Archive for the ‘Commentary’Category

LADWP'S SOLAR ECLIPSE

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) Why is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) limited by regulation as to how much residentially produced solar electricity it can buy from residential customers like you and me? Although my house correctly configured with sufficient solar panels could produce approximately 4 times as much electricity as I consume- with most of it being produced during peak commercial electricity demand hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.- LADWP is limited by regulation to only giving me a credit toward future use- never cash. This leaves LADWP in the position where it is forced to buy predominantly fossil fuel generated electric on the open market at a significantly higher price than what they would have to pay to local environmentally friendly residential solar producers like myself. After contacting LADWP, the Mayor's office, and the City Council, I am no closer to getting any rational explanation for this apparent misguided policy.

2

03 2014

The National Conversation Required to Change Public Perceptions on Public Education by Susan Lee Schwartz(La conversación nacional necesaria para cambiar las percepciones públicas sobre la Educación Pública por Susan Lee Schwartz)

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) We need to change the national conversation from one about teaching back to one about learning. In the place of genuine discussions of the methods and policies that promote learning, the media has presented a national rant about teachers-- focusing on teacher evaluation, and the 'imperative' to rid the system of the bad ones. The conversation about learning has been stolen by the very bureaucrats who administer these broken school systems. These politicians and businessmen -- deemed 'experts' because they served as chancellors and superintendents - crashed the system, and yet, they are currently the ones directing the national conversation for their own personal agendas and profit. They are pointing the public in the wrong direction.

27

01 2011

OPINION: John Deasy a disappointing choice for LAUSD superintendent by David Lyell

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) (For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post) I'm disappointed by the appointment of John Deasy as the superintendent to the LAUSD School Board. The school board didn't even bother to consider any other candidates, which is very strange. The public needs to remember that the mayor, who celebrated this appointment, after recently attacking UTLA, was also handed a vote of "no confidence" by teachers at eight of the 10 schools he takes credit for operating. The reality is that the teachers at those school sites operate those schools. The mayor, who rarely shows up, only operates them on paper, and dismally at that. We need to remember that this is the same mayor who, in 2009, spent 15 times as much as his nearest opponent on his campaign, then refused to debate him.

17

01 2011

Why The ACLU Lawsuit (And Proposed Settlement) Misses The Mark (¿Por qué la demanda de la ACLU - y del Acuerdo Propuesto - pierde la marca)

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When we published our critique of the ACLU lawsuit back on March 2nd of this year that was supposedly against the disproportionate loss of teachers at some low performing schools because of their lack of seniority, there were some things that made no sense and which were conspicuously ignored by the lawsuit and response to it that we pointed out at that time. Seven months later we can see that the real target of the ACLU lawsuit was not the disproportionate loss of teachers but rather a not so subtle attack on teacher seniority throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District and elsewhere as part of the agenda to privatize public education while eliminating its most expensive component experienced professional teachers.

LAUSD Still Wishing We Would Go Away...

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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..READ THE REST

Send LAUSD A Message By Voting NO On Measure E

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It is very difficult for us to recommend a NO vote on Measure E because we are aware of the teachers jobs and programs from the arts to maintaining librarians that hang in the balance. However, giving LAUSD more money under the circumstances smacks of extortion, while the well being of students and teachers are the human shield to try and make just one more withdrawal from the taxpayers by the money junkies at the District. If their was any credibility in LAUSD one might offer even a more expensive tax measure, but without the ability to first restructure LAUSD's corrupt and self-serving bureaucratic leadership, it is unacceptable to give them more money to waste without LAUSD first showing that they would do something different with it than they already have done. Does anybody give YOU more money for failure?

Lydia Gutierrez For State Superintendent Of Public Instruction

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Last night I went to Green Dot Charter run Locke High School for a candidates' forum with some of the people running for the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Of the 12 candidates for the office Larry Aceves, Karen Blake, Alexia L. Deligianni, Leonard James Martin, Faarax Dahir Sheikh-Noor, and front runner Tom Torlakson did not show up. This was understandable since there were less than 50 people in the audience after a strong email campaign by Parents' Revolution to get parents to show up. For those of us who have taught in inner city schools, we are used to poorly attended back-to-school nights and other school events, because parents have justifiably lost the belief that anybody in LAUSD or government and politics really cares about the terror that they and their children have to deal with on a daily basis.

