Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Layoffs in California Hit Poor Performance Schools Hard Teacher of the Year in Marin County California Quits

Tags: Layoffs California Teachers Least Experience Why Teachers' Quit

Teacher of the Year in Marin County California Quits, SF Gate, April 26, 2007, Nanette Asimov http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/06/2870536/california-teacher-layoffs-hit.html

Kadhir Raja, an algebra teacher at Grant High School in Del Paso Heights, saw it firsthand.

One-quarter of the teachers at his school were laid off in May. Raja, 28, has a doctorate in education, has written a book on teaching, is an instructional coach at Grant and was the district's teacher of the year in 2009. Yet he, too, received a layoff notice that was later revoked.

"It's horrible," he said, adding that some of the most passionate teachers at Grant have been cut. "The system should be based on performance."

The situation has caught the attention of Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. He has introduced Senate Bill 1285, which would prohibit districts from laying off teachers at low-performing schools at a higher rate then the district average. Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/06/2870536/california-teacher-layoffs-hit.html#ixzz0swMwaa8j

Layoffs in California Hit Poor Performance Schools Hard Sacramento Bee, Diana Lambert and Phillip Reese, July 6, 2010 … Teachers who stayed reported they felt strongly supported at their schools, not only by administrators, but by colleagues.

The survey found that many teachers quit because there was too little planning time, too much paperwork, unreliable assistance from the school district, and a general lack of support.

More than half of the ex-teachers surveyed said they had quit because they were dissatisfied with the pay or the conditions at their school.

One was Lammers, a resident of San Anselmo and Marin County's Teacher of the Year in 1999.

"Marin's a sweet place to teach, so I don't mean to be a moaner and groaner," he said.

But even in well-to-do Marin County, he said, children have tremendous needs that aren't always addressed at home.

"More and more children came without family support. Teachers are required to do many things in a limited period of time. It is simply not possible to be expert in all subjects, given such limited time. I rarely got a day off. I worked during weekends and summer vacations. This exhausted me. I always felt that our kids needed more time," he said.

Lammers called the issue of teacher retention "a major problem around the country."

Sherry Jacobs understands what happens when teachers lack the support they need.

Jacobs, who teaches students with emotional and cognitive disabilities, worked for a year once at a school where the principal refused to bring in a psychologist to help with a troubled boy.

"She didn't want anyone from the outside coming into the school," Jacobs recalled.

Jacobs went over the principal's head, but it was too late. The day the specialist finally arrived, the boy became violent, and he and Jacobs both suffered burns.

"It wasn't the student's fault," she said. "It was the lack of support."

She left that school -- but not the profession.

Today Jacobs is one of the rarest -- and most sought after -- kinds of teachers in the state: an experienced special education instructor who is willing to work in a high-poverty school.

She works at Franklin Elementary School in Oakland under Principal Jeannette MacDonald.

"I've had great support from the principal, from the office, and from the teachers," said Jacobs, who was among the satisfied teachers in the survey.

It means that if Jacobs needs to visit a family during the day, or pick up a parent who can't find transportation to a school meeting, "the principal will find someone to help cover my classroom so I can go do that.

"There's a trust there. They look at me as a professional, and it really makes or breaks whether you stay." Teacher study highlights

Here are the six recommendations included in the study "A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Can Learn":

1. School administrators should continuously assess teaching conditions.

2. California should increase education funding to at least adequate levels.

3. Introduce administrative policies that support teachers' instructional needs.

4. Principals should focus on "high-quality teaching and learning conditions."

5. The state should establish standards for teaching and learning conditions.

6. Administrators should address specific challenges in retaining special education teachers.

The full report is at: www.calstate.edu/teacherquality/retention/

Source: "A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Can Learn" E-mail the writers at nasimov@sfchronicle.com and aemam@sfchronicle.com.

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