(For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post)
Last night community members from Dorsey and Crenshaw High Schools got together in the Dorsey gymnasium to organize resistance to the planned imminent reconstitution of their schools by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy. Deasy plans to reconstitute Dorsey, Crenshaw, and many other predominantly low income, minority, and traditionally low-functioning schools in what it is no longer politically correct to call South Central Los Angeles.
What most of those present did not seem to understand is that Superintendent Deasy has already made the decision to reconstitute there schools. What reconstitution means is that all staff are removed and new staff are hired from the bottom all the way up to the principal. The fact that school reconstitution has no statistical success seems of little interest to Deasy and LAUSD, since their real aim is the privatization of these schools and the profit it will bring to their corporate masters.
At the same time this meeting was going on, there was another meeting going on in the Dorsey library, moderated by Dorsey administrators, to discuss School Choice, another illusory program that promises parents input in the education of their children, but is really a "parent trigger" in name only that in the final analysis gives no choice to parents, who wind up out of the loop in the for-profit charter that replaces their traditional public school.
When people are attacked, they tend to defend themselves, even when it is to their and their children's best interests to be more self-critical. A hallmark of affluent schools is the sense of entitlement to excellence that comes with the social capital that sadly remains lacking in inner city schools. If Dorsey and Crenshaw parents were the ones honestly framing the discussion on how to improve student performance, they might be honest enough to realize that they have had no such model of excellence in their own lives from which they could model what a 900 plus API Dorsey or Crenshaw might look like. Up until now inner city communities have only had to live up to their potential in vacuous rhetoric and not reality.
Three of the speakers that spoke in the gym talked about how a child passed both parts of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) on the first try. Another talked about how their initially problematic son got turned around. And a third parent spoke in Spanish how their child had transitioned so well in the last 4 years.
What was seen tonight as achievement at Dorsey is the norm at a normal suburban high-functioning and integrated school. That's why Brown vs. Board of Education found the kind of pernicious segregation that is worse today than it was in 1954, has created an inner city public school reality of low expectation that reconstitution will do nothing to resolve, since it only tries to address the symptoms and not the underlying disease, which is racism that remains alive and well throughout the United States.
A mother in the library School Choice meeting told me that both of her children had done well at Dorsey and had gone on to college. But she agreed with me when I pointed out that this was and remains the exception, instead of the uncompromised expectation for even the average student and teacher. A successful school is not one where the self-nurturing 3% of any population make it. Rather, it is a school where the middle of the bell curve of students and teachers shine and surpass their own expectations and those of their peers and fellow teachers.
The good news from last night in the Dorsey gym came in the persons of Taylor Broom, who moderated the meeting, Kokayi Kwa-Jitahide, who blew away the room, when he spoke, and Cathy Garcia, who is a smart and insightful organizer. These folks have the ability and pragmatic willingness to build a powerful community based organization to stand up to the Deasy LAUSD privatization juggernaut.
Join them and bring your friends to their next meeting, where I believe that they will frame a conversation Superintendent Deasy and LAUSD will have to address- turnaround is fair play isn't it?
Thursday, October 4th from 5:30 - 7:30pm
African-American Cultural Center
3018 W. 48th Street
Los Angeles 90043 (at corner of 9th Avenue)
NATIONAL EDUCATION REFORMERS
Dick Price and Sharon Kyle
Dick and Sharon firstname.lastname@example.org
Dick and Sharon are a pair of citizen journalists and information activists who were fed up with mainstream media. Rather than just kvetch about the media, they decided to try to become the media. So, together they founded the LA Progressive. Dick is the editor and Sharon is the publisher and webmaster, handling all technical aspects of the site.
This site was launched in March 2008, with Dick and Sharon doing most of the writing. Today, a host of gifted writers contribute to the LA Progressive's daily offering which typically amounts to about 45 articles a week. Dick and Sharon continue to write for as well as edit and publish the LA Progressive and distribute its daily e-news each morning.
