Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OUSD's Craigslist Ad: Why I Am Not Sending My Child to School During the Teachers' Strike

By Tessa Stuart
Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Okay, so I don't have a child. I do, however, share a household with two Oakland Unified School District teachers so I see first-hand how hard they work and how little they get in return. But that is not why I wouldn't send my (rhetorical) child to school during the strike.

I wouldn't send my child to school because the workers that the district is hiring to replace teachers during the strike are not required to have passed the CBEST, a basic standards test. The CBEST is normally required for any substitute in the state of California, but since many of the actual substitutes that would replace an absent teacher are striking along with the teachers, OUSD is scrambling to find anyone to do their jobs.

In the Craigslist ad OUSD posted for "Emergency Temporary Teachers," the district lists as a requirement "Proof of passing CBEST," but with the caveat "(or we will facilitate a waiver)" --the same as saying "basic aptitude preferred, but not required." The ad also lists "Valid California Teaching Credential or 30-Day Substitute Teacher Permit" as optional.

OUSD needs to scrape together temporary workers to fill the places of striking teachers and substitutes responsible for 40,000 students, and few, if any, will be professionally trained or accredited for the job. I would feel uncomfortable putting any child, even a hypothetical one, in that situation.

Many working parents have no other option than to send their child to school on Thursday. But if you are the parent of an OUSD student and you have the option of keeping your child from school, consider it, if only to take some of the pressure off the temporary hires who will be acting as crowd-control more than anything else.

The strike is a lose-lose-lose-lose: teachers will lose pay; the district will lose money both the extra it will pay to temporary hires, and in ADA (average daily attendance by students) money it receives from the state; parents lose because they have to worry about what to do with their children; but, most importantly, students will lose instruction time.

The most frustrating thing is that neither the district nor the union is really to blame. The union is not asking for anything unreasonable -- a modest raise for teachers that would help keep more of them in Oakland and improve the quality education for OUSD students -- but the district doesn't have the money to provide it because it is woefully underfunded by the state. California ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending nationwide, which is a problem for all of us because we educate one in eight Americans.


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