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Looking for References

Reference-eles  Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten several requests for letters of reference from teachers whose jobs have been eliminated or cut to half time in a district where I once served as an administrator.

At this point in time, no one knows how state aid to education will finally play out.  The Governor, involved in numerous scandals, no longer has (if he ever did) the power or charisma to move the budget process along.  The state legislature, memorialized in the noted “Send in the Clowns” cartoon last year, lacks the leadership and the courage to act.  Speculation about when a state budget will be actually adopted is wide open.  In the meantime, districts find themselves planning for a worse case scenario based on early estimates of reduced state aid.

While state government officials dither, teachers are worried about how they will make ends meet.  Most of them have over 10 years’ experience in the district.  They started families and bought houses based on the understanding that they would have jobs to pay for them.  They are competent.  They never expected to be looking for new jobs at this stage of their lives.

Of course and unfortunately, they are not alone.  They’re just a microcosm of what many teachers are facing nation-wide.  It’s not just teachers in turnaround schools who are losing their jobs; it’s teachers who have worked hard with good results.

A few weeks ago I said I wondered how things would go in Central Falls, the Rhode Island turnaround school from now until the end of the year.  Last week a teacher there was fired immediately for hanging in effigy an Obama doll.  That unsettling lack of judgment will certainly make getting a letter of reference a little harder.

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