Why It Doesn't Matter Who's Running Your Charter/Public School...

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In fixing public education in LAUSD and elsewhere I must confess that I am more concerned with what people actually do than who is doing it. In the first round of deciding who was going to get a chance to run certain failed LAUSD schools that were up for grabs there was a tremendous amount of media coverage about the battle between charter operators and groups headed by teachers and administrators, but little or no discussion of what they would actually do to accomplish this herculean task of trying to turn around long failed LAUSD schools.

Failing Schools Take The Show Online...

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This joint venture of City of Angels Continuation School, the LAUSD Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Beyond the Bell, and the Education Technology departments will join with Ms. Elliot as the latest unrealistic panacea for addressing longstanding abject failure of public education at LAUSD. It has LAUSD's surrealistic modus operandi all over it...

What Do LAUSD And Haiti Have In Common?

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Several days ago, I received an email from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) with their encouragement that I support LAUSD Measure E with a yes vote on the June 8th ballot. Like Haiti, everyone knows how the economic downturn has negatively impacted public education throughout the United States as sure as if public education had been hit by an earthquake, so why would I object to a measure in favor of supplementing public education funding for LAUSD?
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Jaywalking With LAUSD

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Did you ever have the experience of thinking you heard something before, but you just couldn't quite place where and when you heard it? That's the way I have been feeling about the nondescript orwellian edspeak that all of us in public education continue to be tormented with. And then, it finally occurred to me where the logic defying statements like "No Child Left Behind" and "all [illiterate] students are going to college" really come from. In 1979, Peter Sellars played an idiot savant -- emphasis on the idiot -- in the movie Being There. Chance the Gardner has people ascribe to him great insight, when the simpler and more reasonable interpretation is that Chance the Gardner is just a moron.

20

05 2010

Merit Pay Isn't The Answer

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In "Teachers, Performance Pay, and Accountability: What Education Should Learn from Other Sectors", researchers Scott J. Adams, John S. Heywood and Richard Rothstein examine the evidence that underlies these assumptions, concluding that the use of merit pay systems has negative consequences that often block the larger goal of improving the quality of services. Daniel Pink, author of the best selling book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us", has a great presentation discussing what motivates skilled labor people to do excellent work and surprisingly, it isn't money.

The Business Of Education

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I rarely find myself in agreement with UTLA President A.J.Duffy and even when I do it is in spite of his usually flawed reasoning that I find much akin to that of LAUSD's leadership. Duffy along with several other commentators on education find it difficult to get their minds around the juxtapositioning of severe cuts to LAUSD's budgeting by its board in the form of 12 furlough days to address part of the looming $640 million LAUSD budget deficit, while contemporaneous passing authorization of "Certificates of Participation (COPS) to fund a variety of capital projects that should instead be funded through voter-approved bonds."

17

05 2010

The Same Old (Jason) Song: Maybe He Should READ The LAUSD Fine Print

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California Government Çode 821.6:

"A public employee is not liable for injury caused by his instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of his employment, even if he acts maliciously and without probable cause."

UTLA = LAUSD Not So Lite

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UTLA gives credibility to LAUSD by making the advocacy process look real when in reality it isn't. When UTLA gets a complaint from a member and files a grievance, they treat it as if they have never had a complaint like this before. When in reality, they might have had or presently have the same kind of complaint against the same principal who is doing the same thing to another teacher - they just will not share that information with you.
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7

05 2010

LAUSD: The Original LOST

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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.

