Firing In A Crowded Theater

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sadly, the death of two people last week in a shooting at a Louisiana movie theater will not do anything to start a meaningful dialog about gun control in our country. If the 13 people in Binghamton, 13 people in Ft. Hood, three people in Huntsville, eight people in Manchester, six people in Tucson, eight people in Seal Beach, seven people in Oakland, 12 people in Aurora, six people in Oak Creek, six people in Minneapolis, three people in Brookfield, 27 people in Newtown, five people in Santa Monica, 13 people in Washington, D. C., three people in Ft. Hood, seven people in Isla Vista and nine people in Charleston were not enough to spark a discussion about who has access to guns, why should another two lives matter to our politicians? When Obama initially ran for president, the NRA warned that we have never “faced a presidential candidate...with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms,” but as President, Obama has only expanded the rights of gun owners. And the carnage continues…

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Every teacher is The Lone Ranger

Lately, I have been drawn to watch episodes of the 1950’s T.V. show, The Lone Ranger.

During every episode, the morality, the goodness, and the righteousness of The Lone Ranger and Tonto stands out.

Every teacher in America is The Lone Ranger. We fight against the system that we know is wrong. We do what we can to prepare our students for the next grades and for life. We are there for our students.

Every teacher has had former students come back or contact them. These former students are full of great memories and thankfulness.

Instead of “Who was that masked man?”  they say, “I wish my kids could have you as a teacher!

Their memories and their success are the SILVER BULLET we leave behind.

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I’m a billionaire and I want your school!

I’m a billionaire and I want your school!

A bunch of us were sitting around talking about the next unexploited, profitable industry and someone said education could bring us more wealth and power.

So we came up with a plan.

First we talked to the textbook and test publishers and asked them to create tests that make the public schools look bad through low test scores.

Then we pushed to have this Common Core stuff (which I don’t understand) promoted and used in every public school in the nation.

After that we spoke to the owners of charter schools and started some of our own, so that we became fully invested in both.

As parents saw the low test scores at their public schools they streamed to our charter schools. We petitioned the school districts to allow us to use empty classrooms on their campuses.

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The LAUSD's Red Herring

We also take seriously our obligation to ensure that our employees behave ethically.”

-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines

With Rafe Esquith’s attorney once again drawing attention to unethical use of Teacher Jail, the district turned to the propaganda arm of the ed “reform” movement to turn the tide. Last Friday, the LA School report ran an article entitled “Most in LAUSD ‘jail’ facing charges of sexual misconduct, violence.” While the District will often refuse to tell effected teachers why they have been removed from the classroom, they were willing to give the LAUSD’s version of FOX News a “comprehensive breakdown of misconduct allegations being investigated by the district’s Student Safety Investigative Team.” Of the 174 employees caught in the purgatory of Teacher Jail, 65 were being investigated for sexual abuse or harassment and 55 were  in the system for accusations involving violence. The remaining 54 employees were accused of infractions that did not involve the direct safety of the students of the district.

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How do school districts pay for tests and test preparation materials?

The money to pay for the tests and the test preparation materials comes from the districts’ budgets funded by our taxes. Almost 12% of my property taxes go to LAUSD. It is an appalling usage, especially to a teacher in LAUSD!

In order to pay for the tests, districts such as LAUSD:

  • Increased class sizes;
  • Laid off school counselors, librarians, support people, custodians, and office clerks;
  • Cut art, music, sports, and gifted programs;
  • Reduced teacher salaries and health benefits.

Do you as a parent appreciate of this?

Teachers don’t!

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Open Court was an abomination

  • They paid LAUSD teachers to go to training for five days during their vacation.
  • Teachers could also go during the school year for three days and receive their regular pay while the district paid substitutes.
  • They paid Open Court instructors to fly into Los Angeles and stay at nice hotels.
  • They rented large halls in the hotels for instruction rooms and halls where they provided lunch for all of the teachers.
  • Each elementary school had a Literacy Coach who really was the Open Court Police.
  • They ran around the school visiting classrooms, finding fault, and reporting the teachers to the principal.
  • Initially 60% on an Open Court test was considered passing.
  • Open Court measured reading speed, even though there are students that read excellently but slowly.
  • Any elementary teacher can tell you that it is comprehension, not speed that is important in Reading.
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A home for retired LAUSD administrators

People in the know have been saying that the well entrenched bureaucracy, particularly the downtown administrators, needs to go.

Now with the audit of LAUSD Food Services revealing graft, corruption, and waste, plus the MiSIS mess and the iPad scandal, it’s past time for them to leave.Where should they go?

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Once Again, the Children Will Lose

We need to be prudent and not dig ourselves back into a bigger deficit.”

-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines

When good teachers are put in Teacher Jail, students lose. Without a coach, they lose ability to compete. Weeks before their AP test they lose valuable study time with an experienced instructor. As their teacher sits at home, they lose access to an award winning music program. With an extracurricular coordinator denied access to school grounds, they lose a popular talent show. They lose a chance to fall in love with the Shakespeare and the ability to take potentially life changing trips.

Teacher Jail is also draining scarce resources from the classroom.  The program is a financial black hole that pays teachers not to teach while also paying substitutes to take their place in the classroom. The district does not even let the two coordinate to reduce the harm done to the students and their education. Now facing a pending lawsuit against Teacher Jail, the students will lose again when money that would be better spent on education is spent to defend the viability and legality of Teacher Jail. The district has already hired an outside law firm to mount a defense. Instead of shutting down Teacher Jail, they are conducting a costly investigation (perhaps “witch hunt” is a better description) in an attempt to find anything that could justify their removing an award-winning teacher from the classroom. Meanwhile the LAUSD is laying off teachers, has staff to student ratios that are too high and school libraries that remain closed.

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They’re coming to take me away—I am a veteran teacher

Throughout the United States, veteran teachers are being targeted. Facebook has story after story about veteran teachers, many times an award winning teacher, being targeted by their school administrations.

These school administrators have received the word from on high—the downtown administrators—to get the veteran teachers to leave.

In LAUSD they are put into teacher jails. In other districts the veteran teachers receive poor reviews, the most difficult students, and all kinds of pressure from the administration--all designed to get them to quit before they receive either full or partial lifetime benefits upon retirement.

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Have the Bullies Met Their Match?

Exploiting justified anger...to pursue a war on teachers

-Diane Ravitch

Too often, a teacher in the LAUSD’s Teacher Jail system is doomed to a career ending sentence if they cannot generate the publicity that will force the district’s hand. When district bullies removed Greg Schiller from the classroom because of a science project that they did not understand, students protested and the media noticed. Schiller’s suspension was ended after two months, but not before the fencing team he coached was forced to cancel their participation in a competition and AP students were deprived of study time. After leading class trips to France and the White House, choir teacher Iris Stevenson was placed in Teacher Jail. “Parents, students and community members rallied” and she was released back to the classroom, but only after students missed her instruction for an entire semester. Stuart Lutz was returned to the classroom with his only discipline being a “‘conference memo’, in which an administrator explained what Lutz did incorrectly and how to avoid such problems in the future.” Lutz was also the beneficiary of pressure on the district, including an online petition,  from people who did not believe that improprieties in field trip paperwork and fundraisers are adequate reasons to remove an art teacher from the classroom for eight months.

Until last month it appeared that Rafe Esquith was headed down the same path. After being placed in teacher jail in March for “telling a joke about nudity in Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’” publicity was building about this teacher’s stay in purgatory. Several media outlets were covering the story and a well-attended protest was held before the School Board. He had also secured the services of a high powered law firm who “told the district to publicly apologize and let him return to work or be sued.”

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