SURVEY: Four Years After Striking, Teacher Morale Is 'Tenuous' in CUSD

In other findings, some question whether the school board supports public education.

Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.
Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.

Originally posted at 2:38 p.m. March 12, 2014.

It’s been four years and a new superintendent’s tenure since Capistrano Unified teachers walked off the job in protest of contract negotiations. But a recent focus group of teachers reveals that while there’s been better communication with administrators, there’s still a lot of mistrust.

The consultants hired to help the sprawling school district select a new superintendent now that Joseph Farley has announced his retirement conducted a number of focus groups and solicited online questionnaires to various stakeholders.

The goal was to define the current strengths and challenges the district faces, along with the qualities the next superintendent should have.

While the responses from some groups, notably parents, administrators and support staff, take up pages, the teachers’ responses were concise. Challenges the district faces outweighed strengths 14-9.

Among those challenges are a belief that:

  • Morale is still tenuous, healing is still ongoing
  • The school board is divisive
  • It’s “questionable if [the] Board [of Trustees] supports public education"
  • A superintendent who brings in people from a past district is not a strength
  • Charter schools are a challenge

The consultant, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, will present its findings at a special meeting at 5 p.m. today before the regularly scheduled 7 p.m. school board meeting.

According to a report, teacher input came from a focus group made up of eight teachers. Another 44 – there could be some overlap, the report says – filled out online surveys. The consultant cautioned that the results are not from a scientific sampling. 

Among the strengths are:

  • Communication between administrators/teachers/support staff and parents
  • Employee/Employer Relations Committee-solves issues between negotiations before they become problematic
  • High test scores
  • Reputation of the district
  • Teachers- #1 reason for success of students 


Penny Arévalo March 26, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Shawn, no need to get rude. Be careful. Thanks.
fact checker March 26, 2014 at 02:56 PM
Shawn, define merit.
Shawn Gordon March 26, 2014 at 04:09 PM
Sorry Penny, the destruction of the education system by the unions has me worked up. "fact checker" wants to spin around in a circle and never get to the meat of it. There has to be a way to define and remove bad teachers and it shouldn't take forever. They should be scared about keeping their jobs, just like everyone else in society, and it should scare them in to doing the best job possible, just like everyone else in society.
Penny Arévalo March 26, 2014 at 05:11 PM
All of that is fine to state. Just be careful when it crosses over into personal attacks. Thanks!
fact checker March 26, 2014 at 06:05 PM
Shawn, no spin here. Just define merit. Seems like a simple question doesn't it? Make sure it will apply equally to every teacher, there is some way to measure it, and it is not open to interpretation by anyone.


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