Apr 27, 2011

Pink Slips In The Golden State

Christina Giguiere earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and M.A. in Teaching at UC Irvine. While teaching first and third grade in Irvine Unified, she obtained a MS in Reading and Reading Specialist Credential and is passionate about literacy. Christina returned to UCI in 2007 to work as the Multiple Subject Credential Program Coordinator. In this role she  fosters innovative partnerships with district and schools where the credential candidates are completing their student teaching. She implements professional development for elementary teachers and teaches courses about health, classroom management, lesson planning, assessment and education policy. 
I loved reaching into my mailbox at school, thinking about what I might find: The latest edition ofEducational Leadership magazine, an observation note from my principal, or a PTA update. Those joyful feelings disappeared the day I received a menacing "pink slip." I was disheartened at the thought of losing my job, especially because the staffing decision did not have anything to do with my teaching abilities. I assumed that because my students were proficient or advanced in all subject areas that I would remain in the classroom. Don't school districts want to retain passionate and effective teachers?
Fortunately, after several months of anxiety, the district renewed my contract. The process of over-noticing teachers, or basically letting them know they might be laid off, is common in California. Although districts may end up retaining these teachers, the notices can lead to a decline in staff morale and a decrease in productivity. Instead of focusing on student learning, beginning teachers stress over the uncertainty of being hired back.
In some cases, the layoffs are all too real. Due to recent budget shortfalls in California, there are many talented teachers actually being let go. What's worse is how this happens. In California, when layoffs arise, decisions over who will go and who will stay are based on seniority. I consistently see newly credentialed teachers obtaining positions but then losing them after just a year or two. After spending countless hours and dollars in graduate school, they wind up working as instructional assistants, leaving California to teach elsewhere or abandoning the profession altogether.
"Last in, first out," is counter-intuitive, especially in a field where the stakes are so high. Any teachers, who have shown they can positively impact student achievement, need to remain in the classroom.
The views presented on our guest blogs are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of StudentsFirst. We thank all of our guest bloggers for their thoughtful perspectives.

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