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L.A. Teachers and Education Reform Coalition: Irreconcilable Differences?

December 6, 2013

I QUIT.  I had to.

Hopefully, you’ve never picked up the telephone and felt the hair stand up on the back of your neck as you realized who was on the phone and what they were talking about, felt your heart empty out and felt dread and despair flooding in.  I have, twice.  The first time, it was my ex-husband.  The second time, it was the United Way of Los Angeles.  I phoned into a conference call that wasn’t what I expected, and it ended my relationships with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Teachers for a New Unionism and Educators for Excellence, and put some others in the doghouse.  The call confirmed some of the most discouraging talk I’d heard or read, and some of my most disappointing experiences.  After what I heard, I couldn’t stay any longer.

photo (1)We’ve had a hard time with education reform in Los Angeles, and with a broken relationship between LAUSD and UTLA; what happened this fall just made it all worse.  Early in the school year, LAUSD began implementing a plan to provide iPads to every student in the district, and distributed the devices at 47 schools.  Students at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights quickly figured out how to overcome security filters that blocked social media sites, and the rollout had issues at two other schools. The iPads were quickly recalled and the bumbling start of the iPad program made national headlines in late September and early October.  The school board soon erupted in a fit of 20-20 hindsight that was not improved by subsequent emergency meetings.  All of this is chronicled in the press, but I mention it to set the stage for a little feint that John Deasy pulled on October 24, 2013, right after the iPad scandal and right before he was going to be called in for his own job evaluation. It was the last straw.  Although I had publicly stuck up for him after a UTLA poll of 16,000 educators rendered a 91% “no confidence” vote, I lost all faith in him with the iPad situation, and had to face some very hard realities about reform groups in LA.

The United Way does wonderful things in Los Angeles, with a focus on ameliorating poverty and keeping local activists and educators informed and engaged.  I am currently serving on an advisory team for a holiday educator-recognition event sponsored by United Way (I gave my word).  I was honored to be a panelist with Warren Fletcher (president of UTLA), Judy Perez (president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles) and Evan Stone (CEO of Educators 4 Excellence) at an event sponsored by the United Way earlier this year.  On this fateful day, I had asked to be included in a conference call the United Way was sponsoring to discuss the state’s Local Control Funding Formula.  When I called in, I heard a roll call of 51 educational, community or political groups whose sole purpose on the call was to support John Deasy in his fight to keep his job.  The news that Deasy was threatening to quit had changed the topic and galvanized the group.  These good people were planning to skip school to show support at the October 29 Board meeting.  They were bringing students and teachers to testify in his favor.

I was… flabbergasted.  I didn’t have the heart to even make the roll call.  By the time they got to “anyone else?” I was too intimidated and overwhelmed to say, “Here.”  I didn’t know what affiliation to claim.

Long story short, these folks made a huge showing outside the morning Board meeting, while 35,000 union members were busy serving the needs of our youth.  It was a much needed wake-up call.  I began to realize the extent of the ignorance and hubris that fuels many ed-reform decisions, as well as the extent of my own ignorance.  The addition of businessmen and socialites to a board I sat on made sense suddenly, as did their posturing and pronouncements. If you’ve ever heard people mis-speaking about things you know intimately, or talking about you when they thought you weren’t listening, you know how pained I was and still am.  I couldn’t speak then and have just found the words, now.

Some of the groups in the pro-Deasy rally  – Students First, Green Dot, KIPP LA – were to be expected, although they have no business in LAUSD’s superintendent evaluation.  Others made me gag in wonder – Goodwill of Southern California?  Inner-City Struggle? LA Education Partnership?  I thought we were friends!

They weren’t talking about me, personally, but they clearly saw themselves as supporting their hero, a hero whose arch-enemy is my union, UTLA.  It was, and is, very difficult to understand why they need to draw a protective circle in the sand around John Deasy.  (Speculation is rampant, but facts are hard to come by).  The bottom line for me personally is that there are too many good people distracted by too many superfluous groups.  The best place for an educator to protect and promote public education is the teachers’ union.  Over time, for better or for worse, the union is the educators’ bastion and it is set up via a democratic process in which any member can participate.  If UTLA needs to be more positive and professional, we need to make it that way ourselves, but that’s another story.

