In plumbing the depths of ignorance at LAUSD, I am always surprised when I realize that I have come no where near the bottom of their self-inflicted stupidity. In the never ending soap opera that is my daily interaction with LAUSD's staff as much as I should have learned by now that they have no shame and will say anything, I still have a difficult time having such a low expectation of people who should be my colleagues in furthering the excellence of public education, rather than the premeditated sabotage that is their daily work.
When I bumped into LAUSD Office of the Inspector General investigator John Metcalf, I was initially gratified when he told me that my harvesting of fellow employees email addresses and sending them a flyer about education reform and www.perdaily.com did not violate the District's Acceptable Use Policy
. However, my joy was short lived because he cited the following Employee Code of Ethics
policy that he was assured by LAUSD's attorneys I had violated:
"Good Morning Mr. Isenberg,
Under Employee Code of Ethics you will find the following information.
17. Proper use of public resources. Except for occasional and limited personal use that does not interfere with performance of duties or create an appearance of impropriety, we are committed to ensuring that District facilities, equipment, supplies, mailing lists, or; other District resources are used for District purposes.
Office of the Inspector General,
I don't know how more "occasional" one can be in their use of a system than one time. After all, it's not like I continued to spam fellow LAUSD employees. As for "limited personal use that doesn't interfere with performance of duties or create an appearance of impropriety," what is it about a teacher seeking an active dialog about addressing LAUSD's longstanding failure that is unacceptable. First of all, it is not "personal use," but rather clearly within the scope of my employment as a profession educator in furtherance of what LAUSD administration and every staff development I have ever attended has encouraged me to do- make the system better. Here the problem seems to be that I actually conquered the endemic cynicism that is at epidemic proportions in my profession as an educator and actually sought a democratic dialog on how to fix it. So, ah, what is wrong with that.
I did not state any specific reforms, but rather sought to define a new process. It occurs to me that if Superintendent Ramon Cortines had proposed what I was proposing, he would have been lauded as an avante-garde educational innovator trying to define a new method of fixing public education. How does such a process "interfere" with anybody's "performance of duties?" Where is the "impropriety?" Is confronting and seeking change of the privileged position LAUSD leadership the impropriety?
By being an employee of LAUSD, I do not give up my civil rights as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and selectively incorporated and made applicable to the State of California and entities like LAUSD. While LAUSD continues to delude itself that it has sovereignty, as of this writing they do not have F 16 fighter jets and even if they did, they would have to respect my right to freedom of speech under the 1st Amendment unless they could show a "clear and present danger" in my exercise of protected speech or a threat to national security. Arguable, fixing public education will actually make us let threatened.
Furthermore, it is not my burden of proof to show that what I am saying is acceptable, rather, it is for the government or government entity like LAUSD to show that there is a "compelling governmental interest in limiting my right to speak and that limitation goes no further than is absolutely necessary. LAUSD and its attorneys who seem to have slept through their Constitution law class don't seem to understand this principle or meet this burden of proof in their attempt to chill my 1st Amendment rights.
And finally, the United States Supreme Court strictly scrutinizes any limitation on freedom of speech where the restrictions are vague and overly broad. In reading the aforementioned cite to the Employee Code of Ethics, I would defy anybody to tell me what kind of speech is acceptable under this LAUSD policy.
Here was our original email:
|Teachers. Administrators. Staff.
It is clear to almost everyone working for LAUSD that something has to change. It's imperative we do something different to finally succeed in accomplishing the lofty goals for our students. The real first step in this process is to finally acknowledge that this goal has eluded us up until now. If all of us are going to be held responsible for what is happening now and in the not too distant future of public education, then everyone must assume a more active role in determining LAUSD's direction. We can fight back.
Rather than let this present insecurity divide us, we should create an open and neutral forum where we can share our concerns as LAUSD employees on an equal footing. Hopefully, www.perdaily.com can become that space.
It is no longer acceptable for us to sit back and take potshots at LAUSD, unless we are willing to talk about what we know and see on a daily basis. Issues like corruption, waste, mismanagement, teacher harassment and coerced grade inflation continually plague LAUSD year after year, with no end in sight. And as usual, teachers are the first to be blamed (or laid off). Here's our chance to shed some much needed light on what's really wrong with our schools, while proposing positive alternatives for discussion by all constituencies at LAUSD. If all of us work together, we can be the watchdog this district so desperately needs.
If you know something, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org -- You can remain 100% Anonymous.