package for more senior teachers (benefits are great in OUSD) but a pittance for younger ones.

    Senior teachers get 100% of the decision making power to decide where they work if they get displaced, but school staff and families have zero power to decide who is a good match for their school community? That means that well-run schools will be punished for their success because an expensive and ineffective teacher who was not rehired by one of those three high schools could choose to go there and ride it out until retirement. It drains that school’s resources, reduces their effectiveness because they now have an ineffective teacher, and school officials have to spend time mitigating that teacher’s negative impact.

    I agree with those who say that change to the status quo is welcome, even if it is uncomfortable. Occupy Oakland? Occupy OUSD and bring down the OEA 1%!

  • it’s all about the kids

    Will the lemons who don’t apply or who don’t get chosen–will these lemons be foisted on other high and middle schools? This is good for the three high schools and good for their students – it is also bad for the other schools who will be responsible to employ folks who don’t get picked up.
    Lemonade!

  • Rodney Brown

    That same bullet point was one that jumped out at me too, Katy. What “emotional intelligence” test will occur during the one-hour interview? Also, this “rigorous and risk-taking professional development” says nothing about it being teacher-led. Whoever is backing this endeavor finically may also have some investment in this Adventure PD.

    This all comes down to those who believe that destabilizing three high schools will somehow help to stabilize each in three years and those who see this merely as another experiment on Oakland kids dreamt up by those furthest away from the classroom. As a Castlemont teacher, I find it extremely contradictory to speak about piloting teacher retention programs while “Acceleration TSA” helps play musical teachers and alienates students and teachers. Teacher retention is largely ignored. Staffing is only an issue when vacancies occur. With this unilateral decision to create wholesale vacancies at three flatland high schools then staffing does become a self-inflicted chore. Where vacancies results from attrition, what different conditions and supports could lead to retaining more teachers? Instead the conversation becomes how “Acceleration TSA” allows those with access and opportunity to pick and choose their colleagues, and teacher prevention rather than retention, as in “how can we prevent this teacher from coming to our school.” The same school-of-thought applies to those who would rather pick and choose the students they serve.

    The entire “Acceleration TSA” description above reads as the musings of the Office of Transformation rather than any concise job description. So much is thrown into this goulash that something is liable to resonate/appeal/attract anyone, while details get lost in the rhetoric/propaganda.

    So long as there is the disclaimer: “Incumbents may perform any combination of the essential functions shown below. This position description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all duties, knowledge, or abilities, associated with this classification, but is intended to reflect the principal job elements accurately,” then no one will know with any certainty what an “Acceleration TSA” is or does, other than duties as assigned.

  • Rodney Brown

    Whoever is backing this endeavor *financially* may also have some investment in this Adventure PD.

  • Gordon Danning

    It’s all about the kids:

    I don’t know why you refer to those who do not get chosen for these positions as “lemons.” There are many people who might be excellent teachers but who would not be interested in this sort of position because it is an 11 month position, or because they don’t want to work somewhere where they will be assessed on their “emotional intelligence” and “cultural proficiency.” I wouldn’t.

  • LK

    To answer Katy’s question, most of the teaching duties outlined in the job description are things teachers do anyway. My question is, what additional duties are these TSAs going to double up on in order to pay for the salary increase. For example, does “work to promote college and career awareness and access at all times,” mean that teachers will have to do the work of counsellors? What other positions are being eliminated in order to give teachers more pay? More important, what problem is this solving and whose problem is it?

    To answer Katy’s other question, I wouldn’t apply for this job myself. It seems like a bad faith, end run around the contract, for one. For another, the job description is filled with vague language and buzz words. What exactly does the following entail? “Plan and develop cross-curricular/interdisciplinary content aligned to Linked Learning E framework including development of rigorous CTE courses and high quality internships and work based opportunities.” Will teachers be out there knocking on corporate doors to get internships for their students? Or will the leg work be done by others? Again, whose jobs are being eliminated and pushed onto the teachers?

    I’ve been in the district long enough to see fads come and go. I really thought the small schools movement would stick, but the district’s commitment to that seems to be flagging in the face of budget pressures. This TSA business just seems like another “let’s try anything” stab at solving social problems that are really insurmountable through education alone. The thing with OUSD is, anyone with a bag of money and a theory can come in, create havoc, then waltz out of town leaving the rest of us to deal with the mess left behind. There is a dedicated, experienced staff already in place at these schools. Please don’t mess with that.

