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Showing posts from June, 2009

On Strike

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The public supports us.

Being on strike makes me proud. To see and hear the support of the public every morning on the picket line, I am further convinced L.A. teachers made the right choice to leave the classroom. It is not an easy choice for many single income teachers, but it is one of the reasons we are striking. Teachers should not have to live paycheck to paycheck when educating society's children.



But our strike is about more than that, and it seems the public is aware of what we have been concerned about for years. In the middle of one morning's picket session I realized that the education reformers had been so very wrong in what they were telling us. The public knows and understands that we know what's best for children in schools. They place their precious children in our hands to educate, and want us to do our job unencumbered by district edicts and structures that get in the way.

The public supports us.


Being on strike is not what I thought it would be. It is be…

And So It Ends

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Students created a farewell shirt for Natalie Umber
























Tomorrow is the last day of school at Los Angeles Academy Middle School. It will be the final day of work as teachers for some 20 + outstanding, dedicated young professionals who have been crushed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, impotent Sacramento legislators, and let down by their union.
The students in South Central will bear the burdens of the mistakes made by those we have elected and entrusted with their care.
The last several weeks have been among the most stressful in the 20 years I have worked in this district. To see the hope, desperation, resignation, and disappointment in the eyes of these teachers has been almost too much to bear. To have to break the news to the children has led many adults on campus to reach their breaking point. Today, at our recognition ceremony, it was all Principal Borges could do to keep her composure as she said goodbye to the teachers she has come to admire so much.
Teachers are giv…

The Shock Doctrine at Work in California?

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Schwarzenegger’s Shock Therapy—The Poor Pay For The Sins Of The Rich

By Avi Lewis
June 17, 2009
Published on the Huffington Post

Now that Washington has ruled out an immediate bailout for California, we know who will pay the ultimate price for the crisis born on Wall Street: the state’s most vulnerable citizens. And with many states facing similar crises, this could be a preview of where the country as a whole is headed.

California is facing a $24.3 billion dollar budget gap, and the governor wants to attack it with cuts to social programs alone. If Schwarzenegger has his way, the price will be paid by 1.9 million people who lose their health care coverage, 1.3 million who lose basic welfare, thousands of state workers who get fired, schools that lose $5 billion in funding, having already survived brutal cuts earlier this year.

I just spent a week in LA and Sacramento filming a documentary on the crisis for Fault Lines, the show I co-host on Al Jazeera English Television. We interviewed tea…

Lamar Queen, the Rapping Math Sensation, is Honored and Fired by LAUSD

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Kudos to Mr. Queen who along with fellow L.A. Academy teacher Jimmy Pascascio earned a Video in the Classroom award for their work on PEMDAS-Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally-Secondary Math Video. Mr. Queen's last day at L.A. Academy will be June 30th.

You can view Mr. Queen's videos by clicking on the links below. The awards will be broadcast Sunday, June 28th, at 3:00 p.m.



L.A. Academy's Talented TFA Teachers Being Sent to Charters

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From the Los Angeles Times
Cuts cost L.A. Unified its Teach for America instructors for next year Libby Pier, Dedicated Rookie Teacher at L.A. Academy
The district, facing a steep budget shortfall, says it won't be able to afford new teachers from the program, which places college graduates in low-income schools.
By Seema Mehta

June 19, 2009

The financially strapped Los Angeles Unified School District says it cannot afford to hire any new teachers next year from Teach for America, a prestigious program that places high-achieving college graduates in low-income, underperforming schools.

The district has worked with the nonprofit since the early 1990s; more than 600 Teach for America members have taught in L.A. Unified classrooms since 2004. Now, in addition to taking no new teachers from the program next year, the district is considering laying off a third of its current 67 first-year Teach for America members.

"Over the years, Teach for America corps members have made a tremendous im…

Farewell, Ms. Sanlin

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Teacher of the Year is Inspired and Enlightened by Talented, Laid-Off New Teacher




Dear Ms. Sanlin, My mind is having a hard time accepting the reality of what is to come in less than three weeks. You, a superbly talented new teacher, who has been a source of invigoration and inspiration to me and fellow colleagues for the last two years, have chosen not to linger in limbo and have accepted a teaching position in New York City next year.  When you received your Reduction in Force notice on March 15th, I know you hoped it would be rescinded, and that the District would realize that you cannot decimate a struggling school by laying off 23 of its 112 committed teachers.  This is, however, what happened and it means that 200 students in our hard to staff school in South Central Los Angeles, will be deprived of the magic of your teaching and your vibrant personality next school year. 
I remember your first year of teaching (last year), when we shared a class of difficult students.  One, in par…