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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Failure: Teacher Retention Project at Emery Schools

Teachers Head For The Exits at Emery Unified
 School District

Newly Built Schools & Parcel Tax Notwithstanding
Emery Can Not Hang On to Its Teachers

News Analysis/Opinion
Will Emery Unified School District ever deliver on its promise to educate?
We've certainly done our part; Emeryville voters have up until now given Emery Unified School District whatever it asks for, be it bonds or a parcel tax.  What about the other side of the partnership?  When is Emery Unified going to deliver a school we can send our kids to?  

The success of a school or school district can be judged on many levels, academic achievement (test scores), employee satisfaction or turnover, balanced budgets, among other items.  Emery Unified specifically has made teacher retention a priority and the district extended a parcel tax, Measure K (2014) who's ballot language stated unequivocally: to recruit and retain qualified experienced 
teachers and staff.  Emery's Superintendent John Rubio, has failed on all these counts even with new school buildings at the Center of 'Community' Life and the extra parcel tax funds.  This invariably has a negative impact on the students that go to our schools.

"There is a shortage of good teachers, treat them poorly, they will go to better-paying districts where they are supported and appreciated."

Emery Unified reported in their budget update in March 2017, that there are 53 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions or “Certificated Staff”, which could include a Speech Therapist, Psychologist, and Nurse.  Currently, there are 21 vacancies posted for the “Certificated Staff” for 2017-18 school year at Emery Unified (see keywords: emery unified).  They are also looking for 10 Substitute Teachers.  They're going to need them.
This does not reflect well on a district of Emery’s size.  It is clear that there is a not a positive working environment, teacher morale is low and something is deeply wrong.  The departure of two teachers at Anna Yates during the middle of this school year is especially troubling.
One would be bright spot at Emery it was noted is a decrease in the payroll budget, however given that new teachers (and less experienced teachers) are paid less and this is responsible for the decrease, any good news is substantially attenuated.  
Emery Unified Schools Superintendent John Rubio
From his histrionic December 2016
letter to the Emeryville community:
"Last spring, we carefully paper screened over 250
teacher applicants to hire the best and the brightest
teachers we could find for your children."

Emery Unified has not delivered on its promise to Emeryville's voters who passed the Measure K parcel tax.  It is not recruiting nor retaining the number of quality teachers our kids deserve. Administration staff also plays a role in the stability of a school. With only one Administrative vacancy, this would appear to be progress. However, the posted position is for the elementary school principal and represents the third elementary Principal in as many years.  Add to that two high school principals, two curriculum directors, and the turnover in administrators at the critical positions is just as high.   It also begs the question, how are Measure K parcel tax funds not being spent on Administrator salaries (as required by law) when there are more administrators than recommended by the state.  Why a district of Emery’s size requires twelve administrators is unclear. That is one administrator for every 57 students (based on an enrollment of 682 students).

From Emery USD March 2017 budget report:
Posted Jobs
Posted Vacancies
Certificate (teachers)

* The classified positions are all for coaches and don't speak to employee satisfaction.

Why does this matter?  Because pedagogical experts and ordinary Emeryville citizens know that teachers are the key to academic achievement.  When 40% of your Certificated (teaching) staff need to be recruited for the upcoming school year, it raises eyebrows.  What can we expect our student progress towards math and english proficiency to look like this year?   We will find out our State scores in August.

This year, Superintendent John Rubio will be ending his third year with Emery Unified and given there are only 71 non-management positions, that is one manager for every six employees, six and half if you don't count the Superintendent.  With a school district that top heavy, we should expect some accountability for the unacceptable current state of affairs at Emery Unified School District.  Current Emeryville City Council member and former School Board Trustee Christian Patz, who during his Board tenure often publicly jousted with the Superintendent spoke to the obvious, "When I voted against renewing Dr Rubio's contract, I did so because I was aware of the negative culture in the district.  Teachers and administrators told me they feared retaliation if they spoke out.  There is a shortage of good teachers, treat them poorly, they will go to better-paying districts where they are supported and appreciated."

