L.A. Unified School District: Veteran teachers find their work history hampers job search

Jul 8, 2011 by

In a bizarre game of musical chairs, nearly 1,000 Los Angeles teachers — who are guaranteed jobs somewhere in the school system — have been hunting for a school that wants them. And hundreds of them have to counter a stigma that they are undesirable castoffs, because they previously worked at low-performing schools that are being restructured.

These teachers are from eight schools that are undergoing shakeups intended to bring in new talent, shed previous instructors and administrators and fundamentally change the academic culture. It’s a theory of reform embraced by the Obama administration, though such efforts have a mixed record nationwide.

“This whole process has been disheartening and humiliating,” said Jordan High history teacher Aureliano Nava in an email. Like nearly every other Jordan faculty member, he isn’t returning there. “I have no doubt that we are being pre-judged and perceived as bad teachers for, after all, don’t we come from a failed school?”

For months,



officials have attempted to deal with a budget shortfall that resulted in layoffs of nearly 2,000 teachers, counselors, nurses and other professional staff. They were out of a job as of June 30.

But 1,000 others have been hunting for positions because they lost their former jobs but have enough seniority under the union contract to guarantee them employment. More than 300 chose to leave a particular school or were let go from a school undergoing reorganization. Another 625 landed in this pool because of declining enrollment at their former schools, for example, because their administrative or central office job was cut or because the Board of Education voted to turn over several campuses to independently operated charter schools, which can do their own hiring.

Odds are that these teachers have or will get most open jobs because L.A. Unified has frozen most new hiring. While officials prefer for schools to choose their own hires, the district will also assign teachers to specific schools; teachers who cannot find a job will work as substitutes at their regular pay rate.

The first of the eight schools to open with a mostly new staff was Huntington Park High, which opened on Tuesday. It operates year-round because of overcrowding. Only 30% of its staff returned, and district officials were still conducting job interviews heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

In three job interviews, including one at Huntington Park, “all seemed to be going well, up to a certain point,” said Nava, who is 52. “Attitudes change upon realizing that (1) I am a displaced teacher from Jordan. (2) I was Jordan’s [union] chair. My Jordan colleagues have shared similar experiences with me.”

via L.A. Unified School District: Veteran teachers find their work history hampers job search – latimes.com.

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