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Tomorrow: a showcase for displaced teachers

After school tomorrow, the Oakland school district is holding an event for the dozens of Oakland teachers who find themselves in the so-called “talent pool” because of school closures, a leave of absence or other reasons. The informational interview fair, which is voluntary, will give displaced teachers a chance to meet someone from each school that has posted vacancies for the upcoming school year.

Teachers will then be given two days to visit schools that catch their interest. Then, starting from the most senior teacher, they choose their placements from the list of openings. (Despite the administration’s efforts to give principals more of a say in that decision, mutual matching fell by the wayside.)

The Advisory School Matching Showcase is something new for Oakland Unified. Before, teachers just picked from a list of vacancies, often knowing little about the school besides its reputation and location. (Some might simply do that again this year, as they are not obligated to do any of this.)

I’d like to hear, from teachers and school representative alike, the expectations you have of this event — and, afterward, how it went. I wonder, for example, if anyone became interested in working at a school that they might not otherwise have considered. Do you think it will help inform your decision? Make you feel more comfortable at School B?

If you’d like to write up your reflections from the event and share it with your fellow blog readers — and you know you do! — just email it to me, along with your name and school, at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Here’s the district’s description of the showcase, which is happening in the Think College Now/International Community School auditorium:

The Advisory Matching School Showcase is an opportunity to meet with school representatives for sites with current vacancies. During this event, teachers will learn more about available positions that may be a good fit for their skills and interests. This will also be a valuable resource when choosing which schools to visit prior to the initial selection round. The Showcase event and school visits will provide helpful context for teachers and school communities during the Advisory Matching process.

Katy Murphy

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

  • long-time teacher

    My reflection on this event is pretty simple — I wish I had known about it in advance! I am a teacher working out of my subject area because of consolidation at my previous school last year, and I would have loved to have the chance to attend this… but the first I heard of it was when I happened on your blog, two days after the fact! Ah well, so it goes with communications in this district…

  • Take Responsibility

    Long-time Teacher – really? I read about this event in several places. I felt that it was widely advertised. Maybe you just don’t read the communication – I am so tired of my colleagues not taking responsibility for what they do and don’t do.

    I went to the event because I’m interested in changing schools – I teach at a K-5 and am considering teaching middle or high school. I am ready for a new challenge. I spoke to a few principals who seemed eager and excited to meet me. I’ll visit their schools soon. I appreciated the event for this purpose.

    On the other hand, this event was kind of depressing. As I looked around at the other teachers who were walking around I was a little uncomfortable – many of them, well, they just looked off. Odd. I kept getting the horrible feeling that these were the teachers that no one wants, who are shuffled from school to school, their positions are “closed” and they are told to look elsewhere. Someone has got to recognize and acknowledge that there are a few dozen of these teachers in our district and I saw a lot of them on Friday. I hate to say this, but some actually looked unwell. It’s so sad that our school district is this way, that our society is one in which if they quit teaching they may not have a job or health care -and clearly many needed it. And at the same time, it’s so unfair to kids. I’ve worked with and next to some of those teachers – they should NOT be near children.

    The job fair was well organized and well publicized, it was nice to meet many welcoming warm principals and I’m excited about my prospects, but it also gave me a depressing insight into the state of teachers in our district. We have got to get rid of this OEA leadership and vote in some folks who are more progressive, open-minded, and who might support something like mutual matching. I was all for that. Until then, I’m afraid our district is doomed. You should have been at Friday’s event. What a strange world.

  • Peach

    Take Responsibility-
    Really? We have to destroy the OEA and introduce mutual matching and other schemes that do not afford teachers due process because of a few dozen teachers who may not seem enthusiastic to you? All of this expenditure of scarce money and time only to address 1% to 2% of the total in a district that employed 2,675 teachers during 2010-2011?

    Perhaps the district can take some steps that are less disruptive to students’ education. Some research-, data-based suggestions would be that administrators diligently observe and support teachers. And make sure that novice teachers are mentored, get adequate resources, and are observed fairly, with constructive feedback.

