Archive for the ‘Try Harder’Category

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.

How Should LAUSD Be Structured?

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I don't know if I have the possibility of another stint at the university in me, but if I did, I would like to write a doctoral thesis on the idea that has been going through my mind over the last couple of years that all societies plant the seeds of their own demise when they fail to recognize that the well-being of the haves in any society is contingent on the well-being of those with less. When the disparity of wealth in terms of possessions and knowledge become too great, the citizens clearly have lost the historical awareness that should have been transmitted through education as to what the costs to both the haves and the have nots will be without education. Unlike Karl Marx, I look to the haves in Los Angeles and elsewhere to redress dysfunctional education that they have misguidedly abandon, because its continued failure will take them down as much as those who remain the direct victims of this system.

11

06 2010

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.

Teacher 'Coaches' Get Paid To Do Nails, Talk On Phone Or Just Disappear

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Does anyone have a good coaching story? Reader 'Resident of the Land of Babble' describes just how elusive -- and unnecessary -- coaches seem to be. As a matter of fact, the coaching program would be the first item they would scrap from the LAUSD budget, and it's hard to argue otherwise when most of the scenes our reader describes sound like an episode of The Office. Read the email and you'll easily understand why...

11

05 2010

The 12 Education MYTHS

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Rather then design an academic program that specifically address the subjective needs of the student population, those in power propose ideas that are non sequiturs that have no chance of success, because those in power know that successful public education means their demise and an end to the obscene waste that public education continues to incur throughout this country with no significant positive results. Most programs and reforms today accommodate to failure rather than address it.

Can I Get A Witness???

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Today I had the long rescheduled appeal hearing on the two Notices of Unsatisfactory Acts and the two Suspensions of 8 and 11 days respectively. While I am not permitted to talk about the substance of the charges against me, which could have lead to my cause for firing if I had done so up until June of 2009, I am now at least permitted to mention the existence of the case without going into the details of the case, which now can be used by LAUSD to find against me, if it is not for the specific purpose of trying to get witnesses to help me defend myself. So let me start by saying that I am writing this post to see if there are any witnesses out there. It is my belief that some of my fellow teachers might be willing to come forward and share what they know, when they hear what I found out today at the appeal hearing of the charges against me.

Jaime Escalante, Non-Conformist And Craftsman

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Good teachers are one of a kind. Teachers like my old Government teacher Marvin Katz and English teacher Eugene Friedman from my days at Monroe High School. Good teachers who individually configured their own nuanced approach to teaching courses in a way that wasn't just going through the motions. What I have always found to be true is that students -- even the students that don't try -- definitely know the difference between a good teacher who is trying to inspire them and a teacher that is just phoning it in and watching the clock with them.

The 'Jihad' Against Diversity In Education

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Last Monday, March 16, 2010, radio and podcast Democracy Now with Amy Goodman spent an hour with Debbie Almontaser, the former principal of the Kahlil Gabran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York. Almontaser was forced out of her position  in 2007 by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott upon orders of Mayor Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg succumbed to pressure from bigots in New York and elsewhere who had launched a smear campaign against Principal Almontaser

Revisionist History 101: Texas Edition

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The mistake that most intelligent people make is failing to factor into their logic the transitory nature of almost everything we encounter during our brief sojourn on the face of the earth. An Indian Rajah once asked his wise man for an answer to all the thorny problems that constantly plagued him, to which the wise man responded, "And this too will pass." This is not just true of our problems, but it is also true for the wealth of human knowledge that countless generations of homo sapiens have acquired since the dawn of their existence in Africa about 1 million years ago. Can someone tell that to the school board in Texas?

The Four Day School Week (Or When Thursday Becomes The New Friday)

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I sure hope ignorance is bliss, because the awareness that comes from being educated creates nothing but pain when confronted on a daily basis with the short-sighted thinking that is rapidly sending this country up a certain creek without a paddle. The latest panacea for fixing education -- in what more and more seems akin to the way one fixes a dog -- is to have a 4 day school week to balance the budget of many school districts throughout the country. As yet this hasn't been proposed by Superintendent Cortines at LAUSD, but it is early yet and the $640 million shortfall this year is only a harbinger of the cuts already being proposed for the next two years.

