Archive for October 2012


(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) If you are a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teacher who is presently being targeted for extinction on consciously fabricated charges brought by LAUSD administration, you are in good company. Galileo Galilei was charged with heresy and sentence to incarceration in his own "rubber room" for life by the Catholic Church for daring to agree with what Nicolaus Copernicus had already observed ninety years before in 1543 - the planets revolved around the sun and not vice a versa. In a self-deluded renaissance of what would have made the Holy Inquisition proud in 1633, when they went after Galileo, their present day Texas soul mates sitting on the State Board of Education are sanitizing all subjects in Texas schools to fit with their ptolemaic view of reality. Whether it be dinosaurs on the ark, hip hop being change to "country music," or adding the president's middle name of "Hussein" to the history books for what purpose??? public education in a state that purchases the second largest number of textbooks in the country and thereby can determine the content of textbooks in all other states, is marching backward to embrace the dark ages.

SECOND CALIFORNIA STUDENT UNION CONFERENCE this Saturday, October 20, 9:00-5:00, 145 Dwinelle Hall UC Berkeley

student union.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) I'm contacting you on behalf of a number of student groups in both Northern and Southern California who are coming together to host a Statewide Student Union-Building Conference on October 20 in 145 Dwinelle Hall at UC Berkeley. This will be the second California student union conference, and will build on the decisions we made at the student union conference you attended in May. We're hoping to bring together a variety of student organizations from Berkeley and across the state at this conference to build a statewide organization capable of facing fee hikes, budget cuts, and privatization with the strength, unity, and independence that California's students will need to fight back against attacks on our public education.


Ramon Cortines4.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) In what can only be described as a highly publicized, bizarre, and rather suspicious decision, the Equality Forum that seeks to advance LGBT issues has chosen ex- Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Ramon Cortines as an "icon" of the LGBT community. Dumbfounded by this choice, I put in a call to Equality Forum's Executive Director Malcom Lazin in Philadelphia to try and understand what was in their minds in giving ex-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines "icon" status. I received the following rather astounding information from Mr. Lazin, who had no idea of who in his organization had actually nominated Ramon Cortines. In addition, he thought the civil suit for the sexual harassment suit brought by Cortines' subordinate Scott Graham had been resolved and was only for $25,000-$50,000, and was only a nuisance suit only concerning improper sexual behavior with an adult and not a child- as if that made it okay. He had no knowledge of the initial $200,000 settlement offer and $250,000 in health benefits initially made to Graham, before LAUSD queered the deal by outing Graham in public. Did Lazin know that there was now a $10 million lawsuit pending? No. Did this make any difference and would Equality Forum consider retracting its award? No. All Executive Director Lazin could say, as if this let him off the hook, is "I don't know the facts of the case" - and he never bothered to find them out.


(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Probably the greatest antidote for too much government is a well educated and self-sufficient citizenry. Clearly, the way this self-sufficiency has been achieved in the past is through excellent public education. For conservatives who now decry the intrusion of too much government, one must wonder why public education institutions like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are specifically designed not to function, while scrupulously avoiding the one change that would obviate virtually all of the draconian measures it employs that only adapt to LAUSD dysfunction, instead of finally and simply addressing it in a timely manner. LAUSD leadership seems more than willing to buy expensive technology for testing, security, and purported education, while never getting around to addressing the real problem of continued social promotion that is at the root of all the problems they are supposedly trying to address with expensive and yet misguided programs that clearly don't work.


10 2012


(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Our teacher sits in a tiny cubicle in a "rubber room" all day long. What is a "rubber room?" One of at least six district offices, where teachers who are "being investigated" go, with no computer, reading materials, or communication with the outside world, save for their cell phones that they can use to call family members or doctors on breaks. I have done some investigation, since our teacher cannot talk to any parent, staff member, or administrator. I now know that as of today, there are 72 teachers in the same "rubber room" as Mrs. Finkelstein. Yes, 72!!!! If you multiply that by at least six, well - you get the picture. We have written and called our principal, his boss Jack Bagwell (our district's head of instruction), John Deasy, and Boardmember Tamar Galatzan. Deasy kicked down my first letter to a coordinator in our valley district office. She was nice, but told me parents tended to gossip, and not really know what was going on. Condescension from her aside, this is usually true. Except the fact remains, my teacher is not here, and no one knows when she's coming back. The only office to return our call and at least sympathize with our plight and help to the best of its ability was Ms. Galatzan's.


10 2012

Invitation to a Dialogue: A Student's Call to Arms

education failure.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) The NY Times invites readers to respond by Thursday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Goyal's rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail: October 9, 2012 Invitation to a Dialogue: A Student's Call to Arms To the Editor: When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law, few would have predicted that the next decade of education policy would unfold into a disaster of epic proportions. The law was based on a flawed concept of a "good education" -- high scores on standardized tests. As a result, the curriculum was narrowed, shaving instruction time in the arts, music, science and history. Schools were transformed into test-preparation factories with a stress on drill, kill, bubble-fill methods. And ruthless accountability measures were enacted, with bribes and threats at their core. It's safe to say that the law has failed miserably.


