Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Just Another Brick...
I teach students in a California elementary school district that is located in the south-western part of the state. This district consists of 8 elementary schools and two middle schools. For the past three years, we have had no increase in pay whatsoever, but meanwhile inflation continues to march on. (And because of ##!& union seniority rules, changing districts is not an option for teachers with more than five years service.)

In the last few years, a number of classroom teachers have lost their jobs due to our district's funding being cut. We teachers are now being told that nine more teaching jobs will be "downsized," at the end of this school year. Several school custodians will also lose their jobs.

No administrative positions have been cut, nor are any even under consideration for cutting. Like many institutions in California, public education is top-heavy with redundant bureaucracy. Each and every California classroom teacher is supervised by Federal, State, County, and finally, District administration.

Our town's high school has its own separate, parallel bureaucracy. This is something to keep in mind as you read on.

I have obtained a full listing of my district's management positions, all of which are full-time jobs and pay more salary than that earned by a classroom teacher. All the below are designated as management employees. Except for the principals, assistant principals, and counselors, these individuals reside at our large district office, where they are served by a myriad of secretaries and other support staff.

Remember, there are a total of only 10 relatively small schools that are supervised by:

  • Superintendent
  • Assistant Superintendent in charge of administrative services
  • Assistant Superintendent in charge of instruction
  • Assistant Superintendent in charge of business services
  • Fiscal Services Supervisor
  • Pupil Personnel Special Education Coordinator
  • Bilingual/Migrant Coordinator
  • Child Nutrition Services and Warehouse Operations Director
  • Assistant Child Nutrition Services Director
  • Personnel Supervisor
  • Transportation and Custodial Supervisor
  • Family Support Services Coordinator
  • Counselor, 21st Century
  • Counselor, Migrant/Title III
  • Counselor, school site
  • Valle Imperial Project in Science Coordinator
  • Valle Imperial Math Coordinator
  • 21st Century Coordinator
  • G.A.T.E. and School Support Services Coordinator
  • Technology Coordinator
  • Maintenance, Operations and Transportation Coordinator
  • Ten school principals
  • Four assistant principals
  • Ten "reading coaches" that do not teach. Their duties are to supervise (and "coach") K-8 classroom teachers.

To us classroom teachers, it seems like there is an over-abundance of chiefs, and not enough braves in the organization.

In the worst tradition of the old fashioned "Tammany Hall" political machine, these sinecures are handed out by our Superintendent, the Evil Dr. "X" (The major qualification for any of these positions is political reliability, not educational expertise.) as though they were Halloween candy. As he himself is from the Los Angeles area, most his appointees are likewise from distant parts.

There is no such thing as a promotional examination to qualify for any of these "jobs."

Our governing board merely serves as a rubber-stamp for Evil Dr. "X"s dictates. In the ten years in which he has dominated this district, the school board has never voted against even one of his "recommendations."

There are similar bureaucratic structures to be found throughout California. Our district could be thought of as very typical.

Can you imagine the truly Byzantine labyrinth of bureaucracies that would be found in larger districts such as San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco?

And California taxpayers wonder why the schools are in constant need of additional funding. It isn't a question of money. The real question that Californians should be asking is this: "Why are our tax dollars being so mis-spent?"

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