A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

AvalonSensei's Best and Worst of 2014 #LAUSD















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, same 'ol
What's the point in shifting control to local schools when the folks in power keep emphasizing English, Math, and the Common Core? What about the arts, sports, and gifted education?

5. Breakfast in the Classroom continues to bring pests into the classroom
Seriously, this was just a publicity stunt. If you're going to do it, do it right. Double the number of custodial staff at each school and buy better food. That bird seed bar has got to go. 















Thumbs Up in 2014

1. Ramon Cortines-He's a benevolent dictator, and I'm ok with that (he was an educator)
Welcome back, Mr. Cortines! Just remember that the public trusts YOU to do right by the kids and not by Pearson, Apple, and Scholastic. Just sayin'.

2. Prop 30 funding
Thank you, Californians!

3. Tom Torlakson re-elected
This is a man who knows what's best for schools. I look forward to 4 more years of leadership.

4. John Deasy exits the district
Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.

5. New union leadership (Alex Caputo-Pearl is the Business!)
Finally, an intellectual.

6. The dedicated teachers of South Central L.A (and all around the world!)
You know you are making a true difference in the lives of children.

Thank you all who read this blog. I want the record to show how the real people: students, parents, and teachers dealt with the consequences of the decisions made by people far from schools, some with no educational background whatsoever. 

We want schools to improve, but treat teachers with contempt. Well, that's never going to work. So we write. We march. We join. We participate. And we document.

Looking forward to a productive year in 2015!

Martha Infante aka AvalonSensei


Comments

  1. Interestingly, the "top five" thumbs down list is what the disgraced John Deasy would call his greatest hits. His departure was the best thing that ever happened to our district.

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