TEA President Jason Freed rallies TUSD teachers to fight federal court-ordered diversity plans

The email at the bottom was just sent to all TEA members from Jason Freed, President of the Tucson Education Association and deals with consistently campaigning by TEA against the District’s teacher diversity plan.

This diversity plan was designed to hire more ethnic/racial minorities and to more evenly assign minority and non-minority teachers throughout the District; this way schools are neither comprised of predominantly white teachers or minority teachers.

The National Education Association also supports teacher diversity plans.

However, teacher seniority, in the eyes of TEA, is more important than the objective of a court-ordered teacher diversity plan. As seen in the letter below from Jason Freed to his membership, the TUSD Board has been lobbied by him and many TEA members against a diversity plan required by a Federal Desegregation Order. This has resulted in a Board resolution which will be discussed at tonight’s Board Meeting.

TUSD plans to appeal Federal Desegregation Court Order due to anti-diversity lobbying by Jason Freed and TEA.

If passed, it will result in TUSD appealing the court order of September 6, 2018, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will once again be very costly and drain desegregation funds to deal with adult issues. It will also take attention away from student-focused matters.

Many teachers have complained that TEA’s membership is at an all-time low and that its membership is comprised of predominantly of white teachers. TEA refuses to provide statistics on its membership and its membership’s ethnic/racial composition but if what teachers are reporting is true, the data itself would support the need for a diversity plan focused on teachers.

TEA President letter below:

I am writing you a stand-alone message about an extremely concerning piece of information of which we just became aware. This will require your immediate attention, as well as participation on the part of you and your colleagues. Please read below:

In an attempt to gain full Unitary Status, which will mean that TUSD would no longer be under court supervision, TUSD filed for and received Partial Unitary Status just last week. By and large, this is good for employees, students, and the community, as it indicates that TUSD is addressing racial disparities within our community. Buried in the 152-page document, there is one significant section in the “Partial Unitary Status Order.” The Order calls for a change in hiring practices in TUSD. Please read the direct quotes from the Order below:

“The USP, which requires that TUSD ‘increase the number of experienced teachers and reduce the number of beginning teachers hired to teach in racially concentrated schools or schools in which students are underachieving academically.’”

“This is an issue which affects student’s achievement because inexperienced teachers are less effective teachers.”

“The USP requires the District to place more experienced teachers where the need is greatest to improve student achievement.”

“The court adopts the Special Master’s recommendation to centralize the teacher-hiring process.”

“…the District alter its recruitment and placement policies with respect to all teachers, including beginning teachers, so that the central office can act more strategically with respect to the placement of teachers than is now the case.”

In addition to these statements being condemning of the skills of our newest teachers, the Order is clear; new teachers should be hired centrally. This means that new teachers are interviewed through 1010, and then without necessarily including the teacher or administrator’s opinion, placed at whichever school TUSD believes they should work at.

Please also understand that there seems to be an implication that the court could require TUSD to move current teachers from their school to a different school, with the only justification being addressing racial makeup of the students and staff.

TEA agrees with the intent of the Order and recognizes the need to right the disparities in racially concentrated schools or schools in which students are underachieving academically. The ramifications of the Order, if put in place, would have the opposite impact, furthering TUSD’s teacher shortage crisis and hindering its ability to retain experienced teachers – ultimately worsening the very disparities the Order hopes to correct.

TEA believes that we must address this immediately, and we need to direct TUSD to file an appeal to the court quickly. Not allowing new teachers to apply to the school of their choice, which is exactly what every other district we know of in Arizona does, will cause new teachers not to even apply to work in TUSD. The potential moving of current employees would have a similar effect, resulting in TUSD teachers leaving TUSD for districts in which they apply for schools they wish to work for and would only exacerbate the teacher crisis the district is in.

We need your help. TEA needs you to write to TUSD, asking for TUSD to appeal the portion of the Partial Unitary Status Order that states that new teachers will be hired and placed through TUSD administration. Let them know that this will have a negative impact on teacher recruitment, while Arizona is already in a teacher shortage crisis. And let them know that if you were a new teacher, you would not apply to work in TUSD if this were to be the hiring practice. Lastly, please consider reading your email at Call-to-the-Audience on Wednesday October 3, at 5:30, at Duffy. We need to all send this type of email, and we need to do so soon, as TUSD only has 45 days to file an appeal.

Thank you in advance for agreeing to write TUSD, and for then sharing your concerns at the October 3 Governing Board Meeting. Please email your comments to er@tusd1.org.

Jason Freed

TEA President

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