Reader CMR asked:

How many districts (or of the 5 largest districts) in San Diego have “post and bid” systems when it comes to teacher transfers?

Let’s pause here to explain. “Post and bid” is the system for hiring teachers within the San Diego Unified school district, which staffing administrator Tim Asfazadour was kind enough to explain to me back in June.

Schools “post” their vacancies for San Diego Unified teachers to apply, and teachers “bid” for those spots. Most schools will then get the names of the five most senior teachers who applied — those who have the most tenure in San Diego Unified. There are exceptions: Magnet schools and low-performing schools can choose among everyone who applies, Asfazadour said.

Critics complain that systems like this prevent principals from choosing among the widest possible pool of employees. Former Keiller Leadership Academy Executive Director Patricia Ladd complained that it stifled the school’s hiring before the school became a charter that controlled its own hiring:

“We’ve become a massive employment agency meeting the needs of adults before we meet the needs of the children,” Ladd complained of the district system. “We have to be able to hire staff according to performance — not time in the chair.”

So is this system used elsewhere in San Diego County? I rang up Sweetwater Union High School District spokeswoman Lillian Leopold to ask about San Diego Unified’s neighbor to the south. (Kudos to Leopold for the speedy response!)

Hiring in Sweetwater is more restrictive than in San Diego Unified: Leopold said that if more than five teachers apply for a job, the principal must choose the most senior applicant. If fewer than five people apply, the principal can choose whoever they want, or check “None of the above” and go back to the Human Resources department to ask about hiring substitute teachers or other employees.

Poway Unified definitely doesn’t use “post and bid,” said spokeswoman Sharon Raffer, but she’s checking into the details of what they use instead. I’m waiting to hear back from Chula Vista Elementary School District and Vista Unified.

Another helpful resource on hiring rules is the National Council on Teacher Quality’s database on teacher contracts nationwide. You can compare teacher contracts in large urban districts, seeing how many sick days teachers get, how transfers work, and more. A quick search comparing schools in Fresno, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego gives some basic information on how our transfer rules compare.

CMR also wanted to know about the teachers union stance on the issue, and how the union would encourage people to stay and teach in “our most challenging schools” instead of jumping ship for La Jolla. I can’t speak for teachers union president Camille Zombro (though I have left her a message) but the union has generally argued that improving working conditions and pay couldn’t hurt.

The other option that has been hinted at by Superintendent Terry Grier — an option that the teachers union is adamantly opposed to — is differential pay. That means paying some teachers more than others, based on where they teach or how effective they are in raising test scores.

How would that work? Principals in San Diego Unified are already learning about how to track a teacher’s effectiveness over time from statistician William Sanders, who met with administrators today to explain his research on the topic.

Enough edu-nerdery for now. I’ll update you when I hear back on how Poway manages its hiring without post-and-bid.

EMILY ALPERT

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