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Showing posts from 2014

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 …

AvalonSensei's Best and Worst of 2014 #LAUSD

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Thumbs Down in 2014

1.iPad Debacle
John Deasy ordered the spending of millions of dollars for the highest priced tablets that could have been spent on lowering class sizes for more individual attention of students. Some classes reached the 50's...that's not instruction. It's crowd control.

2. Misis Catastrophe
The district dragged its feet to become compliant with a consent decree, and then hurriedly rushed out a software program riddled with glitches. Worse, they refused to slow down when warned repeatedly by teachers that the program wasn't ready to go live.

3. Lack of a contract settlement (7 years without a cost of living adjustment)
It's disheartening to see our leaders lie and deceive about how much money is in the budget to afford teachers and others a raise. Not even a raise, because that would take back pay on the 7 years our COLA was absconded with by the district. Teachers have families too.

4. Local control formula that keeps focusing on the same 'ol, …

Top 10 Takeaways from NCSS Conference

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The National Council for the Social Studies conference was everything I thought it would be and more. While the experience is fresh in my mind, I'll share my top 10 takeaways from the conference.















1. Twitter is great, but nothing beats person to person learning, networking, and inspiration!
















2. The C3 Framework is coming. It's here. Lots of districts are moving on this. Is yours?























3. Michelle Herzog is the BUSINESS.






















4. Just when you had your mind made up about the immigration policy you hear this guy speak: Jose Antonio Vargas.














5. Boston was a phenomenal place to hold a social studies conference.


6. LAUSD (cc: Ramon Cortines), teachers need to leave the classroom, the school, and sometimes the state to get top notch professional development. ITS FOR THE STUDENTS!

7. Charter school teachers want to get connected. Their people won't do it. Our people won't do it. WE'll DO IT.

8.We honor our own. Nobody else does. Honor an educator by being a part of our community.














9. T…

The Feds Take on Teacher Assignments

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US to Focus on Equity in Assigning of Teachers

When I was a newer teacher, I used to think teachers should not get to pick their work location. I used to think that if there were superstar teachers, they should be assigned to teach the students who needed them the most, like the ones at the schools where I've taught.

Then I realized superstar teachers are few and far between.

The process to determine who is a great teacher is flawed, none exists yet.

Socioeconomics more greatly determine who is a great teacher than other measures in place today.

You could be a failing teacher at a failing school one year, and a superstar the next in another more affluent school or district.


How do you define a failing school anyway?

So the problem remains: who will best teach the students from poverty at schools such as mine?

First, I would abandon my naive idea of forcibly assigning teachers to work in places they don't choose. It would never work. The resentment and the stress alone would poi…

When It Comes to Students, It's Never a Celebration to Say "I Told You So"

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This week, teachers reacted to news of the Superintendent's departure with reactions spanning from joyful to sobering. As one of the many concerned teachers who wondered why on earth a non-educator would be selected to lead a school district, I felt John Deasy's decision to step down was the right one. But why was he ever hired in the first place?

The prevailing narrative is that public schools are failing and that infusing them with the business model of competition and reward and punish would push them to do better. This, in spite of no evidence that the schools are doing as poorly as those who have a vested interest in their failure say they are. I see nothing wrong in hiring someone that has risen through the ranks, knows the frustration of teaching in an overcrowded, under-resourced classroom. One that has been whacked in the head by a flying water bottle or a mushy burrito. One that has seen the gleam of understanding in a student's eye when they finally get the les…

iPads Are Good For Students, Aren't They?

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If you believe technology can replace teachers, then yes. I do not believe it.

Let me back up. Hi! My name is Martha Infante and I have been in education for 24 years. I love teaching. I would also love a class set of computers for my students to do research and projects, but our schools have been decimated in recent years with budget cuts and we are only now recovering. In fact, this is what got me started in blogging.

Why is the iPad issue so controversial? It might be because our Superintendent John Deasy, who sees himself as a champion of civil rights, believes iPads will equalize educational opportunities for students from poverty. Not more teachers, counselors, clean buildings, resources, training...but iPads.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators, making it one of the nation's most expensive technology programs. After we overpaid for these devices with bond money, they made their appearance …