TEACHERS SPEAK OUT: A Letter to South Pasadena Residents & Parents

South Pasadena Teachers call for emergency meeting, teachers plans were all scrapped and replaced by one created by district administration.

South Pasadena Teachers speak out: "....your students deserve better..."

Dear South Pasadena community,

We love your kids, and we love our jobs. We love South Pasadena and decided to work here because we believe it is a unique community–in fact, we have several teachers who left other schools because they do not offer the whole-child focus that SPUSD advertises, as well as a truly diverse student body, and small-town, family feeling. For all these reasons, the last month has been an incredibly stressful, and in some cases, heartbreaking time to be a South Pas teacher.

In this, a time when we need to come together to best focus on the kids and each other, we have been shut-out of the decision-making process, and in general shut-down by administration.

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Throughout June, secondary teachers had multiple GoogleMeets and discussions about hybrid plans. We had teachers who were part of a focus group, as well as whole staff discussions both in the Meets and via email. A few teachers even created their own versions that were adapted and discussed. Teachers and administrators were all a part of this discussion, and we brought public-health research and pedagogical expertise to the discussion.

Friday, July 10, those plans were all scrapped and replaced by one created by district administration. The elementary focus group the day before was able to change and adapt their plan; the secondary group was not. This action damaged teacher morale and trust.

On July 16, a special School Board meeting was held with only the District’s new model as an option. Many teachers wrote public comments expressing their concerns, yet it was approved.

Last week, the TASP negotiating team and the SPUSD administrative team met to discuss possible options. The teams ultimately discussed some potential changes to the details of the schedule for both the elementary and secondary models. TASP presented models that were created after more robust conversations among teachers over email, as well as a survey with ideas from those email discussions. While we have a variety of thoughts about specific length of periods and live instruction, 101 out of 102 SPMS and SPHS teachers said that we need a dedicated day for a home room with community-building, socio-emotional support, professional development, and asynchronous learning. District administration insists that we cannot do this without another School Board meeting.

As Jennifer S. Lerner, Harvard Kennedy School Social Psychologist explains, “What many leaders fail to recognize is that diminishing teachers’ sense of control is itself a harm that increases stress and triggers downstream emotional and physical consequences, which then negatively influence the students.”

The students of SPUSD deserve better than a rushed, cobbled together plan with no pedagogical support for either distance or hybrid learning. The SPUSD teachers deserve more respect for their time, experience, and professionalism than they have been given this summer.

We write this in hopes that the School Board will immediately call an emergency meeting to address these schedules, as well as the decision-making process in SPUSD. Please join us in asking the SPUSD School Board to start a conversation with TASP to craft a schedule that best serves the health and excellent education of our students.

Sincerely,

The Teachers Association of South Pasadena

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