Massachusetts School District RIFs ALL Art, Music & PE Teachers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by RainStorm, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I just finished reading this article. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/20...MhEwMnAWX0FAjE1wgH8WGU-leCjGVfncOUqG94_tuw4yg

    I realize this is a small district, but it really is quite shocking. I know the PE RIFs couldn't be done in our state (PE is mandated by state law) but I guess this is possible in some states.

    I feel really bad for the teachers who have been doing this for 20+ years who were RIFd. Specials are so valuable to all students, but especially to many students who don't find a great deal of success academically. I also have to say, as a former elementary school teacher, my immediate thought was "if they have no specials, when will elementary teachers get any planning time?"

    The article also mentioned they RIFd their teachers aids, and many of their food services personnel. I can't imagine serving meals and supervising elem. cafeterias with fewer food services staff.

    What are your thoughts on this?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This makes me so sad. My own child loves specials as much as the regular stuff, and she would be devastated to lose those things. They are what make school fun for many kids.
     
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  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    It makes me think way back -- to my childhood days -- back when one elementary art teacher serviced the entire district, and for 4 weeks each school year, she came to your school (once or twice a week) and did art in the classroom. Other than that, our classroom teacher taught art. Same for music, a district-wide music teacher (every single elementary school in the district was serviced by ONE music teacher) came to the school, once day per week for a certain number of weeks, and they crammed all the 4th grade students into one room, and had "music class" for an hour a week. Other than that, our teachers taught music (I remember that both my 3rd and 4th grade teachers played the piano and had one in our classroom - I felt so lucky because they did!) And as I recall, we had "gym class' once every two weeks, with two-three classes meeting at once.

    Now that I think back, I don't think our elementary school teachers had any daily planning time, except when these district-wide teachers showed up, and even then, art took place during one part of the year, music during another -- so if they got 1 hour of planning a week that would have been unusual. I know they stayed half an hour we left each day, so I guess that is when they did their planning. Of course, back then they used planning books and didn't have to write actual lesson plans.

    (Of course, back then, at lunch time, starting in 1st grade, the teachers just got up and left and went to their lunch -- most went home for lunch- -- and those students who didn't go home for lunch -- the bus riders -- ate unsupervised in the classroom, with just the principal, the librarian, and the custodian sticking their heads in the classroom from time to time to make sure we were okay. When we finished, we went out to the playground to play -- with one adult assigned to watch the entire school! Lunch recess was the best because the whole school was on the playground at the same time, and you could find your older siblings, and such, to play with.)
     
  5. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Well, gee whiz. I guess I'm not just "paranoid" or looking at the downside of things. Like, no one stopped to do the math on this one?
     
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  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I heard about that. My thought is that they must be planning to do remote learning only or some sort of hybrid model where students aren't in school full time. MA is a union state, right? I don't see how they could get away with providing no planning time if this were "regular school." I also thought PE was required, but that may be a state by state thing. It sounds like all of the positions they got rid of are those they don't think will be needed during remote learning. What happens if things look very different in August/September and full time, regular school is needed? Of course nobody knows at this point but around here all of the things I've been hearing lately is that they're now leaning more towards going back full time with an online option offered for families who aren't comfortable.
     
  7. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    I'm not so sure any of what people want to do is the issue. Straight up budgetary; decimated work force=lost tax revenue=no money for education, which is of course way ahead in line on the chopping block. Turns out sinking a state's economy has actual consequences. Who knew, right?
     
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  8. whizkid

    whizkid Devotee

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    It won't be the only district. Everyone's workload that gets to stay will increase which isn't fair at all considering many of us already do other people's jobs regularly.
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I could see cutting back on the total number of specials teachers during remote learning, but I don't understand how all could be totally cut, unless the state just isn't requiring that instruction during remote learning, or ever. My state actually requires PE, health, music, and art to be taught by teachers certified in those areas, even during remote learning, for elementary grades. During the recent shutdown, our specials teachers were producing online lessons, just like classroom teachers were. Now, we probably could have gotten by with just one PE teacher, for example, instead of two, but we would still need someone to fill that role.
     
