Teacher Layoffs Already Affecting the Classroom


“It’s an emotional time,” said Bismack, 29, of San Clemente, now in her third year at Canyon Vista. “I have a five-year degree and I’m working on a master’s degree. I was looked at as a highly qualified teacher, and now I’m looking for an alternative job for next year.”

I think the banner at Canyon Vista Elementary School in Aliso Viejo says it all.  Teachers are being left behind not because they are no longer needed to teach but because the California Legislative Branch does not deem that Education is a high enough priority for California Residents.  The Capistrano Unified School district is set to lay off 265 k-12 teachers and for those who say it won’t affect teaching, they aren’t paying attention. 

The layoffs will place an additional 11 students in each classroom, which has 20 students per instructor.

Other school-wide impacts include the elimination of Teaming for the Learning of All Children, a specialized program that groups students with similar learning abilities in the classroom.

“The ones who need education the most will slip through the cracks,” said first-grade teacher Meagan Baedeker, 31 of Laguna Hills, who was reassigned to teach math at a middle school. “Now they’ll have to teach to the average child. The ones who get it, get it. The ones who don’t will suffer.”

OC Register

The numbers are staggering for Aliso Viejo Elementary Schools, Oak Grove is losing 21 of their 37 teachers (And, disclosure?  Charlotte, my five year old, starts at Oak Grove in September), Don Juan Avila is losing 16 of their 34 teachers.  The students wore all black to show their support for their teachers. Since these schools are fairly new their faculty have much less time in the school district and anyone who has taught less than ten years is being given a pink slip.


In an act of support for those with pink slips, faculty members at Don Juan Avila Elementary School on Tuesday wore white T-shirts with the slogan “No child left behind” – the word “teacher” was inserted into the phrase with a red arrow.

To contrast with the faculty in white, students wore all black to demonstrate support for their teachers. Eight-year-old McKenna Moody came to school in black leggings, T-shirt and sweat shirt for Katie Prince, her third-grade teacher.

McKenna’s reason for wearing black was remembrance.

“I’m learning so much in Miss Prince’s class,” she said. “I want my teacher to stay because she’s really nice.”

OC Register



Is it worth it?  Do you think laying off all these teachers is worth it, teachers who are tenured and who can’t simply go to another school district to find another job, they may even find that they have to leave the State? 

Educators are taken for granted by many, especially legislators who don’t even have children in the public school system, I wonder if it makes it easier for them to make these kinds of cuts since they know it won’t directly affect their own children?  But the thing is, it’s not aboutjust their kids, they are elected to take care of all our children and it just doesn’t seem like they have their priorities straight. 

Music and Arts is a vital part of any well balanced teaching curriculum because we want to produce not just warm bodies to fill jobs but thinking and feeling citizens to encourage and support the arts in their communities when they are grown and have children of their own.

With layoff notices already issued, many parents said they were feeling the impacts of the cuts on their children’s schools. A group of Mission Viejo High music booster club parents expressed outrage that the elementary school vocal music program is on the chopping block.

“If we don’t get kids interested in music at an early level, we’re not going to have any kids to feed into the (high school) program,” said parent Kelley Saunders, 49, president of Mission Viejo High’s instrumental music boosters, who has a son in drum line. “Theoretically I shouldn’t care because my son is a senior, but this has a long-lasting impact that will be felt three to four years out.”

Other parents worried that academic quality in the classroom would suffer, with some saying they would likely send their children to private school if programs like full-day class-size reduction, International Baccalaureate and vocal music are eliminated.

“For some people, private school isn’t an option,” said parent Rebecca Clampitt, 36, of Trabuco Canyon, who has two children at Robinson Elementary School. “A lot of private schools are a whole grade level above public school. People don’t realize that academically there’s a lot of pressure in private schools.”

Whatever parents may be forced to consider, many walked away feeling that their children had been abandoned by the state.

“We’re already one of the poorest-paying states to fund students,” said parent Thom Griffith, 45, who has two children at Del Cerro Elementary School in Mission Viejo. “The district cuts are disappointing, but I don’t know what other cuts they can make.”

OC Register

Saddleback School District is also facing a high number of lay offs, just as all the other school districts in Orange County.  Parents are not okay with this as they shouldn’t be.  People want to say that throwing more money at a problem won’t help but taking teachers out of classrooms and increasing class size is certainly not going to fix the budget problem in the long term and it won’t make education any better for our children either.