What do these people want, for our youth, really?  School choice is a wonderful thing for those of us who actively choose – but we all have the sacred obligation to provide a quality public education for all children.  This means I could get my own daughter into a magnet school by filling out the applications, kissing principal butt, following through with phone calls and then getting her to the bus stop at oh-dark-thirty; I did that.  But I still have a very real obligation to the kids down the street to make sure that our neighborhood school is fully staffed and resourced, and functioning with district support.

LAtweetThat’s why I phone banked and voted for Prop 30 and am very upset this money is being co-opted for tech toys.  My own school badly needs campus aides for safety, reliable internet access to promote equity on the battered old computers we still have, a reading program to ameliorate the effects of poverty and social promotion, and professionals to care for the kids’ out-of-the-classroom needs.  What do the 51 groups think is more important?

The question is how to get these 51 groups to share their goals and concerns with UTLA.  How did 35,000 teachers alienate these well-intended groups? How can we get on the same page?  Help me, United Way.  Help us, Warren Fletcher and Eric Garcetti, and all you Board of Education members and everyone else with power, please.  Can you have a change of heart?  I can.

This is the story of a broken romance.  I love knowing the passionate, intelligent individuals I’ve met in the reform arena.  I want to go out for drinks as friends.  As professionals, I want to hash out our differences for the sake of the left-behind kids and schools, like mine.  Is this a case of irreconcilable differences?   Or am I kidding myself and need to move on?

31 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2013 6:59 pm

    I’m right there with you. I work with a bunch of wonderful teachers who are talented and capable and want to see our children succeed, but it seems like every day someone new stacks another card in the deck against us. I’m not sure who to trust, and I’m not even sure where to start a dialogue that makes sense to everyone involved.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 8:31 am

      Thank you for the note, Mr. K. If you’re an LAUSD teacher, we have UTLA elections coming up — a good opportunity to learn and vote for the change you feel is needed. In any case, your school board member is accountable to you.

  2. December 7, 2013 1:45 am

    Thank you for being honest about the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), how they really operate in Los Angeles, and what their true goals are. As one of the many social justice activists who have spent years opposing the policies of these organizations, it’s hard for me to imagine any of them as any thing other than demons, but I’m sure you’re right and that some of them are well intentioned. At the end of the day their advocacy lines up with the agenda of their deep pocketed funders. When people like Elise Buik, who makes nearly three-quarters of a million a year, constantly vilify hard working teachers making a tenth what she does, it shows there’s something wrong with the entire NPIC model. Real activist don’t advocate based on whether their advocacy will keep funding streams flowing.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 8:33 am

      I’m putting that last statement in my tool belt. Thank you, Mr. Skeels.

    • CitizensArrest permalink
      December 19, 2013 2:45 pm

      One must look at how these organizations are stratified. Just think of it in the context of the collective suicides in Jonestown. Delusional leadership at the top with a slew of ulterior motives, middle managers hungry for scraps of power and influence who keep the masses in line and are the foot soldiers of the sales pitch machine they have not been motivated to look too closely at lest they become pariah’s.

  3. December 7, 2013 9:11 am

    Too little too late. You were happy to deface teachers and ridicule public schools, and the damage has been done and is great. Glad to know you’ve woken up, but have you really? Is this not merely a two-faced rouse? I still consider you an enemy to teachers and public schools – actions speak louder than words.

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      December 7, 2013 5:09 pm

      CJ – I encourage you to take a look at Lisa’s other posts here on InterACT. The actions you attribute to her are simply incorrect. It might not be clear from the post, but Lisa is a full-time teacher in LAUSD. Speaking as a public school teacher and very active union member, I can’t think of anyone I know who is more pro-teacher and pro-union than Lisa. She is a strong advocate for her school and students, and has made her mark on UTLA through highly visible efforts to encourage every member to vote, attend meetings, and seek out leadership positions. Her actions have spoken loudly, and quite consistently with her words. Lisa has also engaged with a variety of groups in the edu-sphere, and I would guess that the first part of your comment is aimed at some of those organizations more than at Lisa. If you’d care to follow up further, please be mindful of our comments policy.

      • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
        December 8, 2013 8:34 am

        Thank you, David. I think our friend may have me confused with someone else.

  4. David Berk permalink
    December 7, 2013 3:04 pm

    I’m waiting eagerly to hear about your next steps, Lisa.

    Little side story for you. E4E did their pitch in Pasadena to Pasadena teachers at an event they held here in town.

