First Year Teachers- Uncertain Future
Learn how all California teachers face uncertain futures regarding their jobs
Narrator: As the months go by things seems to be clicking. All of things first graders are reading, test scores are holding and discipline is under control. Things were going well that was until this. Every year thousands of California’s teachers goes through the Pink Slipped process. Jack O’Connell: According to the March 15th layoff notices nearly 30,000 professional educators receive these pink slips. Narrator: The process wears heavy on new teachers already fragile nerves. Jill Campbell: “This letter constitutes notice that the superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District has recommended to the governing board that you be given notice that your services will not be required for the 2009-2010 school year.” That’s it. Narrator: Never knowing if they’ll have a job next year leads to enormous stress. But for years the pink slip process has almost been a formality, usually jobs are saved. Unfortunately, because of the economy this year will be different. Tom Gardner: The real reason that they are receiving these notices is because of the misguided priorities of many of the politicians whose offices sit right behind these steps. Jill Campbell: Odds of me being back in this classroom in reality are probably really slim for now. Thane House: They're not only laying off teachers they're also closing schools. And if you look at it deeply then you can see despair in the situation. I don’t think I'm coming back. Narrator: Along with Thane, Principal Shana Henry, second year teacher Tarik McFall, Jill Campbell and nearly half the staff at Edward Kemble Elementary were pink slipped. Jill Campbell: It's just this whole layoff situation. You have a job, you work really hard and then it doesn't matter, you're laid off. David Sanchez: We are standing up for schools, but it doesn’t end here. Today must not be remembered as the day that 27,000 teachers we sent lay-off notices. Instead, let Pink Friday be remembered as the day that marked the beginning of renewed support for our schools! Narrator: As the school year comes to a close at Edward Kemble Elementary you wouldn’t know that nearly half the staff doesn’t have jobs to come back to next year. At their annual talent day the teachers put on a show for the kids. Shana Henry: You can see from the celebration today, no one's walking around moping or wearing a shirt saying I don't have a job, or picketing. It’s very difficult, you're expecting teachers to still come to work everyday, be positive, be happy, dance on the blacktop, and all knowing that they don't have a job come June 30th. Narrator: Outside of school, Thane's sending out dozens of applications. Thane House: Well I've got a rejection notice they basically said that they had hundreds and hundreds of applicants from California and from other states and international applicants which to me makes it seem like there are maybe 400, 500 people going for 2 positions in that district. Hopeless, for most. I'm not there yet, I still have hope. Narrator: Shana Henry, the principal who turned the troubled school around, might be in the same position. Shana Henry: Everyone tells me I have nothing to worry about because of what I've done here. Narrator: She finds out about her job later in the summer. Shana Henry: These are my babies. They are K-3, they are the little ones that everyone leaves behind. If I don't come back here as a principal of Edward Kemble School, I hope that the next principal will just do right by the kids here. Yeah so I just hope they do right by them. Narrator: And maybe the most frustrating irony of all is, is with the teachers who get to keep their jobs. Shana Henry: If you're a tenured teacher and you have not been laid off you have the contract right to go in, you get called in by seniority to look at this open list and you pick your school. Narrator: When budget cuts force districts to close schools, teachers with seniority have the right to a job somewhere else. But if you're a parent with a child at Edward Kemble would you rather have a new teacher who accepts the tough challenges of this school or a teacher who probably would rather be somewhere else, but just needs a job. Shana Henry: In a word it's very frustrating. This school has been a revolving door every single year. Narrator: At the beginning of the school year we asked Thane his thoughts on why new teachers quit: Thane House: I don't know why they'd leave teaching? Narrator: But now... Thane House: It's a little more understandable why teachers leave. It's not a stable profession, not at all. I think it's probably less stable now than it may have ever been in the past. I think that people who have several options probably are starting to look at their other options. My option is teaching and that's what I want to do, that's what I'm going to keep doing, God willing or whoever willing, I want to continue with that. Narrator: For Thane, married, father of two who has car and mortgage payments, there’s constantly the need to tell his wife “everything's going to be okay”. Thane House: The difficultly really is when you've gone through those reassurances and you've gone through them and you've gone through them and the situation hasn't changed and then you start, you know maybe she doesn't believe you quite as much. Narrator: But for true reassurance Thane goes back to the bike trip that led him to become a teacher and reminds his wife about one story. Thane House: So we were at the tip of South America, getting there was a huge, huge deal for us physically, emotionally we essentially almost died down there. We ended up trekking, three days to get there, one day to hang out there, and three days to come back. Seven days, we took food for nine days. It took us nine days to get there. And part of the reason was because there are rivers that we had to cross that had no bridges and we had to wait for the rivers to be fordable. There was one time when we were running out of food and it was really cold and I just wanted to get it over with. I didn’t want to wait so I decided to cross the river. It was very, very cold. I've got about to the midway point and I realized I wouldn’t be able to make it and hypothermia started to set in. And Berniz just, without even a second thought it seems like, she put the tent up, she did everything, I was just shaking, shaking, shaking, you know all of my clothes were drenching wet. I remember telling her you know you have to get my clothes off and we have to be skin to skin. She did that, we just kind of snuggled together and I was able to calm down after a few hours, she just warmed me up essentially is what she did. Having done a lot of different things in my lifetime, that was the one time in my lifetime that I've ever needed somebody, physically needed someone, to be there with me because I absolutely could not have done that alone. There's no way, I could've survived that alone. You go through those kinds of things and I think you kind of have to have hope, about little things like you know a job. Narrator: Going into this school year we wanted to find out why so many new teachers quit, and for the teachers at Edward Kemble the recommendations in Dr. Futernick’s study have merit. New teachers are looking to participate in the direction of their schools, they value quality leadership. They want to rid their teaching schedule of unnecessary meetings and interruptions. But maybe most important, teachers want some sense of job security. Female: I've wanted to be a teacher my whole life actually. Female: I want to make a change. Male: I want to be teacher because I want to be an agent of change. Narrator: In an end to the yearly pink slip process. Jack O’Connell: To many teachers get frustrated, too many teachers leave the profession. Dr. Ken Futernick: Prospective teachers are looking at education and saying is that really a profession that I want to go into? Male: As future educators we have a major responsibility to not overlook any of these children. Sometimes we forget what it's all about you know, it’s not about us it’s about them. Thane House: When I look back and I turn the key for the last time, that's when it's going to hit. I'm going to have so many memories. I'm kind of getting choked up a little bit honestly. Jack O’Connell: It's real clear to me. If we as a state want to invest in the future you must invest in public education. If you want to short change the future, then go out and short change public education.