Day 131 Sunday, February 21: “Teacher, Teacher”

 

This was supposed to be Day 131, Sunday, February 21. And, in the finest Captain Picard tradition, I shall “make it so.” This is another of Rita’s Musings.

 

Chuck,

When I read Mr. Niebergall"s letter, it made me think of all of the strife I, and later on, every Lead Teacher has had to endure to create something of value that would be effective teaching tools and techniques to assist our students in achieving the goals they were required to achieve.  We worked to build our SLCs in earnest and started to build something that looked like it would be successful.  Everyone was following the original Humanitas model in one way or another. That had proven to be successful.

However, I look back now and I believe it was just to placate us because we, as a faculty, had rejected every one of the outside forces who tried to come in and turn us into a "cookie cutter" school like the other ones with which they had worked. I now believe this change had been in the works for a long time.  Even though we were working to build a successful curriculum for our individual SLCs, and so many roadblocks were put in our way that we had to work extra hard, our attention was distracted by the extra work and added responsibilities.  Call me crazy, but I think someone was already designing this plan for the New Fremont. We were being told that everything was going to be "transparent" but I was never sure what was going on.  We were being told one thing in the schoolwide design team meetings, which I would report to you guys in our weekly meetings-and then something else entirely would happen instead.  We were never sure about the money we were supposed to receive for our SLCs, what we could spend, when we could spend it, and how to get it. That was as transparent as MUD. And I thought it was just poor communication! Silly me!

When I got involved in Humanitas-eons ago-I got inspired by it because it was what I had believed education was supposed to be.  I embraced it because the people who taught us how to work in the Humanitas way treated us like professional educators and scholars.  They inspired us to find that dormant scholar in ourselves and wake it up.  We were encouraged to think, and design our program according to the needs of our students.  This was true collaboration and interdisciplinary planning!  It was exciting to wake up our own brains and re-establish that previous relationship with them...like when we used to be "smart" college students!  Our students woke up their brains, too, and we were all deliriously happy.  We were giddy with the excitement of this!  We all felt more connected to school and each other.  That was an indescribable experience.  Our students worked harder than they had ever worked before, and enjoyed it!  They were learning, advanced year after year, and all graduated-on time.

From those kids came local business owners, scientists, teachers, social workers, university professors, military men and women,  lawyers, peace officers, political aides,  psychologists,  physicians, (the Humanities)... many of whom decided to come back to their community to make life better for those coming up after them.  Some of them actually work in LAUSD.  Some of them actually work at Fremont-day school and
AdultSchool
-or did.  Their calling was true to our Humanitas philosophy:  Learn well and come back to improve the lives of others in your community.

Then, the district got involved in administering Humanitas and, try as I might, Humanitas disintegrated in front of my eyes.  I felt helpless.  I felt like I was in the eye of a great storm, saw what was happening and could do nothing.  I have fought for years to re-establish Humanitas to its former position, as (forgive me) the brightest jewel in the crown of
Fremont.  That was not to be.  Except,  Humanitas was trotted out every time Fremont
needed to show off its best and brightest.  Our district is heartless, thoughtless, brainless, and selfish.  We all know the district is self-serving and their first interest is not the students...DUH.

When I read the slides in the power point, I noticed that" huminatas" was included in the "New Fremont” plan.  I thought to myself, "They can't even spell it right!"  I can imagine what they plan it to be.  I was insulted then, again.  When I read the "plan", I thought this was not even the Humanitas way of teaching! Scripted curriculum...everyone on the same page...? How could they use that name and how are they going to justify it?  Would anybody really care?  All of my work together with every outstanding teacher who agreed to work with me and do the extra work it took to design our Humanitas Program, did the groundwork for the district to steal and use the reputation we built to cheat parents into thinking that it would be the same outstanding program for their children about which they had heard such marvelous things in the past.  How can we convince anyone it will not be? 

We recently visited the feeder middle schools for “Articulation” and at each one, Ms. Palomo and I were welcomed warmly and were told that they appreciated our work with their kids!  At Edison, the Ass’t. Principal (I believe) couldn’t express her happiness enough about having us there, and was so emphatic that we continue to do what we had been doing because their former students would go back to visit them and rave about us.  They were appreciative of our hard work.  The students were and are appreciative of our work.  The parents are appreciative of our work.  It’s just the district that isn’t satisfied with the work we have done and continue to do…maybe because we don’t bring them billions of dollars.  We, collectively, however, “invest" unreimbursed millions of dollars on supplementary curriculum materials and supplies in order to be able to provide our students with the proper educational experience we believe they deserve.

I apologize for the length of this email, but it just came out and I had to go with it.  I am passionate about what we all do and resent those from outside of our school who unfairly judge us, criticize us and impugn the integrity of our characters or the quality and sincerity of the work we do.  We Pathfinder Teachers are finer people than those who deign to judge us.  So many lies are published as fact about us.  So many lies are being leaked to make us fear that something terrible will happen to us if we do not reapply for the jobs we have earned and deserve to keep if we so choose.  I believe that something terrible will happen to us if we do reapply.  We will not be able to recognize our jobs or our school.  It will all have died by then.

In the last several years, I have been using a quote, which came in a mailing to me from my university, to inspire my Humanitas students.  It says:  "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."  This is a quote by Marian Wright Edelman.  I thought it was so appropriate for our students, and I wanted them to understand it and take it to heart.  I have been so surprised and pleased that so many of our Humanitas "kids" come back and tell us that they are in public service careers.  We must have done something right.  The New Fremont's Humanitas will not EVER be what we have been-to the students, to the community, to
FremontHigh School
or to the new people who will be assigned to teach under that title.  The way they have it planned, anybody off the street who can read will be able to "teach" the curriculum.  Yeah, right, whatever!  This is so wrong on so may levels...

Sincerely,

Margherita Moraca,
Humanitas “A”


 

 

 

 
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    Chuck Olynyk is a Social Studies teacher who saw the effects of reconstitution upon John C. Fremont High in Los Angeles. These are reposting of his original blogs from the Save Fremont website.

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