The Same Old (Jason) Song: Maybe He Should READ The LAUSD Fine Print


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I don't know if Thomas Shelden, a teacher who LAUSD put on administrative leave for 2 years because of allegations of sexual harassment of a fellow teacher, is guilty or not, but clearly reporter Jason Song doesn't know either and really doesn't seem to care. Being in a similar situation to Mr. Shelden, I have had 7 hours a day for the last 3 months to not spend "the day napping, watching television, taking walks and lifting weights," but rather researching and writing a minimum of 5 articles a week mostly about the corruption and incompetence that Reporter Jason Song must also be all too aware of, but never seems to get around to reporting.

On Saturday, I went to the 14th LAUSD Parents Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center to pass out flyers about perdaily. I had an opportunity to talk with parents who found two facts very interest:

1. That LAUSD has over a 50% drop out rate before graduation;
2. Their children substantiated that their classes were being held hostage by students who were continually disruptive of the class with no discipline allowed by the teachers or support from the administration.

Many of the predominantly Latino parents shared their frustrations and fears with me about the future of their children. Like my grandparents, they had come to this country for a better life and were now panicked by an LAUSD education that was far worst than what their children could have gotten in Mexico and the other countries they came from. Because many spoke little or no English, they felt that they were not taken serious.

Jason Song's colleague Mitchell Landsberg, also covered the LAUSD education beat for the L.A. Times before being shifted to religion. He was very knowledgeable about what was going on at LAUSD, which he told me "more resembled a MASH triage unit" than it did a school district administration -- but somehow these stories are never reported in the L.A. Times. In addition to writing for www.perdaily.com, which keeps me so busy that I rarely have time to take a lunch break, I read education news posts from around the country where it is not too difficult to see the concerted campaign against teachers that papers like the L.A. Times have jumped on the bandwagon with. While teachers have little to say about how school districts are run, they have been condemned in mass by the media and school district in a disengenuous attempt to scapegoat teachers who are logically not the problem.

While I do not defend all teachers and have worked with many who are burnouts or worse, I think the vast majority of teachers are dedicated and would do even a greater job, if they were allowed to do so by administrators whose long standing marching orders from LAUSD are to allow unacceptable student behavior and require no rigor from students in a never ending quest to maintain Average Daily Attendance and the money it bring from the state at any cost. Ironically, the worst teachers are the ones that get along best with administration and receive no charges, reprimands, or suspensions, because they don't rock the leaky LAUSD boat.

In looking at the outrageous behavior of my own Principal Janet Seary, AP Rene Martinez, their superiors Janice Davis, LAUSD Staff Relations employees Ignacio Garcia and David Vidaurrazaga, and Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his Chief of Staff Jim Morris, I could never understand why they all felt that they could act in the most outrageous manner toward me and others in trumping up charges and ignoring all the evidence that I have produced to show that there was no substance to any of the charges.

Several days ago, my question was answered, I was contact by one of the other 160 other teachers on administrative leave who sent me the following citation from the California Government Çode 821.6:

"A public employee is not liable for injury caused by his instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of his employment, even if he acts maliciously and without probable cause."

While teacher Thomas Shelden's judgment leaves something to be desired in allowing his picture to be taken with him resting on his bed with a meal tray next to him, which has got to piss off people who have to work hard at their jobs, it does not in and of itself give justification for him to have been dismissed by a preponderance of the evidence. Giving full pay and benefits to 160 teachers for no work is not the teachers idea and while some of these teachers should be no where near students, I suspect that the purpose of administrative leave for teachers like myself is to punish not to protect students or other teachers. In my case, I will continue to work for real reform of LAUSD.

While I have never told a student to shut up or ridiculed a student in front of the class as Mr. Shelden is accused of doing, I wonder what any teacher is supposed to do with willful defiance and open refusal to work or allow anybody else in the class to work, when administrators' only answer is to tell the teacher to continually call parents, when it is obvious that many of the parents, themselves the product of failed LAUSD education, could care less what their children are doing in school to the teachers and the other students who have a right to a great education.

