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Showing posts from October, 2009

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

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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 …

Evaluating Teachers

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Below is a comment I submitted to the L.A. Times in response to their article on this new type of merit pay (read it here).

"As an educator, neither competition, threats, coercion, or merit pay will improve my teaching ability. Money doesn't keep me up at night wondering how I can sneak food to my homeless student so that his friends don't see. A bonus doesn't compel me to spend endless hours preparing lesson plans to make class informative
and meaningful for my students. There is no sum that can buy the feeling I experience when a student finally 'gets it' and it changes his/her life. For many educators, no one can hold us to a higher standard than that to which we hold ourselves. This motivation, this calling, is something to which most teachers gravitate, certainly not for the salary and the demeaning treatment we receive in society today. And for the record, I would never have dared to compare myself as a new teacher, to the many wise veterans who guided me …

Displaced Teachers Rehired...Bye Bye LAAMS

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This week we lost two of our teachers new to LAAMS who were rehired at their former schools or picked up a position in another capacity. Combined with the lateness with which many current positions were filled this school year (some 6 weeks into the school year), we have had/will have several classes taught by long-term subs at LAAMS this year. This is not good.

So let's get this straight: LAUSD fires thousands of teachers, South Central is hit disproportionately with 40% of these, LAUSD sends us permanent teachers in an untimely manner, then takes them back without regard to the children in the classrooms? Truly, if South Central isn't bearing the brunt of these cuts, who is? How many more new staff will be pulled back to their former positions, causing disruption to all involved?

You cannot replicate the quality of the instruction of a permanent teacher even with the most capable substitute. The students know they are not permanent, and they subconsciously don't giv…

October in South Central

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As summer continues to taunt us, the students and teachers at L.A. Academy continue to surmount the challenges imposed on us by a bankrupt state, and cynical society (fueled by non-stop negative press by the L.A. Times and other bandwagon followers...)

Our school continues to work with new staff who are still adjusting to working at the middle school level, since the majority of them came from elementary and high school. One has left the school this week, leaving us with another unfilled on B Track. Teachers serving in the capacity of substitutes (due to being laid off in the Reduction In Force) are being hired back slowly, but seemingly without rhyme or reason. B Track teachers on vacation have had to work as subs on A or C tracks to maintain their health benefits, but when they return to their "own classrooms" at the end of the month they will not have had had any rest or vacation, unless they take time off, which results in a day to day sub covering their current assign…