WE PROVE IT: CENTRAL HIGH GRADUATING STUDENTS WITH 2ND GRADE READING LEVELS

lenny.jpg
On June 19, 2009, Central High/Tri-C Continuation School in Los Angeles graduated and gave valid high school diplomas to students with reading abilities as low as 2nd grade, according to the students STAR Reading scores. In seeking redress of this patently fraudulent action -- which undermines the value of education for all -- my principal Janet Seary, her superior Janice Davis, and ultimately Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his Chief-of-Staff Jim Morris, the LAUSD Office of the Inspector General and WASC  answered in unison that "the students blew off the STAR Reading Examination, because it had no bearing on their graduation." While this might be true of a multi-hour assessment, I have never found this to be true of the 10 minute STAR Exam that is administered on an individual basis on the teacher's computer.
 



Problems With LAUSD And Public Education (Trailer) from Perdaily on Vimeo.


It is now going on 5 months since I gave these various people and agencies notice of allegations of improper actions that I have seen throughout LAUSD in my 15 year tenure with the District. Jim Morris tells me that he cannot talk about this, because it is the subject of an ongoing investigation by LAUSD Office of Inspector General Investigation, an investigation that has never bothered to contact me with regard to the substance and evidence of my charges. George Bronson of WASC asked me to write a formal complaint, which I did almost 5 months ago and I have never heard from them either. Maria Kress of the LAUSD OIG's Office is the only person to contact with me regard to a separate whistle blower assertion on my part. She told me that the OIG had assigned my assertions regarding the Central High graduation to Janice Davis -- my principal's immediate superior -- for investigation. On October 13, 2009, after months since my initial complaint, Ms. Davis concluded without ever seeking my evidence that "some students might not perform as well as they should because the test holds no value for them" and that my allegations were "without merit."

You'll never guess what happened next. After 15 years as an LAUSD teacher with excellent job performance evaluations and no unsatisfactory acts in my file and additional work as UTLA Chapter Chair, member of governance council, author of WASC accreditation report and a proposed LAUSD absence policy, and author of several charter documents, I started to have administrators in my classroom on a regular basis, which culminated in several notices of unsatisfactory acts and several suspensions. I would like to talk about these here, but since they are the subject of a pending grievance, I cannot do so:

"Article V LAUSD/UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement - Grievance Procedure

4.0 Confidentiality: In order to encourage a professional and
harmonious disposition of grievances, it is agreed that from the time a grievance
is filed until it is finally resolved, neither UTLA, the District nor the grievant shall
make public the grievance or evidence regarding the grievance. This prohibition
is not intended to restrict normal interviewing of witnesses and other necessary
preparation for hearing.

4.1 If the grievant or UTLA violates the above confidentiality
requirement, the grievance shall be dismissed with prejudice. If the District
violates the above confidentiality requirement, the grievance shall be deemed
sustained, subject to a hearing limited to the issue of appropriate remedy.


It is worth mentioning that up until June of 2009, the very act of discussing a pending grievance was grounds for dismissal from employment by LAUSD. In a grievance process that can drag on for years and ends in UTLA dropping it, such a procedure only seems to function in reality as an extra-legal gag order to hide continuing LAUSD harassment and malfeasance. While teachers might justifiably feel terrorized by this process, one should have some compassion for administrators that have no tenure and can immediately lose their higher paying positions and perks away from the chaos they escaped in LAUSD classrooms, if they dare do anything but follow orders... somehow I hear this last phrase being said with a German accent circa 1930s.

Am I the only teacher in LAUSD dealing with this nonsense? Administrative intimidation of teachers is alive and well in a school district that is more driven by Average Daily Attendance, social promotion, and grade inflation then it is by academic excellence.

I am a product of LAUSD education from an era about 50 years ago when Ramon Cortines was just getting started with his career. I have three college degrees and speak three foreign languages moderately well from a time when LAUSD education did not accommodate to anything but excellence. As teachers, we should be the most optimistic people in this society, instead of the most apathetic and cynical people who no longer believe in the idealism that got the vast majority of us into teaching in the first place. Would you like to reclaim your idealism and in the process rebuild a great American public education system?

While there is no question that some teachers and administrators should find something else to do with their lives, the vast majority of educators need to start talking about what they see and experience on a daily basis, before they are scapegoated for a failed public education system which they had no part in creating. The ball is in your court my fellow educators.

Do it anonymously: tips@perdaily.com

Write us: admin@perdaily.com


20

11 2010

8 Comments

Have you ever wondered who posts some of this stuff that you come across? The internet never used to be like that, recently though it has turned around. What do you think?

Just listened to radio interview. Well done. Look forward to more.

Early in my elementary school teaching career, my principal would tell us to bring the students up to grade level and then to introduce the grade level skills. She never said mastery of those skills. All this changed with the superfluous emphasis on testing. Now the students must work on grade level skills which are taught to the test and there is no time for remediation.If they are behind in elementary, then when they get to secondary schools..... Teachers are no longer there to educate--they are there for test scores!

