The following was written by a Buffalonian who currently lives out in Las Vegas. He recently reached out to me to express his frustration at wanting to move back to Buffalo, and his inability to do so. He is a teacher with a family who tells me that in order to land a teaching job in Buffalo the schools are requiring him to be on-hand as part of the interview process. As you will read, that is something that is not possible for him to do. It always bothers me to hear that one of our own is attempting to move back, but can’t manage to make it work. Here’s the story that he tweaked in order for me to run it on Buffalo Rising:
I am a Buffalonian living in Las Vegas. I am a teacher by trade, but I was laid off a year and a half ago. I worked private for a year since then, and I’ve subbed at various charter schools.
I have been trying to move my family back to Buffalo for over a year now. But I simply cannot get a job there. Part of the reason is that I am certified in Social Studies, which is not a high-need area, and lots of people have Social Studies certificates. Districts in the area simply never need a Social Studies position filled.
The other reason is frustrating on another level. I can’t even get a call back from charter and private schools because I do not live in the area. In the past year, five Social Studies positions have opened up at WNY charter and private schools. In every case, I submitted my resume and references, and a cover letter introducing myself. Despite calling these schools and leaving messages when following up, I have never received a call back. I would finally get an administrative assistant or office manager on the phone who would tell me that they have already narrowed it down, or hired someone. I would ask about why I wasn’t contacted and explain that I had made multiple attempts at communication. They would check and come back with the answer: “Well, we have candidates come in and perform sample lessons for us as part of the process. Since you live in Las Vegas, that wouldn’t be possible for you.”
This is generally true, I would not be able to spend 300 bucks on a flight back to Buffalo at short notice to give a sample lesson. And these sample lessons are 10-20 minutes long, performed in front of a mix of a handful of students, parents, teachers, and administrators. They in no way resemble the length of a lesson, a true classroom scenario, proper preparation for a lesson, or a real academic atmosphere. Instead, I would have to go in with a canned, shortened, dumbed down lesson that focuses on one very small detail, or one very vague idea, in a room that is absolutely nothing like a real classroom. I know all this because I have given sample lessons, and I’ve observed them as well.
So, here I am. A licensed teacher, Highly Qualified according to No Child Left Behind, with 4 years full time teaching experience, 8 years experience as a Buffalo Schools Teacher Aide, over a year experience as the director of a day camp, and I have even been written up in the local newspaper here in Las Vegas for my work. Yet, I can’t even get a call back on my resume? In this day and age of ridiculously easy telecommunications possibilities, a long distance interview and even a sample lesson cannot be conducted in the name of finding a qualified candidate for the job? Last time I checked, FaceTime would suffice nicely in this respect.
I get asked why I don’t move back and sub until a position opens. I don’t do that because I am not willing to move to the other side of the county unless I have work that is more or less guaranteed. Subbing means not necessarily being able to work everyday, having to find a summer job, no health benefits for my wife and child. In the face of moving expenses that amount to 1500-2000 dollars, this is a huge undertaking. If I was single, I would move back and live with my parents and sub. But I have people who depend on me.
It saddens me that I can’t come home. It mystifies me that these schools aren’t looking at every candidate simply because it’s not the most convenient option.
I should have become a Science teacher.