In the L.A. Beez -- Hive For Hyper Local Ethnic News -- article entitled Feds Eye African-American Performance Gape in L.A. Schools, the predominantly African Americans readership are feed the foolish arguments that the habitual failure of Black children in LAUSD has something to do with "the ongoing budget crunch," seniority of teachers, or the preference of good teachers to go to "affluent neighborhoods." Nothing could be further from the truth. The painful reality is that our society -- whether Black, White, and/or Brown -- we have allowed a coat of endemic ignorance, not stupidity, to be used in defining education without rigor for children of color in this system. While a patina of colored folks have been co-opted into this racist system to give it visual credibility, it is still the American beehive that continues to give children of color the royal shaft instead of the royal jelly.
Given the surreal aspect of LAUSD reality that I was finally able to substantiate during my my trial yesterday on the 25th floor of edspeak central, I immediately thought of the 1967 popular British television series with Patrick McGoohan called The Prisoner, and with misguided egocentricity and a touch of feeling sorry for myself, I planned on making myself the hero of this bizarre daytime soap that teachers might crowd around to watch in the faculty lounge at nutrition or lunch. The folks at the studios in Hollywood always like to greenlight projects with a built in audience and what could have a higher TV quotient than the neverending story that is LAUSD -- the original Lost.
What has become painfully evident to my wife and I while assesing my son's financial aid package and comparing it to that of his similarly situated socio-economically friends -- who had also applied to the same schools -- is that there is actually a strong disincentive measured in how much financial aid schools are willing to offer to people who stubbornly clung to my family's passé values. Let's be very clear here, I'm not talking about financial aid to poor people or groups of people who have been systematically discriminated against in the past, but rather the solid and ever shrinking members of the middle class who don't live beyond their means.
Throughout my life I have always been a supporter of unions, although I have never been the member of a union that really looked out for its rank-and-file. As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, I was a member of the projectionists union, Local 150 of the IATSE, which had the distinction of turning down a cost of living increase. When I drove cab in New York, our union was headed by an electrician who had never driven a cab. And now as a teacher, I am a member of UTLA, which is headed by staff and administration that will never see the inside of a classroom again and whose president A.J. Duffy controls access to the UTLA newspaper, so that rank-and-file are unable to express their ideas.
Frequent contributor Rez of Babble submits another tale of life in the top-down world of LAUSD, where no good act goes unpunished. It
seems rather bizarre that not only is the intellectual competence of
teachers likely to get an administrator(s) on your case, but highly
competent craftspeople fear punishment, if they dare to do their work
with the creativity and skill that years of experience has given them.
This is why it took six crews, seven visits and almost two weeks to fix a door. Workers who wish to expedite the process without infuriating the District are known to whisper "We'll fix it, but
you can't let anybody know that I did". One wonders how long
it would have taken if the door did not belong to an administrator? READ THE EMAIL...
One of the greatest hurdles to overcome in creating a vibrant education system out of LAUSD is the realization that the difficult work necessary to undo generations of poor public education can't take place until greater specificity is given to the catchy phrases that continue to be proposed as reform. Sadly, much of LAUSD administration is also the product of the same educational system that many years ago failed to give them the analytical skills necessary to sufficiently define and implement a reform model to address complex problems, many of which require something more than just money and "yes or no" answers.
A change in UC admission policy that was supposedly designed to increase diversity on California campuses will have the opposite effect -- according to the UC Regents own internal study (using a 2007 model) African-American admittance would fall 27%, Asian-Americans drop 12% and Latinos 3%. Doesn't matter much though, as they've voted to adopt the new policy anyway. As the UC President Mark Yudof says it's about "fairness".
Arizona didn't want to learn about Mexican-American history. Florida doesn't need black history. And now New Mexico is considering saying thanks, but no thanks, to the Hispanic Education Act proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson. The New Mexico Sec. of Public Education Veronica Garcia says the law would aim at boosting the graduation rates of Hispanic students, which is currently at 56%.