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…

A.P.I Scores Reflect Progress at LAAMS

Our students and staff were quite content to receive the news that our school met and exceeded the growth target assigned to us by the state of California. We were required to grow by 10 points and we grew by 17. Almost all our subgroups met their targets with the exception of EL's and Special Needs.

As teachers, without a doubt we believe that today's obsessive climate of testing students is not the solution to improving education. While there is a place for data, it is only a tool, and nothing else. Having said that, we are professionals, and administer all periodic assessments, common assessments, end of unit exams, pop quizzes, and the CST, as required by the CDE.

We anxiously waited for our scores and were gratified to see that our unique schedule that allows us to divide our school into 9 teams of students (teachers have common conference periods) and gives all students real elective classes, resulted in increased academic performance as measured by the API.

It would seem counterproductive for our school to be outsourced to a Corporate Management Organization (charter school) in the midst of continuous growth. We are worried because our two closest neighboring schools did not meet their API target (Bethune grew by 9 points, missed target by 1, Carver went down 29 points!) If taken over, it may force us to absorb their displaced teachers and students. For all we know, double digit growth may not be enough to save our school either. Friday should be the big day, when the Superintendent announces the schools eligible for outsourcing, and we await this next announcement as Zen as we possibly can be.

image from education.change.org

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