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An unwise cut: help for new Oakland teachers

Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and occasional blog contributor, writes about a cut to a program that supports hundreds of new teachers each year.

Since my retirement I have stayed involved with the district by providing coaching and mentoring to new teachers as part of the district’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program. Last week those of us who provide that help were told that the program will suffer a huge budget reduction for the coming year, with only about 70 new teachers receiving mentoring support instead of the 320 receiving that help today. Since each coach receives a $1,300 stipend for each teacher supported, this reduction will save the district about $400,000 next year.

The coaches in the BTSA program meet once a week with each new teacher. The coach observes the new teacher in the classroom several times during the year. Together the coach and new teacher discuss lesson planning, classroom control, the needs of English language learners and special needs students and methods to assess student progress and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Together they review and evaluate student work. The new teacher reflects upon how various approaches are working and learns to continually revise his or her practice to become more effective.

As part of the process, the new teacher also completes and turns in to the New Teacher Talent Development Office a series of forms and reflections demonstrating his or her growth over the two years that he or she is involved with the BTSA program. These forms and reflections form the basis for the Talent Development Office certifying that they have completed “induction,” a state requirement for converting a preliminary credential (which lasts only 5 years) to a clear credential.

New Oakland teachers would still have to complete all the forms and reflections, but most of them would not receive the coaching that is now provided. Coaches were told that the Talent Development Office was hoping that subject area specialists and consultants working from the central office, along with school administrators, would assist the teachers without coaches. It appears, however, that those individuals haven’t actually been consulted about this increase in their responsibilities and workloads.

No one presenting this new plan could say who decided that the budget should be cut in this way, or why budget cuts were required in a year when funding for the district should be increasing.

These cuts seem extremely misguided. Oakland’s current mentoring program is highly regarded, particularly the way it uses coaches. It seems wrong to cut back a program where OUSD is actually doing a better job than most districts in the state. It is also important to note that many of the teachers who will no longer have mentors are special education teachers. A huge percentage of these teachers in Oakland do not have clear credentials. It would be unconscionable to leave these teachers, who work with our most vulnerable students, without support.

I asked the new teacher I am working with this year how the changes would affect her when she does her second year of induction next year. She said that completing the forms and submitting them to the office would be pretty much a waste of time because she would just be writing down what she already knows, as opposed to this year when our conferences led her to rethink some of her assumptions and consider things is a new way and to grow as a teacher. She also said that she particularly appreciated having me observe her, as I was the only person to observe her for an entire lesson in the two years she has been teaching.

Forcing principals to take additional responsibilities for new teacher induction also seems unwise. Research stresses the importance of teachers having mentors who are not involved in their evaluation. This allows for the kind of trust and openness that is crucial for growth. Principals cannot fulfill the role of an evaluator and a coach successfully. In addition, there is an equity issue. New teachers are over- represented at flatland schools where principals already have their hands full with challenges. Asking those principals to take on a larger workload is ridiculous.

Hopefully, as these cuts become more widely known, saner heads will prevail, and the funds will be restored.

Katy Murphy

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

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Well, it seems you provide a nice service. The thing is, and do not take this personally, all the teachers, who teach special education should have a clear credential. All. Why is it that the school district does not hire clear credential teachers so that training on the job is not needed for the “green” teachers. It seems to me the children deserve clear credential Special Education teachers. They are out there looking hard for jobs. They are.

    I think O.U.S.D. has embarked upon hiring teachers on the cheap for many years, maybe a decade, and such strategies have backfired.

    The clear credentialled teacher will have been observed by the college they are attending. They will have already had the observations you provide. They will already know how to do I.E.P.’s well. They will be seasoned instead of green.

    Jobs are tight right now. O.U.S.D. just needs to try to hire fully credentialled teachers in all areas to combat the difficult situation the district is in.

    When did it all occur where teachers are in a self contained classroom with emergency credentials, and this was considered the norm.

    When did this sea change occur?

    I say it occurs due to cost savings provided to districts and perhaps incentives with some Teach for A****** programs that may offer some kind of kickbacks if districts hire emergency credentialled people. Some kind of kickbacks I believe go on, and I say, since the world of the job market for teachers is tight, then there should be drastic cutbacks for all emergency teachers in all fields of education.

