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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.

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This week, some guidance and support for new OUSD teachers

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New Oakland fourth-grade teachers take a break from lesson planning under the guidance of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School teacher Dana Graham during this week’s New Hire Induction Institute. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Dunlap/Oakland Unified School District)

Each year, on the first day of school, more than 100 teachers are experiencing their first day in an Oakland classroom. The first days of school are notoriously daunting for new hires — I vividly remember the tension on Andy Kwok’s face on Day 1 of his three-year teaching career at McClymonds High in 2007.

To  smooth out those first few days in the classroom and introduce new teachers to some of their colleagues (new and veteran), OUSD’s Talent Development Office held its second New Hire Induction Institute this week. About 100 new teachers came, on average, on each day of training, said Margaret Dunlap, who coordinated the event at Madison Middle School. Substitute teachers were invited this year as well; about 20-25 came each day.

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