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We Were Heroes – And We Still Are

September 16, 2010

It appears that many ex Fremont teachers are adjusting quite nicely to our new positions in the district and discovering some interesting things:

1) Teachers are not considered an inconvenience at all LAUSD schools. One teacher was offered an elevator key automatically, as it was obvious to the administration at his new school that he would need one. Contrast that with all the machinations Fremont teachers had to go through to get keys- some  of which I can’t mention to protect our right to be free from self-incrimination.

2) PD isn’t useless everywhere. A teacher at the Mendez Learning Center discovered that.

3) “Data” is not on every school’s agenda- or it is not always a major obsession. My new principal made passing reference to data but was mainly concerned with CAHSEE pass rates.

4) They don’t put little red dots on your time card if you don’t sign in and then sabotage you on your Stull evaluation with them- they just remind you to sign in and out or at least to do so before time reporting.

5) We don’t have to buy many of our own supplies at every school. A former Humanitas English teacher informed me she was provided a laptop, projector and many items to decorate her room with at her new school.

Meanwhile back at the Mont,  academic coaches who have gone to Fremont  provide  their assessment of Fremont’s progress : It’s a mess and the district  never should have reconstituted. They tell  how horrible the situation is and how many subs are on campus. Teachers are quitting on  a regular basis.

Then of course there is the little matter of us “loser” teachers raising API by 28 points. Hmm, haven’t seen too much of that being reported. But rumor has it that the rogue principal installed in 2009 who did nothing but dishonor our beloved Fremont, is attempting to take credit for this gain in API. Some people have no humility- or respect for teachers.

When I look back on the last year at Fremont then see my situation now,  I realized something:

We really were heroes– we are heroes. We worked our tails off while being lied to, humiliated, told we suck as teachers, going through sham interviews or being pressured to reapply;
having a sign shoved in our faces telling us that there were “600 applications for our jobs,” (which turned out to be another lie – and really, what was the purpose of that other than just straight up humiliation tactics). We were told we might not get paid through the summer, told that we would have to remain in the nuttiest of all local districts- District 7.

You would think after all that stress, all the angst, the emotional roller coaster and mental and psychological exhaustion- you would think our scores would have tanked- something I’m sure was expected. Instead, in a testament to us and because Fremont students cared about us, our API rose more than expected. So what was the reaction from Local District 7 and the Fremont administration? To quote Simon and Garfunkel: The Sounds of Silence. Because they know. Deep down they know. When they walk down the halls of the second floor, there is no history teacher dressed up in a WW I uniform, there is no science teacher connecting science concepts to today’s issues. There is no teacher there at 6:30 in the morning to teach reading. There is no English teacher in the bungalows reading Camus with his students. He’s  been replaced by a youngster with a script.

Yet, there remains a glimmer, a tiny remnant of the true Fremont. Mr. Niebergall is still at the Mont, although banished to the old drafting room. That’s what you get, I guess, when you suggest that Math should be taught inspirationally. Yet I know he’ll outlast this current band of occupiers. It’s just destiny.  Hell, he’s outlasted every Fremont administrative regime since 1966.

Mr. Mendez is also still at Fremont, and I’m sure will be attending all the football games along with Mr. Kwong.   They will never be able to paint, mop, scrub or “not select us”  away.  We are Fremont. We always will be.

What does it all mean? It means we did something special together at Fremont. It means, as Maria Gaspar said, that we were all together for a reason. It means we are heroes.

“It’s the stuff that dreams are made of

It’s the reason we are alive” Carly Simon

Yesenia, George, Anthony

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