Day 111 Saturday, March 13, 2010: “My City Was Gone”


Today, Saturday, March 13, 2010, is day 111 of my time left at the Mont.


There’s lots of stuff parading through my head, all to the tune of the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone.”  I spent what seemed like hours on the phone while I was driving (sorry, CHP, no bluetooth) talking about Monday’s deadline. That’s the deadline to re-up at the Mont, to be part of the New Fremont. My phone calls were mostly about not wanting to leave the Mont. However, I am forced to reference the above-mentioned song.


The Old Fremont is gone. For those who chose to remain, it’s sort of a Martin Guerre thing, passing oneself of as a person declared dead. Some will remain, because of newness to the district, or fears which prove insurmountable barriers, or even support from people who claim to be hard-bitten union types who claim that as employees we do not have the right to question our employers. And I’m sure some of the ones reapplying have even posted to as “Anonymous.” Some will remain because of the above reasons, deluding themselves they will be able to lead some sort of resistance. That’s too much like kapos thinking they can sway Nazis for my tastes.


My point? Old Fremont is gone—probably. This is the New Fremont. As we speak (rather, as you read) select parents who have had coffee with the powers that be are being placed on committees. As we speak (give me a break, it sounds better) students have been selected by a counselor to be a part of those same committees, window-dressing. I know, because one of my girls, who has been involved in school site council, was rejected and she took it personally. As only a sixteen-year-old Twilight-reading girl can. The rigged process gains more legitimacy. Dress up a pig in a tux and you can take it to the Academy Awards.


And Monday, March 15—the Ides of March (and Mr. Balderas compared Dr. Cortines to Caesar—how cool, oh, wait, things didn’t end so well for Caesar, and the average Roman emperor reigned 5.52 years, but I digress…) is the deadline for reapplying…


And the recruitment at the colleges continues, in spite of the hiring freeze. That means that the only ones that can be recruited from the colleges are special education and science teachers. Yes, there are some who reapplied and some who signed the petition who reapplied (hedging bets, eh?) (who also need to be reminded that they can yank their application—it’s not written in stone)… and others on the fence.


Should someone like me reapply, as has been suggested? Someone else I know did it and was mocked by the same person asking me to reconsider. All I can think about is the scene from “Scarface,” when the lead character has a drug lord at his mercy, tells him to kiss his shoes, then shoots him afterwards. Sorry, “Anonymous,” not my style. It shouldn’t be anybody else’s, either.


Just so you know, Dr. McKenna visited JordanHigh School, where he has a good time ridiculing Fremont teachers. He openly mocked the pledge not to reapply, and said he has a large stack of applications on his desk. Clearly, he doesn’t think too much of us, but then he was the man behind the locked gate and the line of school policemen after he challenged us to dance—in case anybody forgot. He reassured the folks at Jordan not to fear reconstitution—he’d keep them away from the Mayor and his schools. Maybe next time he’ll show his home movie, you know, the made-for-tv-award-winning one? You’re being mocked, Pathfinders!


And in the meantime, the calendar rolls on, the dates wind down. RIF notices went out Friday. Monday is the symbolic demonstration at LAUSD HQ at Beaudry, where chairs will be set up to represent each RIFfed teacher. Tuesday, we have department meetings, where I will imagine the preference sheets for next year will be out—preference sheets for WHAT? What can you possibly be able to request, when you are going from 13 SLCs to 5 Academies and the Magnet school and the 3 9th grade Centers? To my eyes, if one signs and turns in a preference sheet, that smacks of turning in an application—and the clarity and fairness which has been promised is akin to seeing the emperor in his new clothes.


And then we have Wednesday. On that day, hundreds of UTLA members will descend upon the Mont, shutting down San Pedro in front of the school, and Fremont teachers will see they are not alone. I urge those of you who have signed the pledge not to reapply—the same pledge Dr, KcKenna has mocked and denigrated while he bragged about his mountain of applications—I urge you to go to the library and get one of the t-shirts available there. While, most of our non-Fremont union brethren will be wearing the traditional red, we should identify ourselves as Fremont teachers. We should also urge as many parents to be there as possible, and try to get microphone time… say, a minute apiece? Let your voices be heard.


Then the next day we’ll hopefully wear our black for our second Black Thursday, a tradition I’d like to see continue to the bitter end. Our first one, which included a Day of Silence, seemed successful. I’ll even pass up wearing costumes that day to wear black and make the point. Every time you see a black-garbed teacher on that day, think—that’s a teacher who will probably be replaced by a long-term substitute.


I wonder what “Anonymous” will be wearing on those days?



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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.


    August 2010



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