The meeting you don’t want to attend

Wednesdays are minimum days in my school district, with professional development after school. It is usually pretty cool and fun, especially for someone who is new in the district and still learning how all the software works and so on. This week, we were told there would be a budget message from the district office at the end of the meeting. Last night after dinner, when I finally got a chance to read my email, I had one from the principal that said “Hey, Whitney, I need you to stop by my office because I want to talk to you before the budget announcement. Well, shit. (Pardon my French.)

The thing is, I was hired on a temporary contract. Not that someone is coming back to the job – in fact, I am the third Humanities teacher in three years. But because I was hired on the Friday before inservice started, district policy required that I be placed on a temporary contract, rather than a regular one. I’m one of two teachers in my building this year on a temporary contract. I won’t leave you in suspense. My temporary contract will come to an end, and principals have been told that they may not roll a temporary teacher into a permanent contract. The district will be cutting 200 teachers from next year’s staff (and that’s after they don’t fill the positions of people retiring). This means that people will be bumped and moved all over the place, generally against their will. If, after all the lay offs and staffing shifts, there is still a Humanities position in our Summa program available, then I can apply for it. The principal says that the likelihood of that happening is next to nothing. The fact that he wants to keep me in this job, my team teachers want to keep me, and the parents and the students want to keep me has nothing to do with anything. The district will move people around based on licensing and seniority – whether the person is genuinely qualified for this fairly specialized program or not.

I love this job, and I don’t want to leave it. I love the kids, and in our program we mingle all three grade levels together at all times and run a three year curriculum, which means that I would have 2/3 of the same students next year. I love the program and working with the highly gifted kids, and I love the school and the staff. The schedule even works well with my other responsibilities. There is a possibility that I may be able to get hired at one of the other schools, maybe going back to teach high school again. But I want to keep this job, and politics and bureaucracy make it impossible.

Nothing upbeat or clever from me tonight. I have to go plan for tomorrow while my laptop blurs through my tears. The kids deserve my best in the morning.

12 thoughts on “The meeting you don’t want to attend

  1. I am so sorry to hear. I am angry on your behalf, because cutting 200 teachers beyond those retiring can’t be good for students. The irrational inability of state and local governments to raise taxes to pay for essential services like teachers is so shortsighted. I don’t know what state you are in, but I hope the teachers are organizing like those in Oklahoma and West Virginia and California have done. Good luck in the future, and I hope you find more teaching that uses your talents well.

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    1. Thank you. I am really worried about the students. Continuity of teachers is a keystone of our program, and really important for middle schoolers to be really known by their teachers, and they are getting short shrift.

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  2. All I can say is, “I’m sorry!” There is so much that cannot be controlled in our jobs and it is unfortunate that losing your job that you love is one of those things. I hope for you, that things work out in your favor. Good luck!

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  3. Oh, my heart is breaking for you! Getting news like this is never something you want to hear. I know you are doing a great job and making a difference with the students. Budget cuts are the worst! I hope something even more amazing comes your way…you deserve it!

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  4. I can’t imagine a school removing 200 teachers – I know our school district would never survive. I hope that you find an opportunity that you’re excited about and that you can give as much as you have been to the students you currently have, even while dealing with the disappointment and frustration. Good luck!

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  5. Ugh! I am so sorry! This sounds like such a great fit for you, and you are such a great fit for the students. I love the idea of a program that mixes grade levels and keeps the group together for a period of several years like this. Lots of research to support! No research to support pointless bureaucratic rules about temporary vs permanent contracts!

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    1. Nope. No research to support that teachers with a license in a subject can all be slotted into a job interchangeably either. I am hoping that after all of the Byzantine cuts and rearrangements, my position will still be open and I can get my job back. Nothing else that I can do, at least until summer when districts start hiring again. If they do – the budget issues are statewide, not in my district. Once upon a time, people thought state controlled funding instead of local funding for schools sounded like a good idea. Oops.

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  6. I am so sorry to read this. When I first started teaching, my position was funded by a grant. Every year, until the school system funded my position, I received a pink slip at the end of the year. It was STRESSFUL.
    I have seen the staff shifting you speak of. I don’t think anyone benefits from it. One of the strange happenings that occur in education buy not in the regular work world…

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    1. Absolutely! Trying to explain to my business world parents why I am losing my job despite the fact that the position is not being eradicated and everyone wants to keep me has been quite a challenge.

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