Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 14, 2014

After the event

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

I wanted to pull out a portion of this comment because it really deserves attention, in the post about pink slips from NAA:

We’re all fixated on a result, and should solve the problem instead. Pink slipping teachers wholesale every year is the result of (in)action in Sacramento- how the state doles out funds to schools, how they steal money from schools to pay other bills, and promise to give it back some time down the road. We all recognize the absurdity of that- we all have bills to pay NOW (and teachers to keep employed), and so do our school districts, so need the money now, not later. The solution lies not in Alameda, the solution lies where the problem is- in Sacramento.

The problem is the pink slipping deadline is also a state deadline.  In 2012 the Legislative Analyst’s Office put out a report about the costs of teacher layoffs and what should be done to correct this practice.  Essentially they said that moving the deadline for these pink slips from before the Governor’s May revise to after the May revise would eliminate all the heartache that comes with these premature pink slips, not to mention the cost.   Here’s the table which summarizes the findings and recommendations:


I feel like the only person who knew about this on the School Board was Mike McMahon who brought up this very issue.   Recently there was an attempt to pass legislation on the state level to move the pink slip noticing requirement later which would move the timeline after the Governor’s May release of his budget and give districts a better grasp on what their budgets would look like so they could better prepare and not need to be overly conservative and send out a mass of pink slips in mid-March.   However, this legislation failed, and I have to say I was surprised to see who was against it, from the Cabinet Report:

The bill, authored by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, would have pushed back state-mandated deadlines for issuing pink slips to teachers from March 15 to May 15 for preliminary notices and from May 15 to June 15 for final notification. He authored similar legislation in 2010.

Huff, whose position was supported by Republican colleague Sen. Bill Wyland as well as Democratic committee chair Sen. Carol Liu, argued that pushing the layoff notice dates back gives districts the time they need to have a clearer budget picture for the coming school year and, therefore, a more exact accounting of staffing needs – thereby potentially reducing the number of reduction-in-force notices, or pink slips, issued as well as the costs associated with the process.

In addition to saving hundreds of thousands of dollars that districts must spend on the process, the change would save hundreds of teachers from the emotional stress associated with not knowing whether they will actually be laid off or not.

The LAO estimated the cost under the current system to be about $700 per noticed teacher. But, out of 10 teachers issued a preliminary notice, only half received a final notice and, in the end, just two or three were not rehired, the LAO reported.

But advocates for the state’s powerful teacher and labor unions argued that changing the dates gives teachers little time to pursue due process, if they so choose, or to look for new employment since final notices are delivered after school is out in June.

“The only way to resolve this problem with pink slipping too many folks is to provide the kind of funding that will allow you not to have a need for pink slips in the first place; that will bring California out from the bottom of the 50 states with respect to the cost-per-pupil system,” said Seth Bramble, spokesman for the California Teachers Association.

Sigh.  While I realize that moving the pink slipping date is not a solution to the overall inequities of education funding on the other hand it is the local unions and the teachers themselves that are highly affected by this early deadline for noticing.  I cannot understand why there was push back from CTA to this solution which would solve this smaller issue of District’s having to send out mass notices in mid-March to meet some arbitrary deadline established by the state.

The argument by CTA is that teachers need enough time to find a new job if they will actually be laid off.  The argument by individual teachers is that these notices are really detrimental to teacher morale, particularly if — in the end — enough enrollment is projected and enough older teachers retire and enough money is funnelled through that would allow all the pink slipped teachers to stay.    In order to avoid the individual turmoil, it would only make sense that teachers should support the later noticing.

So at this point if local teachers want to unleash their wrath on someone over this state mandated noticing deadline, rage at the CTA which worked on a “grassroots” effort to defeat this bill which would better align these layoff notifications with the release of usable numbers for school districts.   These efforts may be better spent making the larger teacher’s union understand the hardship of receiving these notices than railing against an individual school district which is simply making sure they meet requirements set forth by the state and the legislature which just rejected a proposal which would have saved probably 90% of those teachers from the misery of receiving a pink slip notice.

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  1. It’s in the best interest of CTA that their members ‘shed tears’ over anything any Republican (SB 559 Huff-R) offers that could have an attenuating effect on union/management relations. It is in the best interest of the Democrats that they vote for whatever the CTA wants.

    Comment by Jack R — March 14, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  2. Why let facts and logic interfere with misdirected outrage? (Sadly, that’s become pretty typical for certain AEA members.)

