Where the layoffs hit Ballard schools

Seattle Public Schools announced last week that it needed to lay off more than 150 teachers and staff to help adjust for an estimated $34 million budget shortfall. Today, we’ve learned from the school district that 21 total teachers and staff at Ballard-area schools have been let go.

Here’s the breakdown: Ballard High School was hardest hit with seven layoffs including teachers and a counselor. Whitman Middle School had six layoffs which also included teachers and a counselor. Adams Elementary had to dismiss three teachers while West Woodland and Salmon Bay each had two teachers let go. Whittier Elementary had one teacher cut. Neither North Beach Elementary or Loyal Heights Elementary had any staff members laid off, although as we wrote earlier this week, Loyal Heights will be getting a new principal.

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Born right the first time
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Born right the first time

Unfortunately, the lay offs are based on seniority, not based onwho deserves it. My kids have been through all three of the those schools and all 3 have some fantastic teachers… All three of those schools also have teachers that are doing no more then collecting a pay check till they retire! I am not exaggerating here. My daughter had a teacher that, by the end of the year, she still didn't know any of the kids' names. She had the upper class men teach the lower class men. She did nothing. There was an other teacher in advanced math that had to have a tuter come in and teach her the material. When all the parents called a meeting with the principal and tutor to complain and have the teacher removed (because the students test scores spiraling downward) we were told by the tuter that “she's working hard and is getting it,… she just isn't able to get it across the the students” WHAT?! Isn't that what's called TEACHING? Isn't that an essential part of the job description? If she can't do it, she should be a gardener, or a plumber or something else! One of my kids had… Read more »

kim
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kim

that's why tenure should be done away with. i am all for the new basic education plan that would rid schools of teachers riding the wave to retirement. this is the future here and i'm sure these people were fantastic teachers at one point but they need to be held to the same standard and incoming excited teachers are today. it's too bad you're burned out. move one already!

Trix
Guest
Trix

I get you. My dad was a teacher and he admits he hated it, every second of it. And it showed. But no teacher's union stopped him from getting the boot way back when. The union was more aware twenty years ago who should stay and who should go based on performance.
And, btw, it seems my nephew is always having off days, late arrival, early dismissal, etc, for teacher related days. It's gotten a little silly.

Neighbor
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Neighbor

I hear this time and time again, from people who have been through the school system, and friends and family that are currently teachers : there are TOO many teachers that should have retired a LONG time ago.

This makes me nervous as our son is about to start kindergarten.

great idea
Member
great idea

Are Doctors, Firemen, and Policemen paid on performance? Because I know some really awful versions of all three, yet they're still gainfully employed.

and is it the teachers' fault that there are occasional early dismissal days for staff development? late-arrival is typically weather related. my kids don't seem to have that many 'off-days', unless it's memorial day you're complaining about.

salty_swede
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salty_swede

Just so everybody is clear on this, teachers only get paid for the days that they work. Summer is not paid vacation, it is unpaid time off. They do generally opt to collect a paycheck for all 12 months of the year, rather than just the time when they are working.

Born right the first time
Guest
Born right the first time

Be afraid, be very afraid.Only kidding. Don't be afraid, be informed. Network! Get to know other parents at the school. Especially the ones with older kids and ask them about their other kids' teachers and how they feel about them. Also network with the other parents in your kid's classes from now on. What you may think is just an isolated story from your child may be a consistent behavior on the teacher's part and there is no way to know unless you all talk about it. You can't “pick” your teachers but you can to some extent NOT get some teachers if you apply gentle, firm pressure. I had to be pretty stuborn with the priciple of the no sciecne teacher (it wasn't just that, the teacher also was known to have a mean sence of humor and a job perfomance of one who was waiting to retire) and finally when the pricnciple asked if i would pull my kid from the school if she was put in this class I said no, but that I happen to have the first day of school off of work and planned on planting myself out side the principals office till my… Read more »

Born right the first time
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Born right the first time

Perhaps they are not paid on performance but they do go through performance reviews and they do not get tenure ….making it virtually impossible to fire them.

Born right the first time
Guest
Born right the first time

I am well aware that the summer is unpaid time off unless they opt to teach summer school or get summer jobs.
It's up to them,..
not so much in this current high unemployment, recession economy,…
but in general.

I have know many teachers (including my brother) who work summers summer school one year, painting houses another year.
A job that is part of the year shouldn't necessarily be waged at a full year wage. That would be like paying your part time staff a full time salary and that would just be silly.

kim
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kim

amen! what happen to the in after labor day weekend, off for thanksgiving, two weeks at christmas, 1 week for spring break and then out at memorial day?

kim
Guest
kim

docs-should be! firemen-i've never interacted w/one that isn't relaxed and policemen-i give them the benefit of the doubt. YOU trying doing their job and put on a happy face. i'm not going to entirely excuse their behavior but who knows what kind of call they might have just responded from….

kim
Guest
kim

factor in their benefit packages when you consider the whole picture.

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

Cops and firefighters don't get paid for performance, they get paid for seniority. That's pretty much the case with any government job.

You are right, there are numerous teachers who should be canned. A big part of the problem has to do with how teachers are trained. Surprisingly, being knowledgeable on a subject and being able to teach seem to have little do with becoming a public school teacher. One of my grandparents was a professor at a major university and when he retired he offered to teach an economics class at the local high school as an unpaid volunteer. Their response? They told him he wasn't qualified to teach economics to high school seniors. Never mind he'd been teaching economics to 17/18 year old kids for over 40 years!

