Nine-year-old Jaden Brown got a civics lesson Monday night. Unfortunately, it did not end as she hoped.
Her teacher at Fremont Open Plan was among the 91 educators to be the first laid off at Modesto City Schools. Dozens of Open Plan parents, many wearing the rainbow tie-dyed school shirt, filled the room as Modesto City Schools trustees met to vote on the layoffs.
Parent Ryan Roth Gallo, an attorney by training, pleaded the case of three Open Plan teachers being laid off, arguing they had skills and experience that should exempt them from the seniority-only layoff plan. The program has four openings, Gallo pointed out, that it has been unable to fill from within the remaining certified pool.
The teachers had not been allowed to present their argument for special consideration at hearings on the layoff list, Gallo said, and were told to bring it to the school board. Trustees, however, left the list unchanged.
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Board member Rubén Villalobos said making an exception for certain teachers would open the district to litigation by others, but he'd like "to fix the problem (of only considering seniority) in future years -- though I know it's little solace."
After the board ruling, parents gathered outside and talked about the Open Plan.
"Teachers are not interchangeable," parent Sam Pierstorff said.
But it all comes down to dollars and cents, and for her part, Jaden is focused on solutions.
"Every day I go into my room -- how can I make money? How can I make money?" she said emphatically.
It's been her mantra since her mother, Shannon Brown, explained that her teacher -- the one featured in the current Modesto City Schools newsletter for Pioneer Day activities -- was not coming back.
She's thought of dog washes, carwashes, dog walking and making cookies and selling them to the neighbors. Her favorite idea is making bracelets out of toothbrushes, all to make money to give to Modesto City Schools to save her teacher's job.