Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Superintendent’s Statement Regarding Teacher Layoffs and Negotiations with the United Educators of San Francisco

This from the SFUSD press office:

May 11, 2010 (San Francisco) - “We had our third mediated session with the teachers union last night and left at 2:00 a.m. without an agreement. The teachers union is demanding we agree to no layoffs next year. Given the economic reality in California, there is no way we can do this. The teachers union has held their economic concessions contingent to other agreements that would weaken teacher evaluation. Given our commitment to holding all employees accountable, there is no way we can do this.

“Regardless of last night’s disappointing outcome, we are committed to minimizing our layoffs and saving as many of our valuable employees as possible. Tonight I am going to propose to the Board of Education that we take a risk and lower the number of layoffs even without an agreement with the union, and without final budget numbers from the State, because we can’t afford to lose any more of our talented staff than absolutely necessary.

“On March 15, we noticed 701 certificated staff due to the State budget cuts. Tonight we are recommending that we rescind the budget related certificated layoffs by half – which means issuing final notices to 350 certificated staff on May 15. This number of certificated layoffs is still too high; however, we have a $113 million deficit projected over the next two years, which may increase depending on the State’s final budget. I remain hopeful that we will still reach an agreement with our teachers union in the near future and be able rescind even more layoffs as soon as possible. “


  1. Glad to see the statement from Carlos Garcia - I'm feeling annoyed by the numerous ads from UESF all around the City (full page in the Chron on Sunday, plastered all over MUNI buses - how much did THAT cost?)

    Most problematic is the insinuation that UESF is only fighting for students - be real, they fight for teachers. And the leadership of the UESF really only fights for the most senior teachers and those that are retired.

    Why won't UESF give up the cash cow that is paying for a full hour of AP prep time (which, ahem, you'll find disproportionately at the easier to teach west side schools) in exchange for keeping the teacher stipends to teach at the lowest-performing, hardest to staff schools?

    The reason: Because UESF leadership is largely from those easier to staff, easier to teach at west-side schools that have AP classes.

  2. Is anybody buying UESF feigned concern for children? If they were so concerned they wouldn't be making issues out of some relatively minor benefits when so much is at stake for students in these negotiations.

  3. Superintendent Garcia laid off 349 teachers tonight, nearly all of whom are elementary school teachers.

    While there are issues with UESF, the Superintendent's stated commitment to equity is not met by action. A sizeable majority of the teachers who will be laid off teach on the southeast side - and the Superintendent was text-messaging and having evidently hilarious conversations with some of the Commissioners while teachers, students and parents made public comment.

    Neither side is acting in the best interest of children, and children and their teachers are paying the price.

  4. I'm puzzled why the union thinks they have any leverage in this situation. They are completely out of touch with reality to think they can demand anything.

    The ad campaign is a really bad taste. "Won't somebody please think about the children!" LOL
    It's pretty apparent they only care about their contract.

  5. Does anyone truly understand what is going on here? I think the money pots are highly invisible to the average citizen. The city of SF should be outraged at the hush hush way in which the budget issues have been handled. I can only mistrust that which is purposefully kept hidden from me.
    Tonight's BoE meeting only solidified my feeling that the board does not know or understand enough to make 'educated' decisions about the budget. They know and understand as much or less than I do, it seems! What is it again that they were elected to do???
    And the same goes for the teacher union.
    would someone please show me some transparency and some follow through?

  6. 11:15

    The layoff is according to seniority rules. You can thank the union for that.

    Also, the district wants to keep stripend for the hard-to-staff (meaning SE) schools, union opposes that.

    And demanding no layoffs next year? It is so out-of-touch that I think the teachers should kick out the current leadership at the next election.

  7. What's the point of stipends for hard-to-staff schools when the district lays off up to two-thirds of their teachers anyway? (like El Dorado) How is that equitable? The stipends aren't enough to get any great number of teachers with seniority to go to those schools, so maybe the district needs to increase them to the point that they will attract experienced staff. If not, why bother with them at all?

    And what is it with this site that Garcia repeatedly gets front page billing, without so much as a word from the union? Not hard to figure out where the sympathies lie, but then again no one said blogs needed to be balanced.

  8. You have Board of Education Commissioners who do not even know how to use credit cards, are you really surprised that they don't understand the budget?

  9. The issue is that the BoE lectured the public at some length about how the issue was "black and white". Whatever budget figures they have, they aren't sharing them. What they've shown is subject to question, and I have seen not one bit of evidence that they have fully vetted the alternative budget proposal outside of their claim that they have.

    There have been no budget open houses, nor any Committee of the Whole BoE meetings at school sites - both of which were proposed by the District to assist in "sunshining" their budget proposal.

