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Teacher unions criticize El Paso ISD’s new faculty position, Active-Learning Leader

Teachers unions are criticizing the El Paso Independent School District over a decision to make 160 instructional coaches reapply for their jobs this March. Some were so upset they refused to apply, leaving the district with about 60 positions to fill.

This all started after the district conducted an internal curriculum audit. It found the classrooms were too traditional, too teacher-centered. The recommendation was train teachers how to be more creative in 21st century classrooms with the help of Active Learning Leaders, or ALLs, formerly know as academic instructional coaches.

“It’s really based off more student centered classrooms that are for today’s generation of learners,” said EPISD spokesperson Melissa Martinez.

After realizing the coaches weren’t prepared to train for technology, collaborative learning and lesson plans, EPISD created a new position and made 160 coaches reapply.

“The way the district handled this situation was very cold, very calculated was very devious and underhanded,” said El Paso Teacher Association President Norma De La Rosa.

The El Paso Teacher’s Association and Federation of Teachers and Support Personnel came together, voicing their frustration and anger by the move made with just days to comply.

“It wasn’t necessary, the differences in the job descriptions are semantics at best, just a few word changes here or there,” said Federal Vice-President Ross Moore.

There are only 120 spots for ALLS, meaning some coaches who had been at a campus for years could potentially not get the same job, pushing them into a displacement pool, subject to the needs of the district.

“No teacher or coach will lose their job, they are all guaranteed a position with the district and that’s what’s important to remember,” Martinez said. “Contracts are with the district and not with a particular school.”

Even so, coaches were made mad enough only half even applied for the new job. Out of the 80 who did, only about 40 made it past the interview process which focused on 21st century learning, rather than teaching to the test.

As a result, EPISD had to lower requirements from 85 percent passing, to 65 percent, and said it is now looking to teachers, not the former coaches, to fill these slots.

“All the coaches were master teachers they had experience,” De La Rosa said. “So now if any employees have limited experience in the classrooms, just how much knowledge do they have?”

The district has to the end of the school year to fill the remaining 60 positions, the rush being these teachers have to attend intensive summer training to be ready by next school year.

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