Plano Teacher Feels Like “Dead Man Walking”

By Jay Gormley, CBS 11 News

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Patti Weinbrenner has suffered her share of setbacks.  In 2005, Weinbrenner lost her Richardson home to a massive fire. This week, she suffered yet another setback.

“It’s like a dead man walking. You know that your time is so limited there,” said Weinbrenner

Weinbrenner is one of 344 Plano ISD teachers and other employees who will be laid off at the end of the school year.

“I’m terribly upset by it, because it’s something I’m passionate about.”

The 58-year-old is a communications teacher at Plano senior high. She also coaches the speech and debate team.  But with a state deficit that could linger for years, she now fears her teaching career is over.

“Our superintendent said that some of these teachers may never see the inside of a classroom again and I thoroughly believe that.”

At one point, the seasoned teacher had seniority with the district. She started in 2001, but her house fire changed all that.

After Weinbrenner’s home burned down, she took two years off to build a new one.  When she returned to Plano Senior High in 2008, she lost her seniority.

This wife and mother of three says it’s not about the money, it’s about her students.

“This is my school district. My kids went to school here and I worry because Plano has been exceptional,” said Weinbrenner.  “I don’t know how they can maintain it.”

Weinbrenner considers herself a dead man walking.  But yet, she still believes that she’s brought life to others.  “There are times when you get kids who don’t understand concepts at all and i get to open up a world to them.”

Teachers with the Plano Education Association plan to rally this Saturday morning at the Plano offices of state representative Jerry Madden

  • City Slicker

    She took two years off to build a house? Really?

    • Angela

      You can argue forever about politics and doing so here does absolutely nothing. The other issue that’s not outright spoken in this news is the problem of the teacher-system. Many of the teachers who lost their jobs were truly invaluable. They loved their students. They loved their jobs. On the other hand, some teachers that were kept absolutely do not deserve it. They do not love teaching, they don’t bring anything to the school or its students, they teach purely for the sake of a salary.

      • Angela

        Sorry, that was meant to be a general comment.

      • Darren

        Angela, I totally agree with you. Some of the teachers who lost their jobs were/are really good teachers and many others who will stay are just there because either they are retirees from the army forces or they just see teaching as an alternative to get a second income. Those people are not prepared nor they like being teachers. God bless us all!!

  • dobbie

    That’s what all you stupid Repukes get for voting for that idiot Rick Perry all these years! So Enjoy!

  • Bob

    Oh Geez, thats just like a Dummicrat, you really think this is a government problem. Do us all a favor, Go get in line with your check and shut up!

    • Shayan

      You don’t know what you’re talking about Mr. Bob. Not only was she my teacher; she is also a second mother to me. She taught me about life. She pointed me the right direction, and truly helped me find out what my passion is in this world. She picked me up every single time I was down, and always understood me and the students. This teacher right here is a huge influence in my life! It breaks my heart that she might not have that opportunity to touch the hearts of others. Yet I know that this woman is strong and can get through anything. PISD has not seen the last of her. She will win: just like she won 3 consecutive state championships. This teacher right here has and always will be a champion.

      • Paula

        Wow. What a lady!

  • Plano Teacher Feels Like A “Dead Man Walking” « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Plano Teacher Feels Like A “Dead Man Walking” Patti Weinbrenner has suffered her share of setbacks. In 2005, Weinbrenner lost her Richardson home to a massive fire. This week, she suffered yet another setback. Go to News Source […]

  • Lauren

    Thats my teacher! YOU dont know what your talking about!

  • The Boston Tour Guide

    So let me get this strait, we have dobbie and Bob making not only irrelevant, but downright incorrect arguments while at the same time bickering like five year olds using the names Repukes and Dummicrats which I am sure they googled right before posting this comment to make themselves look witty. Dobbie, you claim that those who voted for Rick Perry are at fault for this teacher teacher along with many others got laid off. If you would actually read another article on this subject you would find out that the reason PISD is making these cuts is because the Texas Senate and The House of Representatives both released budget cuts that lead to PISD being faced with $65-75 million in necessary cuts. Rick Perry on the other hand, isn’t apart of the legislative branch, he is part of the executive branch. I guess you should have paid more attention in social studies class In fact, Texas Governors are among the weakest when it comes to actual power in the United States. And then there is Bob, who not only has a problem with capitalization and punctuation, but also seems to think that state budget cuts as a result of State House of Representatives and The Senate budget proposals aren’t apart of the government…. I find that very hard to believe. Finally there is Mr. City Slicker; cute name by the way. Yes, she took two years to rebuild her house and the reason was because her house burned down as a result of a fire that was caused by a malfunction in the communication technology created by Nortel. So these two years were a result of time spent with legal issues as well as a re cooperation period. How about someone burns your house down and see how you feel. Well let me tell you something, the real problem is that this specific teacher is the one getting the axe. The reason being is that not only has she dedicated her life to teaching, she has also dedicated her life to coaching speech and being extremely successful in that her team has won state three times in a row. Not only this, but she is doing her work in a subject that PISD practically ignores when it comes to funding because it isn’t a sport. Yet i guarantee you speech and debate have a greater impact on helping these students to succeed than all of the sports combined. I realize cuts need to be made and the government doesn’t have the balls to tax people so they have to make cuts. But in all places education? And in all categories a speech and debate coach? Come on PISD, you can do better. Keep fighting Pdub