    Most of the poor teachers would not have received tenure if ed code had been followed by site administrators who were proven expert instructional leaders.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and believe that you are not a ringer, but are indeed a real teacher in OUSD. This despite the fact, that you did not mention the following -
    1. all the teacher communication sites where you learned of the fair;
    2. the great teachers you met at the event, you must have some colleagues that you respect and like;
    3. a hint of the credentials you possess that would facilitate an easy change from K-5 to secondary
    4. you did not seem empathetic toward people who seemed less than healthy and happy, since our students may be ill or in dire straits, and still deserve our regard and expertise.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    @ Take Responsibility
    If you “hate to say this” then don’t say it.

    There were many teachers at this event who are under the stress and grief of going through a school closure. To say others look “off”, “odd”, “unwell” is unproductive .
    Ultimately, though, I would not want my child in the class of an adult who name calls.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I want to second postings 3 and 4. To assume that the teachers who attended are poor teachers is ridiculous. This is part of the reason that mutual matching was not acceptable under the current definition: too much is based on superficial qualities and first impressions/criteria. Too much is based on “appearance.”

    I went to some of the recent meetings and was reminded of some of the very fine teachers who are at closing schools. Some of them have taught for 20+ years in the same school, and are now teaching former students’ children. I would imagine and hope they care that their school is being closed. One of the very finest teachers I ever observed teaches in one of the closing schools. Her credentials and her teaching are impeccable.

    Let’s all hope that their new administrators are able to take the time to get to know them rather than being unwelcoming and making snap judgments.

    Peach, although your belief in positive intent is a good model, I have a hard time believing that a real teacher wrote under “Take Responsibility” and have to assume they are a plant. The district is gleefully rubbing their hands together with each nail put into solidarity.

  • Trish Gorham

    JOIN US!

    OEA members across the District have varying opinions on the potential merits of Accelerated TSA.

    BUT WE AGREE THAT:

    NO member should accept the unlawful method by which Superintendent Smith unilaterally imposed yet-to-be-described working conditions upon our fellow members.

    NO member will question that by refusing to communicate, collaborate, and problem solve with those democratically elected to safe guard our best interests, Superintendent Smith has made it easier to ignore members’ rights in the future. If we fail to answer these divide and conquer techniques that undermine our collective strength, then we fail our bargaining team, and more importantly, we fail our kids.

    NO member should suffer the indignity of having to apply for a job already held.

    Your OEA Bargaining Team is preparing to enter into negotiations with OUSD for a new contract.

    How will you add strength to their efforts?

    OEA SOLIDARITY ACTIONS

    Join one or both actions on Wednesday, March 28

    3:00-4:00 Fremont High School 4610 Foothill
    4:30-6:00 OUSD School Board Mtg. 1025 2nd Avenue

    HONOR JOINT COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS!
    SUPPORT YOUR OEA BARGAINING TEAM!
    REJECT UNILATERAL ACTIONS BY TONY SMITH!
    WEAR OEA GREEN ON WEDNESDAYS!

  • J.R.

    “Ultimately, though, I would not want my child in the class of an adult who name calls”.

    I agree with this, it is unworthy, although those words are not nearly as childish as the “SCAB” moniker. The word scab has childish petulance written all over it.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    #7
    Who referred to someone as a “SCAB”?

  • J.R.

    No one has, but you do hear the word used when strikes are being discussed or planned. The word SCAB does qualify as name calling, and it is disturbing coming from presumed professionals. My point was that people tend to forget their own failings when they see them in others.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Distinct odor of agism in Take Responsibility’s post.

    Are older teachers to be fired for not being as attractive or fit or flamboyant as younger teachers?

    Sometimes I think older teachers use ageism as an excuse when they are not doing their job. On the other hand, postings like this one should clearly make them paranoid that they are being judged for the simple crime of chronology.

  • J.R.

    Cranky,
    There are all kinds of ageism and crimes against chronology, one example would be last in first out. Being thrown out just because of length of service alone. The stupidity works both ways.

