OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Children will be filling the halls of Oakland schools next week, but will there be teachers to greet them? A shortage of teachers has administrators scrambling to fill dozens of positions in the next few days.
For Shenay Mallory, the last week of summer break is no game. She has been fighting to get her son Jamari out of his Oakland public school because of overcrowding. Jamari is set to begin fourth grade.
“I actually went and sat in his classroom for a couple of hours one day and I felt like the teacher could not control the kids. It was way too many kids to one teacher,” Mallory told KPIX 5.
When school starts next week, things may get worse. The district doesn’t have enough teachers to fill every classroom, and that could increase overcrowding at some schools.
With seven days left, there are still 60 teaching positions left to fill and Oakland Unified said low-income schools like this one where Mallory’s son goes to school will be impacted the most.
“Our talent officers are working around the clock to make sure our schools are fully staffed on the first day,” Oakland Unified spokesperson Troy Flint told KPIX 5.
But Flint said it’s unlikely there will be 60 hires by Monday, so some administrators who are qualified to teach will have to step away from their offices and into classrooms until enough teachers have been hired.
“The ideal, of course, is to have the same teacher on the first day that you do on the last day and every day in between,” Flint said. “Unfortunately that’s not the reality for us necessarily and it’s not the reality for districts throughout the country.”
Flint said there is a teacher pipeline problem statewide, due to the lasting effects of the recession and severe budget cuts.
It’s enough to make Mallory think very seriously about moving Jamari to an entirely different school district.
“We want our kids to be the best that they can be. To be able to be whatever they want to be, be a doctor or a nurse or a firefighter,” Mallory said. “And right now with the education they’re getting, I don’t think they’ll be able to do that.”