What makes me tend to think that there is a greater chance of Mr. Shelden being innocent than guilt is lack of specificity in the unsubstantiated libelous charges against him that are designed to inflame rather than specifically charge him with improper actions. In my case, many of the people who are cited by my administrators in support of their case against me have actually given me statements that these charges are false. Alas, with Government Code Section 821.6 it is easy to understand why LAUSD administrators continue to have no regard for the truth, but as for Jason Song and the L.A. Times there is no excuse. Song's ending the article with, "The time he spent away from the classroom will count toward his pension and retirement, benefits, according to district officials" is clearly designed to inflame the reader by completing the subtext of Song's covert thesis that the teacher is an incompetent, sponging off the honest taxpaying L.A. Times reader, who should be irate. What I can do is cancel my subscription to the Times and encourage the rest of you to do the same if you still believe in unbias reporting.

admin@perdaily.com


Flickr: ChrisJohnBeckett



11 Comments

Jay or Jason,

Secondary teachers are single-subject specialists without the skill set to do the remediation the vast majority of socially promoted students need. The sole concern of most administrators is not enforcing the discipline necessary to teach, but rather only warm butts in seats to collect the Average Daily Attendance money from the state irrespective of whether or not the students learn anything or allow other students to do so. Check out the following video of a student who was socially promoted until he ultimately dropped out of school: http://www.perdaily.com/2010/05/we-prove-it-central-high-graduating-students-with-2nd-grade-reading-levels.html. I guess the 94% of Whites who don't have to suffer such a system have a difficult time relating to the fraud that LAUSD is practicing and that the L.A. Times rubber stamps with articles by reporters who like some teachers will say and do anything to protect their jobs.

This heavily biased, and poorly written (maybe fixing the students should start with fixing the teachers...take an English 101 class, mechanics and grammar matter) article seems to be attacking a reporter who grew up in a series of California Distinguished Schools...where real teaching happened. He learned from teachers who care. The students in LAUSD aren't failing, the teachers are. It is, and always has been, the responsibility of the teacher to teach TO the students, not just talk AT them. One cannot be expected to learn with passion when the teacher himself has none.

Jay: Teachers' ability to teach, and their students' education are being held hostage on a daily basis due to the egregious behavior of some terrorist students. These school-based terrorists (SBTs) couldn’t care less about a school or classroom progressive discipline plan. Calls to parents are futile and administration doesn’t want them sent to the office. So the teacher who is trying to teach, and other students that are trying to learn are forced to suffer day in and day out. Trying to quell disturbances becomes the order of the day and teachers attempt to “get a little learning in” between the terrorist episodes. Teachers are well educated and could get other jobs, but because we are passionate about what we do, because we genuinely care about our students, we remain in the classroom, even trying to educate the SBTs. So before you attempt to criticize teachers, walk a few inches in our shoes (I don’t think you’d last a mile)!

Myrnajp,

While I agree with you about "the egregious behavior" of some students, I would not go as far as calling them terrorists even though their behavior is equatable. When I was working in an automotive shop to help defray the cost of my own education, we used to have a saying, "It's a bad mechanic who blames his tools." It is far more productive to do what any good mechanic or teacher needs to do by asking the question: Why do these children act this way. I believe the answers to be the following:
1. Many of their parents did not learn enough in school to be good parents. Getting pregnant at 14 or turning 18 does not make you competent to raise children without significant intervention. Schools would be a great place to do this instead of waiting for these students to arrive at school having heard millions of less words than their more affluent counterparts which makes them prime candidates for the terror you so aptly describe.
2. Any child given no limits will continue to push for them exhibiting the disruptive behavior that you and I are so familiar with.
3. Socially promoted students are literally humiliated by being asked to do work at a level years beyond their ability without the foundational skills to succeed with single-subject credentialed teachers that have no skill set to get them caught up- the longer this situation goes on the less likely it can be reverse, so that by the time these students have been pushed into middle school the odds of turning this around are not good.
4. Nobody likes to be humiliated- not students or teachers.
5. The exclusive concern of the vast majority of administrators is Average Daily Attendance irrespective of the behavior students exhibit, it's all about warm butts in seats to get the money from the State and the jobs it represents. LAUSD is the most anti-intellectual environment I have ever experience, since it has very little to do with education and everything to do with jobs and lucrative contracts. That being the case, there is no administrative support from administrators that either follow LAUSD party line in keeping students in class no matter what behavior they exhibit or they are busted out of administration- administrators have no tenure.

