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Deja Vu Times Two

July 15, 2011

Another improving, historic school with caring teachers destroyed by the school board.

I had a couple of posts milling around in my head in the last couple of weeks- one was going to be about the continued attacks on  teachers, the other, about why we can never let go of Fremont High School from a more personal perspective since I keep getting drawn back into my students’ lives through life passages of births, deaths, baptisms and birthdays.   Something is telling me not to forget and in fact I have received three invitations to various events for my former students- but more on that later.

I was struggling to come  up with a post due to just being overwhelmed with the shock doctrine –  type actions of the LAUSD  school board.  First there was the reconstitution of HPHS to satisify a vengeful Yolie Flores who won’t be around to take responsibility for the catastrophe she set in motion.  She’ll get a sweet job with the Gates Foundation while the teachers she vilified twist in the wind as “displaced” teachers. This was followed by the unbelievable decision to make the Academic Decathlon coordinator position a half time one- I guess this is how you reward dramatic success of 12 national championships in the last two decades.  Cliff Ker will now be a “part time” Assistant Principal at Bell High School, a position he hasn’t held I believe since being an AP at Fremont in the late 90’s.   Let’s get real- there’s no such thing as a half time AP and this signals the death knell for a coordinated program  of AcaDeca in the district, a program that is an equalizer in terms of academic achievment.  In fact, I learned from my current principal that Options schools used to have their own decathlon competition led by two dedicated Options teachers. Then of course there was the story of yet another competent, inspiring principal, Veronique Wills fired by  those “doctors” of destruction, George McKenna and John Deasy and sent to  the continuation school on Fremont’s campus.  Hmm, I guess she must have had the temerity to express an opinion.   This was not covered by the mainstream press but it was well documented by the Los Angeles Wave:

TURMOIL ROCKS SOUTH LA SCHOOL NAMED FOR OBAMA

There is this salient comment by Sasha left under the Wave’s article:

“LAUSD has repeatedly charged schools, principals and teachers with bogus allegations when they have a private agenda. They replace good personnel with those who use scare tactics to get teachers to perform by any means possible. They create climates of fear. They’ll pour resources into schools of their friends not matter how many complaints they receive against the administrator. They target teachers who speak up. They give away schools to private businesses and we will probably never know what they were really given in return. The problem with LAUSD is not the schools but the district itself. When you dismantle something cut off the head first. Instead of getting rid of school personnel maybe you should wipe out all the personnel at the district first. Starting at the top. Mercenaries have never been effective.  The problem with LAUSD is LAUSD.”

Sounds so familiar to what was done at Fremont, doesn’t it? As I read the  comment I thought:  I’ve heard this song before. Deja Vu.  

Then I saw the article about Huntington Park High School struggling to staff its reconstituted school and realized this would be a perfect time to meld the professional with the personal.  Remember that sign in the  Fremont main office claiming there were 600 positions for our jobs?  That there were plenty of “young and bubbly” teachers from the Ivy Leagues just waiting to take over from burned out and incompetent teachers?  We all know that didn’t happen and in fact Fremont today is not fully staffed with credentialed teachers in the appropriate subject matter.  It was with a sense of deja vu then that I read the headline article from the LA  Times as follows:

STRUGGLING HUNTINGTON PARK HIGH NOT FULLY STAFFED  ON FIRST DAY

The above article claims that only 14% of teaching positions are unfilled and then goes on to recount the familiar happenings that occured at Fremont High:

“….open spots have been temporarily filled by teachers displaced from other schools or with Huntington Park teachers who would otherwise be on vacation.” 

