Day 128 Tuesday, February 23, 2010: “Everybody’s Talking At Me”


Today is Tuesday, February 23, 2010. I have 128 days left at the Mont.


I attended the school board meeting and saw parents and teachers passionately arguing. They had argued at the candlelight vigil at 5:00 a.m.—or at least glared at each other. I remembered passing through the charter school folks and it felt like running a gauntlet, with some unwilling to step aside from courtesy, open animosity, attempts to tell me to follow their advise.


Anyone who knows me at all knows I don’t do too well with that advise stuff.


The yelling and threats came later, as we awaited entrance into the school board meeting, with school police officers stepping in the way of passionate parents and supporters. (I was amused that the charter folk also seemed to have a lot of teachers and administrators present, as well as children. Where were our kids? School. Where were the majority of our teachers? Teaching kids at school)


When Superintendent Cortines read his list of recommendations, I was struck by the language, the buzzwords, he employed so freely. It reminded me of Newspeak (you might know it as doublespeak, a term which came later) in 1984. I could have referred to Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, but those horses have been beaten so many times and just become too easy, trivializing the original matter. That’s like comparing teachers fighting for their schools to King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans; if anyone dies over this, someone can correct me. So please bear with me. We’re sticking with 1984.  If you don’t know the novel, admit you never read it, then model some reading for your kids. To quote Robert Heinlein in “Stranger in a StrangeLand,”: “Forgive my ignorance.” “Ignorance can’t be forgiven—only cured.”


Superintendent first spoke of “a sense of urgency,” a phrase I recognized from his December 9th visit to Fremont.  He went to say, “The status quo is no longer acceptable!” That sounds very commanding, but went on to string together more gems of what I will call Eduspeak: “I want to see dynamic partnerships that are data-driven!” (Well, Mr. Data did act as helmsman sometimes in Star Trek TNG…), “ authentic assessment,” “weak track record,” “strong focus,” “daily formative assessment,” “raising the bar,” “positive student outcome focused on problem solving,” “best practices,” “increasing personalization,” and the winner—“nested instruction.”


I get to hear this at every P.D. where I lose 90 minutes 2-3 Tuesdays monthly and am criticized for not educating enough. Instead of “unpacking the standards” or working in “Instructional Learning Teams” (and having that worked mocked) and filling out meaningless surveys whose results will be ignored, WHEN DO I ACTUALLY GET TO TEACH?




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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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