Jo Scott Coe Riverside, California
Excellent Video Interview about Professor Coe
Assistant Professor of English at Riverside Community College and former high school English teacher. She is the author of Teacher at Point Blank and has been a teacher of English and literature in California since 1991. Her writing on intersections of gender, violence, and education has appeared in the Los Angeles Times as well as literary venues including Hotel Amerika, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Ninth Letter, Memoir(and), Bitter Oleander, and Green Mountains Review. Her essay, "Recovering Teacher," won the NCTE 2009 Donald Murray Prize, and other selections of her work have received a Pushcart Special Mention as well as Notable listings in Best American Essays 2009 and 2010. As an independent researcher, Jo authored and published the most extensive study to-date of Adams v. LAUSD, a nearly 10-year legal case of student-on-teacher sexual harassment, in (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women's Experience (Cambridge Scholars Press). Jo values the aesthetic, political, and socially transformative powers of literary narrative--especially to dispel unhealthy silences and witness cultural blindspots. She works currently as an assistant professor of English at Riverside Community College in SoCal, and her book, Teacher at Point Blank (Aunt Lute 2010), has been selected as a Great Read for Fall 2010 by Ms. Magazine. Punk rock? Yes. Hockey games? Yes. Coffee? Always black. Find Jo on the web at joscottcoe.com and on Twitter @joscottcoe.
Betsy Combier New York, New York
Betsy Combier's blog http://www.parentadvocates.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=488
is a jewel that chronicles the corruption in NYC's Dept of Educations (DOE) . She has accomplished a wonderful piece of journalism, and created one of the rare places where corrupt educational governance is chronicled and revealed
Professor Samuel Culbert Los Angeles, California
is a professor at the UCLA Andersen School of Business who also teaches in the Education Department's Principals' Leadership Institute. Check out the following 3 minutes on ABC News
Stuart Goldurs Los Angeles, Califonia
Don't send LAUSD Librarians to the Inquisition, send the downtown bureaucrats
Tests, What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!
LAUSD students to attend school on contaminated land, again!
Some schools teach only to the tests, so how are the students being prepared for the next grade and for life?
New LAUSD superintendent adds six-figure positions to management team
Has been a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 30 years. He is greatly aware of the district waste, large bureaucracy, and other major issues of the time. He started his blog with the sole purpose of informing the world about the truths of education in LAUSD. E-mail him at: StuartComputers@gmail.com.
LAUSD has selected a new Superintendent of Schools
Karen Horwitz Chicago, Illinois
Former award winning teacher who co-founded NAPTA, National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse, and wrote the book White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail to expose how teacher harassment and terrorization maintains a system of deeply hidden corruption. Disposing of dedicated teachers forms the core of the White Chalk Criminal's agenda since dedication and white collar crime do not mix. Given that all agree that good teachers are essential to good teaching, a system that cannot tolerate good teachers is worthless. This is what we have in place. With Bernie Madoff-like leaders - he was as much about investing as our school leaders are about educating - anointed with unlimited power, including the ability to fill the airwaves with propaganda, education is no longer about education. It is about money and power for those who play a very corrupt game and with an agenda of privatizing schools so their power will increase. (Privatization may have merits. NAPTA does not take a position on that. But privatizing a system that is rotten to its core - where quality teaching cannot survive, where a cover up of pretense that they do not know this despite so many of us reporting these truths prevails - documents that those advocating privatization cannot be trusted! It shows they want our schools for their own interests, not the children, nor the community.) NAPTA welcomes parents, teachers, students, citizens or anyone who understands that without a real system of education, we no longer have a democracy. Membership is free. Go to: EndTeacherAbuse.org or WhiteChalkCrime.com. Become educated about what is going on.
Jerry Mintz Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)
417 Roslyn Rd., Roslyn Hts., NY 11577
For those of you who cannot wait for corrupt public education to be turned around, AERO offers an excellent source to get connected with viable alternatives right now.
Susan Ohanian Charlotte, Vermont
She is a longtime public school teacher who, after 20 years, became staff writer for a teacher magazine and then went freelance. I've maintained a website of activism for nearly 9 years--ever since the passage of NCLB. People can subscribe to the website and then they get updates about new content. I answer all the mail I get through the website and with the answer, people have my e-mail. I also try to stir things up on Twitter, though I find this medium frustrating. I have a Facebook page--just so people can find me. I don't initiate anything on it, The website keeps me busy.
