The Hidden Children

Nicole_and_the_Triplets.jpgNicole eased me into the challenges of her family during our first online conversation. First she casually worked in the fact that she had triplets. When that did not chase me away she mentioned in passing that two of them were on the autism spectrum and waited to see if I would find a way to end the conversation. It did not end and six years ago I married the woman of my dreams. I was now a father of five.

Prior to meeting my daughters one child had been introduced to me as being on the autism spectrum. According to the Center for Disease Control autism now affects 1 in 68 children. With such a high rate of occurrence, how is it possible that I had only previously met one child with this disability? Part of the answer is ignorance, without knowledge of what autism is, I probably met a lot more people with this disability and did not realize it. Some is probably explained by the fact that included in the 1 in 68 statistic are highly functioning individuals who do not present their symptoms in a casual encounter. Unfortunately, the final part of the answer is that many of these children are simply hidden from view.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Why Don't We Jump?

The Reason I JumpWhen I was in the Boy Scouts, the organization introduced a Handicap Awareness Merit Badge. To promote this new badge, they gave campers at the National Jamboree a chance to try sports that had been modified so that they could be played by people with physical challenges. This included playing wheelchair basketball and trying to catch a beeping baseball while blindfolded. Participating campers, by temporarily stepping into another’s shoes, were given the opportunity to gain some empathy for those who deal with these challenges on a full time basis.

Unfortunately for those on the autism spectrum, it is not as easy to replicate their experiences for those who are neurotypical. The communication difficulties that people on the spectrum experience often prevents the most severely affected from even describing how they experience the world. However, advances in technology and understanding are helping to close the gap. One result is The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida and translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Enabling The Jump

In The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida invites the reader to “a nice trip through our world.” However, the only reason that he was able to explain autism through his point of view is that he had a parent and an educator who had the perseverance to get him the tools that he needed to tell his story. Unfortunately, my experience with the LAUSD has shown that the district is not always willing to provide special education students or their teachers with the tools that they need to allow students to achieve their full potential.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Six Little Victories (and One Big One)

 

In George Carlin’s routine, he says that a house is just a place to keep your “Stuff.” “If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. Then you go vacation and have to come up with a smaller version of your house that fits into a couple of suitcases. Last weekend my family did just that. We packed enough of our stuff to fit into two cars and headed towards Lake Tahoe.

When you travel with seven people spanning three generations, some of the stuff you inadvertently pack is the baggage of interpersonal conflicts. No one knows how to push your buttons like family and there is little room for escape when you are together for a week straight. As a kid, the time was three times as long as we took marathon driving trips across the country. It is against all odds that someone was not left purposefully behind somewhere around North Dakota.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Education is the Great Equalizer

My father was given the opportunity of a free college education and used it to rise from some of the toughest neighborhoods in the South Bronx. He appreciated the ability to raise his family in the middle-class environment of the suburbs and made a point of donating to his public college throughout his life. “They helped me become who I am,” he told me in a very proud voice.

I am also appreciative of my public school background. As a member of the “baby bust” generation, my schools faced budgeting difficulties that came with a suddenly dwindling school-age population. Programs that were available to my older peers were cut but I still had access to enough AP and other college-level classes to skip almost a full year of college. Music and art were considered part of a well-rounded education as they encourage the creative thinking needed to be successful in business. Administrators were smart enough to recognize the upcoming computer revolution and found the funds to equip our schools with their first computer labs. This encouraged me to teach myself to code, study computer science in college and later take on the project of transferring an entire business from a manual based system to one that ran more efficiently with computers.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Closed Door Session

Add your reaction Share

The Bully Pulpit

If children have a constitutional guarantee of high-quality teachers, why does the LAUSD allow institutionalized bullying to keep great teachers from the classroom?

The Vergara ruling has presented California schools with an opportunity to rectify a catastrophe. Now it will be my responsibility and privilege to ensure that L. A. Unified students have highly competent and effective teachers in their classrooms. This guarantee must be not to some students, or most students. It must be to every single student every single day.

- John Deasy

The LAUSD’s Policy Bulletin on Workplace Violence, Bullying and Threats (Adult-to-Adult) includes in its definition of bullying “severe...verbal act or conduct...committed by an individual...directed toward one or more adults that has or can be reasonably predicted to [have a] substantial interference with work performance.” Superintendent John Deasy was surely in violation of this policy on the morning of September 8, 2011, when he walked unannounced into a classroom at the Washington Prep High School, quickly decided that the work that had been assigned to the students was an “insult to their potential” and proceeded to engage in “a tirade of statements including that the assignment was ‘a total waste of instructional time.’” He then told the teacher, in front of her students, that she should have been “ashamed to have given them such an assignment.”

Read more
1 reaction Share

Shutting Out The LAUSD Stakeholders

I would like to move that we move the remainding [sic] of board meetings that are tentatively scheduled for 4:00 PM Bored_of_Educationto 1:00 PM...Makes it easier for parents, certainly in my district, who might want to come speak to not be here at 11:00 at night when they have kids to put to bed and homework to supervise and it is impossible to get here during rush hour from most parts of the city to pull comment cards...A lot of us have other responsibilities that we need to take care of and I would really like to move the meetings back, like they are today with a 10:00 AM closed, 1:00 PM open so if we need to stay late we can but, otherwise, I think it works best, not perfect, there really is no time when it is convenient to everyone. But the 4:00 PM I thought would keep us here sometimes to 2:00 AM in the morning with nobody here to participate and that is not something that I support. So I would like to move all of them to 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

- Tamar Galatzan


According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 88.2% of married-couple families with children had at least one parent employed. Both parents are employed in 59.1% of these households. In single-parent households, 68.2% of women and 81.2% of men are employed. While not all of these parents are working nine to five jobs, the vast majority are not available to wait in line to get a chance to participate in a school board meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon. While a 4:00 PM start time does not move meetings away from the work day, it at least gives working parents a chance to join a meeting in progress.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Fire Superintendent John Deasy

www.change.org/p/dr-richard-vladovic-fire-superintendent-john-deasy

 The students of the LAUSD have started this new school year amid chaos. First, the district ignored warning signs that it was not ready and pushed through the implementation of the MiSiS student management system. This resulted in the disruption of education for thousands of students. The district then showed an ignorance of the seriousness of the situation by continuously publicising the talking point that “only” 1% of the students were affected by this error. Even if this statistic had been accurate, and the facts show that it was not, this talking point created the impression that the education of 6,400 students was insignificant.

 

Read more
Add your reaction Share

LAUSD's iPad Saga Has Just Begun

It was controversial?

- John Deasy

At the beginning of August, Superintendent Deasy was mocking opponents of his plan “to provide an iPad to every Los Angeles student, teacher and school administrator.” Yesterday he cancelled the project as the controversy grew over mounting evidence of improprieties in the bidding process. This step should serve as the beginning of a process to make sure that the mistakes that haunted this project from the beginning are never repeated.

Read more
Add your reaction Share