  • Harold

    “cultural proficiency”? … sounds like a slippery slope.

  • What does this mean?

    In response to LK:
    —What exactly does the following entail? “Plan and develop cross-curricular/interdisciplinary content aligned to Linked Learning E framework including development of rigorous CTE courses and high quality internships and work based opportunities.”—

    Check out:
    http://www.linkedlearningousd.org/node/6

    http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/home

  • MissMatched

    Re: Emotional Intelligence. I remember a teacher I worked with for several years. Academically, in terms of how she designed (or slapped together) curriculum, she was one of the least able teachers I have ever met, and to put it more bluntly, not very bright. I often wondered how she had even been able to become a teacher. However, I guess she hads loads of “emotional intelligence,” the kids just loved her, and the parents also were big fans. She was warm, friendly, encouraging, and empathetic. I’m sure there would have been massive protest if she’d been forced out due to her poor curriculum.

    I already see this becoming a popularity contest.

  • J.R.

    Miss,

    Oh yeah, I can see it now, parents fawning all over teachers just because the are likeable(as if we aren’t smart enough to know if and when they may be putting on a show). I can hear parents exclaiming ” my child hasn’t learned much if anything this year, but you are such a wonderful person I think you should be kept”. In what reality does this happen? I will tell you though, I would much rather have a warm friendly encouraging type of teacher as opposed to one who is retired on active duty(R.O.A.D.). I guess if you believe principals will put their job on the line to keep a substandard teacher who is a friend then you will believe most anything. what we have had for the last several decades has not worked, time to move on.

  • MissMatched

    J.R.: if you actually think that parents don’t base most of their judgments on whether they (or their children) like the teacher, and if you actually think principals don’t play favorites… then you clearly know little about the realities of teaching in Oakland and probably elsewhere. It is almost ALWAYS a popularity contest; and other qualifications, when they are considered, are a distant second. I have seen this many many times over the years; and have been passed over in favor of far less qualified people because the principal chose her friend. Yep, happens EVERY day, in various ways.

  • J.R.

    Miss,
    First of all, when you say a principal chose her friend, that is a subjective judgement on your part(no doubt tainted by your internal bias). Secondly, the fact remains that a principal is not shielded from losing their job as a teacher is(they are basically at will employees)so anyone that would jeopardize his/her job for a friend is truly a fool. Thirdly, teachers such as you who claim they are doing their jobs(and are busy with their own classroom)would be in no position to judge other teachers on their merits or lack thereof. Subjective judgement is woefully inadequate, and human nature being what it is, not to be trusted.

  • Gordon Danning

    JR:

    You have made Missmatched point for her: that subjective judgment is woefully inadequate. Do you really believe that hiring decisions — even in the business world — are made wholly objectively? Especially when one criterion is “emotional intelligence”?

    As for a principal hiring a friend over someone more qualified, given the difficulty of assessing “quality” and the extremely small role that any one hire plays in affecting the criteria that the District uses when deciding whether to retain principals, and given that having friends (or at least people with whom you see eye to eye) makes a principal’s job easier (which is very important, since it is a VERY hard job), a principal would be foolish NOT to hire a friend, when possible.

  • Trish Gorham

    Why is it the assumed imperative that in order to get rid of a (very) few underperforming teachers it is necessary to destabilize a community and humiliate, stress out, and remove due process from all teachers?
    It’s more than a little disturbing that the majority of comments approving the proposal have more to do with punishing teachers than helping students.
    FYI to all: There is no such thing as “bumping rights”. Teachers only have the right to move into a vacant position.

