Teachers may leave state due to cuts

March 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
All across California Friday was called this "Pink Friday" since it was the deadline for 26,000 teachers to get layoff notices.

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In San Ramon, eight chairs represented the eight teachers at Golden View Elementary who have been notified they may be laid off. In San Francisco, dozens of children from El Dorado Elementary walked with their teachers to protest the proposed layoffs. In Fremont parents, teachers and administrators marched to the offices of Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D) of Newark, to protest the cuts. And at Pioneer High School in San Jose protestors were up before dawn getting supportive horn honks from people driving by.

Now many fear there could be a "brain drain" that could be the unintended consequence.

Imagine if one of these teachers sees a billboard that says "Come to Texas where we care about our teachers." Those kinds of ads popped up last year around the state and education officials won't be surprised if we see them again.

Teachers and supporters look at the crowds of protesters and see an impressive turnout, but other states could look at this and see opportunity.

"I think they will recruit in California they have in the past," says Milt Werner, a Fremont superintendent.

Werner has no doubt that other states will take advantage of California while it's down and will soon make tantalizing offers to the recently laid off teachers. Union leaders say it will be hard for teachers to say no.

"And it's disappointing we train them here, we get them ready to go into the field of teaching, they come stay a couple of years, and then go," says Jeff Poe, the Fremont Teachers Association president.

There's always the hope that the teachers will get their jobs back. State Superintendent Jack O'Connell says federal dollars could save many of the 26,000 jobs. And in Fremont, officials are trying to get a parcel tax passed so they can re-hire the teachers they just axed.

"I can't tell them to wait it out for us, but we would love to keep them and have them back," says Werner.

"I don't know if I can wait a whole year," says Steve Paltrineri, a teacher.

Teachers like Paltrineri need to pay their bills now. He says he doesn't like the idea of leaving the state, but now that he's lost his job, it may be the best option.

"We can't really live off of one income, especially if we want to buy a house, and want to start having kids," says Paltrineri.

And there's always the chance the layoffs will be permanent. That's why Paltrineri and his wife -- who is also a teacher -- haven't ruled out moving to a state where they can have better job security.

"I want to be here. I don't want to go I love it there I love my school. I work with the most wonderful people and the most wonderful kids, but I've got to take care of myself," says Paltrineri.

So teachers have to decide whether to take a risk and stay here or pack up and move on.

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