School layoffs endanger education
The Burbank Teachers Assn. has been asked to respond to the recent
reduction in force letters sent out to approximately 25% of the
Burbank Unified School District teachers.
First, on March 11, about 70 letters of non-reelection went out to
teachers. Many of these teachers were hired in times of difficulty
for the district. Often these teachers would step into a
less-than-ideal situation, but they would nonetheless rise to the
occasion and do what was best for our students. These teachers were
notified during the workday that because they were not in possession
of a clear credential, they were going to be released in June and
would not be considered for employment in the fall. Some of these
teachers had entered the district’s pre-intern program optimistically
thinking the district’s intent was to give them the support necessary
to complete their requirements. Now, their records are tainted with
the mark of non-reelection which is usually a category for teachers
who have received less than a proficient evaluation. Had these
teachers been working in the Glendale Unified School District, they
would have received a reduction in force notice. This, at the least,
would entitle them to a hearing where they can come forward and have
an administrative law judge hear their cases.
Then, as is if the tunnel could not get any darker, on March 12,
251 teachers, nurses and counselors received layoff notices. All of
our permanent adult school teachers have been noticed. These injuries
bestowed upon our colleagues are the worst form of indignity we have
suffered to date.
What does this mean for our children? If the Legislature’s
proposed cuts are implemented, there will be cuts in programs,
services and quality education. Your child’s classes, especially at
the middle and high schools, will be larger. Some foreign-language
classes already run at 36 to 38. The 20-to-1 that was crucial to the
strong foundation of our ninth graders is being eliminated.
California’s biggest educational reform is being threatened.
Elementary classes would be filled with 30.5 students and that
means all classes, if they were to eliminate 20-to-1 in kindergarten
through third grade. When it comes to health care, it will be
compromised since there will be fewer nurses to attend to the health
needs and emergency care of 15,000 children in our schools.
Counselors’ loads could be as high as 800 students. A myriad of
programs would be eliminated or compromised. For example, the vocal
program at Burbank High School is threatened because the teacher has
been noticed. Both high schools’ baseball programs would be
compromised since the varsity coaches have been noticed.
If California were a country, we would have the sixth-largest
economy in the world. How is it possible that it cannot find the
money to support public education? Our Legislature fiddles while
education burns. California cannot continue to offer teachers as
sacrificial lambs without compromising the education of our children.
True, the state is largely responsible for the state of affairs in
education. However, in Burbank, finances have been compromised by
past financial blunders, by over-hiring of employees and by the
inability to properly track expenses. Ultimately, the Board of
Education assumes the responsibility, according to its bylaws. The
fact that the general fund was neither secured nor protected further
compromises BUSD’s ability to survive economic downturns without
catastrophic cuts in teaching staff.
BTA has never supported cuts that damage instructional programs
and hurt kids, and we have opposed cuts to support staff (guidance
advisors and psychologists) who are not members of our association.
We continue to urge BUSD not to just rely on legal counsel and number
crunchers in determining what is best for our 15,000 students.
Burbank Teachers Assn.
A call to arms -- of pencils and tissue boxes
As a parent of Burbank Unified School District students, I think
it’s time to step forward. We can stand around and point fingers at
where the shortfalls are coming from or who caused them -- be it the
district, the county or the state. But the reality is these are our
students, our teachers, our schools and, most important, our future.
It’s time to look around, get that extra box of pencils, white
board markers, ream of paper, etc., from our houses and our
businesses, and donate them to the schools. I know we all have tight
budgets, but isn’t your child’s education worth $20 a month in
Take a few moments to call your child’s teacher, coach, etc., and
ask them for a wish list. If what they need is more than your budget
allows, ask other parents to help out.
I’m not willing to wait for the district, the county or the state
to straighten it out, that might take years. Our children are in