Readers React: By LA Times Letters to the Editor Editor Paul Thornton | http://lat.ms/ZRHzkY
An early-era LAUSD desk has a etching of a teacher in an exhibit of historical items from the district. (Los Angeles Times)
25 Oct 2014 :: The teachers in Los Angeles who write to The Times — and I may be understating the intensity of their views here — are no fans of John Deasy. So when the embattled former superintendent resigned from the Los Angeles Unified School District last week, one might have expected a collective sigh of relief from our educator letter writers.
Hardly. Though a handful of teachers celebrated Deasy's departure, the vast majority who wrote us expressed continued anxiety and frustration over their jobs. If letters are any indication of broader opinion, it's safe to say there may be a morale problem in L.A. Unified classrooms.
Melanie Panush Lindert of Los Angeles takes the pulse of teachers: at several campuses:
I thought it couldn't get worse, but indeed it has: LAUSD teachers are even more stressed than last school year.
As an itinerant dance teacher, I work with several dozen teachers a year. I trudge to a different school every day. The teacher inferno has reached epic proportions this year, with no relief in sight. We must remember that what befalls our teachers trickles down to our children.
We have the endless flow of testing. One fourth-grade teacher explained how frustrated she was because there was no opportunity to prepare her children for a math test. Teachers must know the new Common Core curriculum, terminology, objectives and how to record data on computers.
Parents and principals are demanding more. There is a new, complex system for evaluating teachers, and teachers are required to take workshops to comply with this new system.
I thought it couldn't get worse, but indeed it has: LAUSD teachers are even more stressed than last school year. - Melanie Panush Lindert, Los Angeles
Teachers are serious, responsible, caring, creative, resourceful and patient. Why haven't these professionals been part of the team to create the very best system for our kids?
Rancho Palos Verdes resident Michael Whittemore gives credit to his fellow teachers for gains in achievement:
I am a retired teacher (30 years of experience), and I am amazed by the arrogance of education "talking heads" claiming credit for student achievement.
They don't teach; teachers do. It is the joy of that nexus that brings progress. Teachers love teaching.
Giving us decent class sizes, materials (most teachers spend their own money on classroom materials) and administrative support will result in even greater achievement.
Jim Wakeman of Long Beach says education reforms are driving away teachers:
Deasy's sympathizers give him credit for reducing the number of student suspensions and raising students' test scores.
Well, when teachers are required to keep students in class in spite of their behavior, yes, there will be fewer suspensions. And when teachers' jobs may be threatened by low student test scores, some teachers, understandably, will "teach to the test." Then, yes, test scores will improve.
Neither of these predictable results will improve student learning, but they will drive more teachers away from the profession.
The L.A. Times is obviously getting farther out on a limb than they feel comfortable. I guess if your window on the world is through The Times mailbag yours is a rather limited perspective – as evidenced by the editor/headline writer’s use of the qualifier ‘possible’. The world is possibly round and chocolate is possibly tasty. The newspaper industry is in a possible downturn.
District morale is abysmal, all the way to eleven on the knob. And, like Captain Bligh in the old joke, apparently the flogging won’t stop until the morale improves.
All surviving LAUSD staff, whether in the classroom, the school, the local district, or the central office - have been through six years of RIFs, class size+workload increases and program cuts. They haven’t got a raise in slightly less than forever. They have worked hard, they have raised test scores, they campaigned for Prop 30 which brought in more money to schools – and are rewarded by the superintendent taking a 17% pay raise and offering them 2%. There is money for iPads and failed technology but none for the District’s most valuable asset: Its human resources. The powerless-that-be have turned back the billionaires who would break their unions and take away their jobs and outsource public education to charter schools at the ballot box…and are rewarded with a Time Magazine cover that hammers Bad Teachers with a Judge’s Gavel. Never mind that the cover story doesn’t even agree with the cover picture and headline – “Bad Teachers” sells magazines!
“Bad Teachers” allegedly don’t teach to the test with enough urgency. The “Embattled+Beleaguered Superintendent” may have fixed a contract according to The Times own reporting. And the Publisher/CEO of the LA Times goes on the radio and bemoans his downfall.