Teachers' afflictions

Teachers deserve sympathy for six afflictions, writes Checker Finn on Gadfly. Number one:

An absurd and antiquated compensation system that pays bad teachers as much as good ones and phys. ed. teachers as much as physics teachers. (A recent survey reminds us that math and science teachers are the most apt to leave due to meager pay–compared to what they can earn elsewhere.) That system is controlled by large bureaucracies instead of individual schools; is skewed to favor time-servers at the expense of newcomers; and is coupled to archaic, non-portable pension plans.

Most of the San Diego area teachers who got pink slips in March will have jobs in the fall, reports Voice of San Diego. But some have found other work and won’t be back.

(Veteran teachers had) seen it all before in 2003: Dire warnings of severe, statewide cuts to schools. The ensuing stream of layoff warnings to employees. Furious outcry from parents and unions. And the eventual cancellation of the dreaded layoffs — or most of them — as California lawmakers retreated from their budgeting plans and reduced cuts to schools.

Faced with protests, “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a new budget proposal that restored some funding to California schools.” Mark Mathewson, an information technology worker turned elementary school teacher, got his job back. But he’d already accepted an IT job offer.

Driving away employees such as Mathewson is just one cost of a layoff process that drains schools of time, money and morale.

State law requires districts to issue layoff notices two months before the state budget is finalized — assuming it’s done on time. So districts assume the worst, telling new teachers that they’re expendable. Some think districts announce drastic layoffs to pressure legislators for more education funding.

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  1. dangermom says:

    The pink slip system is truly bizarre. My mom was supervising some of the local school libraries for a while there, which she really enjoyed, but the combination of a yearly pink slip and the administrators’ habit of giving her more work and fewer resources every year drove her to the public library. She doesn’t like her schedule so well, but at least it’s stable and her boss doesn’t constantly tell her that she’s expendable.

  2. They forgot #7: Our inability to go to the bathroom whenever we need to.

  3. Margo/Mom says:

    The pink slip system, I believe, derives from contracts that require notice by a certain date if a teacher is to be laid off. The district has to err on the side of caution very early in the budget game or be stuck with a surplus of teachers that they are obligated to employ. Teachers could change this, if they wanted to.

  4. Anthony says:

    Margo/Mom – the system mayhave its origins in the contracts, but it is now state law that layoff notices must be given by March 15 each year. Were I an administrator, I’d start giving *everybody* a notice on March 15, and try to get my fellow administrators in other districts to do the same, and tell the union that it was the only rational response to a requirement that we had to give 5 months notice of layoffs.


  1. […] Joanne Jacobs made me aware of a post from the Education Gadfly about the six main afflictions of teachers.  In a nutshell, they are as follows: […]