What shit is LAUSD stirring now?

In order to properly understand the crap we were put through last week, you, dear reader, need some background information. I will make it brief.

(1) Enrollment at Crenshaw (and most schools in South LA) is down. We have less than 2000 students, though the estimates from last year predicted an enrollment of about 2500.

(2) SB 1133, aka the Quality Education Investment Act, is bringing about $1.3 million per year for the next seven years to CHS, Dorsey, LA High, Roosevelt and a few other high schools. Ostensibly, this money is to be used to hire extra teachers and counselors, with the end of reducing teacher to student ratios.

(3) According to the district’s own numbers and tables, there should be an average of 31.25 students per teacher.

(4) Last Friday was Norm Day at schools across LAUSD. Norm Day is when classes are balanced and the “final count” of students is established. This number is used to determine the number of teachers which should be employed at a school site.

We knew that due to (1) and (4), we were going to lose some positions. Teachers, as contracted employees, don’t get fired or “let go”–they get transferred. It’s a little sad to lose a good colleague to another school, and inconvenient to the teacher being transferred, but not ordinarily something to get up in arms about.

Notice I said “ordinarily.”

What should happen
According to the language in our contract, the principal is supposed to let the faculty know ahead of time how many and which teachers in each department will be transferred. This gives everyone time to prepare: teachers being transferred can plan which school they get moved to, and any teachers who are staying have enough time to plan for the entry of new students in their class. Changes as simple as adding new desks, or as complicated as modifying curricula can be accomplished. Although I should add that even adding desks isn’t that easy…. not if you’re part of the custodial staff, anyway.
Where it went wrong
In the math department, we expected the loss of one position. We did not find out we were losing two until the day the second teacher got their notice of transfer. in other words: no notice. I was not told that my first and second periods (which were averaging 20) were now averaging 40. Oh yes. 40.

What should happen
As a school with a significant population of “Limited English Proficient” students, the position of Bilingual Coordinator is essential. The fact that our BC is amazing at her job means that she should be considered SUPER essential. She counsels, disciplines and mentors. In a word: she’s awesome. She is, by the way, a teacher elected into that position.
Where it went wrong
Due to norming, the school could not afford to keep her as coordinator and was instead relegating her back to the classroom. You combine the fact that students with limited English skills are now in 40-student classes means they need extra attention if they are to be successful. Removing the coordinator amounts to a death sentence for the ESL/LEP kids. Yikes.

What should happen
17% of 9th grade Algebra classes should be at 20 to 1, and 28 to 1 in the remaining classes. If the classes are composed of mixed grades, then classes can be capped at 35 (or more!)
Where it went wrong
My first period of 9th grade Algebra had 41 students. <b>41.</b> How was this possible? By enrolling a single 10th grader, thus making the class “mixed.” When did I find out about these kids? When I came to school one morning and looked at my online roster. Custodial staff had not been informed of this, and so I did not have enough desks in my classroom. Some kids had to stand, and others had to sit on stools, folding chairs, milk crates. The activity I had planned became impossible, and besides, it’s hard to teach when I’m being interrupted every 3 seconds to sign someone in to my class. I tried to explain to my kids the situation, but they were pretty pissed off. You can imagine how pissed I was.

What should happen
Of course, you put all of this together and you had <b>a lot</b> of seriously pissed off teachers, union members up in arms, parents clamoring for someone to blame, admins trying to hide in their offices, and students feeling dejected. Many called the local district office and complained. Our school site council had an emergency meeting and voted to use QEIA money to fund the bilingual coordinator and up to 9 teaching positions. Although QEIA money should be used to significantly improve teacher-student ratios, it was now being used to just keep us at a manageable number. So much for the QEIA money.
Where it went right?
LAUSD released a statement yesterday that in fact no teacher position would get cut. YAY! We keep our positions, and now QEIA money can be used as intended. On Monday, our principal announced a “30-day stay” on teacher transfers. We have no idea what this means. Our principal has been out of the office since then on “stress leave”, or so I’ve been told.

The unintended consequences
Now, after spending two days signing kids in, I have been spending 2 days signing kids out. I’ve lost about a week of instruction time, more like two. The students are resentful for having their schedules all fucked up, and they take it out on their teachers. I try everything I can to channel their anger to the appropriate parties, but all I can see is them and their parents getting fed up with all this bullshit. I see the parents moving their kids to charter schools, our enrollment dropping, and this shit happening all over again.

The next norm day is in February.

7 Replies to “What shit is LAUSD stirring now?”

  1. Stress leave? Do the teachers get to take stress leave? How about the students? Jesus, what a load of bullshit on top of a truly shitty week.

    But YAY for what sounds like a good resolution! I hope things settle down quickly.

  2. What caused all of this mess in general
    Border Jumpers.

    So a loss of students is caused by more people coming into the country? You’re an intellectual giant of staggering proportions, Jim-Bob.

  3. Excellent post.
    I also heard yesterday that some LAUSD teachers still haven’t been paid in months due to kinks in a payroll system implemented six months ago.
    Those border jumpers must be to blame.

  4. Didn’t we spray for Trolls last week? They’re like cockroaches, only stupider.

    There’s the result of all the neglect and douche baggery in the education system, you get Jimmy the Racist Troll cockroaching up the place. Pity.

    Y’know, I’ve long been of the opinion that Lawyers and Teachers should reverse salaries. I’m not sure how to make that happen, but that just seems like it’d be a better world that way.

  5. I have to thank you for this post. More people need to know what’s going on and at the PARENT level get involved to help the schools get back on track. We owe it to our kids to give them the best. That includes giving our teachers the best support we can so they can help us open their minds to what is out there.

    And Rob….if you think jimmy is bad, you ought to take a look at the fcblog for comments by “local boy”. There has been even scarier stuff that makes jimmy look like the leader of the rainbow coalition.

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