UPDATE – I wanted to add some famous quotes to this piece to remind everyone that how we treat our children, even if you don’t have any of your own in the school system, says much about what we value as a community and a culture.

Lady Bird Johnson, former U.S. First Lady  
“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”

Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. President 
“Children are our most valuable natural resource.”

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa 
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Lee Iacocca
“In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.”

  22 comments for “Teacher Layoffs Already Affecting the Classroom

  1. April 3, 2008 at 8:47 am


    This is an amazing piece of writing and the photos are stunning. Will you crosspost it to Calitics? I’ll frontpage it with a bit of my own commentary added.

    My grandmother taught at Cordillera Elementary School in the SVUSD district for 25 years. And my sister is in her second year at a middle school in Tustin. She escaped the layoff notice but is as angry as I have ever seen her about the situation. My grandmother is now in retirement in Arizona, but knowing her feisty self, I’m sure she has some choice words for Arnold. I should get them both to post at Calitics.

  2. April 22, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I was asked to support our school district with $400.00 USD per child enrolled in the school. Unfortunately with the current economy; an uncertain job and high gas and food prices, I don’t think I can support our public schools this time with that much money. I highly appreciate teachers (specially since both my parents are elementary school teachers) and I undestand how hard they work and how bad they are rewarded for their labor.

    The worst thing of all is how the priorities of our government are all twisted on spending billions of dollars in an war that should not even had been, and in reconstructing schools in Irak when they could be providing better funds for our schools here in the US. (And they call themselves patriotic)

  3. Fed Up
    May 6, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    When I went to school I had many more than 20 students in my classes and that was NO BIG DEAL! I started working at 16 and today am a successful business woman who learned it all from life’s lessons NOT from school. Yes, school was a huge waste of time! Nothing I was taught there is applied to my job. I have no children and HATE having to pay taxes for other’s kids (and see lots of teachers driving around in expensive cars). Look at the real problem – over population! Those who can’t control themselves in this crowded world and keep on pumping out the kids need shut up and stop complaining!

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    May 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Fed Up’ maybe I don’t want to pay for the police who protect your business. Or maybe I don’t want to pay your social security. Or for the roads you use when you drive to work. School is more than the three R’s; its also about social interaction and learning how to get along with other people different than yourself.

  5. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Dan: You use the roads and the police too. There is NO comparison! I don’t use the schools. Other people’s kids should not be my burden. As for Social Security, that’s a whole different story – that hinges on over population too. And the social interaction at schools today? Sex, drugs, shootings, etc. HA!

  6. May 7, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Fed up – The California Constitution guarantees a free public education. We all pay taxes for services, it’s how our society works. I have one child, should I berate those people who have four or five children in public school? Of course not, that’s their personal choice, just as it is for you not have any children.

    And to blame schools for our cultural issues is absurd. Try consumerism, parents having to work so much to make ends meet, etc. WE are failing our kids and we can do better but attitudes like yours help no one, it’s the same old, “I’ve got mine, go fuck yourself” attitude.

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    May 7, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Actually, as I run a small business, I need a well educated workforce. I have clients who are well educated too; courtesy of public schools. Honestly, your “throw the baby out with the bath water: scenario of sex/drugs et al also applies at private schools too.

  8. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 11:29 am

    To those who I riled up – nice language and nice cliche. Must have learned those in school – LOL – Try as you may to be creative, you are bores. And I wouldn’t be such an activist for our world’s resources if my attitude was as you say. That’s the important thing. This world is going to SUCK for your children if idiots don’t start focusing.

  9. May 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Fed Up – Were not the ones commenting anon at a politics blog complaining about people having too many children and having to pay for their eduction, that would be you. When the world sucks for me, it’s going to suck for you too. I guess that’s the part you just don’t get.

  10. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Riled: Your neeners are too funny. My stomach hurts from laughing. Bottom line: The kids will do just fine with less teachers and more students/class. Sob stories about it are a waste. And I agree with you that parents are failing kids. There is no dicipline any more. BUT, the budget cuts are here and for good reason and that’s my neener to you.
    p.s. This crowded world is CURRENTLY bad – what will it be like for your little lamb in the future? Even tho I’ll be long gone and don’t have to care, I am doing much to help change what I can for this abused planet and its future. Soooo, I do get it little missy! More than you could ever understand.

  11. May 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    You know nothing about me though and you assume a lot as well. WE all do what we can, so it doesn’t make you a Saint. “Little missy”. Wow, condescending too!

