Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

As I wind up my 24 th 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

L.A. Teachers Rally For...Many Reasons

Last week, hundreds of LAUSD teachers rallied in the rain to bring attention to numerous issues of concern:
  • the defamation of the teaching profession
  • the rise of the charter movement/privatization of public schools
  • looming budget cuts, more teacher layoffs
Some teachers are ambivalent about continuing to participate in UTLA rallies. RIF'ed teachers wonder whether anyone remembers that they have lost their jobs as permanent teachers and are working as long-term substitutes (if they're lucky.) When you put your heart and soul into your job, when your life centers around your persona as a teacher, you feel like your world is upside down in the wake of the loss of your job. But does anyone even remember that L.A. Academy Middle School lost 23 teaching positions 7 months ago? That South Central bore 40% of the layoffs due to its large number of new teachers?

Joe Zeccola (pictured above), UTLA Co-Chair at LAAMS, explains why only through unity, will our voices be heard and listened to. He says there is no one else who is standing by us at this time, and all we have is each other. RIF'ed teachers can only pin their hopes on the union.

Students also attended the rally, with their parents, because they like their teachers, they know their teachers, they trust their teachers. No amount of media smears, or "grassroots" campaigns will change that. The kids are the smartest of all; they know impostors when they see 'em.

Teachers weren't just rallying for their jobs, although why this would be considered a bad thing, I don't know. They were fighting to be heard, because they are the experts in the field of education. This whole education debate is leaving out a key group of people: the teachers themselves. Would you ask Eli Broad for his expert opinion if you needed surgery? Undoubtedly, no. But teachers haven't been included in the planning of Race to the Top, or any relevant educational policy, nor does it seem it will happen any time in the future.

So the rally of the rain was meant to send a message to the School Board, to Sacramento, to anyone involved in the ed-debate: we want to be a part of the ed debate. We haven't been included before, and this must change. Greater accountability will come when teachers have a say in curriculum design, professional development, and to some extent, school governance. Otherwise, there is little hope for improvement.


  1. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this event. I don't know how many will hear or act on the message, but I know that passivity and indifference must be avoided.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

FULBRIGHT: Countdown: Day 7

Who is AvalonSensei?