Many [administrators] tell us that they routinely work 60-hour weeks, but still can’t keep up. Saturdays and Sundays have become regular workdays and their health is being affected.
From the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update, Issues of October 8 and October 15, 2012 http://bit.ly/SQxR7e | http://bit.ly/TIZsxd
COMMENTS TO THE BOARD: WORKING CONDITIONS
Week of October 15, 2012 :: During the Board of Education meeting of October 9, 2012, Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, made the following comments regarding Item #1 on the agenda, Approval of the AALA-LAUSD MOU for 2012-2013 on Evaluation.
Good afternoon, Mr. Superintendent and Board Members. My name is Judith Perez. I am President of AALA. One comment regarding this MOU on the Evaluation of Principals and Assistant Principals: We appreciate our collaboration with the District’s bargaining team during negotiations. Together we addressed the Court’s decision in the Doe v. Deasy lawsuit and resolved the matter for our members this year.
Nevertheless, I must now take this opportunity to tell you that our administrators are overwhelmed by the workload mandated by District leadership. AALA has brought this to the attention of Superintendent Deasy and Deputy Superintendents King and Aquino on a regular basis.
Perhaps some of you didn’t have the chance to read the October 8 issue of the AALA Update. The front-page article describes the impossible working conditions that currently exist for principals. They are expected to develop, submit and implement numerous plans related to attendance, safety, discipline, parent involvement, language acquisition, autonomy, accreditation and more. Add to these the Performance Meter targets, the numerous certifications that they must sign, the difficulty accessing information from the District’s MyData system and the lack of user-friendly software. Is it any wonder that principals are feeling like they’re drowning and it’s just the second month of school? AALA continues to receive letters, phone calls and e-mails from principals who are frustrated with the arbitrary deadlines, the lack of support, too many meetings off-site and the continuing barrage of documents to submit. Many tell us that they routinely work 60-hour weeks, but still can’t keep up. Saturdays and Sundays have become regular workdays and their health is being affected.
While we are acutely aware of the District’s fiscal condition, we question whether school-site funding is truly the number one priority for this District. We have 100 elementary schools, for example, with one school administrative assistant and a half-time clerk in the office, inadequate playground supervision and a single administrator. You simply cannot run a school, visit classrooms, engage parents and handle the multiple issues that occur on an hourly basis without a greater level of staffing.
We have made specific suggestions to the District’s negotiating team and to the Superintendent regarding ways to alleviate the workload of principals. We continue to await a response.
Following these comments, Dr. Perez answered questions from Board members regarding several issues including the Educator Growth and Development Cycle (EGDC) software. She explained that while technology may be a valuable tool, administrators need software that helps reduce their workload, not increase it.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! PART I
Associated Administrators of Los Angeles UPDATE
Week of October 8, 2012 :: For the past three years, we have published numerous articles in Update describing the overwhelming workload imposed on AALA members. We have raised these concerns with two LAUSD Superintendents, dozens of District senior staff and Board members and during negotiations. Our members have given their hearts and souls to this District. They’ve agreed to 26 furlough days between 2009 and 2013 and they’ve lost additional salary through basis reductions. The cuts to clerical, custodial and supervision staff have directly increased the administrative workload at school sites. Those who work at Beaudry and other offices have had to shoulder additional responsibilities as their colleagues’ ranks were reduced. AALA members, both certificated and classified, are reeling from the stress of taking on too many extra responsibilities. As we have said before, with power, politics and personalities constantly changing, AALA members continue to hold this District together. Their reward? More initiatives, more plans, more responsibility, more accountability, more intimidation—and less support, less compensation, less autonomy and less professional growth and development. Add to this the District’s trifurcated reorganization that separates instruction, operations and parent services—necessitating principals to report to three supervisors. Superintendent Deasy, we heard you when you said that you were dividing the responsibilities that the directors had under the previous structure because they were overwhelming for one person to handle. Yet, the schools have lost clerical, custodial, supervision, cafeteria and administrative support, and principals are being asked to do more with less. Don’t you find that overwhelming for school administrators, or do only directors get overwhelmed?
Plans, plans and more plans - Attendance, Safety, Single School, Accreditation, Common Core, Master, Discipline, Parent Involvement and Autonomy—all plans! Dr. Deasy, are you even aware of the number of plans that principals are supposed to develop, submit AND implement? Couple that with targets for the Performance Meter in your multilevel Strategic Action Plan, the numerous “certifications” that they must sign, the difficulty accessing information from the District’s MyData system and the lack of user-friendly software, is it any wonder that principals are feeling like they’re drowning and it’s just the second month of school? AALA continues to receive letters from principals who are frustrated with the arbitrary deadlines, the lack of support and the continuing barrage of documents to submit.
