Recently, more than ever, the media is filled with headlines and stories about investigations into LAUSD food services and the F.B.I. investigating the iPad mess, and much, much more.
Don’t forget the tens of millions wasted on MiSIS; starting the school year during the intense heat of August without all classrooms having functioning air conditioning; and the secrecy behind the search for a new superintendent.Read more
-Ramon Cortines, LAUSD Superintendent
The fifth grade students of Hobart Elementary School have started the school year without award winning teacher Rafe Esquith in the classroom. They are also deprived of access to his nonprofit, the Hobart Shakespeareans, and its proven record of allowing students to “move on to attend outstanding colleges.” Instead, Esquith continues to be confined to teacher jail as the five month investigation against him drags on. What started with a complaint about a joke told in the classroom has somehow expanded into “a complex investigation that requires painstaking, time-consuming work.”Read more
-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
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
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