Mass Teacher Layoffs Loom Again For California Schools

This time last year, in the wake of the Legislature’s decision to slash $9 billion from the K-12 education budget, schools sent out nearly 30,000 layoff notices to teachers. In the end, most of those teachers were indeed laid off, though a significant number were rehired on one-year temporary contracts. Federal stimulus funds helped make that happen, but even so, the impact to schools was devastating. Class sizes have soared, some districts have closed entire schools (such as the elementary school three blocks from my apartment), and others have gone to a 4-day week.

With no renewal of federal stimulus funds for education in sight, and with the prospect of further education cuts at the state level, districts are gearing up again to make mass teacher layoffs. SF schools plan to fire 10% of their teachers and support staff:

District officials said the list is long given the mind-boggling $113 million budget shortfall expected over the next two years, a deficit requiring huge cuts to staffing and programs. It includes full-time and part-time employees representing nearly 800 full-time teaching and administrative positions for the most part. It doesn’t include such workers as clerks or school secretaries, who don’t have to be notified by the deadline.

Sacramento area schools face similar cuts particularly in the absence of federal stimulus dollars:

Understandably, the federal stimulus money was a godsend to the districts. Elk Grove Unified – the area’s largest district – used $26 million of its $39.5 million in stimulus funds to save the jobs of teachers, counselors, library technicians, vice principals and administrative assistants.

Officials from Sacramento City Unified spent about half of the district’s $43.3 million share to save jobs. The district spent another $1.5 million to keep Mark Hopkins Elementary open for another year and nearly the entire balance to offset other budget reductions.

Twin Rivers Unified School District reported saving 109 teaching jobs with some of its $19 million in stimulus funds. San Juan Unified School District spent at least $19 million of its $34.5 million to retain positions.

So far the Obama Administration has not yet moved to extend or even expand the education stimulus funds. And despite polling that shows Californians would pay higher taxes to avoid these cuts, so far nobody has yet come forward to propose following Oregon’s lead and taxing the rich and large corporations in order to avoid the destruction of our schools.

The collapse of California’s education system is going to generate more and more attention and activism over the coming year, as it hits a broad cross-section of California very hard. It therefore creates a political opportunity for progressives to act to restore our schools and ensure our children have a future in this state.

12 thoughts on “Mass Teacher Layoffs Loom Again For California Schools”

  1. per child from what they are supposed to be getting, since 2007. That’s not adjusted dollars but actual dollars. Schools should get a bit less than $6400 per child, and this year, they are getting on average a bit less than $5000 per child.

    For the current school year, the stimulus money (ARRA) made up most of the state cuts – amounting, typically, to around 8% of school budgets. There’s no ARRA money for 2010-2011, and the state is proposing to cut an additional $400 per child.

  2. in trying to close that gap without raising taxes.  She must be smoking something that should be legal.  

  3. Seems to me they should take one look at Oregon and get going with an initiative to raise taxes on the wealthy to save K-12 education.

  4. My wife was one of the teachers laid off last year. She only has a job now because she managed to get into administration.

    My mother and mother-in-law both support families on a teacher’s salary and I was raised on one.

    This situation really comes down to one problem: teachers are paid out of general fund money, and, after the 50 plus or so categorical spending categories get their own money and then syphon off general fund money, teachers salaries are more or less the only thing that they can cut that won’t result in a net deficit.

    To unpack that a little: my wife’s district had money for a million dollar plus textbook buy last year, but not for teachers. No, they couldn’t move the money.

    At some point, more teachers in a barn with chalkboards is better than where we’re going. But this requires action from Sacramento to blow up these categories and give districts the ability to save some teachers.

    Either that, or they need to mandate more money for teachers and make that it’s own special category and fund it.

    And here’s another thing for you out of work lawyers and/or labor organizers: see if your local teachers’ union is amenable to help. Most of them get outflanked politically, legally, etc. and get absolutely rolled on their contracts, on pay cuts (you mean it’s not temporary?), with districts crossing the line into unfair labor practices (if we won’t agree to this contract they say we’re all going to DIE!) and so on. The CTA is not giving enough support to the local unions and they are getting rolled right and left.

    For all of the legal protections we have in this state on education money, none of them seem to be doing much good.

    Also, this is one area where relatively wealthy people use government. It might not be so hard or so bad to tax up to make it work.

  5. Whenever they’re whining about not having enough money, they lie about huge numbers of teachers being laid off, then somehow they find the money and no one is actually fired. It is nearly impossible to fire a teacher, after all.

  6. I spent nearly 17 years applying my B.A. Ecology from UCSB working as an environmental consultant, but I always wanted to go into teaching; in fact, I had a “sub permit” concurrent with the last 10 years of my consulting career.  I left consulting at the beginning of 2007 and enrolled in a single-subject credential/M.Ed. program and began using my substitute teaching permit.  I completed my credential program and student teaching in June 2008 and I currently have a Preliminary Single-Subject Credential (with embedded ELA) in Biological Science, Geoscience, and Foundational-Level Mathematics.

    I accepted a “Prob 1” contract to teach Math at a public high school in San Diego County, and taught all sheltered classes in Algebra 1 and Geometry as a first year teacher.  Concurrent with my first year of teaching I completed my first year of BTSA as well as my M.Ed.(with distinction) and was invited into Pi Lambda Theta.  When February 15 and March 15 came and went without any notice, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was short-lived, however, as I was notified at the end of March that I (as well as some other “Prob 1” teachers were going to be non-renewed.  The Ed Code does not confer due process rights to Prob 1s, so the district was totally within their rights to do this.  They did not even offer us a “Temp” contract, although they did advertise the positions as a temp contract.  I have come to find out that my district was not the only one that did this last year, although most were more humane in the process.

    I have well over 100 applications out in five counties.  I have interviewed about 25 times, with no offers and mostly positive feedback.  I am on the “sub list” for three different districts, but I’m lucky if I get a sub job every other week as the laid off teachers from the district get called before I do.  Over half of my letters of recommendation will be two years old in June, which will end their relevance on any pending applications. Now, given the state of the economy, there will be even more teachers out there, with more teaching experience (albeit less experience actually applying their science degrees), in the pool of applicants.  To add insult to injury, my social security statement with my estimated benefits arrived today that just served to remind me that as a teacher in California I might not even be able to collect it when I’m finally old enough.

    I’m sorry that this turned into more of a rant than a comment, but it has been somewhat cathartic for me.

Comments are closed.