Showing posts from April, 2009

Leaving Finland

Lake Jyvasjarvi I have never lived anywhere for 5 months other than Jyvaskyla, Finland. As my Fulbright journey concludes, there is so much to still digest. It will take months, if not years, to truly assimilate all the learning. Before I left Southern California, I wrote about the what I would miss the most from home and what I  looked forward to experiencing in Finland. It is safe to say I met my goals. Top 7 Goals 1. Discussing Education Helsinki Workshop Through professional development programs, Fulbright Finland connected teachers with scholars and researchers, for the purpose of putting inquisitive minds together. The Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats seminar provided participants with fascinating research and presentations. 2. Nordic Model Bus station in Espoo What does an efficient and earnest country look like?  It looks like Finland. Yes, people pay higher taxes, but get so much in return. I for one appreciated the well-maintained ro

LA School Board: This is Who You Are Firing

L. A. School Board Fails to Heed Jackie Goldberg's Haunting Advice

What does the passing of the current LAUSD budget for 09-10 mean to schools with a high percentage of new teachers? These teachers will be fired and replaced with demoted/displaced workers from Downtown headquarters and Local District offices. Per LAUSD policy, positions created by the firing of new teachers must be reserved for displaced workers. Even if schools are able to buy back positions with the increased Title 1 funding, those positions will be offered to displaced workers first. L.A. Academy has dozens of new teachers who will no longer be serving our students, arguably some of the least served students in society, come July 1st. Jackie Goldberg, a former school board member, vividly warned the current school board about approving the current budget cuts. Nonetheless, Marlene Canter, Yolie Flores Aguilar, Monica Garcia, and Richard Vladovic voted to approve the layoffs of thousands of teachers (Garcia saying it was in the name of the children) thus assuring that schools in Sou


April 14, 2009 Dear Superintendent Cortines, Hello. My name is Cindy Borunda and I am an eighth grader at Los Angeles Academy Middle School. I will start by saying this school has come a long way since I first started out in sixth grade. I have seen countless sessions of after school tutoring and enrichment programs organized by the teachers. I have seen teachers work countless hours after the school day to figure out what they are doing wrong when one of there students is having trouble understanding the lessons. These are people that care, these are the people we should proclaim heroes, but instead you are giving them indecent wages and laying them off. This is an injustice! Where did all the money from the Stimulus package go? Was the money spent on careless things instead of making an effort to make public education better? We are the future. I am guessing all the people in the important offices have forgotten about us, or they frankly just don’t care. If they did care they would n

District Finances and Furlough Days

Teachers in many schools are willing to take furlough days to reduce the number of teacher layoffs. It is difficult to ask teachers to make this sacrifice when it is unclear how thorough the district has been in finding every last place to make cuts, before balancing the budgets on the backs of teachers. Placing trust in a system that can't even pay its employees correctly is against the better judgement of many (see my overpayment letter in sidebar.) For those of you willing to sacrifice to save newer teachers, thank you. It will help save the jobs of teachers at L.A. Academy, such as Lamar Queen, the rapping math sensation. Right now, furloughs are one of the few solutions on the table. Very soon, it will also be necessary to finally address the issue of seniority, and/or how new teachers are assigned to schools. It is unconscionable that each time there are budget reductions, South Central gets hit the hardest. Please continue calling and faxing the school board, or better yet,

Where is Richard Vladovic?

Richard Vladovic is one of the Board of Education representatives for South Central Los Angeles. At a recent board meeting he recused himself from voting on issuing pink slips to teachers because his son was pink-slipped, and he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest. Parents, students and educators in South Central want to know: who is fighting for our schools? How can Vladovic be an effective advocate for students and schools in South Central L.A. if he abstains from voting on the issues that are pivotal to us? Now, more than ever, it is apparent that if we are to survive the upcoming cuts, leadership must arise from the people themselves, not from those in positions of power that we have trusted to protect our schools and our students. Read more about Richard Vladovic at : Read about his recusal at:,0,2401795.story

L.A. Academy Teachers Rally on Friday

Teachers continue to make their voices heard at the Friday morning informational leafletings at L.A. Academy Middle School. Pictured here are many of our RIF'ed teachers, the Rifters, who are trying to stay positive in the face of their layoff notices. Pictured here are Emmanuel Ofili, Silvia Garcia, Giovanni Torres, Ricardo Andrade, Rico Gutierrez Osvaldo hands out flyers when he could be home in bed. Carita Spencer Bryant (left) has taught at this schools since it opened and does not want to see her newer colleagues go. Melissa Naponelli is UTLA Co-Chair and is fighting valiantly to help the new teachers. The Chimalpopoca family participated in the leafleting, even though Osvaldo, an 8th grader in our Advanced Studies program is off track and could have slept in. Joe Zeccola (left) and Brent Tercero have both been RIF'ed and are devastated. From left to right are David D'Lugo, Natalie Umber, Maria Flores, Silvia Garcia, and Brenda Talaro. All of these teachers have been R

UTLA House of Representatives Votes AGAINST Tentative Agreement

Report from LA Academy's Union Representatives: Mr. Kelley, Mr. D'Lugo and I joined Mr. Mata at the UTLA House of Representatives meeting last night (4-1-09), and I have to tell you, we were all surprised by what we saw. And what, you ask, was that? UTLA Representatives and Chapter Chairs ready to fight for our jobs! When discussing the current tentative agreement between UTLA and LAUSD, multiple people stood up and stated things like: "As long as one teacher is in danger of losing his/her job, we cannot vote to approve this agreement!" "We will not vote yes on this contract while 4,000 of our brothers and sisters are in danger of losing their jobs!" "If we vote for this contract, not only will we be making it easier to lay off 4,000 mostly new teachers, but the next time, they'll be coming for the veteran teachers." These comments literally caused the room to ERUPT in applause. I am not exaggerating. What does this mean for us Rifters (and s

LAUSD Board Delays Vote on Budget

Board members expressed serious concerns about making important budget decisions without accurate information from Sacramento, so they  voted to delay decisionis until the next board meeting on  April 14th.  Superintendent Cortines made mention in an interview with NBC that he is tired of the Board making decisions based on getting "hundreds of emails convincing them to vote a certain way".  Apparently all the phone calls and emails expressing our concerns have been heard by the Board. We respectfully disagree with Mr. Cortines' decision not to use a greater portion of the stimulus money in 09-10 to stave off layoffs.  Below are some areas readers have suggested be cut before teachers are fired: 1.  ROTC Program 2.  LEAD program 3.  World Language program 4.  Beyond the Bell Readers have also encouraged the consideration of furlough days and/or pay cuts.  Some have even said they would not mind paying a higher medical co-pay if it means saving jobs. Teachers in LA Academy