I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

27 February 2010

No, Actually: I Blame You.

One board meeting earlier than necessary, the BoE voted affirmatively on the poorly-planned, mendacious layoffs proposed by SFUSD. To evince said claims:

POORLY-PLANNED: The District is unable to state what percentage of teachers would be cut in a worst-case scenario (everyone who gets a 15 March letter is laid off). The District also failed to negotiate a hard-to-staff point for hard-to-staff schools: math and science credentials get an extra point on the seniority list, but the hard-to-staff schools don't. Therefore, schools that are hard to staff and have transient teaching corps, whose teachers are getting an extra thousand bucks on their paychecks this cycle and by the nature of hard-to-staff staffing, have very low seniority...are getting laid off.

SFUSD: Wasting Prop A Money on People It's Laying Off.

MENDACIOUS: The District's layoff list names all of the Associate Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, a mess of Executive Directors, many Directors and a bunch of Program Managers. To some extent, these positions could be reduced and their holders bumped into the teaching pool, and if you think that's going to happen you must actually be Pollyanna.

Also, the District has implied that no permanent teachers will get a 15 March layoff unless they are "consolidated" (their position disappears, so they have to find a new one), but given their numbers this cannot be true. I have been told by District employees as high as Associate Superintendent that permanent teachers cannot be laid off, but that is wrong: in a catastrophic budget situation, there is a mechanism enabling such layoffs. The mechanism's conditions are met. It is disturbing to me that high-level District functionaries do not understand these issues as well as a run-of-the-mill teacher does.

The Superintendent and the Board would like you to know that they are totally blameless and committed to equity, which is why the layoff vote didn't happen until after 11pm. Before that, SFUSD committed to increasing ethnic studies and AP classes and renaming SOTA after Ruth Asawa. For what it's worth, I approve of all of these. I think the self-congratulatory pro-equity bent is compromised by layoffs that are by nature inequitable, though.

The Superintendent keeps repeating that he is absolutely blameless, and this is totally not his fault, and he doesn't want to cut one teacher, which is why his staff cannot come up with a coherent plan to present to the union, keeps increasing class sizes for next year and trying not to get anyone to notice that, and significantly increased District office staffing over the last year.

Also, the Superintendent and BoE are absolutely committed to closing the opportunity gap, which is why they are laying off teachers at high-needs schools, failing to make funding adjustments that will protect schools in poor neighborhoods, and have been threatening to sue the state for three years but...not actually suing the state.

Therefore, they are 100% in favor of 4 March demonstrations, which is why the Superintendent attempted to end same by sending out a threat letter to any school planning any kind of demonstration or organizing even off-hours participation.

Needless to say, SFUSD would prefer that no one discuss equity in budget cuts and have no plan to talk about it themselves (SFUSD: "What? How dare you ask! Don't you know: We're Beyond the Talk! Look at our five-year plan!"). Alas, it ends up that the District unfortunately hired some real radicals, who really believe in equity, and those people keep talking to the press and commenting in public forums. So far, we've managed to place quotes in the Chronicle and the New York Times, and our well-planned, easy to explain take on equity is shaping stories in the Chronicle and SFSU's paper. Seriously: so evident, clear and verifiable are our claims that we are able to change stories from "funding cuts are bad" to "funding cuts are inequitable, and SFUSD's particular cuts go against everything in its five-year plan".

Which isn't too shabby given that we are looking, site-wise, at layoff letters to at least 10 teachers and consolidation or layoff letters to at least two.

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