I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

04 July 2010

California Educator Arrives!

Last issue, I learned about QEIA schools. I like the QEIA program - more money and smaller classes are always good - but the school they picked to highlight as a QEIA success was Miraloma Elementary.

Miraloma sure is successful, but I think its overwhelming demographic shift - about 20% of its students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, which is way below district averages - may be the determing factor there. The school used to draw heavily from Hunters' Point; it now is hugely oversubscribed so doesn't really pull from its B Zone (that program is over now anyway under the new assignment system).

Worst of all, the article did get into the lower performance at the upper grades...without mentioning that they have the majority of poor children of color (next year, Miraloma will largely be a white school as the last heavily B Zone class has gone on to middle school).

I find that intellectually dishonest.

This month, I was not surprised to find that the CTA doesn't support Steinberg's tenure tweak. That's fine; seniority is an important union tenet. I think it's perhaps not the brightest thing politically: Barr's proposal is poison and I suspect the RTTT districts will not play nice with regards to test performance and pay/tenure. Still, I hold all kinds of unlikely positions and generally shake my fist at political expedience. I find it irksome. And the critical problem is indeed school funding. You can't starve a system into layoffs. We need to layoff no teachers. It really is that simple.

That said, teacher layoffs are an equity issue. We went a big 11 for 15 this year: eleven out of fifteen teachers laid off. Needless to say, when your cuts inequitably hit the hard to staff schools - you know, the ones where the teachers get extra money because you can't find teachers who are willing to work there - you are making your own problem worse. I got into it with my Mighty Union Semi-Progressive Caucus at a Board Meeting because I stated mildly that I strongly feel the union has no coherent racial and class analysis guiding how we work. (The response of our unions VP: "I'm not going to let you race bait me! And the VP for Paras isn't white!" ...yeah, really. That's what she said. Do you think she has black friends? Because I totally do.)

What is killing me on this one, though, is that the CTA is now claiming that the Ed Code allows for tenure skipping for equal protection/equity reasons. This is the current thinking in the UCLA case, but it's generally been the stated non-opinion of the union and the School District (in fact, due to the ongoing advocacy by our staff, SFUSD Legal ended up having to come up with an opinion on that. They found there was no equal opportunity skip allowed, or if there was the class was too big for them to bother, or something. If anyone wanted more information, they'd have to get some consultants off the General Fund as usual. This led to a member of the School Board walking awfully close to calling me a liar, but that's cool. I won in the end, didn't I?).

Also, they're arguing this is a teacher blame thing, and honestly? It's not. We have a system that guarantees constant turnover at high-needs schools. They get fewer resources and less-senior teachers, and the churn is unending. TFA exacerbates this locally, too.

It's not the CTA's position but its framing that's bothering me. After all, I have not yet forgiven the CTA for:

1. Uni-Serv Director to Site Rep Council/Exec Board, ARUSD: "We've decided that while our official position on the recall is NO, it's just not a popular stance so we won't be doing any door-to-door or get out the vote on it."
2. Agreeing to the Groper's "I steal your money with your consent and I promise to pay it back on...oh, let me see here...on the 12th of Never. But I'll totally give you interest when I do!"

However, framing this as an issue of simple tenure is, again, intellectually dishonest. It also has the effect of positioning the union against high-need schools' stability. That does not support union/community relations - and those are important. We're spending far too much energy in Sacramento or capitulating to our own Districts (hi, terrible new contract!) that we could spend working with parents: the working class and the employing class have nothing in common, after all, and to me that means I need to have more allegiance to my school community than to supporting the current system in any way.

1 comment:

caroline said...

Just discovered this blog; it's terrific!

FYI I don't think it's intentional dishonesty when people cite the lower scores in higher grades as a problem, in schools with changing demographics moving up through the grades. I think they just don't get it. It's amazing how little the general public seems to understand about the obvious.