Since the Covid 19 Pandemic hit the San Diego area in March, 2020, the San Diego Unified School District has received millions of dollars of additional funding from the Federal and State governments. The opaque SDUSD has been less than forthcoming on the specific amount of money spent on both the standard and new initiatives required to protect Students and staff on site from the virus.
All we get from the corrupt SDUSD are propaganda press releases and useless photo ops exploiting students as props.
The Sunday Reads featured article today is Education Week that discusses a staffing challenge nationwide that is an issue in the SDUSD based on job postings.
We have selected the most relevant portions of the article provided in this post but District Deeds strongly urges our readers to click on the title (in red) and read the full articles for themselves.
By Mark Lieberman — September 20, 2021 | Corrected: September 21, 2021
Quote from article:
School districts are confronting a crisis this year that shows little sign of abating: crucial job openings aren’t getting filled.
A Colorado school district has fewer than a quarter of its normal supply of cafeteria workers. Efforts to directly hire social workers in New York City schools are leading to shortages among mental health nonprofits that provide in-school services. Some schools in Virginia have shifted to virtual learning after administrators couldn’t find enough substitutes to cover for teachers who had been exposed to COVID-19.
All across the country, school districts are posting signs in town and notices on social media with humble but urgent requests for more school bus drivers. The mayor of Chicago asked the private rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to fill school transportation gaps. Massachusetts officials called in the National Guard to shuttle students after bus driver shortages threatened to upend the start of the school year.
As anecdotes pile up, wide-ranging data on staff shortages in schools are hard to come by remain elusive. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly tracking of job openings in public education offers a clue, though: More than 446,000 jobs were open in June, and 460,000 in July, compared with less than half those figures at the same point last year. (The data include both K-12 and higher education jobs, but K-12 typically makes up roughly three-quarters of the overall numbers.)
Interviews with economists, administrators, and employees reveal a complex array of factors causing the school hiring headaches: Fears over health and safety, frustrations over longstanding pay gaps and inequities, and political disagreements over masks and vaccines. Some of these shortages are far more severe than usual, while others existed long before the pandemic.
The essential workers in schools
For district leaders, staffing difficulties add another layer of chaos to the already challenging task of keeping schools running, especially during a pandemic.
What often gets overlooked, though, is the impact the workers who fill these positions have on students and their learning experiences.
The bus driver shortage hits hard
There’s little doubt the pandemic has punctured the persistent enthusiasm for serving students that keeps many school employees going even in tough conditions.
Teachers make up less than half of the K-12 workforce, which includes more than 6 million people. The next largest group, instructional aides, includes more than 2 million workers nationwide. Roughly a quarter of the K-12 system’s budget goes toward non-teaching staff.
On an individual basis, though, many school workers are compensated at far lower rates than teachers and administrators. The median annual pay for K-12 teaching assistants in May 2020 was $28,900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. School bus drivers make on average between $15 and $17 an hour, according to 2018 data from BLS. Those numbers are well below living wages across the United States, especially for workers with children.
The labor pool for bus drivers, substitute teachers, and others who contribute to schools on a part-time or irregular basis, tends to be older, and often includes people who see working at a school as a means for supplementary income. Those jobs often pay only a fraction of what teachers receive, sometimes lack union representation, and rarely come with assurance of employment beyond the current school year.
As demand for bus drivers grows with the return of fully open school buildings, the prospect of returning to a bus full of unvaccinated kids might seem untenable to people at high risk of severe disease from COVID-19.
This time last year, “there was excess supply. There was a story of paying bus drivers to drive empty buses,” said Chad Aldeman, policy director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. “Now we’re in a totally opposite world where every district is trying to open, the country is trying to open. There’s just a massive competition now for workers.”
On top of those factors, school districts that weren’t open for full in-person instruction at times last school year got behind on their normal recruiting schedule for bus drivers, said Curt Macysyn, executive director of the National School Transportation Association. Now that they’re trying to catch up, they’re finding that prospective drivers aren’t able to get the necessary licenses and certifications quickly enough to be ready for the first day of school.
Roughly half of school districts that answered a recent survey from the NSTA categorized their bus driver shortage as “severe” or “desperate.” Approximately two-thirds said bus driver shortages were their number one problem at the moment.
