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“If they can tear down the hotel where Robert F. Kennedy was shot, they’ll tear down anything”

January 28, 2012

The above quote  is the response from a colleague  to my outrage that Fremont High School, which was built in 1924 is to be torn down and supposedly rebuilt- this after a massive “restructuring” which now makes total sense.  Reconstitution  was nothing more than  a damn real estate deal in which students, teachers and the community were sacrificed for the financial gain of  various elements within LAUSD and those that do business with LAUSD.

How else to explain the 80 million dollars spent to rid the school of us “culture of failure”  teachers and give the school a facelift that would last all of two years before the school was torn down?   What will replace it? Will it even be rebuilt or will it be sold off in a real estate scam to continue the transfer of public wealth to private hands?   And the chameleon Balderas?  He’ll make like a ghost, like he was never there- he’ll vanish into the night, leaving a community with a hole-  an emotional and educational crater-   that will never be refilled.  He’ll soon forget, but we will remember forever.

I wrote two years ago about my hunch that this might happen to Fremont when Mr. Balderas claimed in sweeping terms that reconstitution was “the end of an era.”  The end?  Why use that word?  I was suspicious that there was more to this than simply test scores because none of it made any logical sense.

But as you can see under the post, an anonymous commentator mentioned that my theory was “far -fetched.”   Really? If that poster is a teacher at  Fremont, you will soon be as “displaced” as your colleagues were two years ago.

Let’s review the history of the school since 1994, shall we?  In 1994, Fremont went on the year-round concept 6 calendar, added the 9th grade and a new principal all on the same day.  The Haydel era  of the last principal who had been there 10 years came to an end and Fremont would never again have a stable administrative staff.  In about 2006 or so the school began stabilizing through Small Learning Communities and a wonderful staff of teachers was  in place which included veterans who had been there since the 1990’s and before.   Behavior improved, support staff such as psychiatric social workers were added and more AP classes came in.  Trash in the hallways and the gangster look both went out of style.  Test scores rose as a byproduct of the buy in into SLC’s.   Attendance at parent -teacher conference nights dramatically improved.   It wasn’t paradise, but for Fremont, it was close.  Then the hammer dropped. Suddenly, all the teachers who had worked their asses off creating and maintaining SLC’s were labeled “failures.”

The reconstitution that followed created massive instability at Fremont, as well as wiping away the institutional memory that had begun to take root.  But it turns out -that’s what the district wanted.   If you have no one there to remember, it  makes it so much easier to do what they are going to do this summer.  Wipe away about 90 years of history.  Hopefully, the fountain installed during the New Deal era won’t be stolen, unlike the valuable art work and tea set belonging  to John C.  Fremont himself that disappeared when the beautiful brick structures were destroyed in the 1960’s.   A 1955 graduate of Fremont High told me about that.  She remembers.  And we will too.

Of course,  none of this has been made public to the community  but it is supposedly “public record.” I suppose parents will find out when the sledgehammers hit.  That’s the LAUSD way.

Fremont, you deserved so much better.

Below is a picture of Fremont High back when south LA was a middle class community and people gave a damn about their schools, instead of trying to blame everything on teachers

Fremont High 1945

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