    • Ms. City Slicker

      It’s MS. City Slicker. Unless she hammered in every nail and represented herself in a lawsuit, there is no reason to take TWO years off work. That’s what contractors and lawyers are for. “Recoop” period? Isn’t that what teachers get every summer? My point is she took years off BECAUSE she could and I’ll bet she was fully aware that she would lose her seniority.

      • Pdub

        Point of clarification — I was a substitute teacher over the two years waiting for a full-time position. No, I didn’t hammer in the nails, but insurance and litigation take time not just for lawyers and agents.

      • Chet the Jet

        To Ms.City Slicker: In fact she was in a lawsuit which took almost two years to settle. Also dealing with the insurance company is very time consuming with a house fire. FYI, she also was a substitute teacher during her “off” time because she cares about the kids and actually likes to teach.

    • Paula


  • joe

    seniority should NOT be the deciding factor when it comes to layoffs. it should be performance! it sucks that any teacher has to lose their job or that any program has to be cut since it is important for our children to have the best oppurtunities but we need to base these decisions on what teachers are best for their students, not which ones have been there longest.

    • StopSlickRick

      Sadly, there are contractual reasons at play here. When the time comes a lot of districts will just release teachers on a probationary contract. It’s easiest – they can’t grieve it through a costly hearing process. To give credit where it’s due, Dallas ISD is trying to make this determination based upon merit and performance, but they’ve been met with a lot of resistance. If they go this route, my guess is they’ll be sued over it. It’s sad – there are a lot of teachers on probationary contracts that have the capability of making a difference if they are given a chance.

  • Samuel Scott

    Pdub, as her students affectionately called her, was one of the greatest teachers I had the pleasure of interacting with. She truly was passionate about teaching. If you don’t believe me, consider this: she had an MBA, and could have gotten a job in the business world. Instead, she chose to teach because of her passion for seeing students grow.

    In addition to being passionate, she was also damn successful as a speech and debate coach. I’m not tossing out facts about how her team has won the state S&D championship the last three years, though those are valid. I’m speaking from experience since she was MY coach. I’m one of the lucky students she got to work with and see grow, and I achieved more success than I could have ever dreamed of with her help. I went from being a mediocre communicator to a state debate champion, and have seen many of my peers’ meteoric rises to the top as well.

    Look, I understand the realty of the current fiscal situation. Raising taxes and spending from the rainy day fund are unpopular choices here in Texas, so spending cuts were pretty much inevitable. However, I disagree with districts using seniority as the deciding factor on who gets cut. I don’t understand much about the politics of Plano ISD, but I believe the members of the school board are voted upon by Plano residents, and that leads me to believe the district desires to represent the taxpayers who fund it. If that’s the case, when taxpayers make a compelling argument for keeping a teacher, I hope the district listens, but I doubt that it will. At least Patti’s a fighter. I’ve never seen her lose yet, and don’t expect her to start now.

    • PDub

      Thanks Sam. You were a terrific student. It was my pleasure to help you grow!

      • Paula

        From everything I’m reading, I wish you had taught my kids!! Hang in there!

  • Greg

    Retrain for a new career.
    The Texas Workforce Cimmission has retraining available.
    Teach kids by computer laptop instead of in a building to save money.

    • PDub

      Ever consider no retraining is necessary? I have taught computer skills, marketing, business, and history. I teach speech to students in person because it is the most important skill that anyone could learn. There is only one way to really learn how to do public speaking — in person. Online courses are not the same. I know, because I have had that experience too.

  • GS

    We shuldn’t worry about the schools. After all kids cannot add, read, or balance a checkbook anyway. We might as well help taxpayers instead. The public school system is a failure, and has left employers with the reality of going to foreign countries instead. Pre K and Kindergarten are expensive babysitters that should not be funded. Taxpayers are already facing increased gasoline prices, increased health and car insurance costs. NO to more taxes.