In some cases, requirements for masks and vaccinations in some places, and restrictions on those requirements in others, might be keeping some people from returning to jobs they once had, or from signing up to fill gaps.
‘Dramatically underpaid and undercompensated’
COVID-specific policies alone don’t explain the full story, though.
“When I was a principal, we had tremendous turnover among our bus drivers and the folks who staffed our cafeterias,” said Stefan Lallinger, a former teacher and administrator at a charter school in Louisiana who now serves as fellow and director of the Century Foundation’s Bridges Collaborative, which advocates for school integration and other progressive policies.
“Even before the pandemic, whether we talk about bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, [they] were dramatically underpaid and undercompensated for the work that they did,” he said. “By and large, people in the general population have often taken these positions for granted.”
Some school district leaders, business owners, and political pundits have speculated that unusually generous pandemic unemployment benefits from state and federal governments have driven many workers out of the labor market. But there’s little evidence to back up this claim.
When 25 Republican-led states began trimming unemployment benefits this summer, they didn’t see a surge in hiring or major drop in the unemployment rate, according to an August working paper, not yet published or peer reviewed, from researchers at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Toronto.
“People’s heads are basically exploding because workers had a little bit of bargaining power,” said Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. “A healthy capitalist economy would have that as a facet all the time.”
Unemployment benefits typically don’t go to people who voluntarily chose to leave a job and aren’t actively looking for new work. School employees also typically aren’t eligible during scheduled breaks in school operations.
The pandemic, and the economic instability that’s come with it, has squeezed even districts that don’t typically experience those problems on a large scale. It’s also thrown a spotlight on aspects of the school workforce that often get left out of mainstream conversations about employment issues.
“You always hear about teacher shortages, teachers should be paid more,” Tran said. “How often do you hear that about the janitors, the classified staff?”
How schools are trying to fill the gaps
School leaders aren’t likely to see a swift end to these problems, particularly without funding and support that matches the scale of their rapidly evolving needs during the still-raging pandemic.
But there’s more they can be doing to listen to the needs of the workers who keep schools running, said Citlali Soto, a safety and security officer at Alcott College Prep High School in Chicago. Soto serves as a steward for SEIU Local 73, the union that includes the district’s custodial workers.
In recent weeks, Soto has watched as untrained substitute custodians have struggled to fill the gap left by a janitor who went on vacation for a week and a half. Other custodians had to double their workloads to fill the gaps, she said.
She’s hoping school board members will consider the possibility of returning to last year’s hybrid schedule, which gave custodians Wednesdays to fully sanitize the building while all students were learning remotely. Few districts currently appear likely to make that shift.
“The people on the ground know the best thing for their building,” Soto said. “They know what’s best out there for what the situation is.”
This week, the governor of New York announced new steps to tackle the bus driver shortage, including opening new testing sites for commercial drivers trying to get their licenses, and reaching out to law enforcement, military, and fire departments to try to find already-qualified drivers who can pitch in.
Steve Paramore, the assistant superintendent for operations and human resources for the Ashland school district in Ohio, said his team is trying to identify resources to offer health benefits to bus drivers without requiring them to take a midday job on top of their responsibilities on the road.
“There is not an abundance of individuals that are willing to take on the tall task of driving 60 to 80 kids on a bus to and from school with the fear of contracting the virus or not looking forward to dealing with the different behaviors and situations that may arise with students on a bus,” Paramore said.
School districts are in a tough spot as they compete with other employers that may have more resources to provide robust benefits.
Bennett, the paraprofessional in California, said she recently considered a job with the U.S. Postal Service that required no experience, offered on-the-job training, and included paid holidays.
“That’s incentive. They’re drawing people to apply,” she said. “There needs to be incentive besides the fact that everybody who I know are fantastic and dedicated employees.”
District Deeds Synopsis:
A number of phrases in this article from Education Week inspired us to investigate the current staffing approach and situation in the SDUSD with Teachers, Custodians and Bus Drivers within the SDUSD.
