By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Front row: Melissa Trudell, Sarah Hypes, Nicole Foster. Back row: Catherine Fish, Lauren Johansen, Megan Youngblood, Shawna Briggs.
“There’s not a dry eye in the house,” a parent warned other parents who had come to collect their children.
The last day of school is usually a time of celebration, but at El Crystal Elementary School in San Bruno there was an outpouring of grief and sadness this June. Students clung to teachers, parents came in to express thanks, and staff said their goodbyes.
Out of 11 teachers at the school, this year seven were given pink slips. Skip Johnson, the school principal, calls the group of San Bruno Education Association members “The Magnificent
Seven.” They are Shawna Briggs, Catherine Fish, Nicole Foster, Sarah Hypes, Lauren Johansen,
Melissa Trudell and Megan Youngblood.
The principal is sad, but he’s also angry about cuts imposed on education. “The economic downturn seems to have so desensitized our nation that it no longer seems to care,” said Johnson. “I hope someday we can find the resources to support a sound, basic education for all of our students.”
“What’s happening is just awful,” says Hypes, a first-grade teacher who is not returning. “This is my third year here and the school is like a family. We’re really close. Everybody knows each other, and we’re all on the same page educationally.”
Sadly, they are among 26,000 teachers in California receiving pink slips this year along with thousands of classified employees.
“More than $17 billion has been cut from California public schools and colleges in the last two years, equaling a cut of nearly $3,000 per student,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “That this is happening in California — in a state that boasts the eighth-largest economy in the world — is truly unconscionable.”
In the end just two of the El Crystal Elementary School teachers — Youngblood and Fish — were asked to return to the school. Some of the seven were offered jobs elsewhere in the district, but for most of them, it was too little too late. They say they are bound for jobs in other districts or pursuing other careers.
“I look into the eyes of the ‘magnificent seven’ we are losing and my heart breaks. All of us at El Crystal grieve for the loss of our school culture. In 2008, the state of California recognized us as a distinguished school for raising our Academic Performance Index from the low 700’s to more than 850 over a five-year span while maintaining Adequate Yearly Progress for all our subgroups. Next year, in kindergarten through grade 3 we will go from 20 students to 31 students per class. I grieve for the loss of great, young, enthusiastic teachers and for the loss of our ability to reduce class size.”
Principal, El Crystal Elementary School in San Bruno
Read more about what CTA and NEA are doing to bring educators back to work:
Call your legislators and tell them to uphold the promise to California’s students: (888) 268-4334