Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 11, 2014

Notice me

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Every year around this time the School Board sends out pink slips to teachers, something about being legally obligated to by a certain date, my memory is fuzzy on the details but I know it happens almost every single year.   (Here’s the one for 2013) Usually these are to temporary employees or to teachers who have less tenure.  Almost always the teachers who receive pink slips are asked back, but because of the uncertainty around funding the District is legally obligated to send out these pink slips just in case they don’t have the enrollment for all the teachers.

For some reason, unlike last year, this has become a big deal.  On the Teachers’ Union’s Facebook page, there is a call to mobilize bodies for tonight’s School Board meeting to speak out against this routine practice.  Also on tonight’s agenda is an update on the budget which outlines the dates when the numbers from the State budget will be released.   While this call to action is suggesting that the District is well aware of how much it will receive from Governor Brown next year, according to the budget slide, it won’t be until late May that the numbers roll in from the Governor’s revised budget proposal, meaning that any numbers that the District is currently using are projections only and not definitive totals.

As of now, the District has to work on the assumption that nothing has changed and  they must budget for next school year with the most conservative numbers in order to not have any nasty surprises if for some reason the extra money promised by the state does not materialize.   While no one wants to get a pink slip, on the other hand it would be worse if the district budgeted on rosy projections and they fell through and then there would be no money to pay all the teachers that were retained.   I realize that the relationship between the District and the Union is a naturally adversarial one, but that doesn’t mean that one side has to be knee jerk critical of everything that comes out of the other side, it’s just not productive.

I will note that it’s interesting to see that a relative of a former City Council member calling for teachers to strike over what really is something pretty routine that happens practically every year.   I’m not sure how that is any good for Alameda students if the teachers were to strike over something relatively benign such as this.



  1. Lauren, not even going to go to union facebook, but I’ll throw this out there. a) R-E-S-P-E-C-T b) strike talk-H-Y-P-E-R-B-O-L-E c) one year the district punted and pink slipped everybody didn’t they? I think when there is no compelling reason to pink slip large numbers, like a budget squeeze, and it is done anyway, it comes across as a weird reminder that nobody is really secure and it sort of picks the scab. This may not be sole decision of Ms. Vital but the buck certainly stops there. As with taking salary increases at inopportune moments like the middle of a parcel tax campaign, I’d say this is more tone deaf behavior by district and if not, it is a deliberate if relatively insignificant tweak to remind union who is in charge. If not it is predictable how they are reacting isn’t it? Can’t we all just get along? right.

    Comment by MI — March 11, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  2. I’ll use an example from my school. The enrollment was overestimated for certain classes so after a few months there were confusing and disruptive shifts where classes had to be consolidated (one class was shifted to a mixed 2/3, an upper grade teacher had to take a different role in the school, it was a mess) and I think at least one teacher ended up having to be laid off or moved to a different school during the school year, I can’t remember the personnel details. I think that option is a lot worse all the way around then getting pink slipped before the next school year. Finding a job may be tough if you don’t get reinstated, but finding a job after the school year has started is probably 100% worse.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2014 @ 9:42 am

  3. What is the “equivalent” of 38 teachers? Maybe a couple grounds keepers? Perhaps a Playworks guru, two janitors or 13 civilians?

    Comment by Jack R — March 11, 2014 @ 9:46 am

  4. Playworks is funded by Title 1 funds (flexible funds for the school alone) and by the non profit itself. Which I did mention previously so I’m not sure why the fixation on that. Janitors and “grounds keepers” are under a different bargaining unit as are the “civilian” AUSD employees.

    Equivalent of 38 teachers means that some programs (music, languages, etc) may be reduced to half time (or some portion of that) depending on the anticipated interest in that particular class.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  5. Mark:

    The best way to be respected is to behave respectably. AEA isn’t, and hasn’t for some time.

    Hyperbole is not a respectable way to parley. That’s like screaming “DIVORCE” during a spousal disagreement or threatening nuclear war in a diplomatic one. It accomplishes nothing but to make the screamer look unhinged.

    The district does not relish this process, but lacking a final set of numbers, it must prematurely balance the books on the most careful assumptions it can make. As Lauren says, it sucks but is also a service to people who might potentially be let go, even while trying like hell to keep from letting them go.

    Less militancy and more professionalism will go a long way toward healing this rift, assuming that you want it to heal.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  6. I like this def better:

    A full-time equivalent (FTE) attempts to standardise a full-time teacher’s teaching load against that of a part-time teacher.

