“Did you hear? Mr. Avery got RIFfed!”

“Yeah, I got pinked again this year.”

“Mr. Vaudrey? Hi, we got the list… and you’re on it.”

Non-teachers, you have no doubt heard one of the above terms used around this time of year. Here’s what they mean for teachers:

Beware the Ides of March

Every year by March 15th, the California Education Code (“Ed Code” for short) states that teachers must be notified if their contract isn’t renewed for the next school year.

This could be for several reasons:

  1. The teacher is brand new to teaching and it’s just not a good fit. This way, he or she can get a new job, a fresh start, without saying “I got fired”.
  2. The state has no money, so schools have to make the same services available to kids, but with less staff, so it’s a Reduction In Force (“RIF” for short)
  3. The district has no money…
  4. The school has no money…
  5. The city has no money…
  6. The teacher is new to the school and this is a good way to see if they will work out: Fire them after a year, then if you want them back, you re-hire.

In our district, we have over 300 positions being cut.

That’s a lot. It’s about one in five.

“Anybody with levitation skills gets pinked. It’s a new district policy.”

Here’s why teachers make a big fuss about it:

Suppose you work at the GAP.

“Hi, I’m Devon. Can I get you a pooka-shell necklace?”

You were brand new to the retail business and hired on a “Probationary” basis. You work very hard and sell a lot of modestly priced polo shirts.

Then March 15th comes, you are told that you might be fired, for no reason, in June. Do you keep working hard until then?

“These pencils aren’t going to perch themselves.”

…cuz it’s really tempting to take your time stocking the capri pants after that. What’s the point? You’re out of a job in a few months.

Some of your co-workers start using up their sick days and some outright quit.

Still unclear?

Suppose you play football.

Your season ends and you are told your contract is over. It’s pretty common, but you can’t help feeling that you’d be kept if you’d made more tackles or touchdowns.

You quite enjoyed playing for your team, the Colts, but they may not have the money to hire you back.

Do you snoop around other teams for a job? If you find one, you’ll just be starting out there at the bottom of the ladder, ready to have the same thing happen next year.

Do you wait it out and see what happens? They all like you on the Colts, but what if the season starts and they can’t afford to keep you? You then have no team to play for. Is that better than playing for the Redskins?

[This is probably a good place for some snide remark about the Redskins.]

My first year teaching was a disaster. It was so bad, that I got pinked in late January. They didn’t even wait until March to let me know that I was done.

I stuck it out, though. I worked just as hard all the way to mid-June, harder perhaps—knowing that I had nothing to lose and I could try new things.

At least this year, I made it all the way to Pi Day.

Also, if you work at a charter school, as I previously did, they are exempt from the March 15th rule, as I wrote previously in anger.

**Credit to Laura, from whom I stole the bold formatting idea.