Colorado teachers refused rehire by panel of private consultants, administrators and union representatives
At the start of the semester, all teachers, school staff, and paraprofessionals at Mitchell High School in the city of Colorado Springs were summarily dismissed at the end of this school year and advised that they would have to reapply. employment for 2021-2022. . With the support of local unions, every education worker was told to look for a job elsewhere or compete against others for a new contract with Mitchell.
Veterans and new educators lost their jobs in Mitchell, a very poor school with many students from first-generation immigrant families. The school district’s claim – that it was done out of concern for the children due to their poor college entrance test scores – is a lie.
When considered in combination with the devastating physical and psychological consequences that the global pandemic has had on young people, it is clear that the student body of such a school is most in need of continuity and the experience accumulated by students. school educators over the course of years, not a complete overhaul of the entire staff. A significant portion of the student body needs to enroll in English language learning courses, and these students will likely be deprived of their right to equal education as the wave of teacher layoffs takes its toll on the country. learning environment.
Since the announcement of the universal layoff, new details have emerged regarding the interview process for teachers seeking re-employment by Mitchell High School. Teachers who reapplied for their jobs report being confronted with a six-person interview panel that did not include a single person, let alone a fellow educator, from Mitchell High School itself. Instead, applicants were confronted with a roster of private education consultants and district level administrators with little or no situational awareness at the school, a district human resources representative and even the new sports director. While coaches can play important roles in schools, athletic considerations have no place alongside evaluations on educators. This detail only underscores the total lack of administrative concern for the educational future of the students.
The interview itself was an entirely corporate process in which a teacher’s rhetorical persuasion takes precedence over his work with students. This has had the predictable result of forcing teachers in the fine arts, visual arts, language arts, and special education, whose impact on students cannot be properly represented without rigorous observation and conversation with students. Less than half of Mitchell’s teachers were rehired as part of an interview process in which there was, according to a teacher who went through the process, “no other real source of input” regarding the work of each educator in the school.
This example is most clearly illustrated by a humanities teacher who was refused a position despite more than a decade of experience and success with students and other faculty. As you might expect, the only area where more than half of its teachers were rehired was science. Most of the layoffs fell on teachers in English (two rehired), social sciences (one rehired) and special education.
The tools commonly used to assess a teacher’s effectiveness, many of which are already designed to blame teachers for poor student performance, include everything from lesson observations, curriculum reviews, student feedback end of year and student test results accumulated over the course of several years. However, according to several teachers at the school, the overall work of each educator at Mitchell was a secondary consideration in the interview.
Existing school administration and support staff were completely excluded from the table. Although many teachers used the assistant principal as a positive reference, said assistant principal only received one call for a reference check in almost a month.
The Colorado Springs Education Association (CSEA) has made it clear that it fully supports the massive layoff of its members. The local union, the State Colorado Education Association (CEA) to which he is affiliated, and the National Education Association (NEA) have done nothing to defend workers. Instead, they function as a branch of the district’s human resources department and collaborate in the destruction of job protections for the very educators from whom they collect dues.
Instead of mobilizing educators to defend their livelihoods, this week the union representing Mitchell focused its energies on “equity training” and “interviews to improve equity” while “avoiding implicit biases. “.
The current betrayal cannot be clearer and educators, parents and students must respond. In order to combat these assaults, they must form grassroots committees to defend public education, within the framework of the International Workers’ Alliance of Grassroots Committees (IWA-RFC).
In every country, the ruling elites are using the pandemic to gut public education and all social rights of the working class. This must be fought with a unified global struggle of grassroots workers, independent of pro-business unions and big business parties. Only the IWA-RFC is fighting to develop this coordinated international movement of educators and all workers, and our committee urges Mitchell High School workers to join this movement.
The attack on educators at Mitchell High School is just one manifestation of the widespread assault on public education being carried out under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of education professionals in the United States and around the world have quit after spending most of the last year battling overwhelming workloads without the support of administrations, media or Trump unions or Biden.
Recently, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Texas was the target of a lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas, which argued that thousands of students with special needs were denied access to an education. public free of charge due to significant delays in special needs assessments.
The delays in testing are a direct result of a shortage of Certified Specialists in School Psychology (LSSP), who do the essential work of testing children with learning or developmental problems. The district has hemorrhaged skilled and dedicated LSSPs over the past decade mainly due to underpayments, unmanageable workloads and a “miserable work culture,” as reported in local news in late February when more than thirty workers from the special education department resigned. The level of turnover in the last two years alone has been astronomical. As of March 2019, AISD had 51 LSSPs on staff; within two years, all but three of them resigned. Although the district has hired, the student / psychologist ratio is around 4,000: 1.
This week, AISD’s special education department announced plans to review both management and staff. Dr. Theresa Arocha-Gill will become executive director of the department, and 88 employees will be laid off and asked to “reapply for their positions.” The district has attempted to fill this gap by further outsourcing student assessment work to private consulting firms that have already proved unable to meet the urgent educational demands of students with special needs.
The end of the privatization of education: “unprofitable” students like those at Mitchell High School, AISD and thousands of other districts across the United States are relegated to the fringes of the system . Students living in poverty and those with developmental and behavioral challenges need additional resources, but their well-being is a secondary concern to educational benefit.