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Highly Qualified in Five Weeks Flat; Our Very Own Suicide Hotline, and Believe It or Not, Some Support for Teachers!

December 23, 2010

Hey remember when  Teach for America (TFA) showed up on Fremont’s campus just in time to save the Mont from us hopeless, loser veteran teachers except… kinda didn’t turn out that way.  Turns out some of those lazy, burned out  old vets had to give  the poor TFA’ers a crash course in teaching!

Wait! You mean five weeks of training after attending an Ivy League college doesn’t prepare you for teaching? You might actually need some credential classes and six months of unpaid student teaching just to acclimate yourself to an urban classroom?

What gullible saps us vets are! Why we went to college for years, took out those student loans,  ate Top Ramen every night and worked weekends just to survive the economic devastation of unpaid student teaching!  But Congress says five weeks makes you “highly qualified” in accordance with NCLB!!!  I guess they should know, after all, like most “experts” in education today, they have never taught in a classroom.   Mat Taylor sent me the proof!


At first I thought: How dumb are these people in Congress, but then something else came to mind.   This would allow for mass firings of teachers who would not be able to use the defense that their firings would deny students highly qualified teachers.  It also leads the way to as Mat put it,  for teaching becoming just a job, not a profession.  (I want to temper my criticism of TFA as a whole compared because Fremont was lucky in the past to get some great TFA teachers who stayed at Fremont, becoming an integral part of the staff)  But I digress.

In October of 2010,  fired Chicago teachers who were mostly black and female won a discrimination suit against the Arne Duncan – like mass firings in that city by arguing that the mostly veteran, black and female corps was fired  and replaced by younger, whiter teachers.  Using this racial discrimination tactic was successful and there are many, many other avenues open to legally challenge mass firings, school closings and the turnaround model.   So when our union says there is nothing they could do for Fremont,  they are just as culpable as Cortines or the administration at Fremont and what makes it worse is they were supposed to represent us. After the win by those fired teachers, who will get their jobs back, many were elected to leadership roles in their union.

So in case you are depressed at the imminent demise of our noble profession,  Superintendent  Cortines is rescuing us with some hope and change!    I was informed via email that there is a dedicated suicide hotline for LAUSD employees – just in time for those classified employees who have been RIF’d or had their pay cut.   I wonder if LAUSD’s $185,000  a month consultants will be using this?  Hey what about some legal aid help for those needing unemployment? Because the district conveniently forgot to tell our RIF’d office tech that she was eligible.  Wouldn’t that be more beneficial than the suicide hotline and EAP?

The Daily News article linked above says that district officials are concerned about rising anxiety in teachers and there is this comment from Board Member Steve Zimmer:

“I have never seen more stressed or more distraught employees in 18 years at LAUSD … teachers and employees feel that their whole life work and passion is being called into question,” said LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer.

That’s a nice sentiment from Mr. Zimmer but I believe he voted in the end to include value -added assessment in teacher evaluations.  He talked a good game, but in the end, like Obama, he caved.

But if teachers couldn’t depend on a former board member who was himself a teacher, we did get a bit of support from those who should know: students.   In Central Falls, RI, students walked out in frustration of the continuing problems at their school.  Teachers are now so stressed out that many have gone out on stress leave or are chronically absent.  The students said that teachers shouldn’t be blamed for low test scores


The students said the administration is at fault and blames the poor treatment of teachers for the problems at Central Falls.

Meanwhile, a parent who obviously misses the big picture could be heard to say, “They should be inside, studying, learning something.”   Obviously, due to the despicable treatment of teachers in their school, they can’t learn.  That parent could have learned a lot from those students that day, if only he had listened  But he, like many parents and community members simply adopt the “Let’s move along, nothing to see here” attitude that is characteristic of pre-fascist conditions.  And that is killing teaching, learning- and our democracy.

"Our Students, Our Schools, Our Voice, Our Profession." 


