Day 80 Tuesday, April 13, 2010: “Questions”

 

Today is Tuesday, April 13, 2010 and is Day 80 (pending School Board today) of my time left at the Mont. Saturday’s posting, “Superman’s Song” got me to looking at the District’s Powerpoint on the New Fremont (oh yeah, we’re not supposed to call it that unless blah blah blah…).

 

You see, I’ve been staring at political cartoons my students were assigned to create (had to explain it as the difference between telling a joke you got out of a book and doing stand-up comedy—these days my students are my captive audience). I’ve also been cringing a lot. I told them the art could be simple, as long as a message got conveyed. While there have been a number of awesome ones (it also gives the kids who really don’t write to strut their stuff), there have also been cartoons which carried no message.

 

Much like the slides on the Powerpoint LAUSD put up at http://teachinla.com/makeadifference/fremont/new_fremont_sh.pps#347,1,Slide 1

By the way, we’re also looking at propaganda, its uses and the techniques involved, so you see the way my mind started connecting dots…

 

In Day 83, we looked at “Exhibit A”, which is just a re-done version of Slide #9 “Fremont HS Organizational Structures” with some names filled in. I guess once names were filled in, my brain was able to get around the plan to have one counselor for SIX HUNDRED STUDENTS in the 9th Grade Centers(By the way, I’m staring at my Communism and Fascism posters around the room and the copy of “1984” on my desk). This got me really looking at the other slides. At first I thought they were laughable, then I started to think—I do that sometimes.

 

If you. As a teacher, were presented student work like this, how would you grade it? Could you even give a passing grade?

 
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Lets look at Slide#11 “Fremont HS Academy Organizational Chart”. Is the hierarchy the Assistant Principal, then the Lead Teacher (didn’t even realize that such a position would exist—why?), then the Counselor? What is the purpose behind showing the organization as an inverted pyramid? Is this to imply that the students, the largest group, come first? If you can figure it out, let me know…And one more tiny little question-- WHERE THE HELL ARE THE TEACHERS ON THIS CHART? Are we to contribute nothing to this "New Fremont"? Are we such a small part of the equation to the success of the students?

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Slide #14 is labeled “Fremont HS Academies”: Does Academy 1 feed into Academy 2? If not, then why diagram it that way? Does Academy 5 feed into the 9th GradeCenters and they, in turn feed into the Magnet? The Magnet then feeds into Academy 1? How is this “Seamless, Unifying, Rigorous and Accountable”? Is this about “The Lion King” and this is supposed to be the Circle of Life? Or is this merely symbolic? I know, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but LAUSD is playing with the lives of students and their education. What kind of a grade would you give this for clarity, for delivering the message? Can we have a rubric out there?

 


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Slide#20 bears the title, “Fremont HS 9th Grade Centers”: Why is this graphically illustrated as a bunch of pyramids? Are they intended to convey some sort of hierarchy? How will they interact? How do they each support each other? What mechanisms hold them together? Is there any particular reasoning as to where the names (and which names) were placed amongst the many pyramids? Is this a bar trick I’m not aware of? Here’s another trick: how did LAUSD make all the teachers disappear? Oh yeah, reconstitution... Or is that resturcturing? Or redux?

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Slide# 30 is “Fremont HS Support Structures”:  What we have here is a little circle labeled “FHS” and a bunch of arrows leaving it. Are these arrows symbolic of our students ditching? Or are they the Magnet students transferring out because their parents know how screwed up this place is going to be if LAUSD follows this lame half-baked “plan”? Or are they the staff of Old Fremont who have not reapplied being scattered across the district? In the same slide, we also see a bunch of circles with various “support personnel”. Certainly, to my eye, there is no hierarchy evident—just titles and numbers. Maybe they are intended to block the escape routes.

 

Since the School Board is going to sit in judgment of FremontHigh School, maybe they ought to take a look past the pretty pictures and REALLY THINK about what these slides on the Powerpoint for the New Fremont, which was done to recruit teachers to take our jobs and teach our kids, really means for those students left behind.

 

Is this really a passing grade? Or is this the status quo Dr. Cortines says is no longer acceptable?

 

Have a nice day.

 

 

Video clips of April 13th School Board Meeting: http://www.utla.net/node/2668

 

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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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