I have been publishing for about a year and a half now. Maybe some of you wonder why I continue to show LAUSD and UTLA administrative corruption and incompetence no quarter, while constantly seeking to illustrate the all too often depressing reality that these self-serving and dishonest administrators have made in Los Angeles and elsewhere by building a system of public education that accommodates to failure, instead of pragmatically demanding the best from every student and teacher.
While some of you might think my fight involves the harassment, bogus charges, suspensions, and ultimate dismissal proceeding that LAUSD with the help of UTLA is still trying to hang on me and other innocent teachers throughout the district, you would be wrong as I am not vindictive no matter how egregious and malicious the crimes of the those at LAUSD and UTLA are.
Rather, what motivates me is something rather positive and comes from the fact that I am a product of what was best at LAUSD from 1952 until 1964, where I got an excellent education at Laurel and Parthenia Elementary Schools, Northridge Junior High School, and James Monroe High School and I am sure that we could do it again, if only given the chance. Not only did I get the foundational language and math skills necessary to decipher and succeed in my other classes, but I also got industrial arts classes in automotive, metal, electric, and wood shops that helped me pay for my higher education, while giving me the respect for people who work with their hands to make a living. But LAUSD and apparently the new Superintendent John Deasy presently don’t think that we can achieve in 2011 what we already had, but would rather foist an already failed charter model of ultimately privatized public education on us rather than reform what once was excellent public education.
LAUSD’s not so passive disrespect for blue collar work is clearly manifest in its closing of virtually all of its industrial arts classes while spouting disingenuous slogans that all students are going to college in a district where 50% of its students quit in frustration between the 9th and the 12th grade and the capacity of the all the colleges and the universities in this country can only take about 30% of those who actually graduate from high school having complete the prerequisites. At Roosevelt High School the rate of graduating senior who have completed the A-G requirements is only 3%.
My friend, colleague, and ex-LAUSD teacher and administrator Dr. Michael Welles pointed out to me the other day that Black students actually did better with the de jure segregated school system pre-Brown vs. Board of Education then they presently do after over 57 years of failed integration that has only benefits the complicit Black and Latino administrators and not the students of these ethnicities in a system that clearly has never had any expectation or belief of Black and Latino student reaching the same level of education that Whites take for granted.
Any good teacher or administrator will tell you that if you have no expectation that students will do well they will not. If the term “school boy” remains a pejorative term among the vast majority of Black youth who LAUSD has only succeeded in teaching what they cannot achieve, then we will remain less as a society then we could be.
When I was put in handcuffs and removed from my classroom on February 5, 2010 the message that was clearly sent to my students and other teachers who dared to make it real for all students is that at LAUSD, “You can’t get there from here.” I will not stop going after LAUSD corruption, harassment, and mediocrity until that lie is removed from the beliefs of all students. Not only can you get there from here, but the only thing that is truly difficult is maintaining mediocrity in the face of such human potential.