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  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    For my first 7 years of teaching, I did all my own specials: music, PE, art. I was good at the art instruction, but did not have the training to plan out a strong PE and music program. The district supplied a cart with a record player, student song books and a teachers edition. PE and music are so important to raising a literate citizen. Sad for the loss.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    RIF doesn't mean these will never be in the districts again. When states are saying there is not enough money for these things "now", the unspoken addition to that sentence, is that "when there is a large enough, or normal, budget, these specials will be back full force." Parents will not accept school that doesn't include these specials over the long haul, but since many have been through, or are still living on smaller incomes because of this period of reduced work hours, they will understand pauses in certain services for a limited amount of time, until people are working again, and money is flowing. Reduction in force is not the same as cutting services forever.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    My state doesn't have any remote learning rules, as it was something that's never been done before. Our specials teachers did put out lessons during remote learning, but they were constantly complaining that the students didn't do them, and we were always hearing that all of the activities were "too overwhelming" for families.

    My district isn't currently proposing a hybrid model (again, who knows what happens come August) but many districts around here are. In those cases, the students spend only 1-2 days per week in school and there is a day dedicated to planning for teachers so they can deal with their remote learning tasks. In those situations it makes sense to prioritize core academics, especially since music and PE would be very difficult to carry out safely. And art as well, if there are no shared supplies. If there are no rules about those activities in the state, it seems the district could put out some websites/resources for parents looking for those types of activities to do at home during remote learning.

    From a strictly budgetary/practicality point of view, I can see cutting these positions if you're planning to do remote learning or hybrid next year. Of course from an emotional point of view I feel very sorry for teachers who thought they had a relatively secure position, especially those who have been in the district for a long time. My district kept paras on as well during our remote learning because it was the right thing to do, but I sense that's also because at the time they thought it was temporary and no one knew the devastating budget cuts that were coming. The budget was cut 15% in my state and unless we can get some major tax reform passed (which has been tried many times and voters never vote for it), it will be much worse in 21-22 with many districts becoming insolvent. I don't see keeping people on just to do the right thing happening anymore if we do end up in a remote or hybrid model.
     
  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My state scrambled to put out guidelines for remote learning. The first two weeks were kind of rocky in my district, but, after that, we had relatively clear guidelines about what we needed to do to be in compliance with the state - at least for gen ed. I think sped guidelines took much longer to create, but we now have those too.

    My district still doesn't know what we are doing next year, but my principal has mentioned specials teachers being part of it in every scenario. We do have a half-time specials role that they haven't interviewed for yet, and I do believe that this could be part of the reason why. We'll need a teacher for that subject area, even if we do hybrid or remote, but we likely don't really need a half-time person if we're doing remote learning, and we can likely get by if doing hybrid. My district is doing okay financially, even with the budget cuts, but there is no reason to spend in excess of what is necessary for the situation.
     
  14. whizkid

    whizkid Devotee

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    Speaking of which, let's hope there's no second wave or spikes in the fall.
     
  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I work in a neighboring district and it was so scary to hear about these cuts. My union organized a car parade to support Brookline educators.
    I am super lucky that my school district just passed a budget with very few cuts...the only jobs that were cut were because of enrollment and they’ve created a bunch of new positions too. They also did not cut any specialist teachers.
     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Wow..so sad. The benefits of these programs have been shown over and over again. I forget which European country it was, but faced with a huge drug problem with their teens, they decided to increase after school programs in art, music, and sports. Their drug abuse problem was cut by more than half. If those in power are wanting to make budget cuts, I suggest looking at the following to make it happen for 2020-21.

    1. No standardized testing for 2020-21
    2. A pay freeze for all administration for 2020-21
    3. A freeze on ordering all new textbook series.
    4. Moving children into the classrooms for lunch, so able to stop using A/C and heat in the cafeteria.
     
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  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    We just cut all TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) which include people who teach elementary PE, elementary STEAM, and librarians.

