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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Teacher, I was surplussed at 4:42 on Friday

And the district had the nerve to tell him, hey at least you have a job.

I have lightly edited and changed the format below, but I haven't changed the message at all.

From a teacher:

Mr. Guerrieri, I can contribute from a primary source, facts to this breaking story. I am one of the affected teachers, having now been surplussed for the first time in my 10 years of teaching. 

I received a "complimentary" phone call from the District on Friday, August at 4:42 p.m. that, due to my data (failures - yes, derived from VAM) on the recent student test I was being surplussed. When I pointed out "why did you wait until NOW, when I have spent time and money getting my room ready, why wait til 1 day before we report?" I wasn't given much of a reason. The answer was "but you have a job". I have drilled deeper into this breaking news story and have discovered that at my state-monitored school, at least 7 other teachers were similarly surplussed. Teachers surplussed had awesome gains this year, but not last year. We already had 4 vacancies. My former school is now short one quarter of its faculty. 

My sources tell me this happened to at least 8 other "state monitored" schools. If, as we are constantly reminded, that our placement (at year's end) is "in the best interest of the children", then how is surplussing potentially dozens of teachers- 24 hours before we report for duty- "in the best interest of our children"? 

The school I am to report to has no vacancies. Ergo, I wait until I am placed, somewhere I am certified to teach. This may take who knows, maybe two weeks or more. Meanwhile, at least 109 teachers were unable to obtain proper certification credentials and were released on Tuesday, August 1st. What effect this has remains to be seen. Compare this decision "process" with last year. Surplussing occurred on Monday and Tuesday, June 6 and 7, 2016. This was done in a much more timely manner, for both "the students" as well as teachers. 

I believe the difference between last year and 2017 is a void in leadership. A strong superintendent probably had a well-thought out process in place to protect our District from the State. When I asked the district spokesperson why I was being surplussed, I was told the reason was the "state" was mandating my change, which leads me to believe the same pressure was occurring everywhere- and the District gave in. 

Not that it matters much to anyone, but there is the very real and chilling effect this has on teachers and administrators. Because of the district's procrastination in implementing a change in our status, I'm sure many teachers didn't appreciate being told literally at the last minute they must pack up their rooms. I pointed out to the person who contacted "Why did you wait so late? I've wasted an entire week getting my room ready- and NOW you call?!" Not to mention spent my own personal dollars on bulletin board and classroom materials to get my classroom ready for the new year, which took 5 days--my last 5 days of summer vacation!! I took 5 days of PD classes this summer relative to the new grade I was told I would be teaching...probably wasted. Total at least 2 weeks wasted this summer- which naturally makes me very angry. 

So to close, if there are dozens of teachers surplussed from many state-monitored schools just days before schools starts, how are state-monitored schools to fill their vacancies created by last minute surplussing? In theory, these are the top priority schools, in terms of raising their school grade- or they could potentially close or become a charter (recently passed bill 7069). My school, a "D" last year (16) and this (17), is a case in point. The surplussing- which occurred via a review of teachers' last two years of VAM scores- now leaves a school short at least 11 teachers. Where are the highly skilled, truly effective teachers going to come from? School is starting very soon, orientation for this school is this Friday, August 11th! Teachers must be in the room greeting parents and children. How is this going to happen? Is this really "in the best interest of our students"?

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