San Diego Union Explains Teacher Burnout, Mental Health Day Fiasco
This post was originally published in the Morning Report on November 9. Subscribe to the morning report here.
The president of the San Diego Unified School District Educators Union pleaded with teachers Monday not to take Friday off unless they have already scheduled it. If others removed it, especially out of frustration at the district’s about-face last week over whether to cancel school on November 12, it could violate their contract.
Background: San Diego Unified Superintendent Lamont Jackson announced Thursday that he will be asking the school board to cancel the teaching day on November 12. November 11 is already a holiday without school. In an email to parents late at night, Jackson wrote that it would give families the opportunity to focus on their well-being and mental health.
Very soon, however, other views began to emerge that this proposal was an effort to deal with the fact that so many educators had asked for a day off and that they did not have enough substitute teachers. . There have been many stories recently about the lack of professionals available to replace as well as other staffing needs in schools. With potentially outnumbered students also, the district was going to let everyone out and add another day at the end of the year.
But then there was a backlash among parents who were concerned about the lack of planning and the implication that a sudden need for childcare that day had been created for their mental health.
Jackson brought everything back on Friday and told parents they could keep the kids at home if they wanted, but would be welcome at school. Above all, no teaching day would be added at the end of the school year.
Jackson categorically denied that the district had staffing issues that contributed to the need for the “mental health break.”
There is still a manpower problem: at least according to Kisha Borden, president of the San Diego Education Association. She explained to members in an email that many teachers had planned to take time off on November 12 and had saved the time off to do so. But there are potentially not enough substitutes.
âIf you had already planned to use leave earned on the 12th, you don’t have to change your plans. What we should not and cannot do, however, is encourage fellow educators to take a day off in concerted response to poor decision-making in the district, âshe wrote. It would violate the contract teachers have with the district.