Sunday, May 10, 2009

What is fair, is not always right. What is right, is not always fair.

Last week, our school district had some tough decisions to make as well as some tough news to break. With the state of Florida cutting back on the budget and school spending, Sarasota County had to cut positions. A lot of them.

As positions were cut, teachers with seniority bumped those teachers with less seniority based on hiring date (and even for some, application dates). It was a cascading or waterfall effect. As a position was cut at one school, if that teacher had 5 or 10 yrs in the county, they were placed into a different position or a different school, or both, and bumped the former teacher out of their position. That bumped teacher then bumped another teacher in another school, and so on.

At the end of the day Thursday, 130 teachers suddenly were unemployed.

It was a sad day for many. I know of a teacher (who is phenomenal, by the way) who was bumped last year but then the teacher who took his position really didn’t want to be at his former school. So she left and he was able to get his job back. This year, he wasn’t even placed at another school. As of right now, he doesn’t have a job for next year.

Our math teacher found out that she was bumped from her position at 2PM on Thursday by reading the mass email that was sent out to all district employees. She opened the attachment and found her name listed. It came as a surprise to all of us as she was told that she “safe” less than a week prior.

Another friend was also given no indication that she was going to be let go because she was told 2 days BEFORE the news broke that she was safe and would be teaching her same reading course for next year.

I understand that the school district doesn’t have enough money as it has had in the past and I understand that there are people out there who believe that just because they have been employed for 20+ years grants them the privilege to continue teaching even though they are no longer effective or good for kids.

You also hear of stories from teachers at other schools who tell you of co-workers who show up to work drunk or who do not show up at all (meaning they don’t even bother to tell the school they won’t be coming in today), but they are still employed by the district. You hear stories about teachers who get convicted of DUIs, fraud, etc and yet they are still standing in the front of the classroom. Not to mention the teachers who it on their butt all day, hate kids or perceive worksheets to be a form of instruction.

It just doesn’t seem fair. Some of the teachers who were bumped or let go are quality teachers, regardless of their small amount of year’s experience. They are vibrant! They are energetic! We may seem young, but we love our jobs and we want to be a good teacher for the kids.

But, what is right is not always fair. And what is fair is not always right.

I say do away with seniority.

There are several districts in this country that have done this and I think it might be a good thing for schools to adopt everywhere. Why shouldn’t the best teachers be kept in the schools while those who fail to perform their jobs adequately are let go? I could care less about bonus pay or being paid more to do my job; I already work my ass off, so you think by dangling some additional income in front of my face is going to make me work even harder? I CAN’T. I already give you my all, so can I possibly dig deeper?!

This is not to say that there aren’t some fantastic teachers out there who have taught for 20, 25 or 30+ years. I know of a few. And I aspire to be like them when I have been instructing students for as long as they have. I don’t want to be this crabby old woman who complains about children and the job constantly. I want to still feel passionate about helping children succeed.

It’s sad to think that of the teachers who were let go, there were many in that pool who could do a better job than some of us who are still employed. I keep my fingers crossed that they do not lose hope and that they do not lose themselves. I pray that those teachers are able to get their jobs back before next August or are able to keep their heads above water and find a job in the school system, even if it’s not their original one.

I am grateful that I still have a job for next year. And because I do, I am going to continue working my ass off, because that is the least I can do for those who are not able to.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Well said Jessica. I'm very sorry for all of the people who were rifed- must be happening all over, I'm still looking for a position after not getting hired back last year. Best wishes for all of us great teachers just looking to make a difference.