    It should be noted that the present Executive Board of UESF of the union had a very close election last year despite their overwhelming cash advantage and incumbency. However, it is the District that claims its core principles are equity-based. It is the District that is laying off permanent teachers with signficant seniority (such is the churn in SFUSD that 350 teachers goes quite far back, and elementary teachers took the biggest hits). It is the District whose commitment to equity is only applicable in good budget years.

    It is schools like El Dorado who will likely have brand new first year teachers (the District is still in talks with Teach for America to place elementary teachers next year) and continue subsidizing more senior teachers at wealthier schools. When that crop of El Dorado teachers is laid off next year and replaced again, I hope we will finally have a District that is willing to accept their complicity for the widening achievement gap in SFUSD.

  10. 8:48

    "I hope we will finally have a District that is willing to accept their complicity for the widening achievement gap in SFUSD."

    The time has come the walrus said
    To speak of many things
    Of ships and sails and sealing wax
    And whether pigs have wings.

    When was the last time you ever heard a public servant say, "It's all my fault"?

    The best we can do is replace this most historically incompetent BOE and get some fresh faces on board with some integrity.

  11. 6:57 and 8:48

    There is a system of layoffs based on seniority.

    Basically, the teachers are grouped by qualifications. Within the qualification, they are ranked by seniority.

    When a position (which requires a certain qualification) is removed, the person who hold that position can "bump" another employee at a different position.

    In this case, it is not like all positions in the hard-to-staff schools are removed. Rather, positions all around the city are gone. The teachers holding those positions have the option (and they are assumed to use this option) to bump less senior teachers in other schools.

    So, yes, those positions in El Dorado will be filled, by teachers from others schools (for example, Claredon) who have the same qualification and more seniority, but position removed.

    Of course, if the more senior teacher choose not to "bump" and take the new position, he would lose the job, and a teacher will be hired back. Again, according to seniority.

    I am not supporting the system. However, that's how it works, and union is a big reason for this system. If you have any kind of seniority, you will love the system. The new teachers are the ones who are screwed.

    And regarding the budget, the SFUSD has the budget online (I have read it). It is not very detailed, but show you the expenses in big categories. Rachel Norton's blog had explanations on some of the budget items. Big portion of the budget is designated for particular use, so even if they are cut, that portion of money cannot be used for classroom.

    By reading the budget and Rachal Norton's blog, I really doubt there is much money which can be squeezed from somewhere else.

    It is not BoE's job to be auditors (in government or private industry). It is indeed up to the managers (in this case, Garcia) to manage. If BofE is not satisfied with the management, they can audit or replace the management. It happens all the time. Ultimately, Garcia's job depends on delivering the best education for SF kids with the resources he has.

    Meanwhile, UESF's leadership's job depends on keeping senior teachers happy, and the retired teachers pension coming. (Big % of union membership are from retirees).

  12. 9:35 here

    As a parent, I would think the BEST way to maintain education level is to have everyone take a 15% pay cut (not furloughs). However, do you think there is any chance of that with the union?

  13. Rachel Norton's blog says "I can say that it (the agreement) keeps elementary class sizes at current levels through the 2010-11 school year." Sigh, as a waitlisted K parent I'm dissappointed. I ws really hoping class size would go up to 23 or 24. I suppose there is still hope that Arnold's May budget revise will be even worse than expected. I know I'm terrible, can't help it.

  14. Rachel Norton just posted on her blog today. There seems to be an tentative agreement with the union. The layoff could decrease to 195.

    In the blog, there is link to the law regarding layoffs (which you may not agree) and a big chunk of consultant budget (and how the money is designated for particular use).

  15. It is indeed sad that so many elementary and so many new teachers will be laid off.

    But until they vote in UESF elections to ensure that their needs are taken care of, this is what they'll get.

    It's no surprise that the interests of senior HS and retired are met year after year - they are the ones that show up to vote at elections and take the time to invest in their union.

    I've been talking with my elementary school teachers for years about this (they say they don't care about such things.) Now that many of them along with their colleagues are getting pink slips or losing their jobs, I hope they'll get more active.

    It's the UESF that keeps the seniority system in place and continues the inequity of low performing schools getting gutted by layoffs.

    Teachers (senior ones) who suggest alternatives to this get hammered by their union (know this first hand from those same teachers.)

  16. So glad we're going parochial (Zion Lutheran) and don't have to worry about all this. Though they will take up to 25 kids per class, our 2nd grade class size will be fewer than 20, and the cost is very reasonable.

  17. Well, I think we all dodged a bullet with the union and SFUSD agreeing to a settlement. No one seems to be willing to spill the details yet, but I appreciate the fact that class size will NOT go up in K through 3. It is sad to me that 195 good people will lose their jobs, but I believe Rachel Norton when she says there was literally no other choice. This is good news for public schools in the city, and it is good news for our kids!