    Why the OEA should question this proposal:
    1. Such a plan should be thoroughly discussed with all stakeholders. No one outside of Central Administration had anything to say about the proposal because no one was informed that it was being considered until it was announced that it would happen. It took over a week to come up with this not so descriptive job description and we have yet to see an implementation plan (because there isn’t one yet). And this starts in 3 high schools in less than 5 months?
    2. There are no assigned principals for 2 of the high schools for next year yet. Wouldn’t it be more effective to have a leader involved in the development of plans? Who, then, is making the hiring decisions?
    3. It was news to Superintendent Smith that very few staff members at Castlemont have been involved in the design plans for returning to a single school. Does not an entirely new school design now have to be developed?
    4. TSA is an at-will position from which the employee can be removed next year. While some teachers are willing to take the chance, the OEA would be irresponsible not to inform members that the TSA position does not protect them from willful and capricious reasons for removal by the administration, thereby continuing the destabilization process.
    5. It was stated that the instructional days would still equal 180. So the students do not actually get more instructional days?
    6. And if the school year is extended in a way that adds additional support without additional instructional days, how does that look?
    a. And how does that impact summer/other jobs?
    b. And how does that impact families that travel to home countries during student breaks?

    I could go on. You get the idea. No critical dialogue. No real plan. No trust.
    Teachers are the ones who MUST ask the difficult questions, even if erroneously appearing rigid. For it is the professional practitioners upon whom all successful plans depend.

  • Peach

    Thanks “What does This Mean” for the links to an unfamiliar OUSD site and to ConnectEd.

    At the ConnectEd site, the program seems to be an industry-high schools-higher ed program that provides high school students with pathways to get industry experience while taking concurrent courses at UCs – akin to some of the academies at Oakland Tech.

    Is this clear connection between high school courses, industry work and UC what we will see at McClymonds, Fremont, and Castlemont?

    After a cursory look at the OUSD Linked site, I see school trips, college tours, and dance programs at some schools, as well as mentoring for seniors at Life Academy. Are these the initiatives that will be installed at the 3 schools instead?

    Also interesting is the fact that Brad Stam is Vice President of ConnectEd, and he was Chief Academic Officer of OUSD when the district joined the consortium.

    Usually Board approved school plans and high school master schedules are completed in the spring. There are only three months left in the academic year for putting the pieces for the tranformed schools in place.

    Who has been part of the collaboration on the design of the accelerated schools?

  • makeitgoaway

    Gee, I kinda like the idea. It sure isn’t working now. but the vehemence of the opposition before this even gets started is intense. Is it possible the Superintendant saw that this plan would be attacked no matter what, so he floated it while dangling the higher pay? Better jump on the train- this is the wave of the future, especially in failing districts. It is about time teachers who go above and beyond every day get paid for doing so while those who want safety and same old same old stay where they are…

    And, what if it works?

  • MissMatched

    J.R.: you have completely revealed how little you know about how schools operate these days. The idea, first of all, that I couldn’t know what is going on in anyone else’s classroom because I’m somehow not connected with the rest of the staff is simply not how schools work in 2012. Most schools are organized into teams, or academies, or houses, or other groups, where teachers meet regularly. We also present curriculum to each other and observe each other. So, yeah, I do know what goes on elsewhere. Probably much more so than the principal, who does not attend meetings or curriculum sharing, but simply pops in for a few disconnected minutes here and there.

    As far as it being my “subjective” opinion as to why I was passed over, it actually was the opinion of most of the rest of the staff as well. Principals, with exceptions, of course, tend to hire and give opportunities to people whom they see as subordinate to them. Teachers who are older than them, more experienced than them, who know the contract and know their rights, tend not to be chosen, in favor of the young, the inexperienced, and those who haven’t made the mistake of asking the hard questions.

    Since I have over 2 decades of experience in the classroom, and you, clearly, do not, and I know, at least as colleagues, probably hundreds of teachers, I would say my assessment of the situation is valid not only for myself, but for many other teachers in OUSD. But we’ll all soon be forced out if Smith, Marshall and Co. get their way.

  • MissMatched

    It is NOT higher pay. It is MORE WORK paid at the SAME RATE. Higher pay would be more pay for the SAME WORK. I really don’t see how this is framed as a raise.

  • Trish Gorham

    @24
    What is the idea you kind of like? There hasn’t been one that is clearly defined yet.

  • J.R.

    Here we go with the experience(would that be twenty years of the same thing over and over again)? I guess I have to re-post the studies that have shown after five years of experience there is no real difference on that basis(the real difference is in the psychological makeup of the teacher). I was watching the city council meetings regarding Desley Brooks and the teen center, and I listened as this little black girl eloquently pleaded her case as to why the center should remain, and I was impressed by her intelligent and articulate testimony.I have a real hard question for you, why have we been leaving these kids behind for decades? Don’t tell me that just poverty is responsible, because there are so many who are dropped through the cracks that could really excel despite their circumstances. If you really want to see poor, travel to Mexico and India, that’s what poor is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC77oMoaWZE

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/coloradoclassroom/2009/04/23/teacher-effectiveness-the-studies/153/

    Try some objective data for a change.