Below is an excerpt of a letter from an elementary principal.
I am a dedicated, hardworking principal who is totally overwhelmed and frustrated… I received an e-mail yesterday afternoon that [mentioned] the required Attendance Plan that is due Monday. You will see that no information was provided as to where we would find it. I first logged into Inside LAUSD, checked What’s New and What’s Due, but it wasn’t there. I next went onto the ESC website to the Operations page, but no information or links were to be found. I called several other principals; no one had the information, knew where to find it or had started it. Just last week the ESC had a four-hour Operations meeting. The Attendance Plan was not mentioned at all. It is due on Monday, October 1, the same day as two volumes of the Safe School Plan are due, the same week that the Fall Survey is due and our Goal Setting forms are due to our directors. Please note, on pages 4 & 5 of the template, there is no way to insert the information into the triangles, arrows [and] text boxes … and the directions do not address this. In addition, many schools met the benchmark and goals from last year as well as the Performance Meter. These schools should not have to rewrite the entire plan. Where is the acknowledgement for meeting the goal or any type of differentiation or support for schools that are struggling?
In addition, at our Operations Meeting, the agenda did not address some of the critical concerns of principals such as how off E-CAST was for many ESC schools, the textbook shortage created by using E-CAST, the plan to rehire any RIF teachers or the online Administrative Certification. I have completed my 7th year as principal at my school and have never felt so frustrated and unsupported. I had a full-day principal meeting with my directors, a half-day operations meeting and the discipline training all within a few weeks … I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. I do not know how I can meet all the deadlines next week and still support the teachers, students and parents at my school. I know that many of my colleagues feel the same way, please help!
Here is part of a letter that was sent to Superintendent Deasy from a principal in a different ESC:
I’ve been a principal for a few years now, and I’ve never seen such a bombardment of e-mails on a daily basis related to compliance - attendance plans, discipline, operations, instruction, budget, personnel, staff relations, parent engagement, etc., etc. It is nonstop. Principals are so overwhelmed in [my] ESC, they are afraid to open their daily e-mails… Morale is at an all-time low… as we are being asked to do more with less support and pay… Between the operations leaders, the instructional directors (many who have been out of schools for years) and the other directors… I’ve never seen such micromanagement, fear and intimidation.
Dr. Deasy and ESC Superintendents, you need to be aware of how the reorganization, with the various new initiatives and lofty ideals that are being tossed at principals, is impacting the day-to-day operation of schools. The above are just two of the many letters we have received regarding the increased workload and pressure which school-site administrators are facing. AALA staff members met with a group of more than twenty-five elementary principals from different ESCs on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, and were stunned at the level of despair, intimidation and anger that they are feeling. Rarely have so many raised issues of work overload and low morale so early in the year. Do you realize that there are 83 new principals? Given that the letters above were written by well-experienced principals, can you imagine how the novices must feel? We have had principals relay to us that they are receiving sometimes more than 100 e-mails a day, requiring immediate responses. When are they supposed to do that? Given the mountain of paperwork and the lack of clerical and supervision support, when are they supposed to get into classrooms? Many principals do not have an assistant principal. The District is demanding more, yet continually reducing resources; requiring plans that should take thought, time and effort to develop while not providing any assistance to accomplish the task. The technology administrators are required to use is not user-friendly, frequently difficult to navigate and often inaccessible.
Principals know when they accept an assignment, that the challenge of running a school, while transforming teaching and learning, is no easy task. They are not prepared, though, for the myriad demands from forces external to the school and in many cases, the actual undermining of their ability to do the job. The three pronged structure of the ESCs means that administrators are receiving direction from multiple directors and support from none. For those of you who have never been a principal, be advised, it is like running a city, except in the LAUSD city, the mayor is also the chief financial officer, chief medical officer, community liaison officer, city manager, chief human resources officer, head of maintenance, ITD director, PR director, mental health director and transportation coordinator. The District principal must assume all of those roles while focusing on teaching and learning, implementing the Strategic Plan (to which they had no input), raising test scores and fundraising. We know that our members are giving their all, working nights and weekends—they don’t need to hear platitudes from senior staff. What they do need is a respite in order to really focus on the needs of their students and staff AND maybe, just maybe, have some kind of personal life.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! PART II
Associated Administrators of Los Angeles UPDATE
Week of October 15, 2012 :: As noted in the article [above] , the AALA Elementary Department unanimously approved the following motion:
“…that the District suspend the following initiatives for the 2012-2013 school year pending the addition of minimally adequate resources to schools. They are EDGC, the Performance Meter and the ISIS Discipline System. The District should reinstate a strategic annual master calendar with reasonable pacing windows that are coordinated with school and community needs. We want the District to reestablish What’s New, What’s Due on the Inside LAUSD website. All principals need to leverage and become equal partners to review, inform, modify and implement the District’s initiatives.”