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — March 14, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  3. I went to AEA Facebook again and I saw the old post calling folks to show at last BOE meeting. Call to arms included this: “This action comes at a time when the state is funding education at a higher amount than has been received in the last several years. We have already received close to 12% over last year’s funding and the state has announced another 28% to come.” I take it that the basic view of teachers, or at least AEA, is that there is no financial reason for any pink slips. I didn’t go deep into comments, but didn’t see any official call for strike.

    So a less simplistic view would take in other factors, such as enrollment fluctuations. Anything else? Retirements would only create job openings so I don’t see how those that don’t occur somehow account for extra pink slips. AEA Facebook doesn’t make reference to any internal machinations by the district in arriving at this number ( is it 38 total this year?). It would be interesting to know more about how that group and number were arrived at. Is it presumptuous to think that based on the history of this administration in labor matters there may have been minimal sharing of thoughts about what went in to the pink slip decisions? I would expect it to have been pretty clinical process. If anybody knows differently, please shed some light.

    The issue of dates may more or less be a technicality. Logically, when layoff notices are early and tend to be inflated in their numbers, the gripes are about low moral while teaching for three months in limbo and having many chains jerked needlessly. I noted at AEA Facebook a teacher whose name I recognize as having been around quite a while saying “Just got my pink slip, again.” If pink slips came as late as June, presumably more fine tuned and therefore fewer in number, I suspect there would still be noise from AEA judging by their statement about funding. And the down side of late notice is, as CTA notes, less time to job hunt. Catch 22.

    I’m not trying to blame the district for any outrage. Their hands are tied when it comes to deadline. Just saying a lay off notice is stressful ANY TIME. There may be room for improvement in AEA leadership, but a point I’ve tried to make a number of times is that people who are primarily “professional” in the realm of educating, are burdened beyond that primary venue with having to choose among themselves who will take on extra activity of union work which most don’t have time for, and for which most may be ill prepared. Piling on “certain” AEA members as “unprofessional”, is frankly provocative. It’s a bit challenging to stifle one’s emotions when it comes to career and income security.

    I know this post is about the date issue, but looking to big picture of education reform, I think seniority has real drawbacks, like when an administrator is trying to build a real alternative program (not charter) within the real public system, such as a magnet like Maya Lin. Waving seniority to help an administrator build staff for launching that kind of innovation and collaboration seems within reason. But without ANY seniority these pink slips could become much, much more controversial in terms of the amount of insecurity that would rain (reign?) down if the district could use the annual event to pick off their prime candidates for worst teacher. Many would ask what would be wrong with that? I’m not certain, as I don’t want to be defending weak teachers, but a list of least favorites might not be entirely based on competency in the classroom. Morale and trust must vie for priority in this process along with budget. Lay offs for any cause will always be a shitty business.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2014 @ 12:33 am

  4. There may be room for improvement in AEA leadership, but a point I’ve tried to make a number of times is that people who are primarily “professional” in the realm of educating, are burdened beyond that primary venue with having to choose among themselves who will take on extra activity of union work which most don’t have time for, and for which most may be ill prepared. Piling on “certain” AEA members as “unprofessional”, is frankly provocative. It’s a bit challenging to stifle one’s emotions when it comes to career and income security.


    AEA’s leadership has been embarrassingly unprofessional the last few years. The other day a former leader displayed some pretty darn unprofessional behavior on this blog, to name just one example. To label them unprofessional isn’t so much provocative as it is accurate.

    Why not hire an experienced professional negotiator, or even a full staff of pros? Members pay approx. $1000/year in dues, which recently hasn’t gotten them very much, not much positive anyway. Professionalizing the bargaining & communications would go a very long way toward streamlining negotiations, and removing a lot of the rancor. The last round of contract negotiations sank into painful absurdity, mostly due to amateurish moves by AEA, such as refusing to ratify the very calendar it proposed, taking a baseless case all the way to fact-finding, among many others. Teachers are professionals who deserve professional representation, and would benefit greatly from it.

    Comment by dave — March 17, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  5. dave, for myself, I’ve separated individual behavior from other issues. I could study up but I don’t have a good enough handle on the entire negotiation sequence to be commenting. It’s a waste of my time to worry about defending AEA, beyond pointing out that being on a bargaining unit can be like drawing straws for who gets to do the custodial work. So I don’t want to comment if CTurnover was “pretty darn unprofessional” in the previous thread when it comes to facts, but that person was pretty civil and nobody responded to this post which seemed to get to the basic issue: ” There are concerns about laying off teachers when the district is also releasing 58 teachers on temporary contracts. It seems very unlikely, even with budget issues that we would nearly 100 less teachers next year?”

    I realize a June notice might allow these numbers to be reduced but is there an issue which goes beyond that?

    Comment by MI — March 18, 2014 @ 9:10 am

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