Monday, April 13, 2015




Howard Blum.jpg
(Mensaje se repite en EspaƱol)

Los Angeles Times Reporter Howard Blume has had far too much access to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and all the other players in public education for far to long to actually believe the gist of what he reported in his 4/11/15 frontpage 

article entitled "Voters take a dim view of teacher tenure." What Blume and other "reporters" who want to keep their jobs have learned to do is omit relevant facts that they clearly know and consciously withhold from the people they interview in order to manipulate these sources into helping him- out of their ignorance- to write a story the conclusion of which Blume already had going in. Sadly, Howard Blume is not the only reporter who has degraded his profession in aid of corporate interests trying to further privatize government function.

In clearly laying the failure of districts like LAUSD at the feet of teachers, he parrots his sources uninformed belief that "performance should matter more than seniority when teachers are laid off" or in determining who stays and who goes, when it comes to lay-offs or firings.

In an LAUSD reality where student social promotion irrespective of a student's actual mastery of prior grade-level standards is still the rule, how can one in good faith hold a subsequent single-subject credentialed teacher responsible for the predictable failure of a student who has been allowed by LAUSD administration to arrive in grades and classes years beyond their ability? So now teachers are to be scapegoated for LAUSD administrative political correctness that has refused for generations to assure that students are at grade-level before being moved to the next grade.

On a regular basis all LAUSD teachers- and charter school teachers as well- have students in their classes that are profoundly behind grade-level. Am I responsible if a student with a 3rd grade reading ability, through no fault in my teaching, fails my 12th grade U.S. Government class. Or a student who is in the 9th grade, but still hasn't learned his multiplication tables- so he fails Algebra?

It is far easier to scapegoat teachers than to think as to who is rationally responsible for this unabated failure of students and confront administrators and parents who continue to maintain this failed system of public non-education rather than have the guts to look at and change things like social promotion that continue to predictably lead to student failure.

In this process,one might take note that approximately 50% of people who enter teaching leave within the first 5 years, because, while they enter the teaching profession with ideals, they quickly come to the unavoidable conclusion that there is no way to stay in teaching, in places like LAUSD as presently constituted, without becoming a part of the fraud or disproportionately suffering the wrath of administrators or parents possessed with the magical thinking that you can make good students without a rigorous and pragmatic programs, while they are still young. Merely calling a school "college ready" or by laying off the blame on teachers is still more attractive than actually confronting what would be a fixable problem.

Rather than address the predictable chaos that remains a teacher's reality in the vast majority of LAUSD schools that are filled with students profoundy behind grade-level predictably disrupting classes in lieu of being asked to do work they can't, which is years beyond their actual level, good teachers abandon the profession in droves or go into administration to get as far away from the classroom as possible.

It is easier to blame all teachers, instead of asking a question like: Why is upward mobility and better salary attained by a teacher only if they get out of the classroom? Or, in what other profession is there the belief that somebody fresh out of college is better than a seasoned veteran teacher, simply because they are still idealistic?

This gets to another conscious omission by Reporter Blume in his failure to even mention the war that LAUSD has carried on over the last 9 years against teachers at the top of the salary scale, about to vest in costly lifetime health benefits, or merely disabled. Somehow the facts that 93% of "targeted bad teachers" are over 40 and at the top of the salary scale never sees the light of day in the Los Angeles Times or other public or commercial media that haven't notice the disappearing of close to 14,000 "expensive" teachers that have either been forced into early retirement or had false charges brought against them as a prelude to their being summarily fired without verified charges made under a penalty of perjury, which is required by law.

And of course, the fact that LAUSD saves somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 in just the first year after they get rid of these "incompetent teachers" couldn't possibly be the real motive for targeting them. Nor could the significantly cheaper benefits cost of younger inexperienced teachers working on emergency credentials, who will in all likelihood be replaced in 3 years by another crop of cheap novice teacher. After all, White folks are mostly out of public education- only 6% remaining in LAUSD- so now how good does public education need to be?

Are there bad teachers? Absolutely. But any good teacher can tell you that the best way to get rid of them is to create a system of true two-way accountability, where teachers are no longer scapegoated for the ills of a public education system they have had no say in up until now. It has been my experience that teaching like most professions is self-cleansing in that truly hard working students, teachers, administrators, and parents form a school culture that looks at the subjective levels of its students and works hard to address their needs in an appropriate and time sensitive manner. This finds those teachers- and others- not willing to put in the necessary effort self-selecting themselves out as soon as possible.

In fairness to Reporter Howard Blum and all of his colleaues who are just trying to keep their jobs by continuing to report privatization of public education party line, I at least understand them. Those who I don't understand are the leadership and entrenched bureaucracy of unions like United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and their national affiliates CTA and AFT that continue to allow teachers to be targeted, removed, and scapegoated without bringing any legal action or ever addressing relevant issues like social promotion as a much more rational explanation for continued student failure than the malfeasance of their own rank and file. With a union like this, teachers don't need enemies.

Leonard Isenberg search "Leonard Isenberg"
home 323.938.1258
cell 323.383.7805
Skype: LennyIsenberg
NSA is watching

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
--Thomas Jefferson

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