A vibrant prenatal, preschool, and early dealing with the deficits that students have as soon as possible would go a long way to dealing with the behavior that makes LAUSD classrooms notconducive to learning.

I am not blaming "my tools" I was just letting Jay know that things aren't as cut and dry as he seems to think. He doesn't seem to realize that teaching is about the only profession that is handed flawed raw materials and expected to achieve perfection without adequate support from home and/or administration, but WE DON'T GIVE UP. We continue to have high expectations for ourselves and our students. As you well know, the entire LAUSD system needs to be overhauled (including UTLA) but I don't know if that will happen in my lifetime (I'm 53). Is there a trustworthy candidate for UTLA President?

Myrnaip,

Check out today's post on www.perdaily.com (Sept. 24) with Karen Lewis and Lois Weiner. They give an excellent national overview of what those in power have planned for public education if teachers don't finally step up to the plate and talk about what they know and see on a daily basis and posit a real, specific, and viable alternative to a monologue on public education that is for privatization and the ending of teaching as a profession.

The Tea Party has no coherent plan, but have lots of money and great organization. This needs to be countered by a national public education reform coalition that links the battles educators, students, and parents are fighting in isolation throughout this country. The first step in victory is to realize that we are the majority that has been silenced by a well financed minority. This will go a long way in addressing endemic educator pessimism that stops us from coming together because of the false belief that it is futile. This has been cultivated and can be overcome.

Lenny

Its pretty obvious Jason is trying to move up the corporate ladder on the backs of our teachers. I'd like to see how he would do with students from broken homes and poverty with no desire to learn. He wouldn't last ten minutes. Why doesn't he investigate the money changers of Wall Street who are robbing our children of their future?

Jason and his fellow reporters have much more in common with teachers than you think. With the cutbacks since the L.A. Times was taken over by the Chicago Tribune, the closing of bureaus, and the firing of reporters, like teachers, those reporters that are not willing to peddle L.A. Times party line are "riffed." The anti-teacher party line that reporters at all major media are pushing around the country to scapegoat teachers for a system they have no say in is the cost to reporters of keeping their jobs, while, like teachers, losing the idealism that got them into the profession in the first place. Obviously, Jason Song et al know exactly the fraud that LAUSD is consciously perpetrating to maintain their privilege at any cost, but like teachers, they are too terrified to tell it. Ironically, if either teachers or reporters developed a backbone, LAUSD would crumble from its own vacuous and top heavy weight, because there is no there there.

We have to get word out there. We have to be radical and proactive. History tells us the best teachers are subversive.

Words are important. While I understand what you mean when you say good teachers are "subversive," I have problems with ceding the center to the folks who are really subversive. Good teachers are idealistic and motivated to create excellent education and will not stand by and allow this indispensable public asset of education to be subverted by self-serving criminals.

Jason Song subscribes to one singular theory as I perceive it: that "Yellow Press" needs to be fashionable again as a way to hide what little truth remains in our ridiculous educational system. LAUSD's bottom line is, has always been and will always be SCH: Student Credit Hours or MONEY! Jason Song who appears to be on the coat tails of LAUSD helps to perpetuate the money angle by yellowing the truth as told by teachers and schools that find the current system in a bottomless well of despair. Jason Song, like a seamstress manipulates the direction and flow of the thread called LAUSD to fashion a cloth of deception and outright lies and claim it to be an "Indepth Investigation." Yellow Press sells! Just look at the supermarket tabloids. The Inquirer was up for a Pulitzer because of their reporting on John Edwards! The rules that fashion LAUSD today are corrupt and outdated. Jason Song is like the pitchman for a carnival "Come see the Lions! Tigers! Bears!" Come see the marvelous twists and turns and disappearing acts of LAUSD!

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