    The basis for the calculation are the “statutory working hours” and not the “total or actual working hours” or “total or actual teaching hours”.

    The full-time equivalence of part-time educational personnel is then determined by calculating the ratio of hours worked by part-time personnel over the statutory hours worked by a full-time employee during the school year.

    Comment by Jack R — March 11, 2014 @ 10:34 am

  7. O.K… Been to the AEA facebook page. Don’t know a lot more, but I think Lauren may be presumptuous in noting; ” Usually these are to temporary employees or to teachers who have less tenure. Almost always the teachers who receive pink slips are asked back, but because of the uncertainty around funding the District is legally obligated to send out these pink slips just in case they don’t have the enrollment for all the teachers.”

    maybe the same as usual, maybe not. AEA Facebook page is no help. Maybe there was a cover letter from the district with pink slip maybe not. I’m not presuming anything either way.

    5. whatever dave. One thing for sure, if I were a teacher I’d be real sick of other people judging what is or isn’t “professional behavior” for my bargaining unit, especially if they haven’t walked even a few feet in my shoes, let alone a good distance. This is not nuclear option. One person’s ceiling is the other’s floor. On the one hand talking strike is simply reciprocal to doling out pink slips which may or may not mean something. It’s about pushing buttons. Getting a pink slip has to cause anxiety no matter who you are, and if talk of strike causes people like dave to run for the antacid, so be it.

    “Less militancy and more professionalism will go a long way toward healing this rift, assuming that you want it to heal.” you sound as parsimonious as that Jon guy you enjoy disparaging so much.

    Comment by MI — March 11, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

  8. “parsimonious” eh, you’ll look far and wide to find anybody that’s not parsimonious when they’re using their own money to fund someone else’s wages, especially when the receiver is making a hell of a lot more than the parsimonyist.

    Comment by Jack R — March 11, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

  9. What I think or want…people are not having as many kids when I grew up. My Grandparents on my mom’s side had 16 kids…I had like 80 caissons (my dad was an only child) …my parents had 6 kids…between my brothers and sisters they have 5 kids. I thought between Alameda Landing and the development of the Point maybe they wound need more schools but maybe they don’t. I assumed Ruby Bridges was full because they have a couple of portables. I could be totally wrong but maybe we don’t need a lot of new teachers but give the ones we have a decent wage. I went to a very small school when I was young (56 kids grade 1-8th) and some of the teachers taught like 3 grades at once.

    Comment by Joe — March 11, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

  10. The AEA’s behavior the last couple years has included things like:

    -the infamous lump of coal
    -politicking in front of students
    -threatening a strike publicly, more than once
    -forcing a fact-finding meeting on baseless grounds, attempting to duck said meeting
    -filing multiple grievances to defend teachers who disparage special ed kids, walk out of classrooms of kindergartners, etc etc, I’m sure you remember that list

    -and many more

    That unit’s behavior is patently unprofessional. So is “pushing buttons” in response to an established, well known (and very unfortunate) operating procedure. Needless confrontation for its own sake does not foster respect. Professional behavior does.

    And double check what you mean by “parsimonious.” Did you perhaps mean something other than stingy or tight-fisted?

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  11. I know it is not the topic right now but there is a huge fire in SF…you should close your windows.

    Comment by Joe — March 11, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

  12. (Watching the school board meeting on TV.) So I’m really sorry to see what we’ve done to public education in this country. Whether it’s No Child Left Behind, Common Core, the shuffling of charter schools according to state legal requirements, land swaps to keep water in the pools, teaching to the tests, preserving crumbling edifices, or pink slips for teachers who will likely be called back, we waste a lot of our money and time doing things that have no direct benefit to the children. I know some of the problem is caused by ill-advised federal and state law, unfunded mandates, etc., but not all, and for some reason — just reading the paper and watching TV — it looks like our schools are hell-bent on tearing themselves apart. I’m having trouble getting past that to the next bond or parcel tax proposal.

    I’m not a fan of posting YouTube videos, but I submit the following, as an example of what a school experience could be. It’s a celebration of Dia de Andalucia. The equivalent, should we have something like this here, would be “Day of California,” a day when all the children celebrated California’s history and culture. The classes are Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and grades 1-4. Yes, my grandchildren are in the video.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — March 11, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

  13. 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? Also dave your allegations about the ‘behavior’ of AEA are, aside from the coal, incorrect and do more to encourage problems than solve them. Lastly, professionalism clearly depends on how you choose to define it. Part of being a union member unfortunately often requires strong words and actions.