    If you want to teach, have a full credential. It is for the health and welfare of the adult and the child, and of course the child comes first.

  • In and out

    Cut all the admin on special assignment to the Regional Executive Officers (i.e. those who deal with the dirty laundry while the bosses play politics, kiss *** and defend a “project” that cannot have its accounting straight)and you got your 400K that certainly help more the teachers and the kids.

  • Doug Appel

    Oakland hired 2-300 new teachers each year. The funding in the program will not support near that many. However, the budget explicitly states that the funding level excludes costs for two named and who knows how many unnamed consultants. So, the money is being redirected away from experienced and trained district support providers to outside consultants once again. In addition, newly credentialled teachers obtain a preliminary clear credential. Districts are required to provide support to help them obtain fully clear credentials and they have five years in which to do so. This newly decentralized plan will mean that there are no clear guidelines for what constitutes completion of the process. In other words, a credential cleared in Oakland will mean something different at each school–and creates opportunities for both sloth and abuse–a winning combination of traits in any organization.

  • Gordon Danning

    Mark:

    You seem to be conflating a preliminary credential with an emergency credential. To obtain an emergency credential in California, all you need is a BA or BS, and a passing score on the CBEST (which many 10th graders can pass with ease).

    To obtain a preliminary credential, you must complete a teacher credentialing program, including student teaching, pass a subject competence test, etc, etc.

    And, frankly, even when jobs are tight, there is a shortage of people willing and able to teach special ed. That is true everywhere, not just in Oakland.

    PS: In my experience, Teach for America teachers have been, on average, more competent than regularly credentialed teachers. That is in part because Teach for America is a highly selective program, so that those who make the cut are very bright, hard working people from top notch schools, and in part because most teacher credentialing programs are practically useless.

  • Ed Specialist

    I had a similar reaction to Gordon’s, though I disagree with his opinion regarding the usefulness of teacher credentialing programs. I do agree that Mark has most likely confused a Preliminary Credential with an Emergency Credential. According to Mark- “The clear credentialled teacher will have been observed by the college they are attending. They will have already had the observations you provide. They will already know how to do I.E.P.’s well. They will be seasoned instead of green.” I do not deny that I am a bit green, but all of the elements Mark lists are part of the preliminary level I credential. I have two preliminary credentials to clear- Multi Subject and Education Specialist. I am absolutely qualified to begin working with students. I do happen to be a new hire with OUSD and will begin in the fall. I do not mind at all not having a BTSA coach while I clear my multi subject credential, but I was looking forward to having a coach for my education specialist credential. This, combined with the fact that OUSD is also (I believe) cutting program specialist positions, is extremely troubling. Novice General Education teachers join a grade level or subject area team at their school sites. Special Education teachers often go without mentors, without feedback, without resources, and without relevant professional development. If OUSD wants to attract, retain, and develop talented education specialists, gutting the BTSA program is an ill advised move. Thank you, Mr. Weinberg, for the interesting article, and for your years of coaching new teachers.

  • Elementary Teacher

    Some points of clarification:

    1. The cuts to btsa are penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    2. I believe that all of the above was actually confusing “Intern” credential with preliminary credential. Intern credentials can be obtained by those enrolled in a program, but who have not completed a credential program. Those have completed the credential program receive a preliminary credential. Preliminary and intern credentials are not the same by any stretch of imagination. A very large percent of Oakland special ed teachers are hired under an intern credential. A clear credential can only be earned following teaching for at least two years with a preliminary credential and going through some type of clearing process such as btsa or a university based program.

    3. Regardless of Gordon’s poor history with his fellow teachers, there is no way to equate TFA interns as being better. Even if, as he says, credential programs are useless (I disagree), at the very least those who have completed a credential program know how to write a basic lesson, have spent many hours observing an array of teachers, and if they did student teaching instead of an internship – had an opportunity to work with a master teacher for a semester. I love the young and energetic interns I have worked with, but the reality is that very few of them stay, so we end up with a revolving door of teachers coming in through OUSD on their way to other things. And they never master their craft as a teacher or reach their full potential, at least not in OUSD.