  18. So the point I was making is that the District's budget proposal is lacking in detail, as is Ms. Norton's pie chart of funding.

    People questioning the District's proposal have seen these. They disagree with the District's conclusions and/or have further questions.

    The District has repeatedly claimed that they want to share this information. They are now having one "office hours" afternoon with Deputy Superintendent Leigh. Contrary to prior claims, this will not be at a school site or during evening hours. Petitioners can come to the District Office during the D.S. Leigh's customary hours.

    Since most of the consolidation/bumping has occurred already (according to the layoff list given out last night) and because elementary teachers were hit harder (last night's layoffs assume class size increases), I don't think the possibility of more senior bumped teachers coming to southeast side schools is really that relevant anymore.

    Also, the District laid of permanent teachers - not only teachers who had tenured in other districts before coming to San Francisco, but also teachers tenured in SFUSD. It's high time that we accept at the very least that of the reasons SFUSD has such high turnover - leading to the firing of fully-credentialed teachers who want to be on the southeast side - is that they have the ugly habit of annual pink slips.

    This is part of the reason the Board wanted to send special letters requesting that laid off teachers refrain from looking for work elsewhere: they're going to need them, and the teachers are likely to find employment elsewhere.

  19. The biggest question is how many teaching positions will be filled with central office personnel? It could be up to about 150.

  20. Do you really think we dodged a bullet?

    Don't be naive. It is all a show. If you kept track of the negotiation, you would have known the sticky points were all minor issues. The union leadership "put a good fight" to show the members. Of course they reached an agreement at the last minute. The outcome was determined weeks ago.

  21. That's why the district sent out the revised budget weeks ago lowering class size back down.

  22. I think it's a good idea for central staff to work in the classroom. If only we could get the senior leadership to do so, would could have the laid off taechers of El Dorado run the district on special assignment.

  23. All districts in bay area are doing layoffs. It is unlikely for a laid off teacher to find a new job very quickly. That's the general employment situation right now. Being tenured does not exclude you from being laid off. Seniority is the factor, and again, thank union for that.

    And you want a school office to be kept open during evening hours for nothing else but to entertain budget inquiries (and pay overtime)? You must be kidding me.

    The union has dig through the district's budget, and unlike you, they went in with professional accountants as aids. If you think you can do better (without wasting anybody's time and money), feel free to become a CPA or run for union leadership position.

    And teaching positions filled by central office personnels? What are you talking about? The bumping happens with personnels with the same (or better) qualification. Teachers cannot be replaced by admins because there are credentials requirement.

    Look, I don't agree with the seniority layoff. As a parent, I want it to be performance based. However, that's the rule of game right now.

  24. To 12:25 who wrote: "It's high time that we accept at the very least that of the reasons SFUSD has such high turnover - is that they have the ugly habit of annual pink slips."

    Seriously? It isn't SFUSD that's made this happen it is the state of California! Get real: SFUSD has been lucky that the City of SF was able to bail them out due to the Rainy Day Fund the past several years.

    Most CA school districts have had massive layoffs BEFORE this year.

    Yes, SFUSD admin can (and should) do a MUCH better job in communicating all this stuff (really, when WILL they learn?).

    But just as much blame, if we are assigning it, has to go to UESF that was holding out for teacher sabbaticals at the expense of teacher layoffs (just one example.)

    I support teachers, but I don't support UESF. Interestingly, many of the teachers I know don't either.

  25. What do you mean - what am I talking about? Administrators end up back in schools all the time. Don't put yourself out there as some parent expert if you can't get the fundamentals straight. Where do you think the high seniority credentialed central staffers will get consolidated - Sacramento? DC? Obviously I'm not referring to putting secretaries in the classroom.

  26. Chill 2:26- Clearly this is a semantics issue.

    One of you is referring to 'administrators' as clerical employees, the other as the certified administrative managers at 555 Franklin.

    You are correct that the latter are usually credentialed teachers who can bump back into schools if their positions are cut at 555.

  27. Yes, a lot of principals and program directors were teachers. I found a list of admin layoffs for 08-09. Among 140 admin layoffs, about 40 could come back to classroom to bump junior teachers. I would guess the proportion is similar this year.

  28. I'm not 10:05, 2:26 12:40 or 12:41I'm not chilled or even a bit cold, maybe slightly cool, though admittedly not progressive. I kind of like Red-eye on Fox news.

