A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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…

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 supporters)?

It means we have many, many union brothers and sisters prepared to fight (and yes, strike) for us to keep our jobs. The UTLA House of Representatives voted AGAINST the new tentative agreement, in large part because of the pending layoffs. But the only way we can win this fight is if we join in it. We cannot wait for the union to do it for us. We are the union. We must be active participants in our own rescue.

How can we do this?

We can make sure we get out in numbers to leaflet every Friday morning and Wednesday afternoon to make our parents and community aware of what's happening. We can talk to our colleagues about joining us. And finally, we can make sure everyone votes YES to authorize the one-day protest strike in May.

This is not going to be an easy fight, but it was truly inspiring to see how many people are on our side. If we mobilize and get out there, we can make something happen.

Remember, the only power we have is together! So, let's join together, flex our collective muscle, and overturn these layoffs!

(on behalf of the Rifters)


  1. Thank you for creating this Blog! This is great. I also read your letter and was very inspired. Over at Santee Ed. Complex we held a one hour strike on March 27th. Even though it was not an official UTLA wide action, we felt it important to take action anyways. We got great press coverage. Please click on the link below for a You Tube video and Pictures.




    Let's continue to fight this struggle together. Our Children's future is at stake!

  2. You must see this link!!! It is a UCLA study that proves you are right. Cuts hurt inner city schools the hardest.



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