The article provided a link to “Livable Wage” and we accessed the “San Diego County Livable Wage” page:
As “golden child” employees of the SDUSD Board of Education election campaigns, it was easy to find the depth and breadth of support for hiring teachers. In fact there is a whole department called the “TEACHER PREPARATION AND SUPPORT DEPARTMENT” (TPSD) with FIVE accompanying “Programs”. The TPSD page has a variety of links for current and prospective teachers including a:
- Peer Enrichment Program
- Student Teaching Program
- Teacher Intern Program
Obviously a substantial amount of budget dollars and staffing is assigned to these 3 TPSD programs…but that is not all for the “golden child” employees.
On top of all that, there is a Teacher recruitment program for SDUSD Students called “Educator Rising” to recruit SDUSD Students to be teachers. This non-profit organization was ruled “Tax Exempt” in 1955 and whose “mission is to provide scholarships, mentoring, and financial aid advising to first-generation, ethnically diverse, low-income college students to become teachers, scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians in San Diego.”
76 years of that non-profit mission and all the special “Programs” devised by the SDUSD “White Woman Mafia” has given us the current disparity we provided in the chart below from our Sunday Reads post last week titled “Superintendent Evaluations Just More Lies from Corrupt SDUSD Leadership!”:
|Hispanic or Latino Teachers||1178||17%|
47% Latinx Students and families
17% Latinx Teachers
23% White Students
64% White Teachers
It is almost as bad for African American Teachers seeking to be hired by the SDUSD:
8.4% Black or African American Students
5% Black or African American Teachers
23% White Students
64% White Teachers
To see if there is a not only a race disparity but also a wage disparity, the first place we looked was on the SDUSD Human Resource page for “Job Opportunities”
Clicking the Job Opportunities link on that HR page brings the reader to vendor staffing platform called governmentjobs.com containing a specific section for SDUSD open positions. As of today, September 26, 2021, there were “65 jobs found”.
It is clear that the political/financial/staffing efforts of the SDUSD are dedicated to keeping their political crony network strong with taxpayer dollars to hire primarily white teachers…and they additionally provide that support through fantastic wages. Here is job posting for a High School Teacher:
Now for the SDUSD Employee “2nd Class Citizen” category, the Custodians and Bus Drivers…
Let’s first compare the voluminous Teacher support with the SDUSD leadership support for the Custodial Department:
That’s it! No “peer enrichment”, no training, no nothing.
Lets look at the job posting for a Custodian, in this case, a substitute:
$15.63 an hour, an unlivable wage, to protect our Students from becoming infected with Covid 19 and other diseases spread by rats, trash and insects like Custodial Crusader described in “Whistleblower Custodial Crusader “Horrors” Prediction Coming True – Dead Rats, Drug Paraphernalia, Used Condoms and Filth On San Diego Unified Campus!!!!”
This is, according to the Custodial page, “Our staff is committed to creating an environment that inspires excellence.” with virtually zero support from the corrupt SDUSD leadership.
WOW! We wonder who in the SDUSD Propaganda department wrote that whopper!
On the surface, SDUSD Bus Drivers seem to have it a little better, probably because they have a more “student facing” job. Here is an ad from the Transportation Department page.
Here is the actual job posting:
The beginning hourly rate for a bus driver in the Transportation Department ad is $21.99/hr. and the job posting lists $21.02/hr. for a 32 hour week.
It makes no difference…NEITHER is a livable wage if you work part time according to the calculation of $21.26/hr. for San Diego County.
Like the article said:
“There is not an abundance of individuals that are willing to take on the tall task of driving 60 to 80 kids on a bus to and from school with the fear of contracting the virus or not looking forward to dealing with the different behaviors and situations that may arise with students on a bus,”
The SDUSD believes that is only worth $21.99hr (a part time unlivable wage) to safely transport your children through traffic jams, bad weather and major accidents.
By their actions, and the money they are willing to dedicate to protect Students in the classroom and on the road, the SDUSD leadership obviously considers families who require busing, the Drivers who get them to and from school and the custodians who make the classroom safe and clean only “2nd Class Citizens”.
Is it any wonder that nobody, even Teachers, wants to work in the SDUSD?
Deserving of the current SDUSD loser, 2nd class leadership!
Now, for the “Quote of the Week” in the spirit of ALL SDUSD Stakeholders as 1st Class citizens:
People don’t do good work when they feel like losers and are second class citizens within their own company. – Jonah Peretti
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