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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Voices Carry


It is hard enough to get Americans to fulfill their obligation of voting in elections. In one poll four percent of the respondents would not even take the step of registering to vote because they felt that their “vote wouldn’t make a difference.” Even less of our fellow citizens take a more active role in the democratic process under the assumption that their voice is too small to be heard. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges could not have happened without the grassroots activism that had taken place 28 years ago.

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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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Diverting Attention

During the primary campaign, Ref Rodriguez’s supporters accused UTLA of “using ‘racial undertones’” because they used the candidate’s given name, Refugio, in a mailer. Fast forward five months and the new Board member himself referred to his full name several times in his swearing in ceremony on Tuesday. Nevermind what was said or done during the campaign, Rodriguez wants you to pay attention to the present and ignore the contradictions.

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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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Engaging Parents

You should not speak to any child, especially students not your own.”

-Derek Horowitz, LAUSD Principal

Now that Tamar Galatzan is a former member of the LAUSD School Board, there is not one Board Member who has children enrolled in the district. Granted, this change is only symbolic as Galatzan had a reputation for ignoring the concerns of other parents (there is a reason that three parents ran against her in the March primary) and focusing on the needs of the charter school advocates who financed her campaigns.  However, symbols are important and the new Board needs to take steps to show that it takes its goals of “parent and community engagement” seriously.

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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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While they are smearing Rafe Esquith, remember that LAUSD teachers are the best

I have taught at a have nothing school, at a have some school, and at a have everything school, all in LAUSD!

The one great common factor at all three schools is the quality and dedication of the teachers. I believe that there are teachers like this throughout the world:

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