-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.Read more
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.Read more
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.”Read more
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.Read more
- 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!
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!Read more
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.Read more
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!Read more
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:Read more
Superintendent Cortines has announced that he will leave his position in six months. When it was convenient for him, he would remind people that he had been a teacher. Years ago when he was also the Superintendent, he made a robo call to teachers and retired teachers when the district altered the health benefits and wrote the changes in a manner that confused everyone. His recorded call conveyed nastiness and a disdain for the teachers.
The new Superintendent of LAUSD should:Read more