Contract Matters: A Movement to Empower Schools

January 21, 2015
Featured Video:
At the OUSD Board Meeting on November 14, 2014, former Board President David Kakishiba discusses OUSD’s new strategic plan and the importance of schools being able to choose who they hire to work there. “That is a fundamental working condition for schools to be able to do their job.”

Earlier this month, GO released an infographic about one of the key elements of the OUSD-OEA contract negotiations: teacher transfer and assignment systems.
The district’s current proposal would move OUSD from a system where seniority is the sole factor dictating where teachers can transfer to one that would increase school community voice and allow sites to select their educators.
The Research on Site-Based Placement Decisions
The importance of empowering school communities isn’t just our opinion: it’s backed up by research. A 2010 study found that site-based teacher placement has positive benefits for both teachers and their students. This study focuses on how well a teacher fits in with a particular school’s community and instructional foci.
Teachers who were a good fit for their school left their sites at lower rates and had improved student outcomes. In fact, the study shows that the quality of a fit between a teacher and their school site can have as large an impact as teacher effectiveness on student achievement.
Many critics of hiring flexibility argue that teachers will leave high-poverty schools in large numbers to move to schools in lower-poverty areas, creating a dearth of teaching experience in the school where it is most necessary. Others argue that such a system will make it harder for senior teachers and consolidated teachers to find a new job.
These concerns would certainly be damaging to student outcomes in Oakland. However, two separate studies conducted on New York City’s mutual matching implementation do not show them to be accurate. According to a 2008 study, both senior and consolidated teachers were selected for positions at similar rates to other subgroups. A separate 2010 study showed that principals were simply more likely to hire teachers with more experience, giving a single extra year of experience on a transferring teacher’s resume the same approximate weight as attending a highly selective college.
Timeline: More Autonomy for Oakland Schools
Over the past decade, the Oakland Unified School District has moved to give greater decision-making power to schools. Much has happened, including the introduction of a budgeting model to more equitably fund schools, the creation of full-service community schools and policies passed by the School Board that are intended to give school leaders and communities more of a say about who works at their school. At the November 19, 2014 School Board meeting, Board President David Kakishiba outlined this history and talked about the importance of school communities having a say on who teaches at their school. “That is a fundamental working condition for schools to be able to do their job,” he said.
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