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A teacher’s perspective on OUSD job showcase

Peter Von Ehrenkrook teaches at Santa Fe Elementary, one of the five Oakland elementary schools slated for closure in June. Below, he gives us his account of event the Oakland school district held on Friday evening for displaced teachers like himself.

The Advisory Matching School Showcase was indeed an opportunity for the displaced elementary school teachers to meet with school representatives. It was also much more, evidently, since there were tables there for charter schools, middle schools, and even high schools.

Some tables had nothing but a sign-in sheet for people who might be interested in the school – no ambassadors or information.

Most tables had one brave and often tired-looking teacher who gamely tried to answer questions posed by displaced teachers (as well as many other adults who were not from the closed schools).

A few schools made the effort to display pictures and stats, leading one student who walked by to ask if it was a science fair. Sankofa Academy displayed data on a portable screen.

On a personal note, I found little information that was not available online, and most of the $250 school ambassadors had no clue what the procedure was from here. The list of openings provided at the door did not match the verbal information offered by ambassadors either, at most sites. They were either hedging when they provided the information to HR, or perhaps dissuading teachers on the spot who did not fit their desired profile.

I was most impressed by Lincoln Elementary, with two teachers and the principal eager and willing to share real information about their expectations for the future of Lincoln and their expectations for incoming teachers. This was also the only table that readily provided contact information (a business card from the principal).

I am still weighing the value of leaving my classroom during this pre-CST time period to visit some of the schools. That decision may be easier after next Wednesday, when we have another site visit at Santa Fe from Human Resources.

It is also not clear to me how many of the schools with openings will be visiting my classroom over the next few weeks, and whether I will have any say in how many or who does interrupt my teaching to observe and chat with me.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Catherine

    Peter:

    Thank you for taking the time to post. I have felt this way when I represented my sons’ schools at the school choice fair. Many, the majority, did not have the statistics, after school offerings, list of materials used at the schools, bell schedules or much of the information requested by parents. Most instructed the parents to come on a tour to look at the school.

    It would be very helpful if OUSD would have a basic checklist of past questions asked by parents, family members, union members, job seekers, current teachers and so on to give schools an opportunity to be prepared.

    This type of apathy and disorganization creates the impression that the schools are apathetic and disorganized as well.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Hey Catherine,

    I appreciate your response. Please know I don’t really fault the hosting schools, as this is all being done on rather short notice.

    The comments by Take Responsibility on the next thread were a bit disturbing to me, though, as I felt the ambassadors and the people who were looking for positions all seemed relatively healthy and vigorous, especially considering it was a Friday afternoon/evening after what may have been a long week at school.

  • Consolidated Teacher

    I guess I should have gone home to shower and put on some make-up before heading to the event! Wow, Take Responsibility, you are very harsh on teachers who attended this event on a Friday after their last class of the week. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the teachers who were at the event, although some were likely a bit shellshocked to be searching for a job after being in the same position for 10, 20 or 30 years and receiving awards for their work. I also saw stellar young colleagues going from table to table in search of options, so it was not a case of old “has beens” pathetically looking for a school that might take them when they weren’t selected to be a TSA.

    I did find the event very helpful … I hope to stay at my current job and have no reason to think they are trying to get rid of me. On the other hand, HR gave us the advice to check out other options, and that is what I did.

    I was disappointed that Oakland High sent nobody to the event … it gave me the message that the school would not welcome any teacher who has decided not to be a TSA, and some of those may be very excellent teachers. Their loss, as I felt very welcomed by the administrators/ambassadors at the other comprehensive high schools and Dewey Academy.

    One final note, I want to commend HR for making several personal calls to me and other consolidated teachers informing us of this event and using our names in their voicemails. No robo-calls here.

  • OaktownTeacher

    (I also commented on previous blog post in response to “Take Responsibility) Here I just wanted to add that the Showcase was better than I expected. I liked the opportunity to make connections with the school ambassadors. It does make it easier to arrange site visits or call for more information when I actually have met the principal or teacher ambassador.

    This is the first time I am considering changing schools after 15 years, and I’m excited at the possibilities. It also made me feel a little better about Oakland. While the powers-that-be at the district level still do maddening things, on a school-by-school basis, there seem to be a lot of wonderful things going on. Advisory Matching is the latest new experiment from HR, but I was heartened to see everyone at the Showcase putting forth their best effort, even if we aren’t entirely sure how this process will work.

  • MissMatched

    A friend of mine who is on leave this year told me that he only learned of this event by reading it here. He was not even invited. Why not?