    Comment by Cturnover — March 11, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  14. The action in post #10 are correct:

    -I personally witnessed politicking in front of students, as did hundreds of others.
    -A strike has been threatened publicly, more than once. At one point there was a photo on AEA google page of a teacher carrying a placard doing just that.
    -The fact finding meeting was indeed baseless, as evidenced by a 3-0 vote against the union, with even CTA voting against. If they don’t support, it’s baseless. And the attempt to duck that meeting is public record, it was in the fact finding report, I will post it later if I can find it.
    -Grievances were also public record, posted on this site.

    Comment by dave — March 12, 2014 @ 6:49 am

  15. That was easier to find that I thought it would be:

    Comment by dave — March 12, 2014 @ 6:55 am

  16. 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. When will we all realize that, and act accordingly? By ‘we’, I mean voters all over the state that have a stake in our schools, in educating our youth- parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, parents of teachers and so on. Do you realize how large the voting bloc is or could be? Why has no one tapped into that? Yeah, sure, there’s the lawsuit. How much longer is that going to take? Will we (school districts) get complete satisfaction? Why are we not all (those members of the education voting bloc) standing up and shouting at Sacramento, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any more!” Mr. Bonta I think has made some moves toward funding reform, but he’s playing within the system, and that’s not going to work. It’s that same system that got us where we are today. Mr. Bonta’s family marched with Caesar Chavez; he could lead the march on the Capitol. I’ll paint the picture again. there are 1043 school districts in california. Imagine if each one of those districts loaded a yellow school bus with 52 concerned parents and other voters, and descended on Sacramento en mass. Do you think the politicians would take notice if we shut down the Capitol for a day? Speeches, picnics, pot smoking on the lawn? (just kidding) Individually, one school district or one legislator isn’t going to make a difference, but collectively, we can move the earth. So, Mr. Bonta, when do the buses roll?

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — March 12, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  17. Cturnover:

    And here are photos – from AEA’s Facebook – showing teachers politicking in front of students. This was on 4/17/12 before school. Signs waved at arriving students and families, pamphlets were passed out to parents walking their kids to school, including me.

    This was after Gray Harris has promised to not do this in front of students.

    The “allegations” are actually facts, these things did happen.

    Comment by dave — March 12, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

  18. Again dave your allegations, are not correct. You don’t mention all the politicking the district did. And yes there was discussion about both sides not bargaining in public, both sides. Saying we will strike if needed is not the same as threatening a strike, nor do you mention the threats and intransigence of the district. As for fact finding, AEA did not ditch, nor try to ditch the meeting nor does it say that in the report. As for grievances the union does its job by providing due process. How we interpret these events is very different, there are always two sides to every story.

    Comment by Cturnover — March 12, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

  19. They are correct. That you don’t like them or wish they weren’t doesn’t make them so.

    From the report:

    Initially the full complement of teachers, on the bargaining
    team, including the Bargaining Chair, were not in attendance. The
    Chair ordered that they attend the hearing.

    Comment by dave — March 12, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

  20. As one of the members of that bargaining team, we were told we dd not need to attend, then the Chair decided we should be there. Again your interpretations do not make them facts, they make them your opinions.

    Comment by Cturnover — March 12, 2014 @ 6:22 pm

  21. Chair ordered that they attend the hearing.


    The Chair did not “request” or “invite”, the Chair “ordered.” That word strongly suggests absence from required attendance. And it strains credulity to suggest that a bargaining team need not be present for such an important meeting.

    So far we have the politicking issue, which you deny existed then tacitly admit happened but added a “but they did it too!” We don’t accept that sort of dishonesty from children, yet you display it here.

    Then we have the grievances. You say the “allegations” are false, yet they are not. Those grievances do exist and they do include the egregious behavior I cite. Again you tacitly admit their existence, previously denied, but refer to them as “due process.”

    Stating that you’re going to strike “if necessary” is a threat under such charged circumstances. You say that didn’t happen, calling that fact an allegation, then after confronted with evidence decide that it did happen, but it’s not a threat. The other 7 billion people on earth would see it as such.

    But let’s return to the original point: respectable, professional behavior. The union has not displayed it in recent rounds, and neither have you in this thread. Yu have disputed and denied what is provably true.

    My point is made, I am finished here, though I suspect you aren’t…

    Comment by dave — March 13, 2014 @ 6:42 am

  22. dave it is clear you only want to believe your own opinion. This is sad but so be it.

    Comment by cturnover — March 13, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

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