Showing posts from July, 2009

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

As I wind up my 24th year of teaching in Los Angeles classrooms , I pause to think of my past lives in different schools and neighborhoods. While presenting to students in Finland I always included a slide of past eras of my life such as growing up in the Eastside, college and adulthood in the Westside, teaching on the Southside, and married life in the Valley. Apart from being a native Angeleno, significant years of my life have been spent living in many parts of town, and teaching in many communities. I love all of them.

Which is why I have no doubt in my mind that what students all over L.A. need more than anything is an ally on the school board. My South Central students need a warrior who recognizes that our teachers’ strike was more than just a salary dispute, but a movement to reclaim our rightful place as agents of change in the profession we love. One that will help us do our jobs serving students. My West Valley students need a fighter who will challenge our legislators to …

Retaining Teachers in South Central

The problem in many South Central schools is teacher turnover. When teachers come and go from students' lives, it increases the instability they may already face growing up in a challenging environment. The instability always affects their academic performance and, we believe, their self-worth.

L.A. Academy, under the direction of Principal Maria Borges, instituted a comprehensive new teacher support program three years ago that reduced teacher turnover from 35% to .02% last year. Arne Duncan, the new Secretary of Education, has espoused the need to recruit and retain talented teachers, and our school is ground zero of this mandate. How did we do it? It really wasn't that hard. Here is what we did:
1. New teachers receive a welcome rolling start cart full of supplies on their very first day at LAAMS.
2. A flyer is distributed with the pictures and names of new staff members so they can be recognized and greeted by the rest of the staff.
3. We hold a Meet 'n Greet dur…

Two More Teachers Off the Roller Coaster

Congratulations to local charter schools for scoring two top teachers that have had enough of the "wait and see" propaganda from both LAUSD and UTLA:

Natalie Umber

If LAUSD teachers were NBA athletes, Ms. Umber would be Blake Griffin, the #1 draft pick. What can you say about endless dedication, inspired creativity and the ultimate classroom management? Watching Ms. Umber teach was like watching a prima ballerina in action; and her students were the eager recipients of all her instruction. Saying goodbye broke a good many hearts, but we wish her the best at her new school.

Laura Garcia

This second year dynamo whipped her math students into shape, even though 90% of them were taller than her. I had the privilege of being on the same team with her and enjoyed our conversations at the New Teacher Roundtable. Ms. Garcia was a natural, and will be a fantastic educator. Her school is lucky to have her.

How many more hits can our school take? And BTW, are there any outstanding 6t…

Deal Reached With LAUSD?

Update 7/15/09 2:22 pm UTLA website states LA Times report incorrect. See

According to the Los Angeles Times, in an article written by Howard Blume*, UTLA has made a deal with LAUSD that will result in the recission of the 2,000+ layoffs by canceling class-size reduction at the elementary level. The union has agreed to a pay freeze and/or a 1% reduction in wages.

Its too late.

Its at least too late LA Academy, where school has been in session since July 1st, and we have already lost our top new teachers who didn't sit around waiting while these two powerful organizations "negotiated" the fate of 700,000 students and 40,000 teachers.

Let me tell you about who we have lost:

Tracie Sanlin
This creative 2nd year teacher never ceased maintaining high expectations for all of her students. She handled what many agree to be one of our most challenging 8th grade classes in year including many students who had been OT'd from multi…