    4. Steve, I believe that the special ed component of btsa is being saved from the ax, mainly because of the obvious reality of there being no one at many sites who could mentor the many special ed teachers who are NOT fully credentialed. Not that the vaguely proposed system for gen-ed teachers to be “coached” in the future is sound.

    5. The paragraph in the original posting starting with “Forcing principals to take additional responsibilities for new teacher induction also seems unwise. Research stresses the importance of teachers having mentors who are not involved in their evaluation” is so accurate. I do not think that principals have really been informed yet of their new role, and hope that they will rise up in protest to reverse the directive. $400,000 is not much money considering how many schools and new teachers this serves.

    6. Steve – I want to reiterate the appreciation for the many years of service to OUSD students and hope that you will continue to find ways to support our kids and teachers.

  • http://hotmail mark

    I believe what I have written and stated on this blog is correct. I believe that many seasoned Special Education teachers do apply for jobs with O.U.S.D. but are passed over because they require a bump up of five years on the pay scale or more.

    The intern credential or emergency credential means that the teacher is not fully qualified to teach. It is mandatory that the school principal send to each parent in the class of the intern or emergency credential teacher a letter that fully informs the parent that the teacher does not have a clear credential.

    This may not be done in many cases.

    I say, let O.U.S.D. start a new beginning and let the human resources department know that fully credentialed Special Education teachers will step ahead of those not fully credentialed ones.

    But, O.U.S.D. has operated with clout from principals that allow for sneaky hiring of less qualified individuals that the principal might feel more comfortable with in my opinion.

    This has been bad for compliance for the Special Education Department for many many years.

    The new special education director would do well to demand that only fully credentialed special education teachers be hired and a moratoriam be placed on any programs what so ever that involve interns or emergency credentialed teachers.

    If this is not done look for a continued revolving door of Special Education Directors.

    And again, it is not fair for students to have intern teachers teach them because intern teachers or teachers with intern degrees or emergency credentials are green. They leave often too.

    O.U.S.D. has been trying to save monies and hire teachers on the cheap for many years, perhaps almost a decade.

    Some say, the seasoned Special Education teachers began to speak out about issues say five or more years ago, and they left the district after trying to help it. They were smart in leaving because too many green teachers are and have been hired who are not qualified to teach in my opinion.

    O.U.S.D. would do well to put a moritorium on all intern programs for five years.

    Many highly qualified teachers are looking for work right now. Many.

  • Ed Specialist

    I stand corrected. The person commenting above was most likely speaking about intern credentials, and I agree that the practice of hiring interns, often for the most challenging positions in special education, is unwise.

    It happens partly because the most challenging jobs are ones that, frankly, anyone with experience or a choice would not touch with a ten foot pole. People take an intern position, for example, teaching a middle school counseling enriched class for students with emotional disturbance, and they get out as soon as they can because they are tired of having chairs thrown at them.

    I would like to point out, though, that interns still receive regular observation and feedback from a university supervisor, and because they are still in classes, while they are spread a bit thin, they have classmates and instructors that they can bring their questions to.

    Often those interns survive their trial by fire and go on to become great teachers. Is it the best practice? No. Is it the best thing for the students? Of course not. They get a revolving door of inexperienced teachers.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Is it the best practice to hire interns?

    I believe the O.U.S.D. woes are due to it.

    Perhaps, and this is my opinion, if O.U.S.D. had not tried to hire on the cheap with new programs that hire interns while they work and learn, then O.U.S.D. would be a much healther place to work in 2013.

    I think intern programs are and were quite popular because they offer more entry to teaching for people who for some reason or another would never become a teacher unless an intern program was offered to them. This means that often anglo teachers make up the vast majority of teaching positions at schools and districts that have had a sea-change in enrollment of people from other countries.

    I think it is good to hire people from different cultures to teach. This brings an understanding of culture to the classroom. A connection.

    However, the way of using intern credentials to move green teachers in great depth into O.U.S.D. has harmed O.U.S.D. in my opinion.

    And, again, I say again, the best thing the new hired special education director could do is to put a moratoriam on the hiring of intern or emergency credentialed teachers.

