Today is Saturday, March 20, 2010, the first day of Spring, Day 104 of my time left at the Mont. In the mornings, I often have people pass by my open door and we shout greetings to one another, the old joke we use so often that it has grown shiny has been “Another day in Paradise, eh?” Mornings are a mixed bag around here. One speculates just how long before someone hits a nerve, or just what can suck the life out of you.


Don’t get me wrong. There’s always good here. I’m in by 5:20 most days. The coffee is brewing, I have rock and roll or jazz going real loud, lesson plans are readied for launch. Yeah, I have to move tables and chairs, clean up after adult school, wonder if there’s going to be toilet paper or even a toilet seat in the men’s room, but there’s music, good coffee, a really spectacular view from my window of downtown, especially as the sun reflects off of the US Bank and the other tall buildings.


Then, I revisit reality.


The Great Rat Incident of the Ides of March (otherwise known as Day 109: King Rat) reminded me of the conditions we work under here at the Mont, conditions we take for granted.  Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “There are no conditions to which a man cannot become accustomed, especially if he sees that all those around him live the same way,” So here’s what we have grown accustomed to working at Fremont, besides a new principal every 23 months (unless you have one staying whose as useful as udders on a boar), new APs., new teachers because Fremont is just plain hard on folk, looking for a place to make copies, buying your own paper, hiding an overhead projector from adult school, wondering what adult school did to the computer the night before…


There’s the vermin. The picture I’ve put up on the site is what greeted me Thursday morning at the foot of the stairs; it didn’t even move as I put the penny down for scale. Yeah, we’re used to the roaches, and after playing Dances With Rats on Monday and Tuesday, the roaches don’t seem so bad, unless they’re the size of my thumb, or unless you are sitting in the men’s room and one is crawling on the wall beside you…

There’s the tagging. We have somebody who works full time painting the hallways and stairwells every day, like using a broom to sweep the beach clean of sand. And if paint or markers won’t do the job, the stickers appear everywhere…

This is your new blog post. Click here and start typing, or drag in elements from the top bar.
The broken P.A. speakers and phones. The phone pictured is in the men’s room on the second floor. It has been like this for years. Of course, one wonders why there is a phone in a men’s restroom to begin with…

Speaking of the men’s room, there are signs urging you to wash your hands. Of course that would mean there would have to be soap available… and maybe hot water…  Toilet paper would be nice, too, because those seat covers sure aren’t very good. Ask yourself how many times a week you might have to use a few of those? Students have also complained that they might walk past a boy’s restroom and be able to smell the urine. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

How many of us have enough desks or tables? How many have a pile of broken tables in a classroom? How many of us get to play The Hunt for Red October every morning and look for the chairs that went away the night before?

For that matter, how many of us have adult school file cabinets in our rooms (this is my first semester—and my last, I reckon—where I don’t have any)? How many of us have BOXES of stuff on top of our cabinets? How many of my fellow teachers at Fremont do not even have a cabinet or a file cabinet or one of those rolling cabinets available to them?

I’ll wager you all have a broom, though. Maybe the teachers will be issued mops, as well, as part of their new duties. If you wonder why a mop, take a real look at most of the floors. Hallway floors get cleaned. Classrooms which are occupied from 7:30-3:04 and then from 3:30-9:30 during weekdays, and then on Saturdays from 8:00-noon don’t get cleaned very often.


How many of you have monitors which have been “scribed” up? How many of you have a working printer? With toner? How many of you have a pile of “dead” computers and/or printers in your rooms?


How many of you have no room to move in your class, the area where you have the computer feeling like a turret?


How many of you think this is normal? Is this normal at most schools?


We're we responsible for this? Will all this change with the metamorphosis into the New Fremont? We might be well on our way. I think that might have been Kafka's Gregor Samsa I met Thursday morning.


You know… there are pictures of the rat droppings, too.




Speaking of droppings… check out the following link from Decent Schools for California:


It contains depositions and testimony from 2001, while Fremont was being… led by Margaret Rowland. Particularly amusing (in a sad way) are the recorded statements as to the state of the school in 2001, the lack of books and resources, the physical state of the campus. Read Margaret Rowland’s depositions to see how to actually avoid answering a direct question. Maybe we should pass this on so that folk can get ready for the depositions to come.




Leave a Reply.


    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.


    August 2010



    RSS Feed