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Threatened layoffs used to get parents' donations
Our schools under fire

April 25, 2003 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

I have been reading about the ongoing state budget crises in the paper, and I wanted to share my personal experience.

I teach fifth grade in a small suburban community near Los Angeles. My school district employs about 300 teachers. Starting in January, the school board launched a series of attacks against teachers and school employees.

They have cut staff hours, fired janitors and done their best to scare teachers who have been working without a contract since June into accepting some major concessions. Our principals have gone along with all the crisis hype.

The thing that has made employees so angry has been that our district has been spending over budget for the past three years--and is now using the cover of the state budget crisis to cover its own mismanagement.

To make things worse, our district has decided to make parents and teachers pay for our school needs for next year. A key strategy in doing this was to lay off 57 teachers for next year. This was used to "scare" parents into donating money to save our programs.

The school knew they had enough money to keep everyone, but they needed sacrificial lambs for their fundraising efforts, and teachers being fired made the perfect PR stunt. They encouraged us to look upset in front of our kids when we got our notices on March 13 before school started, and to put in our classroom newsletters pleas for parents to donate to save our jobs. It made everyone at my school disgusted.

Thirty of the laid-off teachers just got rehired last week for next year, but the seeds of discontent at our administration have been sown. The teachers at my school have decided to take an oppositional stance to our principal and voice our concerns with our union.

This has shown me just how low school administrators will go to force parents and teachers to pay for their mistakes.

Dana Blanchard, Manhattan Beach Unified Teacher's Association, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

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