Happy New Year!
Over the three week holiday vacation, I moved and was without internet access for a couple of weeks. The first e-mail that came through once I was back online was from our new superintendent. I try to avoid being political in my blog but turmoil is happening throughout my district. I think I have a duty to report the facts.
1. About two years ago, the district hired a new superintendent, a retired Navy admiral with no education experience, to lead Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the largest school districts in the country.
2. About a month ago, the district fired the Navy admiral due to his lack of educational experience and inability to get things done.
3. While declaring that he “would always be [there] for their children of Los Angeles,” the fired Admiral demanded to personally be paid $500,000 plus expenses in order to leave his post at the district which is now facing bankruptcy.
4. Due to the state’s budget crisis, which is worse now than the one that faced California before the Terminator replaced an impeached Gray Davis five years ago, money is being taken from school budgets.
5. Our new superintendent is calling for mid-year cuts including letting about 2,300 probationary teachers go immediately with the required two weeks notice. (These teachers would also need to pay back money they’ve already been pre-paid for the coming school months). These cuts would save only a fraction of the $250 million dollar shortfall.
6. Literacy coaches, like myself, would be placed in classrooms immediately.
7. Our teachers’ union is calling for no cuts at all and is threatening job actions to fight the cuts.
8. Neither the district nor the union wants to trim the school year by a week which would save the entire amount of the $250 million that the district needs to cut.
I believe that no one wants to make cuts, particularly cuts to personnel, but it’s clear that cuts need to be made somewhere unless the state’s budget improves. Unfortunately, cuts to personnel and/or class size increases when done mid-year would be extremely disruptive, one might say chaotic, in terms of the shuffling of students and teachers. I doubt whether this is a task that our district can handle purely as a matter of logistics. None of our union contracts are even adequate to address the wide-spread shuffling and domino effect that might occur.
Even though my fiancé and I are both teachers in the same district and would be hit doubly hard by cuts to the school year. I personally would rather see our year slightly shortened than see teachers lose their jobs.
Naturally, I suppose it’s too much to ask that someone bailout our failing school district.
For more info: L.A. Times