Susan Lee Schwartz Suffern, New York
Susan studied literacy education, English literature, and fine arts and holds a BA ('63) and MS ('65) from Brooklyn College, and has the equivalent of two master's degrees, earned in graduate studies of literacy, arts and education. She taught literacy skills and art, for four decades in NYC in elementary and secondary school. In 1998 she won the New York State English Council (NYSEC) Educator of Excellence Award for her successful teacher practice, studied by Harvard and the LRDC at the University of Pittsburgh for the New Standards research. At the end of her research, her unique curriculum was selected by the LRDC to be used in their national staff development seminars for school superintendents. She was among six teachers -- from among the thousands across the nation-- observed during the research project, and her teaching practice met all the principles of learning. In the nineties, she rose to prominence in national educational circles, while teaching at a new magnet school, East Side Middle School. The reading scores of her seventh grade students were at the top of the city, and on the first ELA, which two thirds of city students failed, her former students (then in the eight grade) were TENTH IN THE STATE.
She writes often about what she learned about the genuine standards for learning, in an attempt to begin a national conversation about the authentic standards, so that there can be genuine reform. Her experience that ended her fine career in the NYC Public Schools has led her to write about the process that removed the top educators, silencing the voices of the classroom practitioners who would not accept anti-learning policies. Her essay here on Perdaily, is one that describes this process. Read more as she talks about education, literacy and learning on her site, from the perspective of the experienced teacher-practitioner of pedagogy. She is the voice of dedicated and talented classroom teachers who know why the schools are failing.
Her website is:
Joel Shatzky: Brooklyn, New York
Professor of English Emeritus--SUNY, College at Cortland (1968-2005)
Adjunct instructor-Kingsborough CC (CUNY) 2006-- )
Regular contributor to the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/searchS/?q=Joel+Shatzky
Author of "The Thinking Crisis" with Ellen Hill (Authors Choice Press: New York, 2001)
Numerous articles on education in Jewish Currents.
Script-writer for three YouTube satires on educational "reform."
"The Lessons": www.youtube.com/watch?v=D712J1V2Jsg&feature=player_embedded
"Numbers Lie": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57BRNLviVTQ
"The Charter Starters": www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnrrw5CV3Gw<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnrrw5CV3Gw>
Here's Joel's latest post about the low percentage of "college ready" high school graduates. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-shatzky/educating-for-democracy-t_2_b_821410.html
Lorna Stremcha Havre, Montana
"I know first hand the financial, personal, emotional and physical damage that can result when school administrators, the Montana Education Association and the National Education Association put their own interests above the students, teachers and the taxpayers of the State of Montana My files contain mountains of paperwork including depositions, declarations of truth, notarized documents and exhibits resulting from an arduous legal process that finally ended when the Havre (Montana) School District settled two lawsuits - a Federal suit and one filed in State District Court. These documents also include a letter from a union representative stating, " This is nothing more than a witch hunt." Yet the union continued to allow the school administration to harass, bully and bring harm to me.
These two lawsuits resulted from a single incident that, had it been handled differently and under the light of public scrutiny, would not have snowballed into awards of more than $200,000 worth of damages. Funds that eventually came from the taxpayers' pockets. Ironically, as a taxpayer in Hill County, my family and I are helping to pay for the damages awarded to me. This covered the attorneys' fees. The settlement did not include my attorney fees, however the district, insurance and taxpayers paid the defendants attorney bills, which exceeded mine. The settlement was made on March 2, 2006."http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Jim-Taylor/125893225652
Lois Weiner Jersey City, New Jersey
Professor, Elementary and Secondary Education
New Jersey City University
2039 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, New Jersey 07305
Impact of urban school characteristics on teachers' classroom practice
How race, class, and gender mediate academic achievement
Teachers' work and the school as a workplace. Effects of changes in global political economy on teaching, teachers, and schools.