In a previous post, I offered my opinion (as I always do) on the latest education-craze: Firing entire school staffs and requiring interested teachers to re-apply. Despite praise from the Obama administration, I still believe this is the wrong way to fix what ails public education. Sure, some teachers (and administrators) may experience burn-out and may be in need of culturally relevant and research-based professional development, but replacing staff members with new staff members will require more time and money for training.
A few weeks before the school year ended, the Cobb County School System delivered grim news to 700 teachers: You do not have a job for the upcoming school year. These layoffs were due to projected budget shortfalls for the district, not low-performing schools. Cobb students showed their support by staging walk-outs and rallies outside of their schools, as did the students in Newark, New Jersey a few months ago. I commend students in Cobb as I did those in Newark. Their actions displayed their courage to voice their concerns over the potential impact board decisions would have on education. Well, due to some oversight miracle the district is ready to hire/rehire 500 teachers-just a few weeks later. According to the AJC, the district has rehired 130 Special Education teachers and plans to rehire an additional 370 full-time teachers.
Now, I consider myself to be fairly proficient at Math, but this makes absolutely no sense to me. At. All. Maureen Downey of the AJC agrees, stating that this debacle (my word) has caused “…unnecessary angst, pain, and paperwork.” What’s even more strange is that (1) the district’s financial ‘expert’ played a role in projecting said shortfall; and (2) the board members agreed to the cuts. Just so I am clear: Are we still calling teachers ineffective and under qualified? Perhaps this is the wake-up call that parents and teachers need to motivate them to become more invested in school board elections. While I am not claiming that people can’t and don’t make mistakes, we should be able to expect better decision-making from 6-figure employees and school board members. If the layoffs had affected, say, 100 people and the district recalled 50 or 60, I could live with that. But mistakes of ginormous proportion have no room in our struggling school systems.