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It's Not Fair! Support a Good Teacher!

Chaudra.jpg

This is a photo of my Godaughter-in-law, Chaudra with her two children, Cadi and Cheira. This article recently appeared in the Roseville newspaper, The Press Tribune, written by Sena Christian:

"Stephanie Soehn couldn’t wrap her mind around the difference between DNA and another type of molecule called RNA.

The Antelope High School student had missed class for a doctor’s appointment only to hear from her science teacher she had a test the next day. Her teacher handed her notes and told her to “Google it,” but Soehn still failed to comprehend the lesson.

Then Soehn turned to teacher Chaudra Wood.

“I go to Ms. Wood freaking out for the test tomorrow,” Soehn said. “I said ‘Can you help me?’ She laughed and said, ‘I’m a math teacher. But what do you need?’”

Wood helped Soehn grasp the complicated material and the student got an A on the exam.

“That’s when I knew she was one of the best teachers on campus,” Soehn, 15, said.

But Wood may not be there next year.

On May 4, the Roseville Joint Union High School District voted unanimously to approve the layoff notices of 25 teachers. Wood, a teacher with 10 years experience, received a pink slip in March. The board’s decision means she will be out of a job unless the district rescinds the notices before the upcoming school year.

“It is truly very personally distressing to have to approve layoff notices,” said board member Scott Huber. “Our goal is finding a way to rescind the notices and keep the district financially viable because we have to balance our budget for the next three years.”

The district currently faces a $3.9 million budget deficit. Roughly 83 percent of the district’s general fund budget — of about $72 million — covers salaries and benefits.

“That’s the lion’s share of our expenses,” Huber said. “I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just the reality of it.”

The layoffs will save the district $1.3 million, said Ronald Severson, assistant superintendent of personnel services.

Huber said the district dipped into its reserves to prevent some layoffs. California state law requires the district maintain a general fund budget reserve of no less than 3 percent of total expenditures. Board policy requires an additional 2 percent reserve.

“The district will face financial struggles in the future and the only way to cover that is to have viable reserves in times of economic uncertainty,” Huber said.

The reality of the district’s budget crisis doesn’t make the layoff news any easier for the teachers potentially out of a job, nor for the students they impact.

Soehn, now a sophomore, had Wood for geometry and algebra 2. When she heard her favorite teacher might be laid off, she decided to speak out during public comment at a school board meeting in April. She wrote a speech honoring Wood.

“It’s so obvious that Ms. Wood is really good,” Soehn said. “A lot of my friends were really disappointed.”

State law requires that teachers with the least seniority in a district be issued layoff notices first, which board members explained to Soehn.

“Wow, I was mad,” she said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Wood, 32, taught math for eight years at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento before transferring to Roseville two years ago to be closer to her home in Antelope and spend more time with her two young daughters.

“I don’t feel like a new teacher,” Wood said. “It’s hard to know I’m really experienced in what I do … I think experience should count for something.”

Her husband Corey, also a teacher at Antelope High School, kept his job — but the couple can’t survive financially on one teacher’s salary, she said. Wood will patch together tutoring jobs. She won’t take another teaching job because she doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to be rehired in Roseville.

“I’ll definitely miss (teaching),” Wood said. 'I’ve never had a job doing something else.'"

This is just not right. If 600 people gave $9.00 a month for a year to "save a good teacher", they would still have a job. Who is a good teacher? That should be decided by student and peer review. I wish I had a better idea on how to save teaching positions (other tan taking the money out of the politicians salaries). Very few people know how much time and energy teachers spend to work with their students. They are underpaid and under-valued. But a pink slip after ten years of dedication is just WRONG!

Comments (4)

Laura:

I'm afraid this is happening across the states. Washington state is also experiencing these "surplus" notices.

Regarding the "save a good teacher" campaign - as a teacher (a good one) I know that this would not be a fair solution either. There are popular teachers that are not good, and good teachers that are not popular. Having students review us may end up with the wrong teachers still teaching (of course they would also choose some of the good ones, too). Having peers review each other puts us teachers in the role of essentially granting contracts or "laying off" our colleagues. Our colleagues are our life line in many instances. I would not want to be one who told my colleague that next year s/he will have to find another job.

However, I DON'T agree with surplussing teaching staff who have 10 years of experience either. Take the cutbacks to the state and district level. How many "curriculum experts" and management staff does a district really need?

Laura

Jo:

"Taking the money out of the politicians salaries"!! My favorite quote of the MONTH...Houston County Georgia Board of Edu. is losing 100 teachers next year because of budget cuts. Words can not describe how I feel.

The state of education in this country is very sad. I agree with Laura that the cuts need to be up at the top. Let the teachers suggest where to save the money instead of laying off teachers and increasing class sizes. We know where to make the cuts. Our country will pay for all these cuts in the next 10-20 years.

ditorfer:

We left California in 1978 when Prop 13 was passed, knowing that public schools in California would be impacted. With those restrictions to the tax base, California is not able to fund the schools, and strong teacher unions protect members by seniority. It's not a pretty picture. It's unfortunate that her seniority/previous teaching was not recognized by the local district. It's a outrage that she was considered a new teacher again. That's a union flaw. Meanwhile, suggest she become a math tutor and go for the big bucks. Prep teachers for SATs can command premium pay... and the loss will again go to public education.

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