2008 was a traumatic year for many people as it ushered in the Great Recession. Many people went underwater with their home mortgages as their property values fell below what they owed to lenders on it. Jobs dried up and the unemployment rate rose to 10.1% before beginning to decline. It remained above 8% until September 2012 not accounting for the fact that the precentages would be much higher except many people stopped seeking work and left the labor market.
It was a desperate time, but people have recovered. They no longer fear losing their jobs and becoming homeless. They no longer fear lowered paychecks and working for wages that do not value their skills and experience. They no longer fear not having one place as a work location but travel between worksites as they fill a number of part-time jobs.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for them.
For teachers, it is an annual event. The Spring has come, school budgets are being determined, and cuts will be made as they are made each and every year without let-up.
Every year teachers spend their Appreciation Week filled with fear that they will receive the dreaded call from the principal, “I need to talk with you,” and will hear that they have no job, no place to work for the new year.
The assurance that a ‘surplus’ means they will have a job somewhere doesn’t help. Everyone knows that organizations have a limited means to carry people they deem unnecessary. At least our language is kinder than Europe where workers are told they are redundant.
Everyone needs the assurance of a regular paycheck and a secure job. This budget process means a lot of good teachers will move on … because they must.
There has to be a better way.
Footnote One: After a summer of angst, most teachers are placed with a school. Many have their positions restored at their schools and do not have to move. It is the emotional trauma of the process that I am commenting upon. My district has not engaged in lay-offs for a very long time. They will carry the teachers on the payroll until they find a position for them.
Footnote Two: In every faculty meeting about budget I have ever attended, teachers are told that these budget decisions are based on current enrollments. Since I do not believe principals deliberately lie to their teachers, I assume they are told the same in their meetings. However, I have this from a board member, “The calculation is based on a three year average, an average of fall, winter, and spring counts and an approval of the projection from the state. If we base it on fall only and we are under, then teachers may end up without a place to go and won’t have any opportunity to seek other options. It’s not perfect but there is a method more than spring counts.” My source is a social media comment on a public post. If the board member consents, I will add the name.
Footnote Three: Surplus of a teacher is no longer based on seniority. It is based on student growth scores. That is an issue of a separate blog post.