5

05 2010

LAUSD Taskforce On Teacher Policy Reform

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On Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the report of a 50 person task force of "local teachers, administrators, parents, academics and union leaders" that was set up last year will submit its report to the LAUSD Board. So let's go through Reporter Connie Llanos' article from the Contra Cost Times -- she also writes for the Daily News -- and point out the glaring omissions that no one seems willing to address:

Education Is Not A Luxury

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War in the United States during WWII was waged by citizen soldiers that represented a cross-section of our citizens taken by the draft from all social classes. During the Vietnam War this changed and those who got drafted tended to come from the lower classes, so that Black and Latino soldiers represented twice the percentage of soldiers that they groups represented in the general population, while predominantly White students were able to avoid the draft by staying in school with a II-S student deferment. It is no accident that the Vietnam War came to an end shortly after the draft lottery was brought into existence to create more equity in the draft by finally subjecting all men 18 and over -- irrespective of school status -- to being drafted.
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27

04 2010

Bowdon's Documentary "The Cartel": A Busman's Holiday For Teachers

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Any of you curious as to what a guy who writes at least 5 posts a week for www.perdaily.com does during his weekend? Saturday night, I went to the Laemmle Sunset 5 to see The Cartel, a film about the corruption of public education in New Jersey, a state that has the distinction of spending more money per pupil than any forty-seven other states in the union, while having little or nothing to show for it. There is a definite East coast flavor -- cue The Godfather theme music -- to this story of premeditated public education failure that the producer, writer, director Bob Bowdon masterfully brings to his telling of the pervasive and astronomically expensive corruption that hold public school children and their parents hostage, while ultimately releasing them into society as illiterate and unable to do simple math. Anyone familiar with LAUSD will recognize all the cast of platitude quoting educriminal characters who continue to run public education and the future of this country into the ground.

20

04 2010

Thomas Jefferson VS Alexander Hamilton: The Battle For Sex Education

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"...In focusing on the specific issue of sex education in schools, one can see how an unrealistic inner-city curriculum is designed to avoid the subjective realities that exist in poor communities and holds little or no relevancy for communities that have none of the conditions in place that would make successful education possible..."

16

04 2010

Democracy In American Public Education

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In the final analysis, the only advantage that democracy has over a much more efficient totalitarian system is the ability to teach its citizens to think out of the box by ensuring everyone has access to a great public education. The present glaring contradiction between attaining the pragmatism necessary for maintaining a viable democracy and our present education system is that it has not been able to fulfill the function of sufficiently educating the future citizens of this country for a long time. The only reason that it was able to get away with it for so long is that we only reached the physical boundaries of this incredibly rich country during the massive westward migration during and after WWII. Finally, waste of this country's most vital resource -- it's youth -- can no longer continue in what is becoming more and more a highly competitive world...

13

04 2010

Financial Aid Rewards Those Who Do Everything Wrong (Sometimes)

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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.

Wikileaks Reminded Me That Most Teachers Are Cowards

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With the furlough days and more job insecurity, maybe the CIA should offer a summer special ops job training program for teachers, since it seems clear that the federal government would have a much better chance to keep the lid on nasty little scenes like the murder WikiLeaks reported, if teachers were in the chain of command.The CIA could rest assured that they would say 'nuthin' to nobody'. It has become clear to me over the last few years that almost without exception, organizational leadership reflects rank-and-file mentality and commitment.

7

04 2010

What Does It Mean To Be American?

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Yesterday was my 63rd birthday and after spending the last 5 months writing posts for perdaily, I would like to reflect on why education reform is so important to me. When I used to teach history, I always started out class by having the students read the front page of the Los Angeles Times while I took the roll and did the our mundane classroom maintenance tasks. In confronting student reticence about the relevance of reading today's newspaper in a World or American History course, I would respond that if I could not connect what was on the front page of the paper to what we were studying, I would not have them read the front page of the newspaper anymore.

26

03 2010

The Illusion Of A Teachers' Union

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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.