The motion was clearly brought about by the unreasonable and unrelenting workload with which AALA members are dealing. The myriad initiatives, plans, compliance documentation and accountabilities are all-consuming, leaving little or no time for school-site administrators to do their primary job; focusing on the instructional program. We continue to get daily letters from principals seeking help with their working conditions and fed up with the increasing growth of a leadership culture that is fueled by disrespect, fear, intimidation and retaliation. At a recent AALA meeting, principals shared that they cannot ask their directors for help due to the “gotcha” mentality.
Below are just a few samples of the letters we receive:
From a high school principal about the targets that are to be established for the Performance Meter:
It is my belief that this timeline is too short. To seriously consider our targets as a school community and get them communicated to everyone by tomorrow [October 2, 2012] when we first discussed them on September 19 is too short a time to give real consideration to the issues involved in trying to meet a third accountability system with reduced personnel and unreasonably increased workloads… Is there any relief from these demands on the horizon? It was bad enough that we had state and federal accountability systems to answer to. Now a third, the Performance Meter? With virtually no time to do it? This necessitates us faking it. There is no other way to set targets by tomorrow… Also, the link to enter the targets will not let me log in, so I can't get the job done anyway. The site comes up, asks for my single sign on, then goes to an error exception that says illegal character in parameter…
Have you seen the new bulletin that says if a school does not have 75% free and reduced lunch eligible students, Title I funds will be distributed only if there are any left after the 75% plus schools have been given a higher percentage? We had 75% last year, but we are at 60% today with the deadline set at tomorrow. This means we could lose all of our Title I funding at the whim and caprice of the Superintendent. I see this as a way to pay for the expanded monitoring positions at the District level. Am I correct in this idea? I am trying to listen for understanding, but what I am understanding is all bad for public schools and their students.
From an elementary principal:
Thank you so much for listening to the concerns we all presented to you and the staff yesterday. The reality of running a school under these current conditions is quite nearly impossible. We all want to be the instructional leaders of our schools but the way the new infrastructure is set up it impedes our ability to do so.
The following are my concerns:
• 883 hours of Supervision are NOT enough for a school of approximately 650 students for the year!
• Too many reports, commitment forms, plans ALL due within a weekdifficult to do when I only have a part-time AP (2 days a week) and [have to] run a school simultaneously!
• [I] understand the accountabilities, but [this is] too much!
• TARs should be sent to us as a link once they are posted into [the] system. Why should we have to log onto a system we rarely use to "see" if a TAR has been posted for us to review? Who has the time?
• PD time [is] not enough for us to do a thorough job in presenting Teaching and Learning Frameworks, Data Analysis, Master Plan, Common Core and give our staff grade level time as well!
• Our work hours are exceedingly increasing daily. I work at work, home in the evenings & on weekendsjust to feel "somewhat" like I have a handle on "all" that I am responsible for.
• FYI. As we discussed, many of us will need to spend our entire day in the front office on Monday [October 8] by ourselves [due to SAAs having a furlough day].
BTW, a few of us are in the second day of EGDC training and are appalled at what is being expected of principals. Though we agree with the content, there is no way to carry this out the way it is laid out without either doing an inadequate job OR going absolutely nuts. As we discussed yesterday, if there was a generic AP or a full-time coordinator (at the very least) at every school site, it's at least more doable.
AND TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY, HOW DARE YOU…
• Have a four-hour principals’ meeting with no break?
• Ask school-site administrators to print out documents and bring them to the meeting? (Budget????)
• Decrease instructional time to implement breakfast in the classroom with no input from teachers or administrators?
• Leave over 100 schools to operate with only one four-hour office technician and the principal on October 8, 2012?
• Ask school committees to complete the Safe School Plan Assessment and once they do, send it back saying their self-assessed scores are too high?
Mr. Superintendent and Board Members, some immediate help must be provided now and if Proposition 30 passes, you must use the additional revenue to further address those issues that directly impact schools during the 2013-14 school year. Let the public know what is at risk. Your school teams are drowning!