  • Gordon Danning

    Cranky:

    It seems to me that Take Responsibility makes a good point — there are plenty if folks who have worked hard for 20 years but are now burned out or in declining health, and would like to leave but feel that they cannot, due to retirement and health care issues. I don’t know what the solution is, but it is hard to argue that it is not a real problem

  • Cranky Teacher

    J.R. and Gordon, the solution to both the problems you mention is pretty clear: You have to invest resources.

    1) Last in, first out can be fixed by negotiating contracts which trade pay increases and work conditions (i.e., smaller classes) to increased accountability and end of so-called “tenure”.

    2) Tired teachers can either be bought out by retirement packages or paid to do less stressful but still important jobs: Tutoring, counseling, teacher training, etc.

    Reality, though: THERE IS NO MONEY. So, we just yell at each other, blame each other.

  • starshaped

    Take Responsibility,

    I take exception in your analysis. I was one of the ‘ambassadors’ for my school. What I observed was a lot of hard working teachers who were there because their school sites were closing or converted into the Dr. Smith’s vile idea, Accelerated TSA. It takes a lot of guts to pound the pavement when your site is being closed or you are being consolidated. You obviously don’t have empathy for those who have to go through that. It makes me question your compassion for your students.

    Also, I’m part of OEA Leadership. If you are so keen to make/see changes, get of your duff and run for office. What? Too much work? Then maybe you should keep your mouth closed until your willing to put in the work. Maybe that should be your next challenge.

    Also, I’d to second what Trish said. Support your fellow teachers at the Board Meeting. I’ll be there. Will Take Responsibility?

  • J.R.

    Cranky,
    “Tired teachers can either be”….paid to do less stressful but still important jobs: Tutoring, counseling, teacher training, etc.

    This is actually a very good idea you have, if only we could make it revenue neutral, and of course the big hurdle union approval(not). Who better to do these things than a teacher? And even better, a teacher who is a parent. It’s too bad this idea would never get off the ground.

  • OaktownTeacher

    I also take issue with “Take Responsibility”s comment. I was at the showcase because my leave of absence has run out (I’ve been milking my 2 years out over the past 5 years to work part-time in a part-time TSA position in order to also be a mom to my small child), so I am going back full-time. Frankly, I am excited about the possibilities shown at the showcase. I didn’t notice if other teachers seemed “odd” or “sick” because I was too busy talking to school site “ambassadors” about their schools. My understanding is that most folks were there because their school is closing or because, like me, they are coming back from a leave of absence.

    If anyone was looking tired or sick, it was probably because it was 6:00 on a Friday afternoon, we had taught all week, been up the night before updating our resumes, and at least in my case I hadn’t eaten anything since noon.

  • Committed Teacher

    Starshaped suggests that those who don’t agree with the OEA should run for leadership. The OEA election process is designed to keep those already in power in power. Teachers running for election get 25 words -25 words!- to explain their position. It’s a joke. People end up voting for the names they recognize, ensuring the status quo. Until OEA changes its voting procedures, then no one has a chance to enter the organization and introduce an new perspective.

  • Trish Gorham

    Committed @ 17
    You have not been paying close attention over the years. There have been MANY instances of new names defeating recognizable names. It happened with 3 seats just this past year alone.

    Everyone running for office can:

    Address the Representative Council for 2 minutes on April 2. Reps have a lot of influence with the members as they are most familiar with the candidates.

    Write, run, and distribute to the membership unlimited flyers explaining your policy positions. OEA provides information of who to deliver flyers to at each site. And how many members at each site.

    Make appointments to meet with faculties at the school sites after school.

    In other words: campaign. It works.

    The OEA Elections Handbook is adopted yearly. Please submit changes you would like to include.

  • starshaped

    Committed, YOU are the union. If you want change, you need to put the work in. What you are expressing currently is apathy and unwillingness to put any work into changing things. Be a site rep. Speak up for what you believe in. If that doesn’t work for you, join the CAT team. Or PIC or PAC team. Or run for an office or seat. Or for State Council. No one can vote for you if your name isn’t out there. The Union is democracy in action. If you don’t like having union rights or due process, move to a right to work state or to charter or private school. In other words, be part of the solution, not part of the problem.