Superintendent Rubio refused to comment for this story.
This is what we get for all the money we've spent.


  1. As a parent with a child formerly at Emery all I can say is I'm not surprised. Rubio is the biggest problem. The better question is why can't Emery hire a decent superintendent?

  2. Dr. Rubio does not have the temperament to work with the public, supervise anyone, be around children. He is a self serving arrogant narcissist. He had a disastrous history as a principal with San Francisco Unified where he regularly called the police on his middle school students. Now he calls them on first graders and their parents. Emery Unified cannot keep him on if this district is to survive. He will bankrupt it with law suits against him. He violates state and federal education codes resulting in compliance violations. He threatens parents and teachers who question his decisions. Not only is teacher retention suffering under him, student retention is. It seems I talk to parents everyday who are leaving the school because of how he treated them or their child or teacher. He is, simply put, a bully.

  3. Brian,
    I did a little research and found the following:
    The positions are advertised on Edjoin in varying ways to allow them to be searchable by the advanced search function Edjoin offers. For example, the current K8 art position is advertised Art 1st through 3rd, 4th through 6th, K8 and then simply as art teacher; so 4 positions are really one position. We are seeking 7 teaching positions.

    Also, there are 7 district office managers, the Superintendent and myself as his secretary. This is a much smaller number than we had in past years.

    The other 3 staff you are counting are the 2 principals and the one asst. principal.
    Lisa Taymuree

    1. Lisa-
      Please see the story dated today for a response. Thank you for commenting.

  4. I recently walked by the ECCL playground and saw some very young children fighting in a very adult way. There were fists flying landing on faces, these kids wanted to hurt each other, and from their form, this was not their first fist fight. These two children were irate and uncontrollable and yet, only in the first or second grade. I saw one adult grab one of the kids and saw three other kids grab the other kid to attempt to successfully end the fight. As I walked home, I thought about this school, its’ administrators, and its’ history of how they deal with the students. Usually by the eighth grade, nearly every student that had a chance to succeed had left the district. They went to private schools, transferred, lied about their address, or moved in hopes of finding a better public school. Emeryville’s attrition rate for students, teachers and administrators has been horrible. Thinking back, it makes me mostly sad. Why did I send my child to the Emeryville school system and what kind of things, good and bad, that she was exposed to that continues to affect her life right now?

    Your article seems to lay most of the blame for Emeryville’s failing schools on the management and administration. I think that there is more to that conclusion and may not be the entire story as I see it to be very complicated. Every time there has been changes at the top, there always seems to be opposition to any change. This is the culture in Emeryville whereas every employee knows that if they resist long enough, their boss will be changed or fired. So, nothing has changed in over 40 years, so I wouldn’t purely base the blame on the administrators.

    I am also concerned with the way the City Council and all other policy makers have dealt with the development of education organization in Emeryville. I believe they have set policy and precedent that will lead to the collapse and obliteration of our public school system. I am appalled in our city’s acceptance and glorification of Private Schools in our city. Anna Yates, our previously “up and coming” grade school has been shut down and now leased to a German Bilingual grade and middle school. And also, right across the street from ECCL, a Spanish Bilingual grade and middle school has been welcomed and accepted by our City Council. These “non-profit” private schools are directly competing with our public schools. The only difference is that they charge between 25 to 30 thousand per year, and they exclude the poor. These schools are not made up of the real demographics of our area; they are comprised Emeryville’s and the entire Bay Area’s more stable and financially secure population which seems to be mainly White. I wonder who is being lost in this equation?

    Cohesion, not separation of all economic classes is what is needed in our public schools in order for it to work. Having a dichotomytic educational system in Emeryville will be its’ downfall for sure. Are African American, Mexican, Arabic, children being fairly represented in these “Private Schools” ? Open your eyes and take a look. Try to apply for admissions. Who will you send your child to school with? More than likely, if you don’t have the money, your child will have to attend ECCL; too bad. ECCL should be comprised from all children l from our community. What can we do to change this course of our public school destruction?