Maria Gaspar, Fremont graduate and Fremont teacher, wrongly displaced from Fremont during reconstitution.

Joel Vaca, veteran math teacher who grew up in south LA, wrongly displaced from Fremont during reconstitution

Mr. Jauregui, science teacher, wrongly displaced from Fremont during reconstitution

Everjoy, Fremont student, wrongly denied highly qualified teachers

The AIR Bus, from the Small Learning Community of the same name. May it rest in peace.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Julian Assange permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:30 pm

    Public education corruption is rampant not just at LAUSD, but throughout the U.S. in predominantly communities of color. Those who want better education are in the majority, but are terrorized by what Karen Horwitz of Chicago calls White Chalk Criminals in her book. The opposition of this public education mafia needs to go national in order for your majority voice to be heard. The following 7 people are just a few of the hundreds who will show you that the same corruption that exists in LAUSD is going on throughout this country:

    Karen Horwitz- Chicago ex-rubber room teacher who has fought all the
    way to the U.S. Supreme Court
    Author White Chalk Criminals
    NAPTA- National Association for Prevention of Teacher Abuse
    Organiztion with 1400 members of excellent teachers who have
    been permanently removed from teaching

    Betsy Combier- NYC parent activist fighting school corruption

    Jo Scott Coe
    Author of Teacher at Point Blank

    Sabrina Stevens Shupe
    @TeacherSabrina on Twitter

    Joel Shatzky- Brooklyn activist blogger

    Lorna Stremcha- Montana

    There is a lie perpetrated by the mainstream media that it is difficult to get rid of a tenured teacher- nothing could be further from the truth. Talk to the people above and find out about the hundreds of excellent teachers who have already been removed

  2. January 16, 2011 12:35 am

    It’s the SLC thing–Gates is being told teachers failed to succeed when he gave us teacher-driven paradigms and student centered pedagogy–my school was recognized for making AYP history with that configuration. mayor v. came and as they cut the cake district off. and new admin glared at us and we were nostalgiac and blue. It went downhill;
    by the celebration, slcs were just a pretense because admin got the QUIA and used it on stuff besides smaller class size and better pedagogy–bought themselves PDA, iPADS, OT for toadies, more coaches. test incentives became a chance to have ur own locker. even the old principal cried that day and now i see why:
    he and teachers did this amazing thing, wasc, everything, even test scores bear that out. and these nasty suits were not having it. our accomplishments and the slc potential for kids was negated–no comandeered by this toadie promoted to principal because he could not cut it as an AP=–so many grievances he was moved to our school replacing the principal teachers chose.
    We were cheated!
    Our students were exploited!
    Bill Gates is beeing bamboozled!
    He should have provided oversight–everyone takes the district’s word, but these educrats are liars.
    PTSD, we are under attack for administrators’ misconduct and corruption.
    Reading articles on him then this made for an epiphany.
    His peeps will be at HQ soon.

    I was a lead teacher.
    My career is being crushed for caring about students and not going along with this bs facade.
    You know others?
    Let’s tell Bill Gates what went down. Bet Huffington will do us . .

  3. January 16, 2011 2:55 pm

    I know, I feel where you are at. Those of us who were at my school are struggling with all manner of emotions – I guess I could make where I am at work but it’s not the same. To Fremont teachers, we were making an investment in our students, their futures and the community- for them it was about CYA and getting money and keeping the feds off of their backs. That’s the disconnect. Meanwhile, I have to say UTLA was focused on the wrong issues and didn’t see the train speeding toward them. Some teachers were focused on pettiness and small issues with the previous principal. Now I bet they would give their right arms to have him back. But hindsight is 20/20. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 16, 2011 10:56 pm

    Hello, I was offered a job at the Green Design School that I need to accept or turn down by Tuesday. Could you please get back to me with your opinion asap.


  1. I Know What You Did Last Summer- You Went to TFA Bootcamp! « Fremont Watch

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