  • it’s all about the kids

    get. rid. of. the. lemons. they are hurting kids. these three high schools are drop-out factories.

    stop with all of the defensiveness.

    OEA. go. away.

  • J.R.

    Trish,
    You stated “FYI to all: There is no such thing as “bumping rights”. Are you sure about that?

    https://sites.google.com/a/oaklandea.org/oea/pink-slipped-march-15-2011

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/1WpIIdJ5ID7FMTwOEGBoGotqmcEcG45yE8uWJ1x3WQMqWgtTRdaJxogxAlsE0/edit?hl=en&pli=1

    You also stated “For it is the professional practitioners upon whom all successful plans depend”. Well we haven’t had much success for decades, what about that?

    All the taxpayers see is unions throwing anything and everything against the wall to see what sticks, but thats about it. Nothing better, and it figures.

  • J.R.

    Trish,
    You also stated “Why is it the assumed imperative that in order to get rid of a (very) few underperforming teachers it is necessary to destabilize a community and humiliate, stress out, and remove due process from all teachers”? I would like to know how you determined that there are very few under-performing teachers. There are quite a few reasons why teachers could be classified as under-performing or incompetent. I’ll list what I have witnessed:

    1. The teacher who hands out busywork that is not even close to curriculum standards.

    2. The teacher who doesn’t feel the need to keep a gradebook, or properly assess each child.

    3. The teacher who does mostly art work and grades core subjects based on a pathetically small number of assignments and tests.

    4. A teacher who year after year takes time of with liberal use of illness bank.

    5. The teacher who hasn’t one shred of patience left and belittles students at every opportunity.

    6. The teacher whose grades signify nothing(gives good grades to most all)and fails to let students earn their grades.

    7. teachers who stray so far, so often from standards that the teachers who have the children the following year exclaim and I quote “did this #*## teach these kids anything last year”?

  • Gordon Danning

    JR:

    Thanks for the links. They are a valuable lesson that, when it comes to the law, it is impossible to trust what anyone says. The CTA publication that you link to does indeed seem to say that teachers have a right to “bump” less senior teachers. Yet, it actually refers to teachers “slated for LAYOFF,” NOT teachers who are unassigned or whose positions have been eliminated. Morover, the statute it cites only says this, in relevant part: “Except as otherwise provided by statute, the services of no permanent employee may be terminated under the provisions of this section while any probationary employee, or any other employee with
    less seniority, is retained to render a service which said permanent employee is certificated and competent to render.”

    In other words, it says that a teacher cannot be laid off while a less senior teacher is retained. It does NOT say that a teacher who loses his or her ASSIGNMENT is entitled to bump a less senior teacher and take over his/her assignment. Why the CTA publication uses the term “bumping” is beyond me.

    And, the OEA contract says that teachers who are involuntary transferred (ie, the Fremont/McClymonds/Castlemont teachers who are not selected as “Accelerated TSAs”) can submit a list of their top 5 choices from the Position List, which is defined as a list of VACANCIES. (see pp. 34 et seq of OEA contract).

    The upshot is that, no, the unselected teachers will not be able to bump current teachers out of their positions; instead, they can only be offered vacant positions.

  • Gordon Danning

    Its all about the kids:

    I think it would behoove us all to avoid the term, “drop out factories,” because it is a term that tends to obfuscate, rather than clarify. I say that because Oakland High School was identified as a “drop out factory” a couple of years back, due to what was seen as an unacceptably high drop out rate, yet at the same time it was sending literally dozens and dozens of students to UC schools, and many, many more to the Cal State system. In other words, it was serving 1/2 of its students pretty well, and the other half not so well. Or, perhaps the fault (or credit) lay as much with the students/parents/community as with the school.

  • Zinnia

    Tony and admin would be going about this a very different way if they were really interested in developing trust and a cooperative district.

