The Friday Mailbag: A Sampling Of This Week's Email

Every Friday (starting now) I'll open the mailbag up and give readers the chance to have their thoughts, suggestions and/or well-written responses posted for all to debate. The emails we receive are posted almost word for word (minus most typos). Long story short, don't go blaming us if/when you angrily disagree.

A snarky teacher sends his two cents:

"I'd be far more impressed if I knew who you were, but I don't think much of anonymous complaints.


A teacher replied to our classified employee story with:

"We're all upset about layoffs to both certified and classified personnel. However, I want to point out that about 5 years ago, it took a team of FIVE painters more than a week to paint my slightly larger than average-sized elementary classroom. Meanwhile, my class met in the auditorium -- a wonderful place to work with 6 year olds. In the many times I entered my room to retrieve materials, I never once saw any of them actually painting, but I did catch a lot of coffee breaks.

From a library aide, in response to our LAUSD email:
"It's quite strange that in this article TEACHERS were the ones to be laid off "FIRST" while we Library Aides have already have had our numbers cut in half. Either half staffed or half our positions are filled. We know that only teachers positions are of concern to the public but our roles are important too.

A concerned teacher sends us her budget and revenue ideas:

"Cuts and new revenue sources:
TOTAL transparency of all district funds and list of all employees, including financial statements given to ALL stakeholders
• Bond issuance
• One-time flat tax for property owners
• Obtain a bigger % from the California Lottery
• Demand Federal "Save our Schools" bail-out monies (instead corporate bail-outs)
• IEP/special ed "take it or leave it" offers for services (i.e. no paying for private schools, home visits, non-district employees)
• Cuts to district lawyers, consultants, construction, window washers and all other non-essential, non-classroom positions
• End testing and fire outside firms that process the tests
• Request that parents make a one-time contribution to an independent firm with the monies to be distributed to all LAUSD schools
• LAUSD to obtain Federal grant monies
• Mandate a one-time fee for all business owners
• Additional vehicle registration fees
• Eliminate "professional development"
• Eliminate District Intern program and department
• Eliminate spending for any and all "new programs" (books, math programs, etc.)
• Reroute monies from after school programs to SCHOOLS
• Welfare/Food stamp cuts and redirect federal monies to schools

Last but not least, a perdaily reader (sorry -- I wasn't sure how to address you) adds how he would fix LAUSD:

"Obstacles to RTI:

If you really believe in bottom up change, give out an email where line workers can send you information about what are the real and very concrete obstacles to RTI in their schools. Line staff already know the problems and they already know the solutions but there are real systemic obstacles preventing the solution or cultural norms preventing the change which need to be addressed from above. Line workers have tried to institute change from the bottom but we need help when it comes to changing our schools.

Please ask principals what is getting in the way of them performing and their schools. What they told me was that they cannot hire the teacher who they think will do the best job because they must adhere to racial quotas in hiring. I thought that racial quotas were made illegal some time ago. I have seen English teachers who cannot speak English; the children cannot understand them.They also said that one third of all principals will be moved every year. How is that a good thing for school stability and the execution of school change.

There is a real culture of punishment under the guise of accountability that fuels this fear of change whether the change is for better or worse. I hear my dept talking about accountability and it just alienates staff and makes them defensive and lock down. We don't just have a problem nurturing our gifted students. What are we doing to nurture and develop the star teachers and star principals?

Our system seems designed to prevent the mediocre teachers from messing up too badly rather than encouraging the excellent teachers to excel. What can we do about our must place teachers? They are embarrassing us all.They are hurting our kids and our schools. How about negotiating a three strikes and you are out policy with the union. If you are ejected from three schools in less than 6 years you are out! Terminate these teachers or ask them to retire early.

Some people are not meant to teach or they are so burnt out that they are not healthy for the students to be interacting with. Give them the opportunity to find work that is more satisfying or is a better match for their skills, interests and personality.These must place teachers need help finding other vocations that are better matches for their particular skills. We need to change the reality that for some teachers they teach because they cannot find or succeed at anything else in their life. We have to stop being a welfare work program and start being an institution of excellence and performance for our children.

Enjoy the weekend people. Email me: and tips:


02 2010


I think we all have to stop operating in an atmosphere of fear. I welcome being compared to other teachers because I know why I do what I do and why it is better for students than other things I could do. I know that I must teach students to think and that is the challenge whether the state or nation or NCLB realizes it. When an administrator challenges me I can respond with ideas from my advanced degree in instruction and my classroom experience. I know what I am doing. I believe in keeping my door open, allowing others to view and critique my practice because that is how I improve. I am not afraid of learning. I am willing to share practices and class time and coordinate lessons plans with forward thinking teachers that I respect. But...
I find most teachers want to hang on to old thoughts and practices. They want to lecture and quiz and hand out fill-in-the-blank or read the chapter and answer the questions or assign writing as punishment. In short they Have become multiple choice teachers. There is no stimulation of curiosity, ambiguity or inquiry. You want my tip: We, teachers, need to clean up our act first. This site feels like a perpetuation of that fear that some big bad guy wants to take away our job to give it to automatons that agree with big brother in some way. This fear seems nebulous especially since, in my experience, so many teachers are doing a mediocre to poor job. Why would an administrator want to remove a teacher who is stimulating student's minds. What mad scientist/big brother/evil genius really wants to destroy good teaching? What would be the point? Why do you want to continue the old paradigm of Management vs. Worker. We are professionals with advanced degrees just like the principals, administrators, and the superintendents. Why can't we begin to deal with each other on this level playing field.

So if you lecture and/or quiz, you are a bad teacher?

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