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Showing posts from March, 2010

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 …

A Week of Turmoil and Tension

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This past week at L.A. Academy has been marked by the dread of imposed layoffs, uncertainty as to how many would actually go through, and the potential loss of our award-winning librarian.
Coincidentally (or not), students decided at this time to behave in a manner unseen in years, to the faculty who has been around since the opening of the school in 1998.  There were “rolling fights” on campus, where students run in hordes from place to place, to witness fights or other disturbances.  This situation has the potential for lots of physical injury because if you are in the way of an approaching horde, you will get knocked down, run over, and trampled.  Two students were injured, and many others were pushed, shoved, and stepped on.
Is there a connection between these two situations?  Teachers believe so.  Our school is a distinctly different place since 23 of our established faculty were laid-off in the 2009 Reduction in Force.  More than half of those teachers left the school, and the oth…

Numbers: Do They Tell the Whole Story?

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The internet has given many folks the opportunity to chime in about education reform (including those that author this blog, teachers from Los Angeles Academy MS).  Our school that has been labeled "Program Improvement" -California's label for "failing" schools--- for the last several years.  This is due to one simple measure, created by George Bush in his signature piece of legislation known as No Child Left Behind.   In NCLB, each school has to have 100% of students scoring Proficient or higher to be deemed a successful school.  This includes all English learners, and special education students who are mentally impaired.  Many schools, including ours, did not meet our targets, hence the PI label.

But does one single test label measure the worth of a school?  I believe not.  Having worked at several schools in the Los Angeles Unified District, and having hundreds of colleagues spread out all over the district, state, and nation, I have some thoughts on what h…

Kick 'Em While They're Down

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Starting at dinner time on Friday the 12th, the texts and phone calls started coming in.  "I'm fired,"  "guess I'll be looking for a new job" or  "I get it, LAUSD, you don't want me."  Apprehensive teachers had made their way home to find their pink slips waiting for them.

Unlike last year, the teachers were realistic about their chances of getting another one this year.  Nothing can really prepare you for getting the letter that tells you you have less than four months left of being a teacher and working with your students.  LAAMS lost 23 teachers last year, and with that fact in mind, and no clear UTLA plan of action, our new crop of RIF'ed teachers are grim about their future, and the future of our school community.

At least 10 new RIF's have been confirmed, but LAUSD saw it fit to send duplicate RIF's to last year's laid-off teachers who are currently working as substitutes.  In a time of contract negotiations between the …

Rolling protests throughout the state of California emphasized the despair, anger, and will of the people.

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March 4, 2010 was the Day of Action that brought together all those who have been affected by the $17 billion dollars in education funding cuts over the last two years.  College students, K-12 students, teachers, unions, and parents rallied from San Francisco to San Diego to tell the world it is wrong to cut education and spend billions on wars and prisons.
For L.A. teachers, it was a chance to express our angst at the lack of foresight of laying off teachers, when in the next few years, millions of baby boomer teachers will be retiring.  Poor planning has led to many districts being in a dismal financial situation, while others who planned well and had rainy day funds have been navigating the Great Recession, even if only barely.
Superintendent Cortines recently presented the 2010-2011 budget that included more cuts for LAUSD teachers, to the tune of 5,200 teaching positions.  Possible factors to mitigate these cuts include pay cuts for teachers, and furlough days that would result in …

Why Firing Central Falls Faculty Was Wrong

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Teachers and students from Central Falls HS



Firing the Central Falls faculty was wrong, for reasons we see every day here in South Central Los Angeles.

1.  The premise is that the 74 high school teachers, and no one else, was responsible for the students' academic struggles.  Not socio-economics, not gangs, not the parents, not the students themselves.  What a mistaken assumption.  If this were the magic bullet, wouldn't it have been used more often?  It hasn't because results have been mixed, at best.

2.  If these teachers are fired, it will scare the bejeezuz out of other teachers who will shape up in order to not lose their jobs.  Wrong.  Most teachers, especially the good ones, are not motivated by money or threats.

3.  When you start with a brand new staff, it will establish a new climate and higher expectations for the students and better test scores.  Where has this been proven to happen?  Not by a paltry few percentage points, but by significant and honest progre…