    To my knowledge, every single teacher who attended their event rejected their pitch. What stuck in my brain were the words their reps used over and over and over again…”We want to help amplify teachers’ voices.”

    At the same time, they wanted all of us to sign their “pledge,” which basically, was the complete Students First/DFER/Eli Broad education manifesto. Pro school choice, anti-teachers’ rights, pro-test standardized test scores, etc., etc.

    It seems to me that if E4E were truly about amplifying teacher voices as opposed to the voices of their sponsors and leadership team, they would be about advancing teacher unionism, about admitting all comers whether they agreed with those in leadership or not. For me, it seemed that they were far more about using teachers as amplification devices for the voices of their funding sources and leadership than they truly were about advancing the voices of individual teachers and creating individual teacher leaders with their own voices/helping teachers find their own path.

    Believe it or not, when I first started teaching, I didn’t like unions and I believed in standardized test scores. Then,my opinions evolved quite a bit. 🙂

    From reading your blog, it seems you’re straddling two worlds I straddled when I took the anti-education-reform-establishment plunge.

    ” Is this a case of irreconcilable differences? ”

    For me it was. I’ll await to hear about if it’ll be the same way for you.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 8:42 am

      David, I am still conflicted about E4E. I have met some really great people in and through them. I wish that UTLA provided the same opportunities to network, research, write policy papers, hold panel discussions and provide access to decision-makers. In a perfect world we would turn to our unions for these things.
      Yes, our paths have been remarkably the same! I want us to both end up in a place where all policy decisions involve real educators who are thinking of their classroom children first. Thank you for the reply, I needed to hear your message.

      • David Berk permalink
        December 8, 2013 11:36 am

        Thanks for the reply, Lisa. I have absolutely nothing against any of the E4E reps that I met at that meeting personally. Heck, I have good friends who are completely on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me. I had good conversations with more than one of them at that event on a personal level.

        The irreconcilable difference for me is that they are committed to a cause by definition of the pledge required for joining their organization that my belief systems are diametrically opposed to. While I understand that having access to LAUSD leadership is enticing, I feel that the compromise of personal deeply held beliefs about pubic education is way too high of a price to pay for such access.

        Given your recent experience, it may not be too long before you feel the same way.

        On the other hand, I agree with other posters here that UTLA fell way short in this case, and that serious change is needed.

        All the best, Lisa. 🙂

    • Ms. K permalink
      December 8, 2013 10:17 am

      David, the world of teaching has changed so profoundly since I entered the field in the seventies. We have devolved from a pro human development POV into this market based view of human beings as commodities and points of data. It has horrified me ever since NCLB reared its head. As NCLB gained steam, more and more young teachers were gung ho about the almighty score and those of us who were not standardized test based were seen as problems and our voices were absolutely irrevelant.

  5. December 7, 2013 5:44 pm

    can you clarify something for me: Is it correct that you were leaving your current job to be in charge of a different higher position within E4E or other pro-charter group? Did that become a reality? If not, is that the reason you are reconsidering now?

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 8:54 am

      Francisco, I was on the E4E Teacher Advisory Board. It was a volunteer position. I am the Title One and Accreditation Coordinator at Roosevelt High School; I also carry rosters and teach students daily. I am doing what I can to help our new principal shape a better world for our school community – we are in the throes of yet another major reorganization since Mr. Deasy told us that we had to change the small school structure that PLAS put us in four years ago.
      Full disclosure: I am participating in a fellowship sponsored by the NEA and Teach Plus. The goal is to engage a new generation of teachers in their unions, nationally. While you may balk at the Teach Plus affiliation, the goal and the integral involvement with NEA are worthy.
      I hope you understand we are not enemies. We may be working towards the same goal from opposite sides of the field, but we are not enemies.

  6. Karen Wolfe permalink
    December 7, 2013 10:48 pm

    We are not effectively forming alliances with allies. Period. There were less than 10 of us there that day who supported the independently elected school board over the cacophony of an astro-turf rally organized on that conference call. I asked UTLA folks that day, “Where are your people?!” Their answer: we’re gearing up for a rally for pay raises next month. Of all the parents and other noneducators I work with, only a handful of us showed up. We’re not effectively organizing.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 8:59 am

      Karen, you’re right. When it came to my attention that the October 29 Board Meeting had been scheduled, I encouraged UTLA members in my network to take a personal day to attend. UTLA leadership discouraged this, saying we could get in trouble for it. The video of that meeting still puts a dagger in my chest when I see how poor our representation was. I did appreciate Patrena Shankling’s courage in telling her story, but we all needed to be there. We all need a dose of that courage. Thank you for your note, and do keep up your good work.

      • Karen Wolfe permalink
        December 13, 2013 4:24 pm

        I can’t imagine being a courageous teacher in these dark times. As a parent, I am constantly told by teachers, “Speak up because we cannot.” I try to do that because the primary story being told in the media is so contrary to the good things happening in our schools. But we must develop a network we can count on especially to show up for these kinds of public displays. Anthony Cody wrote an excellent piece about these kinds of partnerships.

  7. Lisa Alva Wood permalink
    December 8, 2013 8:26 am

    Thank you, friends, for the much-needed reassurance, personally, and for sharing your concerns as well. UTLA does need to organize for and with us more effectively, I’ve recently been appointed political coordinator for my area and will be diligent about working within my committees for a positive, professional, protected membership. Yesterday, I sat down with one of the LA United Way’s directors to begin the dialogue about what the community groups need from educators and schools. I will be organizing focus groups for the community-based organizations that serve my own school as we plan for the future. The best cure for stress is action, and your moral support is a huge factor in keeping the momentum up!

  8. Ms. K permalink
    December 8, 2013 9:53 am

    Lisa it’s fabulous that you sat down with a United Way person. It’s unbelievably disheartening that the “reform” movement is fueled mostly by lies about teachers cloaked in the current anti public worker union craze of the day. We’ve lost the propaganda war. I’m an itinerant teacher who visits a large number of classrooms through the district. I honestly don’t find many bad teachers in my travels. We are universally demoralized and frightened all while trying to keep a stiff upper lip for the kids. I keep imagining some type of teach ins or community dialogue to try and win some community support.

  9. Ms. K permalink
    December 8, 2013 10:02 am

    I feel I have to say something about the rank and file teachers who did not show for the meeting. We are working under a very dark cloud these days. We know that some of our fellow teachers have been forced out of the classroom and into teacher jail under very questionable charges. To take a personal day and then be seen at a board meeting could give the administration the fuel to fire us. They are playing for keeps and we are cannon fodder to them. I won’t knowingly make myself into a target.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 3:15 pm

      Ms. K, I like your idea about “teach ins or community dialogue.” This is what helped galvanize the Chicago community in favor of public education. It does seem impossible to gather parents for us… but perhaps by starting with the local chamber of commerce it will be possible to tap into a positive resource. If you’d like to share any specific thoughts, I’m listening!
      Thanks for the note, too.

  10. December 8, 2013 12:56 pm

    It is foolish suggest that UTLA is not deeply entrenched in the corrupt lunacy that has permeated the LA school system for a very long time. Constantly making compromises with the district has eroded the union’s credibility, diminished its power and undermined the profession of members it is supposed to protect. The public perception of teachers’ unions is perverted by propoganda to some extent, but ultimately unions’ deserve the negative image they have in our culture. Unfortunately, teachers are not their unions. We have very little influence on how our dues are spent and despite the name, our collective bargaining agreements are hammered out behind closed doors in LA.
    In recent years the concessions made by UTLA have become insidious little nails in the tenured teacher’s coffin. We have seen Warren Fletcher endorse a board member candidate who were funded by Bloomberg, Broad and assorted plutocrats. That ringer lost to Monica Ratliff, who Fletcher publicly pronounced was UTLA supported after the fact , while attempting to stand next to her at an event. Ratliff’s response was to deftly put physical distance between herself and him. This said much more than words and won my respect. UTLA’s president was at the victory party the night she upset the reform agenda by taking a seat these Philanthropists believed they bought. Why would our union support him? Or Vladovic, whose last election was funded by Broad?
    And let’s not forget Zim Flam man who has made passionate speeches about class size yet votes for RIFS without a second thought and added insult to injury by supporting Deasy in LA SR before voting to award him an extended contract in OCT despite the damage left in his wake.
    Has it ever occurred to UTLA or the BOE that instead of constant cuts from schools that deprive students of arts, remediation, intervention, nurses, librarians, academic & emotional support and other resources ( like qualified teachers?) , there is a bloated administration in Beaudry and at least 8 other offices scatterd about the city? Notoriously top heavy already,LAUSD has seem a staggering 20% increase in administrative positions in the last ten years. None of these people actually work with with students and most are paid far more than teachers. Expensive , unnessacary bloat is never touched by the terrible turmoil it is responsible for creating. LAUSD continues to recruit morse suits and $100 k assistants for their assistants but these folks cannot get free lunch forms out to schools and back to the state on time . They cannot plan or prepare for the iPad roll out much less secure grants, donations or any number of alternatives to illegally misappropriating bond measure funds meant for schools it is guilty of neglecting. Time and time again we are confronted by evidence of this wanton incompetence and corruption that allows children to be deprived, endangered, abused, exploited and in some cases slaughtered like the girl stabbed to death at Santee HS when LASPD was well aware of the danger she was in yet let the killer slip on campus to kill her. Where were they!?
    Deasy blamed LAPD for that like he blamed the state for missing the deadline that could cost $ 200 million in funds. (Guess who will answer for that? Teachers, custodians, aids, and school site office techs, as usual.) Which begs a few questions like why is the school police force recruiting constantly if it is not responsible for safety at our schools. Indeed the school police are an appalling symbol of where the district is headed as the armed LAPD rejects are not a visible force at high schools in suburbs like San Marino, where students are not randomly searched with metal detectors, fenced in or roughed up and cuffed by bullies in uniform. They dont get truancy citations when they are tardy, and it is a safe bet Deasy does not dispatch officer to visit oarents ayt their himes to issue threats if deportation or remove them from the school because they spoke against his dictates. These cops are putting teachers un handcuffs while students watch, treating them like criminals too. Is Deasy builing a his own gestapo? And how long until it spreads beyound South LA to grip the rest of the community. Eagle Rock, Culver City, Westchester, are you paying attention? The white middle class teenager still has civil rights, a desk of his own in class, a cafeteria with wholesome lunches student council chooses, feild trips, PTA and no prison pipeline to punish him forever if he is truant. And do not tell me these teenagers don’t ditch or fight or fornicate on campus. They drink, do drugs, drop out, defy teachers, and do everything their brown and black peers do. They are teenagers! But at LAUSD discrimination is documented by Feds, the state and the constatant cuts to schools on the wrong side of the tracks. Teachers in these schools are being destroyed right now with UTLAss blessings.mon Monday there is a vigil at the teacher jails which were formerly local districts. Deasy claimed he was cutting costs but instead he made directors and staff relations officers into wardens who run two hour shifts for hundreds of innocent inmates as a pretense of due process while orchestrating their ruin with trumped up charges. Most are absurd or more like minor infractions, not the egregious misconduct Deasy describes to media meat puppets. The perverts and sadists are concealed, coddled and protected because LAUSD understands the truth about these teachers’ antics implicates it in their crimes, endangering enrollment
    ( ADA $$$ ) and provoking law suits.
    If the public understood that LAUSD sets aside billions of tax dollars for legal expenses and racks these up recklessly by refusing tomsettle, often spending 100 x more than what it costs to concede and set a precedent, it would probably do more than write angry letters to the Times. What will it say when the news about wifi is unfurled and parents realize Deasy knew the radio waves it produces are a serious threat to children whose bodies and brains are vulnerable to cancer? In Canada, Australia and much of Europe it has been banned and activists have warned LAUSD about this . Scientists and experts sent desperate letters that have been ignored because the infrastructure of schools is a loophole in measure Q Deasy has exploited.
    What sort of human being does this? The same sort who neglects to tell parents their children were possibly molested by a teacher whose bodily fluids were involved. These kids may have ingested STDs, AIDS, Hepatitis, Herpes or other cooties. Yet he chose to keep this to himself , interfering with a police investigation ( felony) by ordering employees not to cooperate with detectives and despite his many lies, he let Berndt have his full pension and failed to report him to CTC. Berndt had a year befor he was arrested. He could have taken another teaching job or fled as Deasy hoped he would. More kids coukd have been his victims . It happened with Chaoel, Rooney, Duffin, Pimentel, Hernandez, and more . I shudder to think of what we DON’T know.
    The first day or two of the scandal so much truth came out it is hard to believe Deasy was allowed to be the hero and teachers became scaoegoats. The staff of MES was housed, ultimately displaced and mostly lost despite protesting parents, whose loyalty was touching. I was there.
    UTLA tried to cheat these teachers by holding a press conference a few months after the story broke. The officers didn’t call the press or promote this at all. David Garcia and I did that after I stumbled across the tweets these teachers sent about it a few days before. Union thuggery was stunned to see the news trucks and reporters surround Agustus Hawkins HS. They frantically tried to talk teachers out of delivering speeches. You will be fired they said. Parents and students were outside with signs chanting in Spanish. The only teachers present were David, me , a pair of casualties and some unionists with cameras .
    This is not really what I meant to say, but it is important. These teachers chose to risk Deasy’s wrath and came out. The first one out was a young woman. Her exuberance was expressed by a leap before a camera , which she looked into and grinned as she articulated her employee number clearly and defiantly. Her colleagues were not so confident, greeting the families and smiling for students’ sake. These kids were so glad to see their teachers again. It was most likely the last time they would .
    They took turns speaking, a few offering their names because it was going to be all of them or none of them who paid for this and with the union asking them to call it all off in the last hour, they probably knew which was more likely.

    One Latina, the type of teacher you imagine nuturing little kids in class who would remember her for many years after, was close to tears as she spoke.
    I was proud when I told people what I did. I was proud to be a teacher. But now when people ask me what I do, I dread this question. I know how they will react, the look on their faces. I should not feel ashamed about what I do.

    She began to weep, and tears rolled down my face. They still do when I consider that day. How sad it was and is that teachers are suffering for the sins of pwhite chalk criminals, careerists, union thugs, politicians and obscenely rich men who are exploitingk poor children for profit and power. Lisa is still part of the problem. We all are until we reject these systems, which are broken beyond repair. For more subversive perspectives, resources and news visit details about tomorrows vigils are posted. Every teacher should be there. They could be you.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      December 8, 2013 3:09 pm

      I’m interested in how UTLA or LAUSD should look, from your perspective, Rene. I will be at the vigil on Soto St., hope to see you and talk in person.

  11. December 19, 2013 1:16 pm

    Lisa – It is a huge step to come forward and break with an organization. We will always have good relationships with individuals in groups that we may not agree with politically, philosophically or ethically. That is where influence has real meaning. What is clearly lacking and what motivates so many teachers is the lack of teacher voice. That is why, in Chicago, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) formed in 2008. While we never had plans to take over the leadership of the Union, we were baffled as to why there were no rallies, marches or public demonstrations against the policies that were so detrimental to our schools. We agree that internal anti-Union animus was very high – so the focus was to change that from within. No one can tell people to show up at a rally if they don’t believe their voice will mean anything. It is much easier to bus in “professional protesters” – we saw this in Chicago during the mayor’s longer school day, but the media didn’t discover it until they overplayed their hands and did it again to support school closings.

    What all people who care about children and their futures have in common is that education is the one space we have an opportunity to make huge changes. The real problems start when the methods used to achieve those ends are at odds with one another. I also am strongly against signing pledges. If you have to take loyalty oaths, that should be the first sign that something is seriously wrong.

    So good luck in your work for education justice.

    Karen Lewis

    • Lisa Alva permalink
      December 20, 2013 3:14 pm

      Karen, thank you for sharing some experience, wisdom and motivation. In the longer term, say three to five years, I hope that UTLA is talking and taking action with interested educators and community stakeholders. We ought to begin by hosting public forums (fora?), focus groups and so forth where our leadership listens, and everyone proposes positive solutions. We’ve gotten so caught up in the adult agenda that it is largely politics and less about educating families and communities for a stronger school community. For example, the most interesting and successful departments here at my Boyle Heights high school are electives and Career Technical Education – both are constantly in danger and exist really through the good graces of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools decision makers. We’re grateful to have these classes, but they should be centerpieces, not stepchildren, and they would be, if our school community and we ourselves knew more about how they keep students in school and motivate them to succeed. UTLA can help us have these conversations and organize the education part.
      I’d like some guidance about how the Chicago CORE has approached this, and will do some research. Nudges appreciated!

  12. January 17, 2014 9:16 am

    I came across this post a little late, but I really enjoyed it! I appreciate your honest and measured voice. In my time as founder and leader of a reform effort that many consider to be aligned with the various groups on your phone call, I now find it very challenging to choose a side in the popular reform debates. That’s because there isn’t much room for moderation, and I’ve encountered a few bullies that police the ranks on both sides.

    At any rate, your posts are some of the reasons why I’m a big fan of ACT and this blog.


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