JROTC program's fate may rest with nine SF teachers 

Nine JROTC teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District are looking to obtain a year extension on a deadline to receive a teaching credential to save their jobs, and possibly the program.

This is the latest obstacle for a program that has been mired in controversy.

Teachers and students rallied two years ago to keep the program from being cut. In that instance, the school district struck a deal to keep the JROTC as an independent study course for students, as a way to partially fulfill the state requirement for high school students to have 400 minutes of physical education per week.

However, many JROTC teachers do not have the required physical education credential to teach such an independent study course. The nine teachers already have three teaching credentials — a state teaching credential, a credential to teach English language learners and a credential from the Department of Justice to teach JROTC. The additional physical education credential is more time-consuming than other credentials to earn, according the state commission on teaching credentials, because it includes a student teaching component.

“It’s a little more rigorous and a little more difficult,” said Douglas Bullard, JROTC instructor at Lowell High School. “It’s a lot of science, physiology and a lot of time to dedicate to it. Bottom line is it’s a big mountain to climb.”

If the district allows the teachers another year to obtain the PE credential at Tuesday’s school board meeting, JROTC instructors will be able to work with Alliant International University, a nonprofit professional university, to create a program that will grant the credentials.

Without the extension, the program could either continue with a PE credited teacher at each high school administering the program, or JROTC could cease to exist. All nine instructors received layoff notices May 15 as part of the school district plan to balance a $27 million deficit. Three hundred district employees received notices.

“With the budget the way it is, without the extension, there’s probably not going to be a program,” said Maj. Gerry Paratori, instructor at Balboa High School. “We need the extension; we are part of the layoffs.”

School board Commissioner Rachel Norton said the superintendent is recommending the district allow the time extension.

“In my mind it’s a very straightforward issue,” she said. “It’s ridiculous they would have to do student teaching even though they’ve been teaching for years.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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