Leonard, I have been reading your blog for a while now,and I find your commentary thoughtful and illuminating. Bravo to your video; it shows great humanity that you were able to have a former student testify to the injustice of social promotion. You obviously have superb communication with your students because it might be one of the most difficult things for a teenager to do - to admit that a diploma is not worth much when he can barely read at a 6th grade level. The post by M.A. is an example of an educational pundit who truly doesn't care about a child or society at large. M.A. doesn't understand that employers ARE AWARE of the value of a worthless diploma if a graduate can barely read at 4/5/6 grade level and barely fill out a job application. LAUSD is handing out Work VISAs to other countries because they can't find the talent here in good old L.A. or across the US. Why is the LAUSD Board insisting that every child must be college-ready AND career-ready upon graduation from high school? Tens of thousands of children don't WANT to be college-ready and are ready to join the work force at age 17 or 18. So why should all LAUSD students be mandated to be college-ready when so many illiterate parents don't want their children to even think about college? INstead, how about letting students decide to take vocational courses so that they can be ready for a job when they graduate?
Leonard, the media may be your next venture. LAUSD is intimidated by this. An attorney might do you some good, but being a J.D. yourself, I'm not sure you will get that much value. I think your recent post (June 2010) about creating a society that embraces the Spanish language and enhancing your knowledge of Spanish is a great idea. Use this to leverage some time with Board Members Garcia and Flores and Martinez, because you may have allies there. Ariana Huffington may elevate your case nationally at the Huffington Post. You are trying to create change at LAUSD and across the nation, and I applaud you for it. Cheers!

In addition to being a social studies teacher, I am also a credentialed vocational arts teacher able to teach automotive shop, metal, wood, and construction trades. These were the skills I got when I was a student at Northridge Junior High and Monroe High School that helped me pay for 3 college degrees and allow me to live in a house that no plumber, electrician or carpenter comes into. Public education has to give choices, which it presently is not doing. We can either teach the rich Renaissance education that I got coming up in LAUSD of the 50s and 60s, which assures a heterogeneous society based on knowledge and respect or we can recreate the top/down class society that our ancestors left Europe, Asia, and Latin America to avoid. It's not important what you do as much as the pride you put into to your work and the respect you give to the work of others.

I think it's time you sought outside counsel--and for God's sake NOT a UTLA lawyer! Get a disinterested lawyer who will work for YOU and does not have connections with either the LAUSD or UTLA.

That is the ONLY thing the administration respects or understands, threat of a lawsuit--that and negative publicity via talk radio (John & Ken, Bill Handel) or the LA Times or Daily News.

They are terrified of negative publicity because the Charter People are right there ready to lap it up, publicize it and use it in their favor.

I assume you're documenting every single act of harassment and response you receive from administrators--make sure you ask them, with witness in tow, as per your right in the UTLA contact. And always remember NEVER EVER MEET ADMINISTRATORS ALONE. Let me repeat: NEVER MEET WITH AN ADMINISTRATOR ALONE. In some cases, he will want to have his supervisor with him or an AAlA representative--so much the better, it means you've gotten their attention.

Ask administrators why it seems you are being singled out for visits and harsh criticisms. Are other teachers being monitored or is it just you--if it's just you, it may harassment, especially if you have had a clean record for 15 years. Document, document, document.

One of your strongest suits will be any/all Stulls you have received in past years, any commendations from anyone in administration or other teachers or even parents (I keep these in a 1,000 lb. safe in my home). It will help in a harassment suit--and your lawyer will be very interested too.

What would be best is if you could go public with your story--talk radio is best. Please contact John & Ken--they LOVE these type of stories! Anything they can do to embarrass the LAUSD, they're happy to do.

And, as always, Good Luck.. You have more support out here than you'll ever know..


My God! There is someone in this city who really began to fight for the future of the children who are disadvantaged not because they come from low-class families, but because they attend schools where primitive demagoguery and stale care replaced the eternal values of fairness.
The author of the first comment tries to justify social promotion, which is the greatest disservice a school system might do to society. As a product of the system of mediocrity, M.A. promotes the idea that can only contribute to the demise of this country on a larger scale.
In China and India, over 100,000 million school children, who are identified as gifted and talented, are also equipped with much stronger ethic of work since both their society and school system clearly define what is wrong and right, and neither is interested in fictitious results that will fail their cultures tomorrow.
Who will be able to compete with those masses of academically advanced students in the future if masses of young people in this country are allowed to get diplomas with no valid academic meaning?
What is the purpose of this nation’s enormous investments in education if school districts like the LAUSD are turned into bloated bureaucracies that are concerned about harassing whistleblowers, who make their life uncomfortable, but treat their own defective production as an accomplishment?
The theory that explains that social promotion is better than retention is an absurdity that was created by the same pseudo-educators who needed to justify their own impotence in teaching disadvantaged children. Their system of false values is a grave in which future opportunities of many children are buried.
My hat is off before the founders of this site. Good luck to them and many thanks!
Wanderer

I agree; LAUSD is far from perfect. I am also the product of LAUSD education from not too long ago, and work at a LAUSD school. There is a definite need for reform, however, there is also incredible leadership, teaching, and learning happening in our district.

Although social promotion is not helping our students, it is not hurting them as much as retention would. Read all the research done on retention and social promotion, it is clear that social promotion is not a solution to improve academic achievement; however, retention creates many more problems along with little or no academic benefit. We should unite as a district composed of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff with many talents and willingness to create change through solutions. Judging, criticizing, attacking, and sitting back behind a computer screen or behind a desk will not improve the academic level of our students.

We are in education because we believe we can make a difference, now let’s unite and create change day by day by being the best teacher, the best administrator, the best counselor or school psychologist, or nurse who puts children first.

Leave a comment