The Watchdog of LAUSD

By Stuart Goldurs

Writing about the LAUSD and my experience as a teacher.

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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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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LAUSD, what have you done to Kindergarten?

A retired Kindergarten teacher wrote

 “When kdgtn was a place to play-act, learn the alphabet, build w/blocks, count objects, make friends, be a friend, share, listen to stories and do finger play and sing songs and sit cross-legged on the rug, and understand (sort of ) what a line of others is, and learn to take turns and to speak with an inside voice and to finger paint and to use paint at an easel to paint fire engines and use the colors....NOT to be tested to the core, but to be exposed to the best in early childhood and then to explore and then to own and direct. And then it changed and I retired...could not tolerate the tears and frustrations of little first graders who had to do math facts in short seconds and would instead have bathroom accidents in the room or have tummy aches and cry....filling in bubbles my foot! Testing was in the moment and highly interactive with responses and then reiterations of examples...by observation and gentle care. Miss those days...and feel so sorry for little people today who bark back the rules and verbage but can't get it down or correct on paper YET ! Reading by 9 is excellent; rote learning by 18 is impractical.

You remember, Kindergarten was fun!

Even today, preKindergarten to some is what Kindergarten was. I have seen the preK homework and it appears to be the end of Kindergarten/beginning of first grade skills of the past.

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Bye, Bye Public School Guy (to the tune of “American Pie”)

A very short time ago

I can still remember how teaching made me smile

And I knew if I teach my way

That my students would be happy everyday

And they’d prepare for the future

 

But testing made me sick

With every test prep I had used

Bad news in the classroom

I couldn't take one more year

 

I can't remember if I cried

When I was so bored I stepped outside

But something touched me deep inside

The day my creativity died

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The next LAUSD Superintendent should have:

  • The public personality of a Cal Worthington;
  • The pleasantness of Sheriff John singing “Laugh and Be Happy” and “The Birthday Polka” everyday;
  • The media savvy of Magic Johnson who is not afraid to publicly criticize, even the Lakers;
  • The truth of Bernie Sanders;
  • The wanderlust of Steve Lopez in order to visit the schools and publicize the issues;
  • The classroom experiences of 1,000 veteran teachers;
  • The ability to say the buck stops here and to the Board that they are wrong;
  • And most of all, a commitment to put the students and the schools first!
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It was the best of schools, it was the worst of schools

I have taught at one of the ten lowest performing schools in LAUSD. I have taught at one of ten highest performing schools in LAUSD. I have taught at schools that are in between.

What is the difference? Is it the community? Is it the dedication of the teachers? It is the experience of the teachers at one school versus the inexperience of the teachers at the other one? Is it the economic levels of the parents? Is it the languages spoken at home by the families?

Is it the expectations and educational level of the parents? Is it the time spent on discipline? Is it parental support for student’s conduct and homework?

It is all of the above!

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The day the education died for me

I always wanted to teach forever. (I still do as a volunteer only.)

Then, LAUSD implemented Open Court in elementary schools, forced the teachers to follow terrible pacing plans, selected textbooks with horrible explanations and limited practice exercises, and the tests became the dark cloud over each school, each classroom, and the entire district.

Open Court was the worst piece of crap this elementary teacher ever saw. Scripted, and among it many flaws, it covered adjectives and adverbs on the same page. There were a million other flaws with Open Court.

The pacing plans for elementary classes were designed by non classroom people who knew nothing. So now each grade in every school does the same skill at the same time and the students must all learn at the same speed, in the same learning modality, like a pair of one size fits all socks trying to fit every foot at the same time.

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What happens when there are no veteran teachers left in LAUSD schools?

The senior teachers are being driven out, put into teachers’ jails, retiring early or changing careers because of their dissatisfaction with what public education has become; pretty soon there will only be new, inexperienced (perhaps TFA) teachers on many school sites.

Teachers will tell you that veteran teachers helped them in their early years of teaching and that they in turn helped others along the way.

As an inexperienced teacher you went to the veterans and asked:

“What do I do in this situation?”

“Did this ever happen to you?”

“A parent is……”

“One of the students is….”

And they always knew what to do!

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Teachers Jails — No Veteran Teachers Left Behind (A Poem)

Teacher jails, teacher jails,
The process moves like snails.
 
Deasy and Cortines popularized the incarceration,
They almost franchised it across the nation.
 
If you are a senior teacher at the top of payroll list,
Downtown will tell your principal that they insist.
 
Find a reason to put you away,
Into a rubber room you will stay.
 
The sitting will be like hell for you,
And they won’t tell the accusations too.
 
The incarceration can drag on for years,
The sitting will bring depression and tears.
 
The police will clear you but the district will not,
And your name becomes mud and you feel like snot.
 
You can be a world renown or just a regular educator,
Your union won’t get you an attorney or negotiator.
 
The people who run this inquisition really belong in jail,
With a life full of storms, sentences, and hail.

 

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