Friday, December 28, 2012

The "New" Catalina Island Teachers

Prior to Long Beach Unified School District's Layoffs, Catalina Island Teachers taught in Avalon because they chose to do so and accepted these Island hardships as a way of life. It was understood they may be asked to teach additional students on inclement weather days when the Catalina Express doesn't run and Mainland Substitute Teachers are unable to reach the Island. But, there was a sense of comradeship in this tiny school, where teachers worked and lived together on a common Island, serving the needs of the community.

Little did they know that LBUSD's teacher layoffs would take a devastating blow to their tiny school and especially the elementary school staff of 12, when 3 teachers were laid off and 3 retired, leaving open positions for half their staff to be filled with Mainland Teachers in "order of seniority" during the first two years!

Avalon, California Population 5000 w/ A Hispanic/Latino Majority

The "Cause and Effect" of LBUSD's disregard for Avalon's remote community can best be summarized by a recent Facebook post by a former Catalina Island resident, "During my two year stay in Avalon, I thought they had hired new teachers? Anyways, they truly depend upon good teachers. It's too bad Linda couldn't stay." This observer is correct, they did hire "new teachers" and have been replacing me and others every year with teachers who are higher on LBUSD's Seniority List because the "new teachers" generally stay only one year before declining their positions the following year. Their Island positions are accepted out of financial necessity, rather than personal choice, and often with the decision to take this remote Island position or have no job at all!

The saddest part is the effect this has on the Island youth, when these teachers do not share the same bond and joy of "raising the Island children" together through the years. When I was hired, I was told by the Principal of Avalon Schools, "It takes an Island to raise a child" and I found this to be true. This cannot be met by teachers who commute to and from the Island everyday because they are not willing to live and invest in this remote Island community. As a result, the "new commuting teachers" are not able to "walk and talk with the children" after school hours as mandated in our Federal Government's No Child Left Behind Act.

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