Day 145  Sunday, February 7, 2010: “Superman or Green Lantern”


Today, Superbowl Sunday, marks Day 145 in the countdown of my time at Fremont, and I’m racing to get out these thoughts and questions I’ve had before I join in the festivities.


Superintendent Cortines appeared (is “appeared” the correct word, since this is a non-visual medium?) on NPR Friday, Day 147, in the one o’clock hour.  In this appearance, he spoke of the Mont and blamed teachers for the problem, pretty much a small group—I think we agreed to call them “the Fifty”—who were responsible for “obstructing change and reform” at Fremont High School. Picture one of your students, yes the annoying one in the back who always wants to speak. I’m that kid right now, hand raised, arm waving, the other arm trying to support it.


“Oooh, Oooh! If it’s a small group, who are they? Can we know? Tell us!” Hey, didn’t Dr. George McKenna III (kinda rolls off the tongue, eh?) speak to the faculty, mocking them by saying, “Oh, so we’ve found the villain, have we?” Is it the faculty? Who amongst the faculty is a villain?


“Oooh, Oooh! How long has this been going on at Fremont? Why did LAUSD allow it to continue if they were hurting the school so badly?” Has LAUSD been powerless, been impotent (I admit I wanted to use the word) to deal with a small group of teachers? Has this, indeed, gone on for years? Why didn’t the district choose to “dance” (in the eloquent language of Dr. George McKenna III) with those individuals before?


“Oooh, Oooh! What specific changes did ‘They’ halt or obstruct. Or derail?” Which of the many magic bullets in the clip of educational reform did these villains deflect? Concept 6 (still there, at least until the two new high schools open, whoever gets them, eh?). DigitalHigh School? Block scheduling? No librarian (left behind?). Hooker's hall pass debate? AP classes (still there)? Unpacking the Standards? Instructional Matrix? Block scheduling? Thinking maps? Posting the Standards? Two Principals? The SIFs? First Things First? The Coalition for Essential Schools? Bulletin 1600 and the Small Learning Communities (13 of ‘em still there, like fragments of the former Soviet Union)?

Nine-step lesson plans which devolved to seven-step lesson plans? Read To Achieve? What Fremont calls Instructional Learning Teams (ILTs), but most schools call them Learning Communities (still doing them—I know, I’m a facilitator for a World History ILT—even though an administrator called them “mediocre at best”)? Which of these many magic bullets this They deflect?


Here’s a goody I was reminded of this weekend: a group called Architects of Achievement worked with administrators and SLC lead teachers in designing a New Fremont (the administration is speaking now about a New Fremont—does that make it a Newer Fremont? Newest Fremont? New Coke—I hope not, NOBODY liked that…). The New Fremont would have had structures erected around the campus which would house the “pods” (I always want to burst into whale-song when I hear that word)—groups of SLCs; each area would bear the logo of the SLCs housed there, as I recall; designs for the logos were worked on/revised ad nauseum; pod offices were created to house the podlings—the administrator assigned to the pod (now I’m thinking about vegetables, God help me), the pod-appropriate counselors, clerical staff. The offices were created, doors painted in distinguishing colors and a number of those offices houses other entities the administration felt more appropriate. How did the teachers derail that one?


“Oooh, Oooh! How did They do all that?”


“Oooh, Oooh! Did this happen because there have been so many principals in 16 years, averaging 23 months each? But wasn’t the first in that string there for four years and the last one there for five? Which excuse is going to be trotted out for the success of these villainous acts? Which is worse—a string of principals unable to follow through or a principal there for five years unable to succeed?


And in all this time, LAUSD either was unable to stop that group of teachers or was unwilling to stop them? And the response is to “reconstitute”—oh, wait, we were told it’s not “reconstitution”, but “restructuring.” Having teachers (guilty and innocent alike), cafeteria workers, clerical, security, support, counselors, yes and even administrators ALL reapply?


With such a lackluster series of performances, it would not be surprising to learn that the permit for a UTLA (United Teacher of Los Angeles) rally scheduled for February 9 on the stadium at Fremont High was pulled—what was that I said in an earlier posting “Just Because It Doesn’t Make Sense Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Logical” about the French Revolution and chaining the doors shut? Hey, take it from experts: The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant."--Maximilian Robespierre.”The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”—Napoleon I

When are the parents, whose children we are educating, when is the community, whose future we are entrusted with, going to get all the information, instead of inviting a select few parents on short notice (as happened in December)?


“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”—Voltaire (Hey, look, no comic book or movie references…)

--Chuck Olynyk


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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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