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Showing posts from November, 2009

On Strike

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The public supports us.

Being on strike makes me proud. To see and hear the support of the public every morning on the picket line, I am further convinced L.A. teachers made the right choice to leave the classroom. It is not an easy choice for many single income teachers, but it is one of the reasons we are striking. Teachers should not have to live paycheck to paycheck when educating society's children.



But our strike is about more than that, and it seems the public is aware of what we have been concerned about for years. In the middle of one morning's picket session I realized that the education reformers had been so very wrong in what they were telling us. The public knows and understands that we know what's best for children in schools. They place their precious children in our hands to educate, and want us to do our job unencumbered by district edicts and structures that get in the way.

The public supports us.


Being on strike is not what I thought it would be. It is be…

Cortines' New Cuts

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Superintendent Cortines recently announced his plans to balance the LAUSD budget for the 10-11 school year through massive layoffs (again) or a 12% pay cut by LAUSD teachers. It also includes 4 furlough days for this school year. Apparently, the bargaining units have to accept/reject/negotiate this offer by early December, since that is when the school board must submit a balanced budget to Sacramento.

We have to wonder why the District refuses to offer a clear look into their books so the units can make suggestions for cuts away from the classroom, instead of continuing the strategy of laying off teachers (and raising class sizes) to balance their budget. We wonder why this news was announced with such little time for meaningful negotiation. Perhaps it is part of the new trend to usher controversial proposals through with little time to allow for dissent.

Should teachers receive a wage reduction? If there is nowhere else to cut, then it must be considered. But the consequences of…

Dispatches From Students in South Central LA

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Humberto*, 7th grade, Honors

"I am thankful for having great teachers that care for me. Also, all of my teachers push me cause they know that I am smart but they know I don't show it. They also give me tips and comments to help me do better. I am also thankful because this year is going real fast and I just have to wait 5 months so my Dad could come home from prison and be with me for a long time like a father should do."

Valerie*, 7th grade, Honors

"My plans for Thanksgiving are to volunteer at a program and we are going to give the homeless people food. Another thing that I will be doing is hanging out with my family. I am always going to remember that day."

Susana*, 7th grade, ESL

"I am thankful for having my family with me and my plans for Thanksgiving are making food for my family and just celebrate with my family. I think that some people from my family are going to get drunk but they are not going to drive because that is illeagle to U.S.A."

J…

A Bright Spot in Dark Times

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Readers might remember the story of Lamar Queen, a talented third year teacher who was RIF'ed last year, and whose musical abilities gained him lots of fans and followers in cyberspace. His story came to represent the tragedy of losing so many young teachers to charters and other professions when the District sent out layoff notices in the spring.

Lamar was one of the few teachers who chose to stay at our school and work as a substitute, in spite of having other options as a gifted math teacher. We are lucky to still have him on staff.

This talented teacher has just completed his first album of math raps, and will be having a release party at Horace Mann Middle School on December 12th, at noon, in the MPR. If you enjoyed his funky Slope Intercept Form rap, or the catchy PEMDAS rap, then you will enjoy the rest of his masterful creations, such as the Quadratic Love Song and Distance Rate Time. The public is invited!!! Copies of the CD and DVD will be available for purchase and a…

Teachers Blamed for Reprehensible Flyer

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To LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and Fellow Board Members:It has come to my attention that this week, a flyer was circulated by an unknown person, or persons, in an attempt to misinform parents about charter schools and to falsely imply that their immigration status could be in danger if they choose to enroll their child in such a school.Without a doubt, this flyer was beyond unethical; it was perverse. Preying on the fear and fragile vulnerabilities of families in this district is the antithesis of what educators stand for and have a long history of fighting against. Today, you chose to hold a press conference in front of the UTLA building to denounce this flyer, implying, just like the flyer, that UTLA members such as myself, were responsible for its creation and distribution. I am disappointed that you would imply that the thousands of educators who fight every single day to provide students and their families with a quality education could be responsible for this singular ac…

Mobilization

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We are in the 5th month of a school year that is indelibly marked by the loss of thousands of talented, new teachers, disruptions in school faculties district wide, and opportunistic forces who chose this very moment in time to launch a movement to privatize public education.

The people who are champions for public education are being drowned out by the overwhelming negative publicity provided by media and self-proclaimed champions of the people such as Ben Austin of the so-called "Parent Revolution."

In our moment of need (by our we mean the students, parents, and teachers of impacted communities such as South Central who see past the false rhetoric of these corporations disguised as grassroots parents seeking change), our leaders are nowhere to be found. Some are musing alliances with the School Board, some are fighting forces within the union (subs vs. RIF'ed teachers), and some are silent, for reasons not understood.

This week, a sign of mobilization arrived.....via a …

On Charters and Triggers

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This week the L.A. School Board passed a resolution giving parents the ability to "trigger" a change in management if 51% of them sign a petition. Hmmm. What an appropriate term.

At first glance, it sounds like democracy in practice. Parents should have a say in their child's education, and if something isn't working, then they should have a voice to change it. Then, questions start popping up as I think of some events that have recently occurred at LA Academy:



Quorums not met at school governance councils because parents sign up and then drop outA parent yelling at the principal because she enforced the LAUSD no cell phones on campus policy with her child
Second, third, and fourth reminder letters for parents with failing students who have not attended a single parent meeting with their child's teachers this yearOf course, many parents are conscientious and participate in school activities. But by and large, our parents largely deliver their children on our d…