Simon Balto: Amidst the recent assaults on ethnic studies in Arizona and beyond that propagate a myth that such programs are divisive and exclusionary, I now find myself seeking to defend and justify their importance, and to wrestle with their place in American history.
Nea Friberg-Price & Jed Von Dielingen: Because our school makes these cuts strictly on seniority, it’s always the newer teachers who go, the ones who connect so much better with us students. Athough we like and respect our older, more experienced teachers, these younger ones are more flexible in their teaching plans and are closer to us in age, so they understand us so much better. So we’re terribly sad to see their teaching careers end, at least for now.
John MacMurray: If the goal is to improve our public education system–and there is no organization or institution that cannot be improved in some way–then the most straightforward way to accomplish this is to give the highly-trained, highly-motivated professionals in the classrooms the resources they need, and let them do the job they were hired for.
Carl Bloice: Why is it that the richest, most powerful nation on the planet, one that produces more and more billionaires each year and can spend one million dollars each on the soldiers it sends off to war, can’t afford to educate its kids? It remains a mystery to me that an administration that can spend millions of dollars to bribe states into facilitating its quite controversial school “reform” programs can’t come up with the resources to stave off the pending mass layoffs of teachers.
Maria Brenes: East Los Angeles schools will have the opportunity to become a model for school transformation through the implementation of five Pilot Schools. Coordinated by the Los Angeles Education Partnership, the five Pilot Schools will work in collaboration as a Community School responsible for the academic success and emotional well-being of students.
Rev. Irene Monroe: We live in a society that is hypercritical of failure and super exuberant about success. As a culture, we have developed a false and damaging dichotomy about the relationship between failure and success that success has become a public affair of celebration and failure a private funeral of condemnation.
Anthony Samad: While graduations have become passé’ and informal for some, the older generations dress up for the occasion like they’re going to church on Easter Sunday and praise, and shake, and shout, “Thank ya, Lordie” just as much. I always wondered why my Uncle Buddy always wore a tie to everybody’s graduation. He said it was to “honor them” for achieving something very special.
Carl Bloice–September is four months away and one thing is certain: the public is not be adequately alerted to the seriousness of the situation and mobilized to do anything about it. We would know far less about how critical things are in the schools had not students in California – where thing are really rough – set off nationwide protests about the cutbacks. And, as soon as that happened, on cue, voices popped up to declare that the protesters were deficient because they had no real analysis of the cause of the crisis and offered no solutions. The obvious response was: so what? Isn’t it the job of professionals in politics and government to provide those things?
Tom Degan: But other than those little candles in the darkness, I’m not particularly crazy about Texas. Truth be told, I believe it to be one of the nation’s glaring shames. Molly Ivins (rest her soul) once wrote that all Texans owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mississippi. But not for that state, Texas would be dead last in everything! And to think we fought a war over the place! I would suggest giving it back to Mexico but they have enough problems as it is. Why add to their burden?
Ron Briley: Unfortunately, this debate over standards often rages with little input from history teachers who are expected to implement mandated curriculum. This attitude derives from a fundamental lack of respect in our culture for teachers. Thus, it is assumed that dentists and real estate agents are better equipped to make curricular decisions than are history educators.
Shamus Cooke: The anti-teacher hysteria looks diverse on the surface, but underneath, this public controversy seeks to dislodge teachers unions: the right-wing trashes teachers’ unions outright, while the “liberal” media takes a more subtle, sophisticated approach, blaming the state of public education on “bad teachers” who must be fired and replaced.
Ron Wolff: Oh, by the way, country and western music will be studied as a cultural movement. High school freshmen will probably be assigned the task of writing lyrics to twangy melodies — when they’re not studying about the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association. Yes, they’re all “in.”
Sikivu Hutchinson: It’s simply not acceptable to blame the university’s egregious disregard for the needs of students of color on the bigoted acts of ignorant white or “minority” students. UCSD’s gross underrepresentation of Black students reflects the UC system’s institutional neglect of recruitment and outreach to African American high schools.
Shamus Cooke: The first battle tactic against public education was to starve it. Politicians have consistently lowered taxes on corporations and the rich for the past three decades, thereby lowering state revenues that have created the budget crises in nearly every state. Consequently, public education is in a state of shell shock.
Joseph Palermo: Sadly, the clear winner in recent years has been the California of small things and small ideas. Through an outdated flaw in the structure of governance, one-third of the Legislature has a stranglehold on the state’s finances. The other two-thirds (the majority) knows the state is heading in the wrong direction. Yet given its lack of control over the purse strings, it’s left flailing around passing a lot of symbolic laws that go nowhere.
Maria Elena Durazo and Maria Brenes: Sadly, the promise of economic and social mobility via our public educational system is going unfulfilled for the children of poor and working class parents in the City of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Unified District (LAUSD) whose student body is over 70% Latino and 11% African American must focus on stopping the drop-out crisis and addressing the lack of student preparation for college and the 21st century workforce.
Sharon Toji: Los Angeles is certainly not alone in wasting bond money. San Francisco passed bonds some years ago specifically to do ADA upgrades, an administrator used the money to upgrade his house, among other illegalities. After a federal suit was brought, because the ADA upgrades were never made, they had to go back to the public for more money, and the public gave again. This time around, we actually prefer to work in San Francisco because their paperwork demands are not as ridiculous and we can concentrate more on signs. Also, their bond work is definitely not in the luxury class. They are doing only what is necessary, with no frills and much less waste. Otherwise, the public would mutiny, after having had their money wasted once.
Harry Mok: More than 3,000 youth in California age out of the foster care system every year without having a permanent family to support them. Nationally, studies have shown that just 7 to 13 percent of foster youth pursue higher education. Of those who do go to college, only 2 percent obtain a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent for the general population, according to a Casey Family Programs report.
For the past three years, a group of black men within 100 Black Men of Los Angeles have been studying the successful publicly funded single-gender school of our New York chapter, The Eagle Academy for Excellence, as a possible solution to the dilemma facing black boys in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
To me, that makes education crucial to this country’s future. What will be required to avoid losing? If people detect either that they are no longer being challenged by their work, or if they find themselves reading beer bottle labels under tables, then I would suspect that the country is on its way to History’s Great Dustbin.
As Governor Arnold Swartzenegger and the Democratic-controlled state legislature strip education funding wholesale to meet California’s budget collapse, Pasadena’s public school district offers a microcosm of the woes besetting school districts that are already in crisis across the state. Recent months have seen a drumbeat of distressing reports of alarmingly high dropout rates in Pasadena’s [...]