The Watchdog of LAUSD

By Stuart Goldurs

Writing about the LAUSD and my experience as a teacher.

Education: It's time for a revolution

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world”

 

We can’t save the world,

But we can save the children for the world!

 

It’s time for a revolution in education.

It’s time for education to be for the students.

 

It’s time for education to be about learning,

Learning for their future, learning for the following school years.

 

It’s time for the testing oriented system to disappear,

It’s time for a return to an era when children learned and teachers taught without the pressure of test scores.

 

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Teaching in LAUSD: All The Fun Is Gone

Think of your fondest memories from elementary school.  

Was it making a 3 dimensional map with mountains, or a school Olympics, or putting on a play, or sewing a frontier outfit, or classroom discussions, or many other things? Maybe it was May Day dances or working with tools.

They are gone. There are no replacements. 

All academics all the time or very close to it.

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Thank you for calling LAUSD

No operators are standing by, as we don’t care what parents and teachers think, so we fired the operators enabling us to hire more administrators.

Press 1 if you wish to complain about the cleanliness of your school.

Press 2 if you wish to leave a message for your school board member. But keep in mind that they won’t return it.

Press 3 if you want to complain about your school needing repairs and the iPad purchases.

Press 4 if you feel that your student’s classes are too crowded.

Press 5 if you wish to complain about school food.

Press 6 if you want to complain about the lack of discipline on your school campus. 

Press 7 if your school’s WiFi is out, making the iPads worthless.

Press 8 if your school is unable to get substitutes, as none of them are willing to go there.

Your call is not important to us and these messages are erased daily.

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LAUSD--MISIS: the gift that keeps on stealing (our bond money and our tax dollars)

“The cost of L.A. Unified's digital student tracking system rises to $189 million.” 

“Last week, the school board approved $40.3 million for what the technology division says will be the last of six large chunks of bond money needed to fix the problems.”

Add a lawsuit  here, a lawsuit there, paying a former superintendent or two, a wasted program or 100, a superfluous bureaucracy, plus the money for the worthless tests and the test preparation materials that do nothing but enrich the publishers.

What is left for on campus needs?

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Why are LAUSD teachers (and probably most other teachers) afraid of their principals?

"The Power of the Principal."

A principal can make a teacher’s life miserable:

Through harassment;

By giving them the cold shoulder; 

By spreading negative words about them to staff and parents;

By not supporting them in situations with parents;

By not supporting their discipline 

Principals can load up classes with the most difficult and lowest performing students.

Principals can change the teacher’s assignment even though in LAUSD assignments are supposed to be selected by seniority. The on site union representative is most unlikely to stand up for a teacher fearing the above negative treatment. Calling the union is totally fruitless as the union leaders are most concerned about spending the dues and maintaining their perks, privileges, and pensions just like the LAUSD downtown bureaucracy that they totally mirror.

This has been going on forever.

The Kingdom of LAUSD—a top down pyramid (empire) with the serfs—teachers--at the absolute bottom of the pyramid.

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In teaching today there is NO WAY

There is no way that teachers are ever consulted. It is the book publishers way; the test publishers way; the out of the classroom, the know nothing downtown administrators way.

There is no way for the teacher to put personality into the lessons and instruction.

There is no way to plan the lesson to meet the needs of the entire class.

There is no way to hope for mastery, much less remediation or review.

One size fits all lessons means that there is no way that the needs of all students with various learning modalities with various learning domains are met.

If you had a public education before the test dominated curriculum became the imperative and you ask if your child is receiving the same well rounded, versatile education with some fun included that you had, the answer is NO WAY!

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Supporting your local LAUSD school

When I was a student in LAUSD the major fund raising effort was a newspaper drive. We’d collect them at the school and they were picked up.

Today, most public schools have booster clubs run by active parents. The fund raising activities include donations, gift wrap sales, candy sales, auctions, restaurant outings, and many other things.

The money raised goes to supplement the money provided by the District/State and to enrichment activities.  The funds buy computers, books, aides, music instruction, photocopiers, office clerks, librarians, and so much more.

Why? Other than enrichment activities, so many of the above including librarians and clerical help are an integral part of the schools and their programs.

Why do the booster organizations have to pay for so much? What if your school is not located in a community that can financially support the school? What if your school does not have low test scores and therefore is not entitled to federal funds?

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It's DIBELS time again in LAUSD, aren't you excited?

Three times each school year, LAUSD elementary teachers must give the DIBELS to every student.

The teacher must sit in the back of or on the side of the classroom with each student for 15 to 20 minutes. The students read to the teacher while the teacher follows on a computer. In Kindergarten the students identify letters.

While the teacher is working with each student individually the other students must work without teacher assistance. Some elementary classes have 35 students. Think about the time lost to the class while the teachers must give this superfluous test. Think about Kindergarteners needing their teachers.

The DIBELS like all the other tests costs money that could go to instructional materials, reducing class sizes, and repairs.

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I wish that the new LAUSD Superintendent would:

  • Sell the Beaudry headquarters, clean house of the long-standing bureaucrats who haven’t been to schools in decades and of the administrators who have top degrees and have never taught.
  • Abolish all formal, standardized testing except for the end-of-the-year tests which would be a maximum of two hours per student. One hour of Math and one hour of Language Arts.
  • Halt all new construction and new land purchases, and use the remaining construction bond money to fix up the schools—they surely need it.
  • Sell KLCS Channel 58, land, building, license, and equipment.
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LAUSD: A tale of two cities

It was the best of schools, it was the worst of schools, it was the age of segregation, it was the age of separation. It was Los Angeles in the 50’s and early 60’s. Los Angeles was segregated. Los Angeles City Schools were segregated.

The schools in the Westside, the Valley, and other areas were excellent. The success of their students from Kindergarten through 12th grade led to college and professional careers.

Meanwhile, students in other parts of the city received a lesser education in many instances. 

In the beginning Los Angeles created the Los Angeles City Schools. 

As the population of Southern California grew, as cities incorporated, the Los Angeles City Schools became the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Los Angeles Community College District became a separate entity.

Today, in the 21st Century, LAUSD is a tale of three cities: three school districts in one: the haves and the have nots and those in between.

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