    • StopSlickRick

      You have no understanding about education (or perhaps no education – not sure which). A few points – please provide proof points that kids can’t add, read, or balance a checkbook. I’d like to know your statistics around this “fact.” And if your concern is economic growth, abandon the education system in this state and watch how fast the jobs leave. How many Fortune organizations and high tech employers do you see moving to Mississippi? Ever think it has something to do with the fact that they are dead last in many measures of educational effectiveness? Regarding early childhood education – it’s arguably the single most important time in a child’s life when you can impact their development and learning for the rest of their lives. So, by all means, toss that aside as babysitting.

      I’m also a taxpayer that has watched costs soar and salaries stagnate. That’s what makes me care even more about how my tax funds are spent. Instead of blaming education, how about blaming the lawmakers. Do you know they reduced revenue to schools by replacing property tax funds with a business margins tax that was so laden with loopholes and exemptions that it’s laugable? Did you know Perry’s tax plan of 2006 was called the biggest “hot check” in history by the state’s (republican) comptroller at the time? Channel your anger toward those that desrve it – the ones that got us in this mess to begin with … Slick RIck and his band of thieves.

  • libertylover

    If it’s not about the money she can still volunteer her time. If she does need to earn money, nothing wrong with that, then she can tutor or apply to private schools. There are options for those who are truly passionate about teaching.

  • seeker_two

    And how many teachers are in the same boat?…knowing that they won’t have jobs next year….and just how motiviated do you think they are to educate our children and help their former school district pass TAKS and keep their funding (which much will go to athletics and administrator salaries)?…….

    Thank you, Rick Perry……for teaching us to chant “WE’RE NUMBER FIFTY!!! WE’RE NUMBER FIFTY!!!”…..

  • realist

    I am sorry to hear of this lady losing her job. I hate to see anyone laid off.I have been laid off before and it hurts. Who knows why they chose her, only PISD knows that. There are tens of thousands of stories out there for every laid off worker in every industry. It’s not just teachers. There are good people all over Texas and the U.S. who have lost jobs due to the economy. Why only the focus on the teachers? It’s all about the teachers and how unfair it is. No, it’s unfair to everyone, teachers are just like the rest of us. If the economy is bad and layoffs must be made, they may be part of them. Sad, but a fact of life.

  • kaiser

    For those of you not atoned to human emotion do have an idea what it is like to loss you house to a fire? Come on imagine it. Loosing everything that you have and then deal with those emotions. Lets stick to her teaching and not about how she dealt with a huge lose in her personal life. The question I would ask is why is a teacher that has won 2 state championships in her limited time at Plano getting laid-off?

  • Plano Student

    Everyone at Plano loves all of our teachers and we are all fighting hard for you!! <3

  • Melanie

    Mrs. Weinbrenner coached countless State Champions including the past 3 years in a row. More than that, she did the job SOLELY to improve students’ abilities in acting and because she cares about us more than anyone. We love her just as much. No matter what PISD decided, the impact she has had will never be thrown away. She is the bravest and most intelligent woman I know. My question is, where would politicians be without the excellent education they recieved and the people who INSPIRED them and ENCOURAGED them (like Mrs. Weinbrenner, who has encouraged me and inspired me for the past 2 years)?? Why in the world would anyone vote to take that away?

  • Shayan

    When a teacher’s speech team and alumni gets involved in a cyber war: battling the issues of politics, ethics, and standing up for a teacher all at the same time. You know that students are affected by this. I graduated last year and live in another state, yet I will still defend her because I know that she truly is a guardian angel to all of her students. I think that CBS should do a report asking her speech team students how they feel about this. Show the world that there are students out there who really, truly care. Also, for those of you who are trying to bring up politics… you do know she has trained multiple National Champion and State Champion debaters? Who can argue about a topic like no other; point in case: to the rude people out there who honestly have no idea what is going on in Texas, don’t waste your breath.

  • Melanie

    I absolutely agree. CBS needs to get an inside story from the members of the speech team.

  • Ayushi

    I agree with all the Plano people above on everything. Especially how loved and amazing Pdub is. She is so kind, helpful, and genuine. There is no doubt in my mind that she largely contributed to me growing as a speaker, but more importantly she helped me grow as an individual. She taught me lessons and values that very few would take their time out to do. She clearly is dedicated to what she does and does it out of pure passion. It kills me to see such things happen. Everyone and I mean everyone already recognizes that teachers are some of the most underpaid individuals. They create and shape future generations yet they get very little in return. With that being said how in the world are we letting so many brilliant and loved teachers go? There is no sense in it at all. PISD needs to get its game together and do something about it. If there is one thing I know its Pdub will fight and she will definitely have all of Plano backing her, especially her speech and debate team. We love you Pdub <3

  • Vines HS 02-04

    Let Me Tell You What: This is a loss of a city treasure! Vines and Plano Senior High School’s oratorical skills will never be the same.

  • Ryan Glenn

    Here are some ideas worth sharing in light of such painful cuts. Simple food for thought as budgets and taxes are considered of what truly is important.

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