Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

Image
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 …

Teachers and Turnarounds

Image
Recently, Twitter has become my news feed of preference.  In a single look, I can receive updates from the education world, converse with colleagues around the world, and debate with pundits with opposing views.  In my short time on Twitter, I have come to "meet" and respect some folks whose opinion I value.

Which is why I have been perturbed ever since one of those "tweeps" responded to a rhetorical question I posed about reconstitution, or turnaround.

The reconstitution of Fremont High School has been distressing for educators in South Central Los Angeles.  We know how important it is for students to be connected with a source of stability, the school, which in many cases is the only source of stability in a child's life.  The feds have deemed turnaround as a viable reform option for struggling schools, laying the responsibility of student performance 100% on a teacher's shoulders.  If students do not perform well, the entire school runs the risk of turna…

Race to the Top and South Central L.A.

Image
The big news this summer is the speed and ferocity of the federal governments new education reform plans that fall under the umbrella of Race to the Top.  RTTT is a competition for federal funding that will be awarded to winning states who adopt the reforms espoused by the President Obama and the Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  Some of these reforms include merit pay for teachers, reforming teacher evaluation, increasing testing in all subjects, imposing sanctions to the lowest performing 5% of schools, and lifting the cap on charter schools.

As we have said before in this blog, the ideas and policies of those in power always present themselves in a different iteration at the school level, and in South Central L.A., even more so.

For example, take the idea of reconstitution.  The idea is that if a school has very low test scores, and has had them for a long time, then it must be the fault of the faculty.  If you fire the faculty and only retain the best teachers (who …