Teacher Complaints, Burn-Out and Turn-Over Roil High Tech Charter School in Point Loma

by on January 18, 2022 · 1 comment

in Education, Ocean Beach

We’d heard things weren’t going well at High Tech High charter school and network in Point Loma for the teachers or students. And today’s San Diego Union-Tribune article by Kristen Taketa confirmed it.

6th grade teacher Ryan Luz spoke with Taketa and explained the teachers’ view. Here, in brief, are those complaints and issues:

  • High Tech’s ideals have been overshadowed by chronic issues of under-staffing and teacher burnout that were only exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • Until last fall High Tech High did not provide substitutes for teachers who were absent, so teachers had to cover for them — having to teach as many as 60 kids at once or to use their planning time to cover a class.
  • High Tech Middle didn’t have enough special education staff, so some students whose disabilities required the use of a one-on-one educational aide were not getting one, or they had to share one with other students.
  • Teachers feel exhausted and some have resigned; four teachers and the school principal left the middle of December.
  • Some teachers say the abrupt shift to online learning last year, ongoing staffing shortages, and teachers feeling a lack of support are worsening longstanding tensions and burnout in the schools.
  • Amid the turmoil, High Tech High’s CEO Rasheed Meadows, an Ivy League graduate praised for leading school turnarounds, left his $300,000-a-year position with the charter network last month after serving about two years. He was paid $340,000 as part of a separation agreement. (By comparison, former San Diego Unified superintendent Cindy Marten was paid $290,907 in 2020 to oversee a district of 98,000 students.)
  • Meadows’ departure was one week after he triggered a spontaneous walk-out by teachers at High Tech Middle. Meadows had held a short-notice morning meeting where he told teachers to “hang in there,” and teachers left before the start of the school day in frustration.
  • High Tech High leaders pulled in teachers from the other nearby campuses to fill in for the protesting teachers. Charter leadership called the walkout an unlawful work stoppage and said it was “unfortunate and inappropriate” for teachers to leave their students.
  • Multiple teachers said in interviews that they felt unsupported by network leadership.
  • Their salary schedule, which dictates their pay increases, had not changed since 2019, while High Tech High added four executive positions to its payroll last summer.

According to Taketa:

Last spring High Tech High teachers decided to unionize, joining the small but growing ranks of charter schools with teachers unions. A week after they announced they were forming a union, High Tech High fired one of the organizing teachers, Jared Hutchins, hours after he was quoted in a news article about the new union.

More than 60 percent of High Tech High educators voted to unionize, but it took months for High Tech High leaders to recognize the union and it wasn’t until the union wrote letters to public officials about the lack of response that leaders acknowledged the union, said Hayden Gore, a sixth-grade humanities teacher at High Tech Middle Chula Vista and president of the union.

“Our schools are crumbling right before our eyes, and we had a leadership that was either completely in denial, unresponsive or incompetent to deal with it,” Gore said. …

The union and administration held their first collective bargaining session last week. Gore said he feels hopeful that they both can come to an agreement soon.

The U-T explained:

High Tech High is one of San Diego County’s largest charter school networks, with 6,500 students and 16 schools. It is renowned nationwide for a unique learning model where teachers design the curriculum and students learn primarily by doing projects based on real-world issues, such as creating voter information guides or multimedia projects about the human impacts of cancer.

Apparently, the luster has rubbed off.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank J January 19, 2022 at 8:40 am

Is that a big smile or smirk on the face of Betsy DeVos ?


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