OEA Decries Union Busting-teachers offered part-time temporary work- two administrators rehired while a former administrator and retired Chevron exec gets top pay to “consult” and students get…. few classes.
This letter was written by James Knebelman, a long time Oakland Adult Ed teacher, with additions and assistance from other laid off Adult Ed teachers.
Oakland’s Adult Ed program, always a part of Oakland Unified School District, has been virtually destroyed. OUSD administrators have authorized only a handful of adult ed classes for 2011-12, compared to over 200 adult ed classes per year in the past. The District has taken almost all of our money ($13 million), which is no longer categorically protected. We’ve been told these cuts are regrettable but necessary. But even within this now tiny budget, the cuts are not being shared equitably.
Classroom teachers – and our students – are bearing the brunt of these cuts.
It is demoralizing for teachers who have served 10, 15, or 30 years in the classroom to have their OEA (Oakland Education Association) contract positions ripped out from under them, and then offered the chance to reapply for hourly positions at a fraction of the pay and benefits. One laid-off teacher calculated that if rehired as a part-time hourly teacher, his paycheck would be less than $800/month and less than 1/5 of his paycheck as an OEA teacher last year. This situation is especially painful – and unjust – when administrators continue to enjoy high salaries.
Two adult ed administrators will continue to receive $137,000 each (total compensation package) to supervise relatively few teachers. To add insult to injury OUSD, historically top-heavy with consultants, will continue to fund a consultant for this stripped-down program.
The Superintendent and most of the school board believe the District can afford over $274,000 a year for two administrators and yet no money to increase the instructional time, which the community seriously needs. Such budget decisions violate the obligation of Oakland Unified to serve the community. Oakland desperately needs more ESL, high school diploma and career tech classes if our city is to rebuild its economy.
Only ten OEA positions have been posted in 2011-12 (and five of these are non-teaching positions), out of 48 OEA former positions in 2010-11. Even with a budget of only $2 million – $1 million from the District and nearly $1 million in grants – the District could have retained, and originally proposed to keep, approximately 18 or 20 OEA classroom teachers at only 60% of their original contracts. Oakland’s Adult Ed teachers have been willing to work within these constraints in order to continue serving their students. But when the District deliberately shortens teachers’ hours to limit their contract status, salary, and healthcare coverage, it is hard to believe there is a good faith effort to maintain some semblance of effective programming.
Last spring Board Member David Kakashiba made a proposal to return an additional $1 million to the already slashed Adult Ed program. This motion could have provided additional classes, but Mr. Kakashiba’s proposal lost in a 4 to 3 vote at Superintendent Tony Smith’s urging.
Now, instead of trying to mitigate the effects of these cuts, OUSD has taken a “Shock Doctrine” approach and used this crisis to smash OEA’s Adult Ed bargaining unit. This is union busting, and it hurts all of us – our teachers, our city, and most of all, the students who depend on us.