Tag Archives: pink slips

Teachers Nationwide Facing Pink Slip Phobia

Pink slips! They are becoming so commonplace in this economy, that it’s becoming harder with each passing day for teachers to keep up their morale. How do we cope?

With more state legislatures calling for tighter budgets, and the loss of federal stimulus money to school systems, we will be seeing more pink slips across our nation. Although the purpose of these slips is to warn teachers of the potential for lay-offs, they have become leverage for some education leaders to push voters, teachers’ unions, and districts to find ways to locate other financial resources to save jobs.

State law requires that districts send out these slips to give teachers who might be released from their position an adequate amount of time to find other employment, if such a thing exists. Generally the number of pink slips sent out by a district is higher than the number of teachers actually laid off. But this doesn’t make them an easier pill to swallow, as teachers often wait weeks or months to hear their fate, creating low morale and tension in school districts across our nation.

The tension in some states such as California and Rhode Island is even greater as state law requires that these pink slips must be sent out in March, which is way before state and local budgets are finalized. This results in significantly higher numbers of teachers receiving slips in order for districts to be in compliance with state codes or their district’s bargaining agreements, creating panic in the school systems involved.

We saw it in Providence, Rhode Island, were each of the district’s 1,925 teachers received pink slips, a decision for which Mayor Angel Tavares received much criticism. And we saw it in Los Angeles where, due to a $408 million deficit, the district sent out about 4,500 pink slips to its teachers in March. In both cases, these slips have been sent out before budgets have been finalized and more informed decisions can be made. For teachers in Los Angeles, who are anxiously waiting to find out if they will have a job, decisions will not be made until an updated budget is completed in May and enrollment projections, teacher resignation and retirements, and other measures are factored in.

Typically, nontenured teachers are the ones who are let go, but in Los Angeles, and other districts, the cuts go so deep that some of the teachers who are receiving pink slips have been teaching since 2001 and have tenure. And those teachers who are not laid off may find themselves being shuffled to different schools in their district, teaching new grade levels, and learning a whole new curriculum.

Having spent two years on a RIF list (reduction in force) when I was a younger teacher and had just returned from maternity leave, I know the agony of the wait; that desperate time where you don’t know if you will have a job in the fall. And I know the hopelessness of trying to get a teaching job elsewhere, and times were better then.

Teachers with pink slips know desperate times provide few options, and many of those who are actually laid off will probably be forced to seek employment outside of education. And so they wait, fearful of the future, bitter over the possibility of dreams lost, and wondering how they will survive financially if the worst happens.

A living Hell…

Pink Slips Go Out to 1,926 Providence Teachers

Teachers everywhere took a collective gasp and felt a cold shiver down their spines when we heard the news out of Providence, Rhode Island on February 23rd, where 1,926 teachers were handed pink slips. Is this another Central Falls; firing teachers due to a school’s low test performance? No, this is the newest threat to teachers, as if we need another one; making cuts to balance the deficits created by reduced government funding.

On Tuesday, a day that has been compared to Pearl Harbor by the Providence teachers union, teachers were told by Superintendent Tom Brady that with a projected deficit of almost $40 million, the school’s situation was dire. Which is the reason why all of the teachers in this district received letters from Brady explaining, “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option.”

Mayor Angel Taveras explained that state law in Rhode Island requires that teachers be notified by March 1 of potential changes to their employment status, and with planning still underway as to how the projected deficit will be offset, they decided it was best to inform everyone of the potential of being fired since they are unsure how many will actually be laid off.

Clearly, not everyone who received a pink slip will be let go, but obviously many will with a deficit of $40 million. So these poor teachers must now wait while their fates are being determined by the mayor, the school board, and the district. The anxiety and stress that this announcement will create is unbelievable. Yet, in spite of this demoralizing news and the fear it has created, these teachers will be expected to continue to prepare their students for their upcoming state achievement tests and carry on the plethora of duties teachers face daily without upsetting their students; maintaining a positive environment for the sake of their children. Under the circumstances, that’s a heck of a lot to ask, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it have been more humane if decisions had been made in anticipation of the March 1st deadline? Couldn’t the mayor, the school board, and administrators have been deliberating on these issues for the past several months so that only those unfortunate teachers who had to be released would have received their pink slips rather than putting everyone through the hell that those who will be let go will have to experience? Handling these cuts in this horrific manner has shown no compassion, quite the opposite; it has sent a clear message just how brutal a process it will be.

As Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith told The Providence Journal, the decision was “beyond insane.” He said he was caught completely off-guard by the letter from the superintendent, and he said, “Let’s create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress. Now I know how the United States State Department felt on December 7, 1941.”

Teachers in Providence, I offer my heartfelt sympathy for what you are going through, and I am sure I am not alone in praying that this horrible situation is resolved with greater compassion in the future.