Riffing on RIF-ing

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By John Hubbuch

I suspect no one was more relieved than the Mann School community to have the high school's Reduction In Force (RIF) replace the testing mess at Mann as the scandal du jour. 

Each year since Abraham Lincoln walked 5 miles through the snow to go to his one room schoolhouse, school districts  on a date certain in the spring tell most all the part-time teachers and non-tenured teachers that they might not be coming back. Otherwise under state statute you would be rehired. Since class sizes, enrollments and sign-ups are not known until later in the year , the RIF-ing maximizes the school's flexibility and saves money. Most of the the RIF-ed get invited back. This all takes place in a tenure context whereby after 4 years a teacher gets tenure, and can only be removed thereafter for arson, riot and/ or terrorism.          

What was interesting this time around was how upset a group of parents and teachers were over the temporary dismissal of a few of their favorite teachers.  These aggreived descended on the high school Wednesday night brandishing concern and outrage , if not burning torches and pitchforks. Say this for the multitude they actually might have saved the job of at least the head of the OPRF theater department.                              

Predictably the students were praised for speaking up as they always are in these kinds of meetings, and for sure it is better than doing drugs or cyber-bullying. The Board wisely let everybody blow off some steam before summer break.              

There was a certain irony reflecting upon the possibility that at least some of the RIF-ed teachers would eventually get tenure, and 30 years later would be burned out only teaching to increase their pension. It is not unlikely that a student who spoke so eloquently Wednesday night  might be be complaining as a parent 25 years later that their child needed to be re-assigned out of that very same teacher's class. It is hard to predict who will be a good teacher.                           

I will say this: getting that many people to come out on a work and school night bespeaks a passion and committment that I should probably respect , even praise. Go Huskie parents and students!

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John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 19th, 2012 2:23 AM

Boy, it is tough on the teachers. While they know the game, they still feel rejected. The situation is worse for the students. It is a big deal to think you are losing someone very important in your life. It is very hard for them to believe that adults can so viciously dismissed. Big disappointments are a major experience and one that will be repeated day by day, year by year and for the rest of their life. They will be rejected by colleges they wanted to attend. Rejected by the boy or girl they loved, will not be chosen for a job they really wanted, will have a great boss quit or a rotten boss arrive. Yep life have sad but fortunately short moments of losing a friend, a teacher, a bid on a house, but all that prepares you for the next thing that will disappoint you. It's like a rain cloud at a baseball game. It might ruin your day, but It won't ruin your life. Buck up Murtagh, a whole bunch of teenagers are about to disappoint you by posting that you are an old fool.

Chris B from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 9:37 PM

Except it looks like the head of the amazing theater department is not rehired. Yet. Let's hope calmer heads prevail, and Footloose moves forward for the summer musical, and the kids get their leader back.

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