It's been a while, hasn't it? After my last post, I needed a good, long break from thinking too much about LAUSD. I went to New York with my darling husband. I finished the school year the best I could (which perhaps wasn't the best I ever could, but instead the best I could at that time). I looked forward to the first summer I'd had off in six years. I visited my parents in Illinois. Mostly, I relaxed and released the build-up of stress and bitterness that had been growing in me because of the hearings and all they represented.
True, I still didn't know what my job would be.
True, my principal refused to allow me to transfer to another school where I might have had more job security.
True, when summer started my future was one big mystery.
True, the image of that weasel attorney swam through my thoughts more frequently than I would have liked.
But I hung in there, with the help of my many supporters. And then I made a decision that changed my life dramatically. I decided that there was life outside of LAUSD. It was a radical thought, one that had occurred to me only vaguely before, as something abstract and unattainable. Life outside of LAUSD had never existed for me in Los Angeles. I worked for that school district from the moment I stepped foot in this here town, and I never stopped. Why, I now asked myself, didn't I ever just stop?
So, I began to look elsewhere. In July, most public school districts aren't ready yet to publicly post their job listings for the fall. I would not apply at a charter on principle. So I looked at independent (or private) schools. I looked at non-profits related to education. I just looked elsewhere. And wouldn't you know it, I found a place. A great place. A professional, nurturing, rigorous place where I'm not only challenged, but valued. How 'bout them apples? Valued! Now, I know I was valued to a certain extent in my old position. There were teachers who adored me, and I adored them. It was not a thankless job. But this job. Well, let's just say that it's something of a relief. That's a large part of what I feel. Relieved. It's just a breath of fresh air.
The day I submitted my resignation to LAUSD was both terrifying and exhilarating. To detach from such a formidable employer is not easy. I was advised by fellow educators that leaving LAUSD was foolish, that there are so many advantages to staying that it's worth the mild level of daily torture. But you know, I think they were wrong. I would trade some crazy seniority level for a day of happiness any time. I am perfectly capable of planning for my retirement without CalSTRS. I mean, c'mon. Millions and millions of other people out there don't work of LAUSD either. I know! It's crazy! I didn't realize that either! I began to feel even more at ease with my departure when I went to visit a dear friend and teacher who has not worked for LAUSD for about three years. What I discovered was this. She's fine! In fact, she's better than fine. She doesn't regret leaving one bit.
All of this is just to say that it was a really, very, terribly difficult decision for me to leave. But it was the right one. I love my students, all of them, old and new. I love my old school (and my other old school). I love the wonderful people I've met in LAUSD. And now I love my new school. So this blog will change a little, since now I am in an independent high school for girls. What will I say about them, about this? It remains to be seen.
I will leave you today with a humorous little anecdote about LAUSD, one of the last I hope to tell on this blog (although the scathing expose in book form is still somewhere in me).
Even though I resigned from LAUSD in plenty of time, the necessary documents were not signed and processed by the right people and the right time, and I was paid on August 5th for work I had not yet done (and would not do) for the 2011-2012 school year. Since then, I have spoken to Payroll Services FOUR TIMES, trying to determine how and when and where to give this money back so that I'm free and clear.
One woman told me simply to put a check in the mail, but didn't tell me where to send it (Um, this is a bureaucracy people. I am not doing that!). I explained to her that a portion of the money was mine to keep (hours worked in June) and that I needed payroll to calculate the exact amount owed. She said I should just do it myself and it would probably be fine. She also asked me if I had spent the money already, and then advised me against doing so. Thanks. I hadn't thought of that.
Another person "opened a ticket" for me so that the issue would get addresses promptly. That was two weeks ago.
A third woman told me that the ticket was opened incorrectly and so hadn't even been assigned to anyone yet. That was last week.
Today I was told that I could receive a letter about the overpayment "at any time" and that overpayment issues take "a loooong time" (emphasis attributed to speaker).
Don't they want their money back? I want to give it back!!!! Why don't they want it back?
Now, here, in this new wonderland, if there's a problem with my paycheck, all I have to do is walk out of the library, down a little hill, into another building, and talk to so-and-so (whose first and last names I know, and with whom I have shared a potluck meal). She will probably take care of it by the end of the day. Sweet relief. That's all I'm sayin'.