Support Your Teachers

The following e-mail was sent by a friend (anonymous) who is a current teacher in face of a deeply troubling crisis in the schooling system. Please read and see what you can do to help. We need to start supporting our leaders now, or perhaps, we might not find any more in the future.

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hey everyone,

i have a prayer request about teaching, so if you’re not interested, please delete!
if you haven’t already heard, the lausd teachers’ union had a one-day strike planned for tomorrow. the union reported which day and which hours the teachers would be striking, and planned the strike on a day that would make it convenient for principals to change the ongoing district-wide testing to another day. the principals at most schools, including ours, simply moved friday’s testing schedule to next monday, and planned to call in subs to oversee students in our air-conditioned gym, multipurpose room and classrooms.

the reason for the strike is that the lausd is planning to lay off over 2,500 teachers by the end of next month, and 2,600 non-teaching jobholders may also lose their jobs (e.g janitors, counselors, technicians, teachers aids, etc.). this means that next year, class sizes in middle school will average 35 kids, while high school will average (AVERAGE) 42.

in response to the planned strike, the lausd’s lawyers contested the strike in court, arguing that it would “risk student health and welfare.” the judge placed a restraining order on all lausd teachers so that if teachers strike tomorrow (which some are still planning to do), the act would be considered civil disobedience and those teachers would be fined $1000 each and, more importantly, their credentials may very well be revoked.

what angers me most about this situation is not that teachers will lose jobs (i think that’s an insensitive thought, considering every industry is laying off workers) but that my students will suffer most. as you might imagine, our students, in particular, live in poor neighborhoods and face many issues that children their age should never have to face. one of my kids writes letters to her father who is in jail, and she won’t see him for another 3 years. another student’s mother has been deported to mexico and she only gets to see her once a month at most, and with that, they have to meet in a jail in tijuana. one just got out of a gang that his older brother brought him into, and his ticket out was a group beating. the same student also witnessed his best friend getting shot and killed over one of the weekends during 1st semester. in the winter, a student came into class and cried quietly in the corner because her family had just lost its home and was forced to move out the night before. i also distinctly remember a student in another south LA school who wept for a long time before entering his class because his mom couldn’t afford any clothes and he wore the same clothes everyday and the other students had caught onto it and made fun of him. if these students come back next year to classrooms filled with 35-40 kids each, their voices will definitely be less heard, if not snuffed out completely, not because their teachers are uncaring, but because there are 34-39 kids also vying for the same attention.  i’m reminded of holden caulfield in the catcher in the rye, whose greatest fear and biggest dream revolve around the single thought, that when children are playing in the field and come close to falling, they need someone there, on the other side, waiting to catch them before they get hurt. normally, i send some of my very distraught kids down to counselors, who immediately set the kids up on a daily schedule to meet with them one-on-one for personal sessions. i heard that if counselors get laid off as planned, then each remaining counselor will each have up to 600 kids under his/her care next year, making it virtually impossible for students to get the proper counseling they need to deal with their issues. if the counselors are gone next year, can the lausd officials guarantee that someone else will stand next in line to catch my kids before they fall?

i don’t know what the up-top district giants consider “risking student health and welfare,” but if taking a one-day strike to fight for students poses a greater threat to student well-being than placing them in next year’s projected school environment, i think they’ve been out of these neighborhoods and in those well air-conditioned, high-up office cubicles for too long. i worked in that lausd headquarter building for a year before teaching and have also read reports on them–  they have big screen tv’s, a multi-billion dollar security system installed throughout the building, personal company vehicles, last month’s $167-million in addition to the federal stimulus money they’ve already received, and 6-digit figures in their paychecks.

if you can pleaaaaase take 3 minutes to forward this email, write an email to the gentlemen below, or call and make a statement for this cause, my students and i would greatly appreciate it. even if you don’t care about this issue, i ask that you do it as a favor for your friend anne.

Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines (the guy who said the strike will risk student welfare and health)
Email: superintendent@lausd.net
Tel: 213-241-7000

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant (the judge who agreed with the guy above)
Tel: (213) 974-5889)

i know that God wants us to fight for the oppressed in active and practical ways. i think i’ve also personally seen great accounts of change through prayer. we know that our hearts are like channels of water, and only God can change its flow and course of direction…so please pray that the district officials would look into their own hearts and genuinely do their best and look into every possible avenue of action with the intent of saving our students over their own paycuts and personal losses.

thanks! time to sleep. WAY past my bedtime. good night.

love,

****

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Don’t wait for the world to change if you are not doing anything to change it.

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