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 …

Why Firing Central Falls Faculty Was Wrong






















  

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 progress?  Not Fenger High in Chicago, not Markham Middle in Los Angeles (teachers there weren't fired there, but 50% of staff lost jobs in July 09's reduction in force, and 8 months later they are not fully staffed.)  Further, who will replace these teachers?  Arne, there is no magical line of teachers waiting to teach in the 'hood.

4.  Firing these teachers was wrong, even cruel, because you are removing what may be the only steady, consistent figures in the students' difficult lives.  Here at DFSC, we have seen this first hand.  We have seen the cruelty of having our next generation of teachers culled from our ranks, teachers who wanted to teach at LAAMS, who did it well, but in the end, were just numbers in an equation that couldn't be balanced.

But the public, fueled by the worst kind of "journalism" seen in recent times, and also suffering from the effects of this recession, want to see consequences.  So the firing is accepted.  The President applauds it.  And the students?  The students will be taught by teachers assigned to that school, some against their will, and who have no knowledge of the community and history of the school.

Hell hath no fury like students scorned.  New staff members at LAAMS, live with this every day, and its not pretty.

One last thought; at Bethune MS, also in South Central, the teachers would often be threatened with removal from the school if test scores didn't rise.  The joke in the faculty lounge was, "what are they (the District) going to do?  Send me to Bethune?"  For the Central Falls teachers, most will probably land in more affluent schools that have less challenging environments.  Supeintendent Gallo, you really showed them!
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photo from www.uri.edu

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