Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

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 …

On Strike

The public supports us.

Being on strike makes me proud. To see and hear the support of the public every morning on the picket line, I am further convinced L.A. teachers made the right choice to leave the classroom. It is not an easy choice for many single income teachers, but it is one of the reasons we are striking. Teachers should not have to live paycheck to paycheck when educating society's children.

But our strike is about more than that, and it seems the public is aware of what we have been concerned about for years. In the middle of one morning's picket session I realized that the education reformers had been so very wrong in what they were telling us. The public knows and understands that we know what's best for children in schools. They place their precious children in our hands to educate, and want us to do our job unencumbered by district edicts and structures that get in the way.

The public supports us.

Being on strike is not what I thought it would be. It is better than what I could have imagined. The camaraderie between teachers, both active and retired, is exhilarating. We dance together, chant inspiring slogans, and are joined by students and parents on a regular basis. To see random strangers dropping off food for us warms my heart greatly. Local businesses have pitched in too, so teachers are refreshed and energized for the picketing.

Of course, I had to join my former colleagues in South Central L.A. and it was wonderful to be received with open arms and hugs by former students. It was not wonderful to learn some students were being housed in the underground parking lot for one of their "instructional rotations." The strike won't fix everything, but I hope there comes a day when all administrators are selected for their competence and wisdom, not their loyalty to the powers that be.

The public supports us.

It is stressful not to know what the future holds. We are not privy to details of the negotiations between union and management, so we don't have a clear return date. But I am buoyed by the knowledge that the climate surrounding public schools in L.A. has changed. We have taken back our turn, and we are in control of the narrative. No longer will we tolerate being named and shamed by sham test scores. No longer will we stay quiet in the classroom while the privatizers starve our district schools. No longer will we passively accept unconscionable contracts that do not protect our students.  The strike has changed us, and we intend to change the future of public education to one that truly places a teachers' knowledge and expertise for what's best in schools front and center.

Students from Delevan Drive Elementary singing to their striking teachers...

An interview I did with HBO'c Vice News


Popular posts from this blog

FULBRIGHT: Countdown: Day 7

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

"There Are No Emergencies"