  • anon

    I am a Castlemont teacher and will be applying to work there again. I appreciate the focus on the students-this is about the students. I think that Dr. Smith has made a bold move to support these students and so the extra duties of a TSA that are mentioned in the job description will only further support the students.
    At the meeting he attended on the Castlemont campus, I appreciated when he said we need to be doing a better job of producing better outcomes for these kids as they too are the future of Oakland.
    I am not saying TSA’s were the only option (obviously there were a lot) but this is a unique opportunity to better support our students and so I am on board.

  • former ousdteacher

    When I read the comment #22, all I hear is “FEAR FEAR FEAR”. Words like “willful and capricious reasons” make OEA look like fear-mongerers.

    I’d be curious to know what percentage of Oakland teachers their leadership is aligned with. Most Oakland teachers are sane and hard-working. But the 1% runs the organization and have a paternalistic attitude towards the rank and file.

    They’re starting over at Castlemont because the school was horrible. Anybody with a brain can see it. Can’t get any worse. Glad the district is doing something instead of business as usual.

    Shame on OEA leadership for fighting on his one. My goodness. Either sign up to help or move on. Stop blaming everyone else, there’s enough blame to go around for all of us. Lastly, if you think a community is hopeless, you have no business teaching in it or leading those who do.

  • J.R.

    Gordon,
    If you read the whole thing(CTA bumping rights) you will see that senior teachers can and do elect to bump junior teachers from preferred schools, it happens all the time in other districts. In oakland it does not happen too often because of the turnover, but it does happen. It also explains “triangular bumping”, and goes on to tell junior teachers “in so many words”, just accept bumping and shut up, because we don’t want to undermine seniority principles. This system of failure,(and that is what it is) when nearly half of the students fail to graduate ,and on top of that some students must have remediation in college. You should know that getting it only half right is still an F.

  • Seenitbefore

    The problem in Oakland, by and large….. is that the district structure is unprofessional towards certificated teachers with experience.

    The entire Oakland public school system has been undermined by hiring idealistic, uncredentialed “teachers” who are enrolled in “alternative programs”. These “teachers” generally get paid the exact same salary as a fully credentialed teacher would get. they also get their student loans reduced/forgiven/paid off. In return, they know to keep their mouths shut and NOT complain about unfair labor practices, stand up to workplace harassment, or (God forbid) participate in union activities. If they do… they WILL be “non-re-elected”, thus losing their income and their student loan forgiveness program. Once these “teachers” have completed their obligation to their teaching program, MOST leave Oakland and the teaching profession.

    Now…… if you want to believe that THAT is a roadmap for success….or that these unfair labor practices of changing the job description of a classroom teacher to “TSA” is “bold” and innovative… YOU are delusional and part of the reason that this district never moves forward…..only sideways and on to the next “ed-fad” or scheme of the wealthy philanthropists who throw money at OUSD in vain attempts to experiment with some of the most vulnerable and needy students in our nation’s educational system.

    It’s not only Union Busting…. it’s immoral…and likely criminal.

    The problem in this district has never been too little money…. it’s too MUCH of your tax money…..in the hands of greedy upper management and never enough devoted to your kid’s experienced and successful teacher or their classroom.

  • J.R.

    Seenit,
    I agree with your point about too much money being allocated to a bloated bureaucracy, I really do. This district gets a tremendous amount of money relative to other districts of the same size(I have posted about this before).

    http://blogs.investors.com/capitalhill/index.php/home/35-politicsinvesting/1911-california-school-spending-soared-on-administrators

    http://www.calchamber.com/pressreleases/pages/californiaeducationstudyrevealsdisturbingtrend.aspx

    On your other points I disagree, we have had for decades(before reform) a deep seated almost system-wide apathetic attitude of entitlement(exempting certain teachers of course), which has resulted in a very lax educational environment. The very opposite of rigor, like it or not many union backed policies encourage these attitudes. As far as money goes it is not really a predictor of success, if it were OUSD would be near the top in achievement, not the bottom.

    http://californiaschildren.typepad.com/californias-children/2010/07/the-list-cas-most-fiscally-unsound-school-districts.html

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/09/07/a-closer-look-at-spending-and-test-scores-in-east-bay-schools/#comments

  • J.R.

    Seenit,
    To add, if our lack of performance problems go back decades, how can the new teachers be responsible for it? If not, them then who, think about it.