  29. In January 2009 the District touted its 2008 strategic plan "focused on closing the achievement gap and disrupting the predictive power of demographics that often correlate children’s success in school with their socio-economic, linguistic and racial backgrounds, as well as other
    factors such as the zip codes for the neighborhoods where students reside." To illustrate the point they used the Euguene Eubanks' Discourse I text which states "Schools are a major part of society’s institutional processes for maintaining a relatively stable system of inequality. They contribute to these results by active acceptance and utilization of a dominant set of values, norms and beliefs, which, while appearing to offer opportunities to all, actually support the success of a privileged minority and hinder the efforts and visions of a majority."
    In 2008 this was their vision, their STRATEGIC plan. I'm sorry. They talk Discourse II. They walk Discourse I - maintain relatively stable system of inequality? Check. contribute to these results by active acceptance and utilization of a dominant set of values, norms and beliefs? Check. Appearing to offer opportunities to all? Check. Actually support the success of a privileged minority? Check. and hinder the efforts and visions of a majority? Check.

    It's pretty hard to miss the irony in this, I think.

  30. 10:22,

    I can only speak for myself, but what are you talking about. I'm interested. But you have not made clear the point. Will you give it another shot?

  31. Actually, in the Bay Area there haven't been that many layoffs over the last three years.

    Teachers have agreed to longer working days and furloughs and there have been class size increases, but many districts have gotten through these with either retirement/attrition or non re-elects of temporary teachers. San Jose Unified is a key example, but their contract is unique (it specifies a percentage amount that must go to the teaching force), but it's not alone.

    Teachers who have been in SFUSD for three years - that would mean permanent teachers - have gotten a March 15th pink slip for each of those years. What impact do you think that has on teachers? I know people in SFUSD who have left because the annual uncertainty is unpleasant and not something they can afford.

    In the end, this comes down to SFUSD's utter lack of transparency. YES, if D.S. Leigh offers to hold school-site, evening office hours (he did), I believe he should be held to that. He is well-paid and I do not think giving up a few evenings - something SFUSD teachers do all the time - would hurt any.

    When teachers complain that SFUSD avoids using District resources and hires consultants, SFUSD responds that they use far fewer consultants than similar Districts. When teachers and parents state their frustration on how much money ends up at the administrative level (44%), SFUSD explains that comparisons are invalid because there are so few similar Districts.

    And as 10:22 observed, SFUSD has a stated commitment to closing its opportunity gap. This is supposed to be the key element of its strategic plan. Yet the cuts will disproportionately affect the neediest schools and students.

    SFUSD has chosen to gut its own strategic plan in favor of a continued course of obscurity and racism. They fail to show the detailed information that would enable stakeholders to judge their decision.

  32. "SFUSD has chosen to gut its own strategic plan in favor of a continued course of obscurity and racism. They fail to show the detailed information that would enable stakeholders to judge their decision."

    What does this mean? Can you make yourself clear. We are not mind readers.

  33. The fact that SF K Files readers are having trouble understanding the points put forth by 9:18am and 10:22pm seems to make another point. That point being that the district is doing a not very good job of communicating its plan. And further, since folks are not clear on the districts plans, folks cannot be clear if the districts actions are in accordance with its plan and therefore cannot hold the district accountable. How very convenient!
    I believe if you search the SFUSD website for 2008 strategic plan you will find the information which 10:22 quotes. And, it appears that 9:18 is saying that the actions the district is taking RIGHT NOW fly in the face of their own purported goals. (Mainly not sharing information in a timely manner with all its stakeholders AND making cuts that increase the opportunity gap by affecting schools with the greatest number of students of color and greatest number of low socio-economic statues(Southeast Schools) MUCH MUCH more than other schools). And, I might add, the district is not willing to own its shortfallings in either of the areas. Instead they place all the blame elsewhere and cry they had no choice.

  34. I have been writing about the lack of district transparency for 5 years. Last Thursday night I went to a community input meeting for the Parent Partnership/Community Engagement Resolution. You would think that if the district were serious about getting input they would get more than 10 people to show up after having more than a year to put it together. The draft resolution they presented to us was not one to be proud of. Instead of providing parents with a clear set of programs, reforms or actions in increasing parent involvment at schools, the whole document was pure bureaucratic nonsense. The kind of thing that you read and come away from shaking your head in disbelief. The point being that SFUSD makes a huge pretense of its transparency, community engagement and relations. But, as this one example iilustrates, it is all a show. There is no real sincerity from the district when it comes to sharing power with the community. I believe that the Board is way too ideological and has lost track of it goa l to serve children.

    I agree with the previous poster about SFUSD's lack of accountability. If the District is so intent upon getting the community's support, why did Kevin Truitt tell his principals that there is no requirement to do the Balanced Scorecard for next year, a State and Federal requirement of law which mandates that school site councils engage their communities and develop and recommend a school plan/BSC?Parents have an opportunity to monitor and give input into the school through the school planning process. But if it is cancelled where is the community engagement? You know, the community engagement that the District talked about over and over in Beyond the Talk?