    I’m at a loss why you are so angry about the things you can’t control and that don’t affect you directly. The glee you take in cutting teachers with higher education degrees is astounding to me.

  12. Let's rethink this rationally
    May 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Dear Riled/Fed Up:
    Let’s not dwell on how many kids we have or have not, but on what our dollar is actually providing to the good of the nation. Schools work for some, but not for others…..as I recall Bill Gates was not a college grad but holds a thick pocketbook. Let’s put importance on what our people really need, and who is responsible to pay for it. Two, four, or six, children are your responsibility to provide for. Therefore, let’s not ask our government to supplement our breeding. Healthcare for Americans far outweighs overcrowded classrooms. Who should pay for these outrageous costs?

    What kind of response can we get to the overcrowded hospitals — 4 hour wait in the Emergency Room. We seem to either lay off medical staff or close down hospitals. Isn’t simply living healthy the first step in a happy life?

    What kind of response do we get to overcrowded prisons? Let them out early to prey upon more victims? This is more ineffective than your child sharing his/her lesson with 30 other kids.

    Oh well…..just food for thought!

  13. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    It’s not about you! That’s the part YOU don’t get.

  14. May 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I never said it was about me, my point was it’s about ALL OF US, whether you like it our not, you are part of SOCIETY, which connects us all.

  15. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Dear Rational: Wow, good stuff – great priorities!!!!!
    Dear Heather: Wow, I thought in America whether you liked something or not you could speak up about it. Being a part of SOCIETY doesn’t mean I have to be connected with YOU.

  16. May 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Of course you can speak out but that doesn’t mean people have to roll over and not disagree with you. That’s the beauty of freedom of speech, people can disagree.

    And whether you like it or not, we are all in this together, and we are connected by society. Glad to know it bothers you so much.

  17. Fed Up
    May 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Dear Heather: Exactly what is happening here. I have disagreed with your story and you are so riled that someone is disagreeing with what you put on a pedestal that you have to use foul language, wish upon me a sucky world, accuse me of not understanding anything, imagining there is a connection between you and me, and presuming I am bothered by this blog. I haven’t laughed this hard in a week that’s how little it bothers me. Stick to the point. You have not said one thing that would change my mind about budget cuts for schools. You definitely have a classic politician brain. How could it hurt to have more kids in classes? Teachers know what they are getting into when they go out for the profession – layoffs come with the territory. Layoffs are happening in all fields now. Times are bad – Teachers are low on the totem pole as they should be. I’m sick of hearing them bitch about pay too and then drive off in luxury vehicles.

    I’m actually getting very bored of this – I only went on here when I found it googleing the teacher layoffs. With glee I might add. TEE HEE

  18. May 7, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    You are the one using names. My foul language reflects my disgust with people who don’t care about education and think of it as disposable because they don’t have children in public school. But I never called you a name and have been nothing but respectful.

    Rather than use my name, you’ve chosen to reduce me to names. I think your glass house is in trouble and you might want to stop the kettle from boiling over.

  19. Vern Nelson
    May 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Well, Fed Up, too bad you’re stuck in a civilized country like America where most people, like Heather and myself, have come to the agreement that it is in the entire society’s benefit to have all its kids educated, and that it’s something worth all of us paying for with our taxes. You’ll probably throw another hissy fit once we manage to get universal single-payer healthcare in this state, then in this country. But OK, we get it, you have an “I’ve got mine Jack” philosophy, you’ve made your point. You’re the one who’s getting boring and obnoxious.

    By the way, thanks for your environmental work, if that’s not just BS.

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    May 7, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I presume Fed Up that you don’t mind paying for the war in Iraq?

  21. May 7, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I have edited the comments of “Fed Up” in which s/he addressed another poster in condescending terms. Everyone is encouraged to read the Terms of Use at the top of the page.

    Today’s choices are, as always:

    1) play nice or
    2) go elsewhere.

  22. octeach
    May 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Fed Up,

    I agree we have a population problem but what can you do but deal with it. You may have been one of the lucky kids who had your parents support and guidance when in school and thats why your so successful. Thats not the case for most. I am one of those people without kids, but don’t mind educating people, we need well educated Americans.

    A lot of kids have parents who both work, if they even have both parents. A lot of kids have been delt a hard hand in life, they grow up in unideal circumstances. I’ve worked with kids living one bedroom apartments with many families, kids living in hotels, kids going hungry, kids being left alone at home.

    These kids rely on school not just for an education but for character building as well. Its not the kids fault, they deserve better than what they are getting, why punish them?

Comments are closed.