24

03 2010

The LA Compact Gives A 'Dollop' Of Hope

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If the Los Angeles Compact's public education reform proposals that Professor Charles Kerchner talks about in his Huffington Post article or any other proposed public education reform has any chance of bringing a "dollop of hope" to public education, it must concentrate on causal factors of present public education failure and not monitoring the effects one at a time after the fact when the horse is already out of the barn. The "parochialism and pettiness" will not be stopped unless the soil in which it has flourished for generations is treated to make it toxic for such counter productive behavior.

17

03 2010

Bill Maher Takes On The Rhode Island Firings (Video)

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It is the simplistic thinking of poorly educated bureaucrats that seems incapable of the intellectual rigor necessary to analyze and propose a well thought out program that has even the remotest chance of being successful. Bill Maher, somebody who does not suffer from these infirmities of thought process, trained his wit on the absurdity of just one aspect of what these intellectually challenged education reform wannabes saw as the reason for failing public education and annihilated them. For him, the thought of laying all the responsibility at the foot of the teaching profession is a "comprehensive education solution from completely ignorant people."

A Quick Word On School (Fore)closures

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As a moderately well-educated remnant of the bygone LAUSD era of the 1950s and 60s, I always try to rationalize what I read in the news to see if I can make sense of what initially appears to be a contradictory 2010 American reality. In reading an article yesterday morning in the Los Angeles Times in which a Kansas City superintendent says closing half its schools is painful but the 'right thing to do' I immediately tried to put this event in a global and historical context that might allow us to make the best of what initially seems to be a bad situation.

Nuggets? Fries? Pizza? School Lunches Are Doing More Harm Than Good...

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On several recent posts and comments to people have wondered how our view of public education might differ from that which is presently being proposed. While a variety of our prior posts have given major dos and don'ts of such a viable plan for education reform, today I would like to take a microcosm look at only one aspect of what should go on in an American public school that would have a profound effect on the students being educated, even though it is not normally given the important place it should have in a discussion of school reform.

Where Does Reform Go From Here?

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We have about as much chance of fixing public education in this country with the mass firing of teachers and administrators in Rhode Island and elsewhere as we would if we threw a virgin into a volcano. This type of post hoc fallacy thinking would rather create a causal relationship between teachers and student failure, then look at the immutable structure of all public education reform over the last 100 years that fails to address the underlying student problems and deficits that are brought to the system. In listening to President Obama's endorsing of Rhode Island's simplistic pogrom-like solution to solve its public education problem, he fails to take into account that the town of Central Falls, like many of our educational failing communities in Los Angeles, was "one of the poorest districts in Rhode Island" long before the teachers did their level best to try and fix it.

How Testing And Choice Are Undermining Education

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In what more and more appears like a reverse Renaissance -- aka self-inflicted Dark Ages -- those in power seem to be seeking the destruction of public education, so that the reflective thought necessary to question and hold accountable the greedy leadership of this country will no longer exist. In The Death and Life of the Great American School System - How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Diane Ravitch concisely analyzes the very real threat to a viable constitutional democracy that consciously chooses to vest power in an educated citizenry. Beyond the strength of the arguments she makes in questioning the much touted educational reform we constantly hear about in the media is the fact that this politically conservative educator is coming up with the same critiques that politically progressive people have leveled at constantly changing public education reforms that never seem to come to fruition in any measurable way, except in the profits that these reforms seem to generate for everyone except the students.

The Reason We Love Teaching

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At perdaily, we had hoped to balance all the negativity out there with articles about the commitment and idealism that got us into teaching in the first place. While the last 60 stories we have put up on the site needed to get said and had an incredibly salutary effect on ourselves and hopefully our readers, we need to do something more than just respond the LAUSD dysfunction. Rather we need to posit our vision of who we are as educators and remember that most of us still love those moments when real learning takes place.

26

02 2010

Let's Talk About Charter Schools And Race

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A major theme that we have tried to address in several of our posts is the idea that virtually all public education reform in the United States adapts to the continuing existence of urban predominantly minority filled school districts that have failed for generations. In California and elsewhere, states have taken over individual schools and sometimes entire school districts, but there appears to be an irrational taboo to not even consider dismantling/reconstituting these school districts. It is the very continued existence of these districts in their present form that requires public education reform in the first place. These districts as presently constituted will keep sabotaging any real educational reform that they see as threatening their present interests.