    Also, even those with full credentials need to be highly monitored in that they are covering state standards, because it seems that often remedial teaching is taking the place of state standards up the grade levels.

    This is that piece I have written about called “bean counting,” where the O.U.S.D. administration across all levels need to hire kind managers that simply have sort of short term contracts of work to be done for each worker, that is agreed upon by workers, and then is checkd upon and a simple check off list is used.

    For often, things are not checked on, and things are done wrong or not done at all.

  • makeitgoaway

    I have never been impressed by BTSA, which is a tiredanne size fits all approach to the fluid dynamic process of teaching, but what is the alternative? I was struck by one comment- “no one observed me for an entire lesson” – as administrators do their regular “drive by” visits to classrooms and then give haphazard feedback. Clearly eyes on training is necessary. But is it coat effective with so many teachers leaving? And is there really no one at each site who could give seasoned feedback to a newbie- a department head? Someone with a clear credential at the same grade level? is it the blind leading the blind?

    The nature of training is changing, as professionals can watch training videos, then conference and receive regular feedback. Coupled with actual observations, video training could be very effective. Of course, this is not used by OUSD. potentially the most effective training is the student teacher/master teacher relationship (which varies to the extent a “master” teacher actually takes his/her role seriously). The bottom line is that I do not see the correlation between BTSA and competence in the classroom.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    With regard to #10 comments,

    I believe many interns are not reviewed at all.

    Not reviewed.

    Why, well the admin. may not wish to devote the time and the paperwork to doing it, and at a drop of a hat, for no reason at all, any intern or any temporary employee as a teacher can be non reelected.

    Interns are often concerned about not being reviewed and being left in the lurch for knowing if they even have a job in the next year or not.

    This is part of the downfall of using the interns to be considered teachers.

    It is no longer necessary because there is a glut of fully credentialed teachers out there who apply at O.U.S.D.

    Those that oversee principals should check to see if all of the teachers or interns that were suppose to be reviewed that year were,

    but of course this is the component I have spoke of, for in my opinion, directives are said and written by O.U.S.D. top admin. only to have nothing checked on.

    This is why the new Superintendent and the new Special Ed. Director need to be “beancounters” and have monthly and yearly checks for follow through of directives.

    Can you imagine the vast amount of teachers that have not been reviewed each year?

  • http://hotmail Mark

    And to solve the review situation of teachers and interns, of course a new streamlined form should be used that does not take so long to do by administration.

    Other districts can be asked for ways they review to help O.U.S.D.

    Does O.U.S.D. reach out to get info from other districts to help the function of O.U.S.D.

    I am not sure.

    It seesm like just vast amounts of monies are spent on trainings and new ideas with regard to how to teach.

  • oaklandteacher

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—June 5th, 2013

    Castlemont High Staff, Teachers, Students Outraged by Neglect and Threats of Closure
    School Community Rallies, Demands OUSD Address Inequalities

    Press Contact:
    Sagnicthe Salazar 510-812-1426, ssagnicthe@gmail.com

    WHAT: Rally and Press Conference
    WHEN: Thursday June 6th, 3:30-4:30pm
    WHERE: Castlemont High School 8601 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, Ca. 94605

    On June 6th, Castlemont Students, teachers, Alumni, parents and community partners will hold a rally and press conference in front of Castlemont High School to bring attention to rampant neglect, dwindling resources, and lack of basic safety. Castlemont High School community members are demanding immediate action from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) as well as guarantees that long-unaddressed neglect faced by the school does not lead to its closure.

    “Our school is tired of the dismal support on behalf of the District and we join together to demand accountability from the District to fully serve the needs of our students and school community,” says Candice Valenzuela, a teacher and one of the organizers of Thursday’s rally. “Every child has a right to a quality education and the District cannot continue making Castlemont High School the exemption.”

    Throughout the past 3 years, Castlemont has faced the destabilizing effects of the OUSD ‘reassignment’ of three principals, and the consolidation of smaller schools into one large school. The school district recently decided to remove Castlemont’s current principal just one year after he was voted into the position. The decision was made behind closed doors. Community members have been outraged that the principal’s removal was revealed after it was too late for school stakeholders to exercise their district mandated right to weigh in on principal selections.

