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

Done Deal

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They say you should wait to write a response when you are frustrated or disappointed. This school community is outraged at the passage of the Flores-Aguilar privatization act. So after waiting two days, we will attempt to share how teachers in South Central are reacting to the news that schools such as ours, LA Academy, might be outsourced to a private organization.

1. School board decisions have a way of trickling down to us in a different incarnation. When the layoffs were announced in March, we knew that if our young staff was laid off, few veterans would want to take their place down here in South Central. We were right. We continue to have unfilled positions, some taught by the very same laid-off teachers who are working in their own classes at substitute pay sans benefits. This is free market theory at its clearest. We think its wrong. We are concerned that the policy passed yesterday will also be implemented in a convoluted way in South Central.

2. The passage of this act now means our school is one of the most likely to be submitted for takeover. We are a high priority school (HPS), one of 34. This means all the work we have done in the last three years is in danger of being eliminated because board members who have never visited our school site feel business leaders will do a better job with our students than the educators at the school site. Just a few of our successful initiatives have been:
  • changing the school schedule to a Copernicus 4 x 4,
  • scheduling intervention classes for struggling students within the school day
  • scheduling enrichment classes for proficient/advanced students during the day
  • dividing the students into small learning communities with teachers who have common conference periods,
  • implementing a full-fledged arts program with credentialed art, dance, chorus, and drama teachers,
  • reducing teacher turnover to zero with a comprehensive new teacher support program
3. Staff is worried. Will we be allowed to submit a proposal to the school board? We already took one entire school year to write our HPSG proposal during the 07-08 school year. The plan writers met 10-15 times for 1/2 days of planning. Substitutes had to cover their classes, and it was a difficult process. What can we write today that would be so different?

4. If we our model is not selected, and a charter one is, will teachers be released and forced to reapply for their positions, as this is a common practice at conversion schools? How naive! There is no line of teachers waiting to come teach in South Central. Many veteran, highly qualified teachers will have to make a tough choice of possibly giving up their job protections and benefits to continue working with the kids who need us the most. How unfair for both parties. If veterans are forced to transfer to another school, bumping will occur, further disrupting school communities all over the district.

5. Long term, charters nationwide have either knowingly or coincidentally ended up with the more proficient kids at their schools, leaving the troubled, learning disabled students behind in public schools. Will this new policy create a district of the haves and have nots? Is this a whole new era of separate and unequal? Who will protect the interests of these children, many who have no advocates at all?

Right now, we are trying to get more information about the effect that this new policy will have on our school. We will blog from ground zero to see if indeed, the school board made the right decision.


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