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…

LAAMS Will Not Be Outsourced! This Year, At Least...

After the revision of the revised criteria for which public LAUSD schools would be eligible to be outsourced to corporate management organizations, our school is pleased to learn that OUR SCHOOL WILL NOT BE ONE OF THEM!

We grimly noted that both Carver MS and Jefferson HS however, are on the dreaded takeover list. We hope their staff and faculty pull together to out forth a strong plan for the benefit of all of their students. We also wonder which organization will have what it takes to turn around troubled schools such as these, since Green Dot has yet to prove it can do so at Locke HS.

This week we were NOT surprised to learn that many classrooms across the district are overcrowded, some with no seats for the students. We knew this would happen (its chronicled in this very blog), but there is no joy in having been able to forecast this development. Students at this very moment are being robbed of individual attention in many non-Title 1, non-QEIA schools, and no student anywhere should have to sacrifice their education and future because a district can't manage its money.

For the countless numbers of people who accused teachers of being greedy for wanting to save jobs, maybe now you will realize that our fight was first and foremost about the children. Many of the laid-off teachers quickly found jobs elsewhere and are doing just fine. But the same cannot be said of the broken system left behind in the wake of massive layoffs.

Of Cortines' revised criteria, we can't help but feel it has the markings of an arbitrary selection process. It seems like in the end, it was known that in reality, LAUSD and the CMO's only had the capacity to take on 12 struggling schools, so they manipulated the data until this number was reached. It makes more sense to look at the last 5 years of a school's progress and use that data in combination with actual school visits and interviews of parents, teachers, and students. You can tell very quickly how functional a school is simply by walking into the main office.

Our plan for now is to continue working with the new staff members, about 10 so far, and acclimate them to our school instructional plan, our unique bell schedule and team system, so as to be able to continue our forward progress academically. We will keep readers posted with our progress.

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