  • Gordon Danning

    JR:

    Re: bumping, I know that it happens in other districts, but it doesn’t happen in OUSD. I personally know several very senior teachers who were at small schools or programs that closed, and are now in positions that they do not like, because they could only be placed in open positions. One used to teach at Oakland HS, and would have LOVED to return, and is more senior than every single member of the OHS social studies dept. But, she could not move to OHS because there is no bumping.

    PS: The CTA article specifically refers to LAID OFF teachers, not teachers who must be REASSIGNED.

  • Katy Murphy

    Gordon’s right that there is no “bumping” of teachers in OUSD. (For classified staff, it’s another story.)

    Say the district lays off 20 teachers for budgetary reasons, based on seniority and credential (which it says it does not plan to do this year) and/or dismisses 40 temporary or brand new teachers without job rights. Those decisions — in some cases — will create vacancies into which a more senior teacher or credentialed administrator can move. But first, the district would need to create that opening. The teacher at School B, regardless of her seniority and job rights, can’t just take someone’s job at School A.

  • Catherine

    Trish:

    As a parent and an advocate for those students I tutor on my own time I have consulted with the “stakeholders”. The stakeholders – just to be clear – of whom I speak are the student, parents or guardians, teacher or teachers, any specialists the student sees with a reasonable frequency (once a quarter or more), the principal, the NeXO or ReXO, the superintendent, Betty Olson-Jones, the school’s union steward, and our elected school board member. For those that do not attend meetings, I write letters outlining the situation as I see it.

    We have a district in which the vast majority of teachers do not pre-test and do not know what students know before they walk in the classroom. I would like to think that middle and high school students are placed into classes based on their background knowledge and ability but far too often this is not true.

    Students who excel in elementary school – and who have not been pretested – are “taught” information and skills they already possess. It matters only to the school, the district and often, unfortunately, parents or guardians “stakeholders” that students are performing well on benchmark and California State Tests. Then those same students get to middle school and have not acquired the organization, study and deep-thinking skills required to succeed, such as blocking out the interference of many, many disruptive students in class. Now, they are moved into classes that do not challenge them and they begin to do the bare minimum.

    Not one of the stakeholders is willing to accept responsibility for fulfilling the union contract of differentiating the curriculum. I have witnessed many high performing students allowed to read a paperback book two-thirds of the day. Sometimes they are given more of the same work rather than more challenging work.

    In Oakland, the stakeholder theory of which you speak does not work for the benefit of the students. It does work to allow for many, many of the “stakeholders” to point fingers at who is “causing and supporting the problem.”

    I support those parent, students, teachers, principals, counselors, union stewards, district administrators and all other stakeholders who are working to insure that ALL students get the education they deserve – those performing at the highest to those performing at the lowest levels in the district. All students deserve to graduate high school when they have attended school daily, worked hard in class, worked hard and smart with homework assignments and communicated what they know and what they don’t know so they have an opportunity to bring up their skills and knowledge.

    I am tired of Betty and her 75 – 100 followers dictating who is allowed to learn and who is not.

  • J.R.

    Thank you for clearing that up regarding specifically OUSD. Do you not still have the issue of “must place” teachers, and if 40 temps have to be cut to make room for senior teachers, then that is what happens? My point(which is still valid) is that the system is so rigidly job oriented that the kids don’t matter anymore, and the lack of academic results as far as OUSD can’t really be argued with. In many districts teaching is no longer a profession, it is just a job bank(which is I guess why they attach themselves to labor unions).

  • J.R.

    Catherine,
    The CTA is an immovable object, and we need a force to counter it(taxpayer & Parent power I hope). We are getting there, I am disheartened when I think of the thousand of kids who lost an education in the previous 3-4 decades.

  • J.R.

    Gordon,
    I forgot to add, many teachers that I know(some are relatives in fact) have indeed been “bumped” so I know it happens(different districts in the east bay). Bumping caused so much havoc with P/O’ed parents that the super stated that we need to avoid the cascade of movement and instability that ensues with bumping.

  • On the Fence

    Well said, Seenitbefore #38. I agree with much of what you have written.