AMJRAL
Guest
AMJRAL

I'm a teacher, and I know I shouldn't take these comments personally, but to be honest, these comments really sting. An article about teacher layoffs has turned into all-out teacher bashing. I often decline to share with people I'm a teacher, and this climate of public scorn is the reason. Washington State ranks 45th in the nation in per-pupil spending. The bottom FIVE! http://www.washingtonea.org/static_content/news… Washington State ranks 46th in class size in the country. We have some of the most crowded classrooms in the nation!http://www.washingtonea.org/static_content/news… And our legislature continues to cut spending and increase class size. We should be ashamed. I recently heard several interviews with the governor of Michigan, who talked about how decimated their state budget has become. She continually emphasized in speeches and to the people of Michigan, that there were two untouchable programs that she would not even consider cutting: Education was one of them. I find that inspiring, to see a state so decimated continue to hold education as their number one priority. And I find it disheartening, to look at my state, and my profession, and the future of my daughter's public education. Our state does not prioritize education with financial resources. Isn't THAT… Read more »

AMJRAL
Guest
AMJRAL

Like any profession, if you're not doing your job, then you should be fired! There's a pretty clear-cut protocol for firing teachers, and I've seen it happen multiple times to colleagues over the years. If a bad teacher continues teaching, it's because the principal is not following the protocol. If it doesn't happen, it's because the administrator is not doing his or her job.

(Notice how principals get shuffled around every year? It's because there's too many bad ones and not enough good ones, so they try to even the playing field and make sure that one building doesn't get stuck with a bad apple for too long. I notice nobody every engages in all-out principal bashing though, they way they do to teachers.)

Born right the first time
Guest
Born right the first time

I understand that these comments must sting. The negativity (at least on my part) is towards the few rotten apples, not all teachers and the system's inability to address the problem.
From the inside looking out, what are your thoughts on merit-based pay and tenure?

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

To add some further data:

According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) elementary school teachers in the USA are the 5th highest paid in the world – topped only by South Korea, Japan, Switzerland and Portugal. Secondary school teachers in the USA are the 10th highest paid in the world (Switzerland, S. Korea and the Netherlands being the top 3). Despite having some of the best paid teachers in the world US students rank 35th in math, 29th in science, and 15th in literacy. According to the OECD the USA ranks only 14th in college graduation rates.

I have little sympathy for the teachers union when they're among the highest paid in their field yet turn out such dismal results. How is other nations can pay their teachers less yet develop better students?

Corbeau
Member
Corbeau

I'm sure the comments hurt but teaching is no different than many other professions when it comes to being criticized. Just ask any cop, lawyer, construction worker, car mechanic, etc., etc., etc. Education is a lot like healthcare: the problem isn't that we don't spend enough money but rather what we spend the money on! We already pay our teachers more than many other nations just as we spend more on healthcare. Despite our higher investment we receive grossly inferior services, just as in healthcare. Personally, I can think of a very immediate way to free up some spending: cut team sports! Why do we finance school sports teams? Don't get me wrong, I think ***ALL*** kids should participate in sports of some kind. Beyond the huge problem of childhood obesity I think sports teach important lessons about teamwork. Problem is school sponsored sports programs are not open to all students – they're only open to those good enough in certain sports – but are paid for by all tax payers. If your child wants to play football or basketball they should do so through the YMCA or a similar organization. Team sports should definitely not be funded by the… Read more »

Archibald
Guest
Archibald

I'm more apt to blame poor parenting when it comes to bad grades. Do you help your teenager with their homework? Do you have rules in your house that require homework to be done before your teen is allowed to sit down with the tv, teh computer, or smartphone?

Most don't. You want your teen to get good grades? Closely moniter ALL of their after/before school activity and set limits on freedoms. Pretty simple stuff.

Frantic Freddie
Guest
Frantic Freddie

“It's a huge waste of money that benefits only a tiny number of students.”

What like all the alt-schools, alt-lessons, alt-math we now pay for, so chronically lazy students from chronically lazy families can pretend something's being done for their kids?

We pay for those, too, but unlike sports, they are not merit based.

Private schools: the best bet in Seattle.

AMJRAL
Guest
AMJRAL

I think that it needs to be done with very careful planning, and I think that before it's even put on the table, there need to be financial resources in place to see that it's done successfully. Right now, in the existing system, I don't think it would work, because the following holes exist in the system:– The principal or administrator is supposed to evaluate the teachers. BUT, we are so underfunded as it is, that evaluations often never happen or are based on too little information to have any merit. I didn't even receive an evaluation last year because my superior was too busy. This year, when I didn't get notice of an evaluation by our evaluation deadline (a week ago) I made a stink. Instead of an evaluation from my superior, I filled out a self-evaluation, which she signed. Bottom line here is that she has no idea how well I do my job, and has too little time to even address it. I find that really troubling.-The principal or administrator is not subject to the same evaluative system that teachers are subjected to, and that means you could have a really really under-qualified administrator evaluating a teacher.… Read more »

Stupid Hippie
Guest
Stupid Hippie

Archibald, how dare you expect parents to be responsible! What we need is more alternative schools, one for each students' unique needs, be made available for every student in the system!

AMJRAL
Guest
AMJRAL

I don't agree that all professions are subject to the same amount of criticism My husband is a computer programmer, but I never see a socially-accepted climate of open disgust for him and how he's overpaid and has too many benefits. (even though with far less education, he is paid far more than I am and has better insurance).

Lawyers….I might have to agree with you on that one, though. ;)

worthy
Guest
worthy

Simple – some countries only educate those deemed “worthy” of education and that will skew outcomes

AMJRAL
Guest
AMJRAL

…and no one has yet to acknowledge that our state ranks at the bottom of the barrel in spending on education.

Your legislators and your governor are breathing a sigh of relief. They'll keep chopping down the forest while you stand in a corner and argue over some trees.

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