    “Castlemont High School has been set up for failure,” says Marguerite Sheffer, a 4th year Castlemont Teacher. “The issue of inequality is at the forefront of these decisions—whether that be around having to compete with charter schools for funding, basic lack of safety, lack of on-site case managers, or under-resourced programs for special-needs students. These issues disproportionately affect students of color and Castlemont is severely impacted by the racial disparities that exist within OUSD.”

    The coalition of teachers, students, parents, staff, community partners, and administrators who are speaking out against conditions at Castlemont liken their fight to the protracted struggles for public education in Chicago in 2012. “We intend to be relentless in our agitation against OUSD policies and mandates that continuously undermine our integrity as an educational institution; dehumanize our students, families, and staff; and violate the rights of our youth to equitable access to fully resourced, effective public schools,” says Michelle Espino, a tenured Castlemont Teacher.

    Thursday’s rally will open with a press conference and will feature lively speakers and colorful artwork. Spokespeople will be available for interviews throughout the day.

  • In and out

    It is the second year in a row that the fading Smith administration is playing with dates to avoid the community having a say and appointing their own administrator.
    Where is the big champ to give explanations? He is gone in 25 days and how relieved he must be that he has been paid the last two months to be a lame duck not having to face all the criticism that he deserves.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Elementary teacher, you are correct, special ed teachers are being protected from the BTSA cutbacks, but thank you for your support for my general position. In and Out and Ed Specialist, thank you as well, and thank you to all those who care about this issue.

  • Nontcair

    Cut it 100%. Save $400K!

    Better yet, keep it and cut the *rest* of OUSD by 100%! Save $400M!

    REBATE the money to taxpayers.

  • meg

    Mark-

    I, just today, cleared my PRELIMINARY CREDENTIAL and will be granted my CLEAR CREDENTIAL after I jump through a few more OUSD hoops involving paperwork. This means I have earned tenure,and can advocate for my students and my rights with safeguards in place for my employment. I have no idea what you are referring to when you speak of interns. That is not a term that we use at the school site or admin level. In addition, BTSA is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an internship in the sense of a medical intern- I was not receiving supervised practical training. I was a fully functioning and autonomous classroom teacher who went through the BTSA program to “clear” my credential and earn tenure, Granted, I will be a better teacher at year five than at year one, but I am a more effective teacher than some veteran teachers at my current level of experience.

    This move is, in part, a union busting one. Principals can now keep preliminary teachers in limbo for FIVE years before they decide whether to pass them or not.

    BTSA is a redundant program- there’s nothing about it that you don’t do in your credential program. The most helpful part is the coaching- you really need someone to talk to as a new teacher. That said, BTSA is a state mandate and I am SO angry at OUSD and their messed up priorities- union busting and penny pinching at the school site. Whose idea was this cut anyhow? I don’t know if I would have gotten through the paperwork involved in BTSA without a coach/ mentor. OUSD is making it so hard to retain teachers in this district. I am so thankful that I am done with BTSA, and I know that teachers at my site will be helping our preliminary teacher next year, for free. Maybe that’s the plan all along.

    - a BTSA grad, as of today!

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Dear Meg,

    You were part of the problem. Many fully credentialled teachers applied for your job, online. The administration wished to have a green teacher take the classroom instead of the fully credentialled teacher who has already gone through BTSA say five to eight years earlier.

    O.U.S.D. has hired you to save money, in my opinion. No offense but you were less qualified, plain and simple.

    In Special Education, especially, it will be very important for O.U.S.D. not to hire teachers that need BTSA. This way the teacher can focus on teaching and doing proper I.E.P. paperwork without balancing taking classes or doing jobs for BTSA.

    Again, hope you can realize that you were part of the problem and O.U.S.D. needs to hire fully credentialled teachers to try to get into compliance. Just to try to get into compliance.

  • Nontcair

    “Fully credentialed” is a euphemism for fully protected (and expensive).

    Private schools avoid credentialing regulations. Indeed, I suspect that many headmasters REDLINE applicants holding a teaching credential.

