Day 12 Saturday June 19, 2010: Homeward Through the Haze


Today is Saturday, June 19, 2010 and Day 12 of my time left at the Mont. Actually, I have five days of teaching left at the Mont. Finals begin on Monday, the Summer Solstice. Yesterday a number of the Rebel Alliance (yeah, I still like to call us that) gathered at Avila’s El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant in Huntington Park. It had served as a gathering place/watering hole in happier times for the staff of the Mont, but many of us had drifted away from it over the years.  It seemed appropriate to return this time, this last time, as the staff from the Mont. To me, it was the last time, for I doubt anybody is going to want to hang around next week, what with finals, grades, due, rooms being packed and cleared out… and the sense of failure hanging over us.


I know, personally, I will want to hand over my key, throw the laptop on the seat and just plain drive. A friend, Andrea Mordoh, my former partner at EdisonMiddle School, where I guess she’s doing administrative stuff now, had once spoken about making goodbyes like a cat, leaving and not looking back. I want to agree with her, usually do on this point. Maybe my anger, my frustration, my sense of shame at not winning this fight, does make me want to drive and not look back. My anger and frustration does flare as soon as I turn off Florence onto San Pedro and see the school with the flashing messages on the sign—always days behind. I find myself doing what I did when the problems with Larry Higgins were at there worst. I pull up into the same spot I’ve parked in for sixteen years, get out of my ride and mutter, “I hate this f*&#ing place.” I sigh, look around the empty parking lot, look at my windows, then grab my laptop and go in.


The podium was packed today and I listened to it thump around as I drove to El Ranchito. (I’ve never figured out how anyone can actually park in that lot.) Not a very big crowd inside, but maybe the emotions I’m writing about feeling are being felt as strongly by others, if not more, and that’s what might have kept them away. I do notice that fewer people hang out in the O-Zone, although now I’m getting folks who swing by who normally don’t and stare at the empty walls.


Still, we gathered, and toasted, and shared stories, the latest news about fellow staff members, the rumors. Two or three hours of “Remember the time that…” and “Remember when …” and “What are you going to do?” Lots of reminders I don’t have a place to go yet, and more talk about how Cortines/McKenna/Balderas have built a Berlin Wall around the Mont—or at least D7 to keep us from escaping to other lives. I’m nervous because I haven’t written a resume or interviewed for a position in 22 years, but I also didn’t seek a job because I was determined to gum up the works because as Claudia Pilon told Superintendent Cortines, “No, I’m not reapplying. I already applied once.”


But I guess now it is time to start looking, to write a new resume, to trim my beard and compete with my coworkers for jobs we already had. That part’s the rub. We’re like bugs in a jar that got shaken and have to fight each other. And what I’m hearing about those that are staying is less comforting, as the conditions get changed. Just picture those “trust-building exercises” scheduled for next week, eh?


This is coming out a lot darker than I intended. It was supposed to be about a celebration of what we did. And there were accomplishments. I did get a chance to bounce ideas off of people for the next steps. Yes, there will be next steps. This isn’t over.


It isn’t over. Heh.


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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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