LAUSD: Fixing Public Education One Door At A Time

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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...

23

02 2010

Let Me Propose A Wager With Superintendent Ramon Cortines

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Here's the deal: I bet Cortines my whole salary against his, approximately 3 to 1 odds -- since I am obviously the long shot here (without considering the $150,000 a year he gets from Scholastics) -- that I can balance LAUSD's budget without firing or laying off any employees necessary in the actually rather straight forward process of teaching students. In the group think world of public education where Superintendent Ramon Cortines has spent his 50 year career, he has become so accustomed to accommodating to this failed system that it is unrealistic to think that he could ever implement the difficult changes that must be put into place if we are to finally create a successful 21st century education model.

The LAUSD Dinosaur: The Truth Behind The Economics Of Scale (And Waste)

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The only justification that I have ever heard for the continued existence of LAUSD is the economics of scale. You can see this principle in practice in a company like Costco or Home Depot, where these companies abilities to buy larger quantities gives them a significantly lower unit cost, which ultimately gives them a market advantage over smaller businesses whose unit costs are higher. Nothing could be further from the truth in LAUSD. READ THE REST...

A Day In My Life As A Teacher At Central High

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After yesterday's battle for the hearts and minds of America's youth at LAUSD, I shouldn't have been surprised when AP Rene Martinez came gliding through the door at 8:30 this morning to stull me. Even though I have always had excellent stulls or teaching evaluations in the past, when I saw AP Martinez, who has become a regular fixture around my class, since I reported the fraudulent graduation in June 2009, I already knew this wasn't going to be a friendly visit. The fact that I now had the audacity to publish part of an interview and reading test results for one of my ex-students made it only a matter of time before Principal Seary, AP Martinez, or AP Janine Antoine would show up to stull me again. I don't know, there is just something about being stulled that sounds obscene and the non-stop harassment that I continue to be subjected to only seems to support this meaning of the word. Frankly, I'm not really sure what it is supposed to mean.

Berkeley High: Academic Success Versus Racial Equity Is A False Dichotomy

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About eight years ago when I was still teaching at relatively high achieving Palisades Charter High School, I was invited to a well funded program at UCLA, where we were asked, "What can we do in high school to improve the achievement of Black and Latino students, so that they might have greater success in post secondary education." The answer I gave at that time is still as political incorrect as it was then, because most politicians and educators refuse to accept the fact that the failure to assure appropriate physical and mental stimulation to the developing brains of Black and Latino children at the appropriate time in their development does immutable damage that cannot be subsequently rectified.

We've Been Busy + LAUSD Says We Hurt Their Feelings (Update Soon)

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We've been very busy with LAUSD nonsense in the last week....they're apparently angry because we won't stop picking on them (we have no idea what they mean) -- but don't worry -- we'll have more stories for you guys in the upcoming days.... KEEP THE TIPS UP! We aren't going ANYWHERE. tips@perdaily.com
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30

01 2010

An Open Letter To Raymond Johnson (Chief Inspector, LAUSD Office Of The Inspector General)

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The only passage from this letter you need to read:
"When I referred to what I have been put through as a kafkaesque reality, as an intelligent graduate of Dorsey High School, you did not understand the reference to the writer Franz Kafka. Alas, this deficit in your education is precisely what must be eliminated in the future of inner city public education, if we expect to maintain this country as an educated and viable democracy."
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18

01 2010

Classified Employee Tells Us: We Have It Rough Too

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By now most of you know about the email we got out to about 20,000 LAUSD employees. Well maybe it sounded a little too pro-teacher. There are tons of pitiful teachers out there. And the Union... let's not even go down that road (yet). But in the cosmic tug-o-war  between LAUSD and the Union, there's a whole constituency that goes ignored, everyone who isn't a teacher or administrator. What did I learn? The people at UTLA can be so petty.

14

01 2010