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.

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.

You Should Help Us... Help You (Which Helps Us)

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Let me brag for a second... it was a little over three months ago that Lenny and I launched perdaily. Did I mention we have had no idea what we were doing? Fast-forward from December to now and it's incredible to think we started out with just three or four visitors -- mostly sympathetic family and friends -- and now we're averaging anywhere from 200-400 people a day. We could do even better though, we just need YOU to tell us how!

17

02 2010

Teacher: I've Been Waiting For Classroom Repairs... For FIVE Years

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How would you like to teach in a class with broken baseboards and ceiling tiles, graffiti and rats? Not only is the room dilapidated, but it's been burglarized one...two...three...FOUR times. Don't worry though, our teacher says repairmen have been to the class on a few occasions over the last half-decade -- they just aren't allowed to fix anything. Sorry, district rules! READ THE EMAIL...

15

02 2010

My Last Lesson From The Rubber Room: Edspeak 101

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As sort of a nostalgic bon voyage to the ethereal reality of the almost empty 2 floors of rented space that is Local District 6, I thought you might enjoy my translation of the Orwellian edspeak that was posted on the wall for the Leadership Labs that were taking place that day.

12

02 2010

My Principal Janet Seary: "This Is War...I Like War" (Read Our Emails)

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Via Lenny: About 2 years ago, I applied for an out-of-classroom position at Central High School, which required a cleared teaching credential and tenure with LAUSD. Nonetheless, my Principal Janet Seary gave this position to Nestor Albert Vargas, who at the time of his appointment had only an expired emergency credential, which only allowed him to work as a substitute. Because I didn't accept this unjust action in clear violation of the LAUSD/UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement and subsequently filed a PERB action against my principal and LAUSD for allowing it to take place, all hell broke loose.

3

02 2010

Beaudry Building: Worst. Security. Ever.

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When my good friend Lenny sent me a write up of his recent experience at the Beaudry building downtown to post I thought, "Meh. That's okay." Then a reader sent me an eerily similar story of security incompetence. Now it's a post.

14

01 2010

A Primer For Teacher Whistleblowers

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As teachers are laid off, medical benefits diminished, and salaries unilaterally cut, do you still think that saying nothing about the fraud you see perpetrated by the LAUSD administration means you'll be left alone? Imagine what Superintendent Ray Cortines thought when he looked out of his window and saw only 300 of the 33,000 members of UTLA demonstrating. The only power you have to stop the further dismemberment of public education in LAUSD is to use what you know...
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LAUSD Safety Engineer Writes Us: Teachers Harassed For Reporting Rodents... Schools In "Depressingly Poor Physical State"

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When a Safety Engineer says LAUSD is good at running "one two or ten schools out of 900", there might be a problem. Free-range rats? Millions of dollars wasted on inefficient and "rag tag" renovations? Count the times "management" and "mismanagement" appear in this letter and then ask yourself, what does a Safety Engineer really know anyway? Read the email.

We're Working Over Here

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Just because you don't see anything new right now doesn't mean we aren't trying. Quite the opposite. We're actually working on something gigantic. So gigantic, in fact, that we'll probably get in some sort of trouble (to be determined at a later date). In the meantime we'll distract you  with this list of stories the LA Times won't cover -- no matter how many times we ask.

7

01 2010

Why Cortines' Plan To Fire 'Weak' Teachers Isn't What You Think

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What makes a teacher weak? The starting premise of Superintendent Cortines is that LAUSD must "weed out ineffective new teachers before they become permanent." Keep in mind these 'weak' teachers are college graduates who have at least 4 years of college, supplemented by more than a year of credentialing programs that should have identified the supposed teaching deficits that they now suffer from. But as we all are aware by now, teachers are the real problem in education, not administrators. In fact, let's just fire all teachers and hire only administrators, since they're the only ones doing their jobs right. Whew. Problem solved.

19

12 2009

300... of 33,000 Teachers

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It is regrettable that the Tuesday, December 8th demonstration did little to dissuade incompetent LAUSD leadership from further dismembering public education in Los Angeles by now proposing laying off of another 5000 teachers to balance its budget. If anything the...

14

12 2009