Mail Of The Week Award: Jim Hilliard
Jim sends us this well-written letter that I think everyone should take a gander at... Thanks G.Y.M!
"Know Your Wrongs
There is a column in the United Teacher entitled, Know Your Rights, I feel that it is important that every member know about the glaring chasm between what is said and what is practiced.
You have the right to have a representative present at meetings: The representative will be an eye witness to everything that is said in the meeting. They may take notes on all that occurred.
What is not said: no one will ever ask what went on in any meeting. No one will ever read any account.
You have a right to respond to any unfavorable comments, and have them placed in your personnel file: No one will ever read or look at any response that you write. With one exception, the Principal, and if they read something they don't like they may retaliate.
Principals do not have the right to retaliate. The union's position is that retaliation is hard to prove. According to the union there is no connection to UNSATs filed on the heels of grievances.
You are protected by your contract. Although the contract clearly states what is allowed and not allowed, it does not state any consequences. If a Principal breaks the contract they may be forced to write an ambiguous letter, after which they may choose to retaliate (see above).
You have the right to file a grievance: The grievance process works like filing a claim with an HMO. Initially every grievance is turned down. Your rejection letter will thank you for filing. It will not tell you why your grievance was denied. It will tell you that you have the right to appeal. You have the right to appeal a rejected grievance: (see above) The process occurs several times. It doesn't change. Even if you make it to the council of peers (where you will have 20 minutes to make your case) the outcome will be the same. If you want to know why you have been rejected you will be told that: You are not entitled to that information. You are not allowed to question anyone about it either. As to how many grievances are filed, be prepared to learn that that information is not kept, neither is the number of grievances that are successful.
An injury against one is an injury to all. We have all been injured now. I'm guessing a lot, but that information is not available to me.
I am not making this up. I can back up everything I have said. I sought recourse and received none. I want to be a member of a strong union. The things I have witnessed seem to indicate corruption, incompetence and weakness. With a grievance procedure like this it is little wonder that the district does not take our demands seriously. If the union would show a little backbone it would spare other teachers from going through what I have.. The bottom line is helping students. I couldn't teach 16 days this year because I was unjustly suspended.
I would like to see this printed in the United Teacher, I feel we can be fairly sure that it will not be. Therefore I will attempt to e-mail it to as many people as possible, in the attempt to reach someone who will start the ball rolling on reform. LAUSD has a 50% failure rate. We need change now!
A few words of encouragement from a A Substitute:
"This the clearest and hardest-hitting site for the ongoing battle to save LAUSD , or rather the students trapped in the system, I have ever encountered. I will support you and visit often. The children are in greater danger than I, who has received zero calls from subfinder this year.
Joe Chmoe makes the case for more parental involvement:
"My wife worked as a teacher for LAUSD for ten years, I have worked here for about a year and I have seen a pattern in her students and the system as a whole. In her students, the ones who did well were children of parents who could not care more about their children and her students who did poorly were children of parents who could not care less about their kids. How do you fix that with a school program? Everyone wants to figure a way to teach students but if the parents are uninterested then the students will not learn. No matter how much money is thrown at the school. Case in point: public schools spend, per student, 6 times as much money as do private schools. The difference between private schools, or even better home schooling, is parent involvement- the parents of private school children actually care about their children's education. I have seen of her students those parents whose children did well were at every meeting and picked them up on time everyday. And the ones who's parents never came and were habitually late picking up there kids do horribly bad. So the problem is not the program, the problem is the parents. And I do not mean the kids, I mean the parents. And me, I see more and more schools being built because that will fix a problem that has nothing to do with buildings. Children can learn more at home with a caring consistent parent that in a $100 million dollar school and that is a fact. But this won't get any measures passed so it won't be considered. In fact what will happen is a postulation that 6 times as much as private wasn't enough so let's try 20 times.
So let's be serious. You do not want to change, you want more ideas on how to continue. The answers are right there in your face but you choose not to see.
Unknown sends a list of topics to cover (tipsters help us out):
"How about LAUSD Facilities Dept. direct violation of Education Code 45308? Or about Facilities bumping District employees in favor of keeping (and hiring) contract professionals to do work District employees are trained to do? How about the Personnel Commissions refusal to classified New Construction administrative/clerical positions in favor of keeping/maintaining contract professionals on the basis that they possess special 'technical' training?
There's something rotten in Denmark and it needs to be exposed.
A Reader responds to our Janet Seary soap opera:
"I would hope that as you pursue these issues that you remain aware that as an employee to the district and hence the state, you have virtually sworn an oath to support and defend the federal and state constitutions and in particular regard to due process rights which makes it your patriotic duty to resist any attempts to deprive you of those rights. Neither your principal nor the district can legally single you out for any "special treatment" in regard to this which is different from that practiced toward any other employee. Any attempt to generalize their behavior to others would also constitute further violations of state and federal constitutional rights.
Anonymous (didn't have a pen name yet):
"LAUSD year after year promotes students, in elem grades, who do not know essential grade-level skills. LAUSD has created a formula for pass or fail that looks good on paper, but which is, actually, way too low. Way too low. The standard is so low that one teacher equates it with putting a pocket mirror in front of a student's mouth to see if the mirror fogs up. (If they're breathing, they pass.)
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