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budget cuts-long post


From: KPRS (KPRS_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Aug 21 2002 - 07:30:23 PDT

Reduction in force (RIF, or reduction in classes) is usually not under the union's umbrella. Believe it or not, it's under the teacher's responsibility. How? Let me explain my situation. I was laid off twice from the same school system in the beginning of my career before I knew how the 'system' worked. I came back each time, and on the last go around my attitude turned into "if I go, the whole art department goes out with me". The second time I got laid off, I had the 'system' almost figured out. So I knew there would be no third time. In a nutshell you must have ties with guidance (and I am assuming that the arts are elective courses), so that you can keep them appraised of what EXACTLY is going on in the art department (so, not only do they know what is happening, but I am also on committees with guidance members so they can see my seriousness as a professional, and on the 'fun' side, the guidance office is festooned with ceramics and paintings from the art department). Know your students so that you KNOW exactly how many kids signed up for your classes, so "they" can't say, "not enough kids signed up for your class, therefore it's not running". Produce a list of who signed up (that's what I did for the second 'riffing'). Riffing occurs when they need to shuffle money around. What they usually do is tell the kids and the teacher that not enough people signed up for the course, so they are dropping it. You will never see the figures of how many actuallysigned up. Usually it will be an elective course, not the Physics course whose supply order is not as large as yours, but whose class 'ranks' higher in their minds. By keeping tabs of who has signed up, you have the 'leg to stand on'. I also run a large recruiting campaign for art classes each year, keep art visible in the building, and make art a priority to students both socially and educationally. (True, this push makes it like an additional part time job). There isn't anyone in my school of 800 who doesn't know who I am. My first year when recruiting I went to every wrestling match. (I was one of 10 one watches wrestling in my school). Didn't I have all the wrestlers in class?! My attitude from day 1 in teaching has always been EVERYONE should take art, and not just the elite art student. So my recruiting bent has always been a part of my educational background. I just didn't realize the first 2 times, that this 'push' had to be ongoing, and almost planned like a military campaign! And lastly, students vote with their feet. Which essentially means if they don't (and this is across the board) feel that they are "getting" anything out of the course, they simply won't sign up for it. And I don't mean the course should be 'easy' or 'fun' for them to sign up for it...but it should be relevant, exciting, challenging, and educational....and definitely HANDS ON!

just my half dollar

San D