    Which system achieves better results?

    Traditionally, Catholic school teachers were nuns whose credentials were not issued (politcized) by the government. Think what you will of their methods, they got the job done.

    We need to keep those public school sports fields in top shape. Every school deserves a fully credentialed lawn mower operator.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Political correctness has been observed as a cause of lack of performance and stagnation. Status Quo sits on the wrong side of history, and the truth(even with supporting evidence) that needs to be shared will be muzzled instead.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Reply to response #19 and #20.

    You have not digested my comment that it is near impossible for an intern teacher to go to school, prepare lesson plans for many Special Education children, do extensive individiual education plans for each child that are of high quality, preplan the educational job of the instructional assistant(s), and much more.

    The thing is, it is not a good thing to ask a want to be teacher to do such extensive tasks in Special Education. It is unhealthy.

    The highly qualified, fully credentialled Special Education applicant should indeed be hired ahead of all intern teachers, but the law says otherwise.

    I sure hope that many call for all Special Education teachers who are to be hired in year 2013-2014 have a full teaching credential. This way that teacher can really focus hard on making a good educational year for all the students,and communicate well with parents, other teachers, and administration.

    It will also be necessary for all administration to not cut corners when working with a fully credentialled Special Education qualified teacher, so there will be no games with regard to the legal documents called Individual Education Plans, and all must work as a TEAM.

    All Special Education teachers should be 50% rehired by the Special Education department too, rather than 100% decisions from school administrators. Special Education teachers need to be held in very high regard,for they do the work of two teachers, in that, their paperwork is extensive. As I have stated earlier, most all Special Education teachers work well over 70 hours per week.

    We must honor the Special Education department and teachers by only hiring fully credenitalled Special Education Teachers so that they can network without having to teach green teachers how to do this or that.

  • Stacey Smith

    Meg, congratulations on graduating BTSA. It is true, as Mark said, that OUSD passed over fully credentialed teachers in recent years when it did have a choice and instead chose to hire teachers without any teaching experience or formal credential. Not in the best interests of the students by a long shot. But the district’s short-sighted hiring practices, which put untrained adults in classrooms with students who needed educators who understood their disabilities and how to support them, is not your fault. It does not take away from your accomplishment — including finishing the paperwork!

    I’ve spoken to several teachers in general and special education in the past few weeks and I don’t know anyone who thinks that cutting BTSA is a good idea. Teaching is hard, whether you are teaching in the regular or general education classroom. Our teachers need all the support they can get and we need our best teachers to share their best practices.

    As for special education, we know that OUSD had impossibly oversized classes and was missing key staff throughout the year. The Memorandum of Understanding that the teacher’s union signed with OUSD as part of the recent contract says that the district will “try” to keep Special Day Class sizes down, but it doesn’t make a firm commitment. We have yet to see if the district puts the additional money into the 2013-14 budget that would cover both the new teachers that need to be hired in order to reduce these class sizes PLUS the additional money that had to be spent during the 2012-13 school year to fill in missing teachers, aides and other staff who had never been hired but were supposed to be there.

    If the district was committed to supporting students and teachers it would lower caseloads for all teachers so that teaching, case management and paperwork could all happen within the actual work week and not at great personal sacrifice and resentment.

    As for evaluations, I know teachers at many different schools who are not evaluated regularly. That’s general and special education. And then there is the question of how they are evaluated and whether or not the principals are “qualified” to evaluate them. Not bashing principals at all with that statement — I’ve spoken to principals over the years who have openly confessed they did not feel comfortable evaluating teachers on things like differentiated curriculum and instruction or special education, accommodations and modifications in both general and special education classrooms. Is there a BTSA model for principals?

    Maybe instead of cutting BTSA we should tweak and expand it….

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Since the administrators are not sure how to evaluate Special Education teachers (or many administrators), then the Special Education department itself will need to also lend input into evaluations and perhaps uphold half of the voting power to not let good Special Education teachers go, who may have disagreements with how things are functioning at schools.

    Look. We got a lot of non compliance issues. Yes. Well, maybe the Special Education teachers do not feel comfortable in speaking out at schools because they do not want to bite the hand that feeds them. That simple, in my opinion.

