Friday, July 06, 2012

OUTSOURCING LIFESAVERS + TOLD YOU SO: Two items from the LA Times editorial page …with a slightly different spin

A Heath Educator from LAUSD writes:

I read the Times editorial today about the lifeguard kid back east. Then I started thinking. Take the word “lifeguard” (which is what health teachers are in a sense) and find+ replace it with “health teachers”

With a little help from MSWord the editorial rewrites itself!

letters to the editor of the Times |




In the case of LAUSD Health Teacher/ lifeguards, 40 RIFed John Does is a lesson in the dangers of putting public safety in the hands of for-profit online instructional companies.


6 July 2012 :: In tight financial times, many school districts and cities save money by outsourcing district and municipal services such as clerical work to private companies. LAUSD is proposing to outsource high school Health Ed to an online contractor. But there is no service more central to government and the people it serves than health and public safety, which should remain the responsibility of public agencies. The case sof RIFed health teachers and a fired lifeguard in Florida are cautionary tales:

July 6, 2012

What happened at the STEM Academy is a cautionary tale on many levels. Students need to know that there are no shortcuts to a meaningful education, no matter what happened in this case. L.A. Unified School District officials claim to want academic rigor in classrooms, but when a teacher delivers that rigor, he is subject to undeserved scrutiny and reprimands in the media by his administrator.

This incident should also be kept in mind when legislators consider changes to the way teachers are evaluated or disciplined. Teachers must be free to hold students to the highest educational standards, without wondering if it will trigger a negative evaluation or hurt their careers.Any legislation that would inject politics into the system or open the door to undue outside influence will hurt the academic program in the long run.

Warren Fletcher

Los Angeles

The writer is president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

The real LA Times editorial |


The case of fired Florida lifeguard Tomas Lopez is a lesson in the dangers of putting public safety in the hands of for-profit companies.

July 6, 2012  ::  In tight financial times, many cities save money by outsourcing municipal services such as clerical work to private companies. But there is no service more central to government and the people it serves than public safety, which should remain the responsibility of public agencies. The case of a fired lifeguard in Florida shows why.

Beachgoers brought lifeguard Tomas Lopez's attention to a man floundering in shallow water. He raced to the scene; by then, the man had been pulled to the beach but had water in his lungs. Lopez tended to him until medical help arrived.

The swimmer survived, but not Lopez's job. His employer, an aquatics company that provides lifeguard services to the city of Hallandale Beach, decided that he had quite literally crossed the line by running to an area that was not part of the company's contracted responsibility, exposing it to possible liability. Several other lifeguards quit in protest. And after a nationwide outcry, the company offered all of the guards their jobs back, saying that, in fact, Lopez hadn't left his sector of the beach unprotected.

But the lifeguards aren't going back. Let's face it, it's not as though the job was such a great gig. Lopez was paid just $8.25 an hour, a little more than Florida's minimum wage. He and his fellow guards could make close to the same money flipping burgers rather than taking responsibility for strangers' lives.

And their employer, Jeff Ellis Management Co., still doesn't get it. The issue isn't whether another lifeguard was available to cover Lopez's turf, or whether he went 1,000 feet beyond the boundary. Government agencies have a long history of mutual aid when it comes to providing public safety; they go to the rescue of people outside their boundaries when needed. They hire employees for reasonable pay and expect them to serve the public good. If municipal employees whose job involves first aid see a choking person on the other side of the city's line, they know it's not the time to call in to headquarters for permission to save a life or to calculate the potential liability.

Even in the public domain, the concept of mutual aid has frayed a bit lately. Some cash-strapped California cities have begun charging nonresidents for emergency response if they are involved in an accident. But at least they provide the aid first, then ask questions (and send the bill) later.

There's a lot that government can't afford anymore. But when we take shortcuts on our responsibility to rescue one another in life-or-death emergencies, we abandon the most basic function of communal welfare.


smf: I mostly agree with Warren here.

Despite the hue and cry about bad teachers and all the rest, college admission officers don’t consider the standardized tests like the CSTs in their decision making. CST scores are not even a consideration. Admissions decision makers – like classroom teachers - look at the whole student – with a special focus on the grades that teachers awarded and students eraned  - and on the student's portfolio of work. 

They read essays, they read letters of recommendation – and conduct actual interviews (what a concept!)

Most, but not all,  consider college aptitude tests like the SAT and ACT-   and subject  tests  like SAT and AP– but not the CST’s or API or AYP that loom so large in the legend of ®eform Inc.

Grades earned and GPA are make-or-break – and what happened at STEM Academy was a deliberate attempt to circumvent that process.  Yes,  there are hard teachers and hard classes – and Economics is a notorious hard one.

  • I wonder how many of our current legislators took the easy way out of their high school Econ classes?
  • …and how dearly we are all paying for that?

Where I disagree with Warren is this:  He is supposedly on his honeymoon.  The byline says Los Angeles, but he’s In Paris, France.

LAUSD  and UTLA isn’t life Warren when you’re in Paris, just like Reality TV isn’t real even if you are in Hollywood..

Vous êtes à Paris sur votre lune de miel. They put bubbles in the wine and eat the garden pests …and they know exactly what they’re doing.

¡bonne chance!

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