    I am concerned about the district setting precedence with the process of rehiring of teachers into a nebulously defined job with little protection. I, too, worry that this is just the latest trend of a district that has little crediblity. Let’s face it, the district has tried all sorts of new gimmicks and reinventions. Usually the miracles that they promise do not pan out.

    In this case, the district gets the PR of ‘starting over’ and ‘really changing the game’ for the group of students (and schools) that has typically been most vulnerable which sounds great on the surface, and they also get to quash the needed protections that the teachers currently have.

    I have no doubt that there are many teachers who will step up, and I wish them luck. I hope that they will not regret their involvement. If I were a teacher, I don’t think that I would reapply as I would fear that those of us who stepped up would be later thrown under the bus, casualties of the OUSD’s lastest debacle. The first way that that might happen is if the school fails to produce the outcomes that we had worked towards. It seems to me that it would be very convenient to lay any failure squarely on the shoulders of the participating teachers and start the next year with a ‘better crop’. It would be easy to posit that the teachers were lemons, or jaded, or inexperienced, or racially insensitive. My other worry would be that the participating teachers would be put in untenable circumstances in order to attempt to produce the goals set forth. For example, if the schools API did not rise sufficiently, teachers might be pressured/suggested to hold longer office hours, weekend school, home visits, and other unpaid duties. “You did after all self-select into this very unique school where the expectations are to be a team player…and those are the kinds of teachers that we will be retaining at the end of the year”, I could imagine someone saying.

    Like most others here, I would like all of our school children to receive a great education. Clearly, however, I have doubts that this will happen via the latest district scheme.

  • Trish Gorham

    Former @ #36
    I find it very hard to believe, that as a former OUSD teacher, you never saw an administrator perform a “willful and capricious” act against a teacher. Lucky you. I do not consider asking logical questions that have yet to be fully answered fear mongering.

    I do not see this issue as one of assigning blame. However, one can say that Tony Smith is to blame for not providing the opportunity for OEA “to sign up and help”. I believe the questions we are asking will only HELP to improve the current impulsive course of action.

    I’m afraid the attitude of it “can’t get any worse” so ANY “something” is laudable is not good enough for the students we serve.

    Catherine @ 43

    I do not disagree with anything you are saying.
    I know that Betty does not disagree with anything you are saying.
    I fail to see how this proposal addresses the very real issues you bring up.

    Fence @ #47 and Seenit @ #38
    Yuppers. Thank you.

  • del

    seen it before, I do not believe you have actually seen it before. If you think the number one problem facing the district is teachers being treated “unprofessionally,” I strongly suggest you ask your students what they did the night before. The number struggling through the violence of abject poverty or outright neglect is staggering and directly affecting what happens in EVERY classroom in the district. To suggest that the desires/perceived needs of the adult employees is a more pressing issue is exactly the problem.
    Some call it union busting, but the union is already busted. Members above say it is run by the 1%, it is certainly hard to argue against that—the participation rates do not lie.
    What we are currently doing is not working and we know this. The budget does not allow for many changes, but one thing we know is that the teacher & their skill matters the most. And we know that at almost every school (not just in Oakland) there is a teacher who is simply not doing a good enough job. I’m not talking about needing training & professional development, I’m talking about responsibilities like consistent lesson planning, being at work on time, and providing a safe classroom environment. How can we get every classroom a well qualified teacher? The union has not made that a priority, and conversations between the union leadership and district (or within the union) haven’t been civil in decades. So what can be done? Something has to be done, and done now. This is an attempt. It is more severe than the “mutual matching” that was rejected by the union in favor of bumping, but I guarantee that if I were at one of these sites, I would be very happy to re-apply for my job. And every faculty member at these sites can tell with very little uncertainty who the one or two teachers who will not be welcomed back will be.

  • Catherine

    Trish: If Betty does indeed not disagree with what I have said then why is she not working with the schools’ union stewards to have changes in behavior at particular schools that are not serving student needs? I know in at least three – and I will check with teachers and parents about the fourth.

    Funds were raised to send teachers to a Saturday program in differentiation. The teachers were to be paid $35 per hour to attend and if they needed child care there were parents who were willing to provide the child care. Not one teacher agreed to go. Not one.

    The program and the outstanding offers have held for three consecutive years twice per year. No one teacher in three schools, perhaps four schools, have been willing to follow through. They simply do not care enough about how to serve students to attend.