    So, even with school psychologists, care must be taken at the highest levels to review the staff carefully and with respect.

    As I stated, the entire review process is so involved that it needs to be streamlined down to take only half of the current time asked for by management. Half. Then core issues in teaching and paperwork can be reviewed to let Special Education teachers know how they are cutting the mustard.

    Mr. Smith, before departing wanted the school principals to be kings and queens for their schools. This meant in my opinion that the hands of the Special Education office was tied as to the review process evaluations. I believe if those in charge of oversight review how other school districts evaluate their Special Education workers, it will be discovered that the Special Education departments often do all the decisions of hire or non-hire. The role of evaluation may be done by the principal or vice principal, but the actual decision as to hire or re-hire is done by the Special Education department heads.

    O.U.S.D. will need to pull ideas and good practices from other districts that have great success to get the train back on the tracks, in my opinion.

    Again, the Special Education teachers and instructional assistants deserve great respect in all aspects of their job, including simplified evaluations that are not composed of theory or people who have vague knowledge in the practices of Special Education. A great deal of problems faced by O.U.S.D. is the lack of taking good ideas and implementation from other school districts.

    I say let us cement our great abilities by finding time to share successful work practices, and not let them turn into “quicksand.”

  • http://hotmail Mark

    I have just noticed a job posting for a very specialized need. It is for teaching high school for children with Special Needs that are in the moderate to severe level. This is serious stuff, and this organization is not O.U.S.D. However, I site it here because it shows this mysterious “intern” label that allows for teachers with little or no experience to step into a self enclosed classroom and teach. It concerns me and the entire way of hiring teachers without full credentials needs to be reviewed nation wide. Here is the copy of the info for that position:

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    California Special Education credential (Moderate/Severe) or

    qualifications met for UniversityInternship, experience with children with special needs.

    Training in applied behavior analysis and experience with functional, community-based curriculum a plus.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Why is it that our society is allowing for non fully credentialled teachers to take such Special Education jobs when in reality there are many fully credentialled teachers out there looking hard for work right now?

    This nation wide “intern” program, seems wrong. How many sub standard classrooms are being taught this way. Sure, some teachers are able to do it, but perhaps not the majority. Perhaps academics are lost due to the learning curve of understanding how to deal with behaviors which are challenging.

    Seems to me when anyone says they are “an intern,” they are just someone who is learning on the job at the expense of the children or young adults. This is my opinion, and I call for the O.U.S.D. to no longer hire any interns in the Special Education departments for a period of say five years.

  • J.R.

    Mark,
    You do have a good point, but you need to also realize that degrees,certifications are not a guarantee of quality. These credentials certainly don’t guarantee that the public has an intelligent,well grounded,decent,moral,and upstanding human being to entrust their children to.Mark Berndt and so many others are testament to the fact that there are no adequate safeguards, and no piece of paper tells the whole(or true)story of a person.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Common sense has prevailed. I received an email yesterday from the leader of the Oakland New Teacher Support program saying: “We are pleased to inform you that BTSA funding has been restored for the 2013-2014 school year.
    All eligible Participating Teachers will continue to receive weekly one-on-one mentoring.”
    Thanks to all who helped bring this restoration about.

  • OaklandTeacher

    Hello Mark,

    I am late to the thread but wanted to attempt to clarify the difference between different credential types. I believe you are confusing people enrolled with the BTSA program as Interns – which we are NOT.

    Intern teachers are NOT enrolled in the BTSA Program. Intern teachers are not licensed. Intern teachers are allowed to enroll in a certification program while teaching.

    The BTSA Program is for ALREADY LICENSED Level 1 Preliminary Credential Teachers with 0-5 (in some cases more) experience in public or private education. After two years in the BTSA program through intense coaching and portfolio work, teachers can apply to the state to become Level 2 Clear Credential Teachers.

  • Joy Winsly

    nice post

  • Steven Weinberg

    Thank you, Joy. The Board of Education restored the program shortly after this was originally posted. A large number of teachers spoke at a Board Meeting about the importance of the program, and the restoration was made.