Compton Unified School District.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Somewhere between 70 and 100 Compton Unified School District (CUSD) students and 15 parents joined in a school walkout and converged on the CUSD offices at 501 Santa Fe in Compton to voice their frustration in schools they believe do little to educate them or listen to their concerns. Students complained that a shortage of teachers and classes of 60 students is commonplace. In addition, they alleged that they were neither receiving the classes they needed to graduate nor credit recovery classes necessary to complete their studies in a timely manner. The frustration of students and parents was palpable when it came to not having even the minimal supplies necessary to conduct classes. One parent lamented, "How can you have a computer class without any computers?" But these were not the primary concern of the Latino parents and students present. When Latino parents started talking about the predominantly African American police force, the longstanding sense of injustice these parents felt they were being subjected to started to boil over. A recent "attack" on a Latino parent and her son in front of Compton High School, while being witnesses by a CUSD board member who did nothing and persecution and intimidation of students by a predominantly Black police force were only the opening salvos in the outrage being expressed by these Latino parents.


10 2012


(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Real power in people comes from education that must exist to insure every student reaches their subjective potential. In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), where there has not even been a good faith attempt to educate poor and minority students for generations - if ever - most administrators, teachers, students, and parents have long ago lost even the expectation that poor and minority students can learn at the same level as the more affluent- predominantly White and Asian student populations. When you think about it, shouldn't one of the primary purposes of LAUSD education be to make students aware that there are no limits, if you are willing to work hard? Rather at LAUSD, the purpose is clearly to break student and teacher spirit as early and as often as possible, while targeting any student or teacher who dares to object- "You have an attitude.".


10 2012


Video Surveillance.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Students and teachers should have no expectation of privacy in school. As a matter of fact, it is the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) assertion of unchallenged false notions of privacy on behalf of its administrators, teachers, and students that has created the present dishonest, chaotic, and dangerous school environment that is the antithesis of what needs to exist in our schools, if we truly want no child to be left behind. Teachers can only be targeted for unjust removal from teaching at LAUSD and around the country, if there is no objective evidence as to what is really going on in classrooms. If every classroom in LAUSD had a camera on the teacher and the students, I think both teachers and students would comport themselves in a manner more conducive to an educational environment where real learning can take place. While I cannot speak for other teachers, I know that I have never done anything in a classroom that I am ashamed of or would not feel comfortable sharing with my students parents and the general public.


10 2012


Maynard Brown.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana This evening I attended a meeting of predominantly African American parents, students, and Black politicos at the African American Cultural Center. The tone of the evening was set by Dr. Maulana Karenga in quoting the famed Black leader Fredrick Douglas, "Without struggle, there is no progress." While I agree with Dr. Karenga in principle, I take exception with members of the Black community doing pretty much the same thing they have done since Brown vs. Board of Education 58 years ago without varying their approach in the context of things being much worse today than they were 58 years ago and with the clear message that those in power ignore what these communities want and are made to pay no price for so doing.


10 2012


Crosby, Stills, Nash.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) There was a No On Proposition 32 concert by Tom Morello and The Nightwatchmen opening for Crosby, Stills, & Nash last night at Nokia Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. On its face Proposition 32 purports to change state campaign finance laws "to riestrict state and local campaign spending by: public and private sector labor unions, corporations, and government contractors. What it does not tell you is that it is sponsored by billionaire special interest groups that are specifically exempted from the terms of Proposition 32. And many of people like Gloria Romero, who are behind it, are precisely the same people crippling public education. It doesn't take much of an education to see what Proposition 32 is trying to do, if you have three basic skills: the ability to read, the ability to sequence facts, and the desire to do so. In a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as presently constituted, these are precisely the skills that the vast majority of students leave school without.


10 2012


George Carlin.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) When it comes to explaining why public education in this country- and more specifically at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)- continues to fail, every convoluted and implausible explanation is given except the most obvious: The people who own this country don't want poor and minority children to learn, because truly universal and excellent public education would be a threat to the present obscene consolidation of money and power in the 1% that continues to grow like a cancer with more than likely the same results in the end.


10 2012


Pat Brown.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Prop 30 & 38 are a Sophie's Choice: Either pass one or both of these flawed propositions to supposedly bail out a purposefully de-funded public education system made so by the richest in this state and the oil industry not paying their fair share of taxes or risk even more draconian cuts to public education, which will have a disproportionate effect on the poor and minorities ability to get a good K-12 and subsequent higher education from what once was the best public education system in the country.


10 2012


(For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) Writing a blog on the purposeful failing of public education at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and elsewhere in this country tends to make one myopic to what is going on elsewhere in our society and around the world. To remedy this occupational hazard, I suggest you take a couple of hours and watch the following movie called Thrive: What On Earth Wit It Take? This film takes an overview of what is going on in public education, energy production, and many other disparate subjects that at first blush one would not put together. It offers a well thought out and different perspective supported by a great deal of research. While the conclusion is hard to take, try positing an alternative view, given the uncontested facts. If you disagree with what this film is saying, I would be interested in knowing specifically what you disagree with. On the other hand, if you would like to delve deeper into what the folks who made the film are trying to do and what you can do, get in touch with them: