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Boulevard of Broken Dreams

August 24, 2010

I have been reminded by a few people that we need to look forward and not back, but it’s hard not to look back when you know you left a piece of yourself at Fremont that you can’t get back. It’s difficult when you see the professional relationships that were prematurely and unnaturally severed and think, “What more could we have accomplished together?”

The sickening part is that Fremont was destroyed to whore for Race to the Top money and received nothing. Students now must suffer with inexperienced and stressed out teachers and long time teaching bonds and professional relationships were severed due to the Reconstitution.

1) Long time Humanitas (I know how to spell it, unlike the Fremont administration) teaching teams were destroyed and Humanitas as it was known is at Fremont in name only.

2) Our wonderful school psychologist who was not rehired, Deadra, was an elementary teacher before she was a school psychologist at Fremont. She had a student years ago named …… Jackie Gonzales, our own beloved former social studies chair from Fremont. They both were at Fremont for several years until this reconstitution.

3) Susan and Bill Mc Cleary made a great team for their SLC, AIR. The amount of their own time and money put into that venture demonstrated their joint dedication to that cause. Yet, the sadistic, ego-driven rehiring process put an end to that.

4) The wonderful Magnet program was decimated and now only two original teachers remain.

Must have felt powerful to “not select” so many teachers based on a whim. But now they can’t staff the school, especially the English department. I wonder if a little piece of these cowardly, myopic administrators ever thinks, “Gee, maybe we shouldn’t have been so hasty to not rehire some of our teachers?” Nah, they don’t have the humanity to even make that connection. They don’t have the shame to be ashamed of what they did to Fremont students and teachers.

Countless other working relationships were changed forever due to the callous actions of reconstitution. Yet, some former Monters will still be together in groups. Several have been hired by the Mendez Learning Center and many at Roybal and quite a few at the complex of RFK schools.

Still, karma seems to be catching up with these shyster administrators. A teacher quit last week- just left due to stress and there are still social studies positions open. An AP was heard whining that he couldn’t get a principal position due to the “politics” of the district. Cry me a river. I think Fremont teachers know quite a bit about that-after all we were sacrificed for politics. And we make a lot less money and for some reason, have the LA Times writing about us as if we were the devil himself. Which reminds me of something that I believe Gary wrote on the old Save Fremont site titled The Norms Not Right. He said the district and the public would always find a way to blame teachers. “That’s one norm that never changes.” He was right.

I sometimes wonder what it must be like for those who stayed behind- I talked to a teacher who says she feels isolated because she literally knows no other teacher in the area she teaches in- it must be like that ending from Planet of the Apes– you know when Charlton Heston is riding that horse desperately looking for home and then he realizes he is standing on American soil when he sees the Statue of Liberty buried in the dirt- but it was destroyed long ago. The country he knew is gone, but there is nowhere to go. It can’t be revived.

Below are excellent comments from teachers who responded to all the union bashing at the LA Times. Another poster also noted that the states that won Race to the Top funds are in states where Obama might need electoral votes, a very insightful observation.

BELOW ARE TWO POSTS DEFENDING TEACHERS FROM SLANDEROUS, IGNORANT COMMENTS

    POST 1

Those of you screaming ‘union this and union that’ show little understanding of how complex this issue is. Of course the LA Time – a long-established anti-union newspaper – is going to spin this story to place primary blame on the teachers unions. The schools in California mirror the state of the crumbling and ineffective government because you people somehow seem to prefer a centralized, state-run school system with policy being set in Sacramento.

Californian’s created the current system by tolerating it. A largely ignorant populace whose only knowledge of issues comes from 30-second political ads, who are totally ill-equipped to make intelligent voting decisions and who can’t see the impact that their decisions make beyond the here and now, made this government. You get what you tolerate. The situation in the City of Bell is a perfect microcosmic version of the larger problem to which am referring.

The LAUSD is as bad as it is because Angelenos allowed it to get that way… not because of teachers unions. The only reasonable conclusion is that deep down, no one cares enough to DO anything about it – except to ignorantly blame teachers unions. And you wonder why teachers feel the need to band together to protect their profession.

Posted by: Paul B. | August 24, 2010 at 06:33 PM

    POST 2

1) Tying teacher evaluations to student performance on tests will slaughter our education system. Here’s something a lot of parents either don’t know or don’t really want to consider: your students usually don’t care about those standardized tests. They goof off. They doodle or daydream or random-bubble a lot of those questions. It’s not part of their classroom grade, so why do they care? All attitudes I saw or heard demonstrated in my peers growing up and in students when I did classroom observations. Why are we so bent on connecting teacher pay and retention to something that the students don’t take seriously? Connect it to actual student performance–something the students are marginally more likely to care about–and we might be a little closer to useful ideas.

2) California has one of the most stringent teaching programs in the country. The high school program is a brutal, make-you-or-break-you education that involves additional undergrad coursework on top of your major coursework, education course pre-requisites, and years of student teaching and evaluations, any of which could result in you getting the boot. It’s not something taken lightly, and all of these students know that they’re going to be making a pittance (Yes, the unions help, but teachers are still not paid what the larger public thinks they are. If teachers were “greedy,” as some would attest, I think the salaries would be a little bit better than they are.)

3) Most of the people here seem to be all too willing to blame teachers for failing students, but a precious few seem to recognize that the teachers aren’t the major force where these kids’ futures are concerned. Parents are increasingly willing to make it all on the teachers, but someone has to get instill the value of education in these students, someone has to help them study when they’re not in class, and someone needs to make sure they’re actually getting educated. You think teachers are doing a terrible job? How would you know? Have you talked to the teacher at length? Visited a class? Reviewed what your kid is working on or studying? An evening telephone conversation or emails back and forth really aren’t too much to ask–if your kid’s education is that important to you that you’re taking time to be this livid about this education article, then you certainly can find the time to touch base with their teachers. Both of my parents worked while I was growing up–each worked 50+ hours a week. But you’d better believe they got involved in my education and my brother’s education. This is why both my brother’s in his career AND pursuing a master’s degree and why I’ve finished an MA degree and am starting a PhD.

Are there bad teachers? Of course. But there are far more excellent ones, and people seem all too willing to trash everyone without making any sort of distinctions–or without seeing what their own contribution is to the problem at hand.

Posted by: C.K. | August 24, 2010 at 06:19 PM

And I would add to the poster above, if teaching is such a great field, why do 50% of educators, many of them very good- leave within five years? The fact is it is mentally, physically and emotionally draining- a field in which you cannot ever feel that you have done your very best and must constantly keep improving and changing. And all that and abuse from every corner for about $60,000 dollars a year.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. angry teacher at fhs permalink
    August 25, 2010 4:15 pm

    Only 25 of us showed up to the retreat this week and for two days all we did was work on a mission statement. ANd I heard our facilitators were drunk the first night! CHange we can believe in, eh balderas?

  2. fremonwatch permalink*
    August 25, 2010 5:14 pm

    Dear Angry Teacher,

    I’m really sorry about what you are going through at Fremont but glad you stayed for the students.

    This too shall pass as the administrators are just climbing the ladder. Unlike many of us, they never had any intention of making Fremont their home, except perhaps, Mr. Spielberg and we saw what happened to him.

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