Welcome back to school! I hope the first day of school was a good one for your children and family.
As most students were settling into their freshly decorated classrooms yesterday, getting to know their fellow classmates and new teacher, students in almost 40 SFUSD classrooms were greeted by a temporary instructor. Unfortunately, the school district is scrambling to find long-term substitutes or permanent replacements for these students. But until that happens, these students will be in a state of limbo — not knowing what adult will be leading their class day to day.
The teacher shortage is nothing new, in fact, as the Chronicle reported yesterday, there are half as many people in teacher credentialing programs now versus in 2008. Our teacher supply is at a 12-year low. And the actions of the Board of Education in May did not help matters. Our school board decided to take another look at where we get our teachers and became focused on the district’s contract with Teach for America (TFA), which they decided not to renew for the 2016-2017 school year. TFA has been providing young, enthusiastic (and inexperienced) teachers predominantly to schools that serve underserved communities — and would have provided about 15 teachers this year. The Board of Education chose not to renew this contract — without having a full compliment of full-time teachers confirmed to be ready for the first day of school. This was a short sighted decision by the Board of Education that has negatively impacted hundreds of students.
The SF Parent PAC believes that our district leadership should have done everything in their power to make sure San Francisco’s public schools had permanent teachers in every classroom on the first day of school to greet our students and guide them through the rest of the year. If the Board of Education was not confident this could be accomplished, extending the TFA contract would have helped alleviate this problem.
We will be watching to see how this situation is handled by the district’s leadership, hoping that the resilience of our children carries them through the instability they may experience for a time until the right people are in front of their classrooms.
I wish you and your children a rich and engaging school year. You’ll hear from us again soon!
Michelle Parker, President
San Francisco Parent PAC