ESN Teacher Dilemma

TEACHERLESS FIRST QUARTER: Instead of the normal two teachers the ESN classes on campus, there has been only one this school year. The second teacher for the students with special abilities quit a few weeks into the school year, but a new one was hired soon after. According to the SRTA, “Nineteen posted classified jobs pay less than the city of Santa Rosa’s minimum wage of 17.06 an hour.” Photo and Article By Marty Geffner

Can you imagine going through your first three months of school with no teacher? Sounds like a utopia, right? However, many students at Santa Rosa High School are finding out that it is not as great as it seems; every class must have a teacher. At Santa Rosa High, we have a large group of students with special abilities who deserve fair and equal educational opportunities. This school year, these students have not been given the normal educational opportunity due to the lack of a teacher.

In DeSoto, there are two separate rooms run by special service’s ESN program. ESN is a program dedicated to aiding students with disabilities and teaching them about life post-high school along with the opportunities presented to them after graduation. Usually, this program has two teachers, and that was the case at the beginning of the school year. However, one teacher quit a few weeks into the job, and the position has only just been filled. A new teacher was chosen about four weeks after the position opened, but it has taken HR two months to complete his fingerprinting. This is far too long. 

Santa Rosa City Schools has not put ESN students at, or even near, the top of its priority list, as neither the students nor the staff have not gotten equal opportunities or the help they need this school year. This is only a small part of a major issue that the District has caused. There are numerous open positions around the district that have gone unfilled for months; the ESN position was only one of them. 

SRCS has chosen to provide benefits that are exceedingly expensive for teachers across the district. The high cost of medical insurance, coupled with lower Sonoma County wages, makes it difficult to attract applicants to these positions. This, too, contributes to a major issue in the Special Education Department. Instead of giving teachers more support in a challenging job, aids and teachers’ assistants are paid nearly nothing. This also contributes to a lack of interest in these positions, because no teacher wants a position with little support.

On Edjoin, the education career portal utilized by our district, some assistant positions are even listed at below minimum wage. According to Santa Rosa Teachers Assosiation, “It is imperative that enhancements to working conditions be implemented to improve retention.” They also say, “Nineteen posted classified jobs pay less than the city of Santa Rosa’s minimum wage of 17.06 an hour.” This causes even more work to be placed on the shoulders of the teachers themselves. The issue of adding more work instead of more support is pushing more and more teachers away from the school district.
Since the students are a part of a Santa Rosa City Schools program, hiring is done solely by the District. Administrators at Santa Rosa High School have no say in who is chosen for the job. The new instructor has been set to begin working on Monday, November 7th, three months after the original teacher left the position. This has created an ever-rotating group of substitute teachers and administrators having to teach the class. Clearly, this is not what is best for these students’ school and learning experiences. When asked for an explanation, program manager Katya Robinson and assistant superintendent Steve Mizera did not comment on the situation.

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