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 …

Three Ways the L.A. Strike Profoundly Changed the Teaching Profession




They look the same. They talk the same. But if you observe closely, you will find your local neighborhood teacher has undergone a deep transformation that will forever change the course of education in Los Angeles, the state, and beyond. Here are three ways the L.A. Teachers Strike changed teachers forever.

NEWFOUND AGENCY

No longer do the classroom teachers shrug their shoulders and accept working conditions that are neither beneficial to students or themselves, like partners in an abusive relationship. After years of the de-professionalizing our careers due to the effects of GERM: the Global Education Reform Movement, teachers realized enough was enough. Veteran teachers close to retirement refused to leave the profession in this state for the sake of newer teachers and the students in their charge The UTLA Strike was our way of leaving behind a legacy we could be proud of. Our ranks have never been more united and proud.
Facebook group
You now see teachers discussing intricate education issues on message boards, interviews, and leadership positions created by our hard-won collective bargaining agreement. We have always been the experts; now we believe we are.

POLITICAL POWER

Teachers demanded that our elected leaders fulfill the mandates of their positions with bravery, not political schadenfreude. Whereas before the strike, the local L.A. school board couldn’t muster the votes to put a parcel tax proposal before voters, post-strike even the most reluctant board members jumped on board to support the resolution for one. The new governor enthusiastically embraced the principles of the strike and urged the legislature to pass a charter school transparency bill. Currently there are no less than four bills in the legislature that would increase charter school oversight and accountability, a key demand of our labor strike.

The teachers recognized that the momentum of the strike could only continue by electing a school board member impervious to the influence of privatizers.  That warrior was JackieGoldberg, a veteran in progressive social and educational issues. 
H/T Carl Petersen

Competing candidates clumsily latched on to the excitement of the teachers strike by falsely declaring themselves as “teachers” or co-opting strike imagery, in recognition of the power of the movement. But the political mobilization of teachers will almost certainly ensure that only those candidates whose goals are truly aligned with classroom teachers—in a respectful manner-- will ever be elected to the school board again.

PARENTS AS PARTNERS


What an incredible feeling to march side by side with the parents of our school communities. Parents were a key reason for the success of the strike, and close communication to clarify conflicting messages helped forge a special bond that will be felt for years to come. The Facebook group Parents Supporting Teachers has over 24,000 members that dialogue daily, in English and Spanish, about school issues, recommendations for schools, and advise on how to approach administrators.

Groups such as Padres Contra la Privatizacion have engaged in actions such as challenging charter co-locations, the building of mega-charters in their neighborhoods, and support for Jackie Goldberg. And teachers have been there to help them when their local fly by night charterschool closes 7 weeks before the end of the school year.
South Central L.A. students and teachers

Like an epiphany, the strike awakened an awareness in parents, that teachers have always fought for what’s best for their children. Day after day on the rainy strike line, we felt the love from the public honk after honk, wave after wave, fist after fist. I will never forget the support we received on the strike line by our beloved LAUSD parents.



The euphoria experienced the day we reached agreement on the contract is hard to describe. Knowing that our strike was about more than pay, we knew our demands were a fight for the greater good and that we were on the right side of history.  Although some colleagues were not satisfied with the new contract, I see it as a red pill moment; now teachers who made do with so little before have realized how much more we and our students deserve. Of course, there will be agitation. But as awareness of education politics grows, so will understanding of what a long road we have ahead of us to undo the damage of decades of disinvestment in public school. The sleeping giant has awakened.

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