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The Cost of Cost-Cutting

March 14, 2012
Jane Ching Fung

Jane Ching Fung and students

Today’s ACT Guest Blog Post is from Jane Ching Fung, a National Board Certified Teacher and Milken Award winning veteran educator in Los Angeles Unified School District.  This post began as a comment on The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves, but I wanted to make sure more people see what Jane wrote, and consider the damage done by annual budget cuts and pink slips.  Even when many of the pink slips are rescinded, as often happens, the fiscal and human costs are considerable.  I also recommend Jane’s most recent prior guest post on InterACT,  Getting Less From More. (DBC)

It’s past 11:00pm and I’m finally done entering writing scores on our new comprehensive data system.  I now have a chance to read this blog entry that I have been saving for a few days.  When I read that the Met Life survey showed that teacher satisfaction was at an all time low, I was not a bit surprised. Why? Because I have lived it for the past several years in the field. Just this week we found out that over 50% of the current teachers at our urban school will get pink-slipped. Most of these teachers are leaders of the school, teachers who have earned National Board Certification, masters degrees, and even a doctorate in education.  But once again, they will be told they may not have a job this fall.

Just three years ago, our school lost eight newer teachers to budget cuts as well.  The layoffs and uncertainty impact school culture and student achievement. I have guided some amazing student teachers in the past several years, only to see them not find teaching jobs, or find them and lose them when their charter school closes, or get laid off at a smaller school district.  Some of them decide to leave the profession altogether. Sad for them, sad for me, sad for us.

art suppliesThis is my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Although it has not been easy these past few years, I still love the classroom. I love the sights and sounds of my students discovering, learning, and growing to the best of their ability. I plan to stay as long as that passion is still there, but it hasn’t been easy. My colleagues and I have felt the pressures of high stakes testing and new programs “designed” to ensure success. We feel the loss of time available to actually teach our students, and the loss of our freedom to create and innovate as we once did.

Many of us are still determined to provide our students with rich learning experiences and the time for students to engage, but sadly, many teachers can’t find the time.  During the past three weeks, I have been conducting district mandated assessments, and that’s on top of the weekly assessments students take.

They are six years old.  They will be doing this for the next twelve years.

We worry about teachers burning out and leaving the profession. I worry about the students we are serving as well.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2012 12:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I identify with your thoughts. I teach middle school. I thought I might just mention that I am trying to work with my district to include National Board Certification and teacher leadership in the skipping criteria for pink slips. The economy is bad and it will be sad to lose any teachers but I think it would be a positive message if teachers that were going up and beyond to help schools and children could be given that deference. There is skipping criteria already for most districts and some of it is way easier to achieve then National Board Certification. Of course, it would take you or somebody like you to advocate for it. I know…one more thing to do when it doesn’t all fit in now.

  2. V Serrano permalink
    March 14, 2012 10:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights Jane, I completely agree. As a teacher who has been RIF’ed the the past four years the pressure of doing my job well, inspiring my students and parents to succeed, and staying positive has taken it’s toll. I love teaching, but fighting against a broken system has been hard. I worry not only for what the future holds for me, but for the future of my own children and students in a country where education seems to have taken a back seat.

  3. Steve permalink
    March 15, 2012 6:20 pm

    How many people work in the district office? How many directly serve kids? How many collect 6 figure salaries? Cut some of those jobs and you save jobs that matter.

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