    Here in CA, elementary teachers are credentialed to teach multiple subjects. Therefore, we’ll go back to the days where there were no pullouts for music, PE, science, etc. The classroom teachers will be responsible for all subjects.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  18. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I don't sense that those specialty teachers will lose their jobs here, but they may find, at least in the short term, that they become classroom teachers. One of the models being floated for September will be a hybrid model with class sizes of no more than 15 and students spending as much time as possible with one teacher. In elementary (up to grade 8), we are also able to teach all subjects except French.
     
  19. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    So does that mean the elementary teachers are losing their planning time? (At all the schools I've worked at, planning was scheduled during specials.) I understand we all have to do what we have to do, but no planning, plus the extra instructional time and planning for that extra instructional time -- that's a lot.
     
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  20. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    It was never used as planning time. It was written into the contract that classroom teachers had to attend PE, library, etc with their students. It was not a drop-off.
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    :fearscream:

    To what end? When did you teachers get their planning time and general break time?
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The negotiation team has always wanted planning time before and after school. Teachers have a 50 minute duty free lunch.
     
  23. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Wow, that sounds rough on the teachers. I know we can use that time for much needed planning, grading, copying, etc. Can teachers still bring their work to PE, Music etc. and grade papers while they are there?
     
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  24. YoungTeacherGuy

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    Before I answer, let me respond by saying that districts in this area don’t have “specials”. I had never heard of specials until I joined the forums.

    Not all classroom teachers take advantage of the TOSAs who teach STEAM. Some teachers would rather teach every subject themselves for whatever reason. Classroom teachers sign up for a block of time each week with the TOSA. When the teacher signs up, there’s a written rule (in the contract) that the classroom teacher will fully participate in the activities and supervise his/her students.

    I guess the districts around here are anomalies?
     
  25. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I won't attempt to speak for all school districts as I don't know all of them. The districts in Arizona that I have worked at, subbed at, and volunteered at, all let teachers use the time that their students were at specials (PE, Music, Art, etc.) as a prep to get their work done (i.e grading papers, planning, copying, emailing parents etc.) Even the private school I work at has the same policy.
     
  26. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I can't... I just... why even have those folks if they aren't treated as teachers? And what about the people who can't carry a tune to save their lives, or who have the artistic ability of a brick, or who have physical problems making PE difficult?

    I don't mean to sound like I'm attacking, you're not the one making the decisions, I just can't even fathom it. Teaching music is such a different skill from teaching the core academic areas.
     
  27. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I wasn’t on the negotiation team, but what what I was told, the TOSAs didn’t want to be “dumped on” by teachers and felt that classroom teachers needed to stay with their own students and manage them themselves should problems arise. So that’s what was written into the contract.

    It’s all embedded in our credential. We have multiple subjects credentials here in CA. I don’t never considered myself a true art or music teacher, but there was a place on the report card for it, so I was expected to teach it somehow.
     
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  28. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    OP,

    I appreciate you sharing all of this. I realize you are just the messenger. I find this a terrible waste of human resources. I know that I am able to only be able to teach more STEAM and creative lessons only because I have the planning time to do so. If I had to help the Art teacher, when I can't even draw a straight line, that would be no help to him. Also, it would be a loss of time that could have been used planning for lessons or even analyzing data to best see how to help students. I know it isn't your fault, and IMO it is an incredible waste of time for all of those teachers. Teaching time is so valuable. We never have enough of it.
     
  29. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I can't speak for all districts, but I've worked in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, and in all 3 states, in elementary school, specials teachers took the students for 50 minutes per day, and that time was designated to the classroom teacher for planning, grading, copying, or mandatory grade-level meetings or PD.) Sometimes specials were held in the classroom, but the classroom teacher left at that time, and had no responsibility for supervision or participation at that time.
     
  30. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I didn’t mean to derail things. It’s apparent that people have had much different experiences.

    Our STEAM teachers are being placed back in the classroom. Thankfully, there are enough open positions for each of them. The thing that stinks is that they are being placed in roles that were going to be given to all the new hires (jobs that no one else wanted): combo classes, for example.

    Huge, deep sigh.
     

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