 Really?  But I thought the goal was a great teacher in every classroom, according to Yolie.  So now teachers who were not “good enough” for other schools or displaced due to low enrollment are in the unenviable position of taking over for much loved teachers at HPHS. Even if one of those displaced is the 2010 Teacher of the Year from Muir Middle School- yes, that teacher was not good enough to be rehired at her own school. ( Is this Yolie’s idea of reform- kicking Teachers of the Year to the curb? )

  And remember what happened at Fremont? Rehired teachers were threatened with track changes and other punishments if they didn’t sub on their off track time, even as “principal” Balderas was lying to the LA Times that the school was fully staffed, a lie Howard Blume caught him in about six months later, red handed.   Deja vu.   I have a funny feeling that the number of unfilled positions is much higher than 14%, especially if you go by the Teach in LA Certificated Vacancy site which states:

ENGLISH VACANCIES at HPHS

FULLY CREDENTIALED INTERNAL CANDIDATES HUNTINGTON PARK SH ALBERT CASTILLO, PRINCIPAL (323) 826-2300 20 positions

 SCIENCE VACANCIES AT HPHS

FULLY CREDENTIALED INTERNAL CANDIDATES HUNTINGTON PARK SH ALBERT CASTILLO, PRINCIPAL (323) 826-2300 INTEGRATED, 7 positions

Hmm what happened to all of those young and bubbly Teach for America people??

SOCIAL SCIENCE POSITIONS

FULLY CREDENTIALED INTERNAL CANDIDATES HUNTINGTON PARK SH ALBERT CASTILLO, PRINCIPAL (323) 826-2300 13 positions

I think we’re already over the 14% vacancy claim asserted by HPHS- and I never even made it to math.

But I believe the title of my post is “Deju Vu Times Two” not times one,  and this brings me to the reasons we can never let go of  John C. Fremont High School, better told first by pictures:

Rosalinda with her one-year old son. She is married to Jesus who was also my student. They were both in my US History and GovernmentEcon classes. The occasion was last Saturday at the baptism party.

 The picture was from a baptism party for two former students’ baby.  Also at the celebration were Claudia Flores, Yesenia Robles, Uriel Cabrera and Juan Tavarez who I remember always had a guitar in his hand. When I asked him if he still played he said he left that all behind along with his long hair.  He is going to school to be a sound engineer now.  It was great to see so many of my former students from years past.  Yes, it was deja vu but also left me with a sense of sadness that while my current assignment is a piece of cake from a workload perspective, due to the nature of my Options students, I will not develop this type of long term relationship with them.

The baptism party was near Main Street and 75th  so I couldn’t avoid driving past Fremont  High as I left, something I was hoping to avert.  As I passed by, it still felt like home.  And I still have one more birthday party and a  baby shower to attend this summer.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2011 2:34 pm

    “[G]oal was a great teacher in every classroom, according to Yolie” I had always been under the impression that Yolie’s goals were more money flowing into the pockets of the well heeled corporate charter executives, and a cushy six figure gig at the Gates Foundation. Wasn’t her motto “putting charters first” when she was still terrorizing Beaudry?

  2. July 15, 2011 2:55 pm

    Yes indeed but her stated goal was great teachers but it seems they are either fleeing or being driven from the district

    And yes,she is just a tool of the Gates Foundation, While teachers have their reputations trashed, she’ll be raking in the dough.

  3. Debby M. permalink
    July 15, 2011 5:55 pm

    “So now teachers who were not good enough for other schools are in the unenviable position of taking over for much loved teachers at HPHS.”

    Don’t forget, there are many good or great teachers who have been displaced by low enrollment at their schools, or chosen voluntary displacement to save other teachers’ positions or as a way of moving on to a new school experience. We (teachers) don’t need to reinforce the stigma that all displaced teachers were “not good enough” at their previous schools.

  4. fremontwatch permalink
    July 15, 2011 6:18 pm

    I was being sarcastic when I said they weren’t “good enough.” I have been defending those teachers constantly because so many principals and other teachers are suspicous of them. I myself was not rehired at my own school and had to put up with snarky questions when I interviewed at some schools, which told me a lot about those schools. At Fremont, our top three English teachers were not rehired. At Muir Middle School, the teacher of the year was not rehired. Stability, which was always seen as a positive, is a thing of the past for teachers. The days when you, your children and grandchildren might have the same teacher is rapidly coming to an end.

    • Debby M. permalink
      July 15, 2011 7:27 pm

      Thank you for clarifying. I did suspect sarcasm, but without quotation marks or italics to denote the sarcasm, it was hard to be sure. I appreciate your taking the time to get the word out about how poorly the district has been handling our schools.

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