There has been a lot of back and forth (see Globe report) over the last week about the district’s early teacher-hiring efforts. We support the early hiring of staff; late hiring has been a longstanding problem. But early hiring — and quality hiring — should not come at the expense of placing our own highly-trained professional teaching force into suitable positions.
Currently we have approximately ‘excessed’ 125 educators who find themselves without positions for September. This pool of teachers has come from a variety of sources: Some of our colleagues are returning from maternity leave, some were forced to vacate schools that have been placed into receivership, some are innocent victims of a school’s programmatic changes. All are permanent, and have been vetted throughout their careers by BPS administrators. All have been trained under the district’s PD. All have continually undergone thorough performance evaluation reviews, and yet– 4 months into this new process — they await job offers for next year. Some even await their first interview. So what gives? Why are 125 of our colleagues, trained and employed by the BPS, waiting on the sidelines while district principals hunt for a “fresh face”?
The creation of the pool of 125 educators has been helped in great part by the district’s campaign to “open post” all vacancies. Open Postings drain scarce resources, so some in the business community have offered to assist.
Last week at the regional office of Bank of America in downtown Boston, the head of the B of A, Robert Gallery, joined forces with the head of the Boston Foundation, Paul Grogan, and the heads of other major corporations and non-profits to launch a $25 million fund drive that will be used over the next three years to underwrite the school district’s Open Posting campaign. This group, none of whose leaders as far as we can tell has children in the BPS, wants to raise funds for the district for two reasons: 1) to offset the $1,250 it costs to open post a position; and 2) to subsidize salaries of some of the 125 excessed-but-unplaced teachers.
We have a few thoughts:
The district could use the $25 million for a variety of good initiatives. First of all, the district could restore school bus service for 7th and 8th graders for the next three years. Why not? And there’d still be something left over. Or the district could upgrade our school technology and infrastructure. Yes, the $25 Million could be put to good use.
Finally, we note with irony that the effort is headed by the CEO of the Bank of America of Massachusetts, who also co-chaired the recently-convened search committee for the new superintendent. We have some unsolicited advice for the Bank of America, which has caused a lot of harm by its lending practices over the years: If the bank truly wants to help our schools, it ought to try to help some of the Boston families, many of them BPS families, whom its lending policies have displaced and uprooted since the mortgage crisis. Helping some of our families overcome their housing needs would go a long way towards stabilizing our school system.