A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

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, write a letter, telling them to use a greater portion of the stimulus money in 09-10 and to not balance the budget through layoffs.

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