Day 74 Monday, April 19, 2010: “Us and Them”


Today is Monday, April 19, 2010 and it is Day 74 of my time left at the Mont. I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.” C-Track is in serious countdown-mode what with today having been the last regular day of classes. Their finals start tomorrow and they’ll be gone in a few days, which means A-Track flies solo for a week before B-Track returns. Lots of confusion out and about.


Not unlike the confusion in LAUSD. Example imprimus: there are officials who have actually ridiculed the Fremont Community-Led Plan (Ours) without having actually seen it—unless they somehow saw a version of the one we’ve been shopping. Ours is SSC-approved. Hey, Doc, can you say the same? Exactly who voted on that travesty being hawked as a means of seducing the witless and the spineless to apply to the Mont? Who was even allowed to vote on it?


We’ve got thirteen Small Learning Community plans on file with the district. Can you say the same for the six proposed Academies (with their 500-1 student/counselor ratio—except for 300-1 in Magnet and 750-1 in “The School of Law, Justice and Government”) and the three “kinderstalags”—I mean 9th Grade Learning Centers (with their 600-1 student/counselor ratio). Exactly how does our plan suck and LAUSD’s is an improvement? Is this the “Personalization” mentioned in Slide 8 of the District Powerpoint? How can there be “personalization” with even less interaction between student and counselor? What’s up, Doc?


What about a Professional Development Plan? Can you make a claim that yours is vetted by the Local School Leadership Council? Did anybody except your little star chamber approve it after meeting in conclave in some darkened basement at Beaudry? Slide 8 of the LAUSD Powerpoint says “Professional Development: Standards-based instruction, checking for understanding, English Language Development and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” Nice and vague, like every PD I’ve ever attended where some member of the Starch Mafia stood before, pontificating, refusing to address our questions. But then, we’ve also heard how the questions and concerns of the parents were addressed, as well, haven’t we?


So what else supposedly sucks in our plan? That we actually do not plan to abandon the English Language Learners which, according to the second slide of the New Fremont HS Powerpoint—you know the one, Doc, the one on line at,1,Slide 1, the one being used to recruit folks to take our jobs—which states the ELLs are 37% of the population of the school. How can you, in any sort of good conscience, make a claim that the plan we have is crappy when yours (the District’s plan on-line, which is the only you’ve shown) doesn’t even address the needs of that portion of the population? “Providing comprehensive support for all students, including language-minority students and students of color at risk of failure (Culturally Relevant Pedagogy)”, as shown on Slide 7 of the LAUSD Powerpoint, is certainly measurable and quantitative, eh? Where’s your rubric for that? And how will you address that, and so many of the problems? “Participate in an extra five days of staff development per year. Topics include standards-based instruction, checking for understanding, and improving skills of English language learners, improving reading skills in content areas, improving mathematics skills, and improving critical thinking skills.” The same slide. The same bull. “Additional interventions (Read 180, Reading Electives, Accelerated Reading, High Point, Writers Workshop)”—Slide 21. Maybe I should be quoting another song off “The Dark Side of the Moon”: “Money.” Because companies like Scholastic Books (where have we heard that name before?) will be making money off the “failing schools” like the Mont forced through the charade of reconstitution—no, wait, restructuring—no, wait…


Get it. In teacher talk, we call that “checking for understanding.” I know Eduspeak has some new version of that. We’ll probably have to pay Scholastic for that, too…


And how will you measure this success—or the failures of the staff that remains? Oh, yeah, you’re going to “establish a comprehensive accountability and assessment system”. That means you don’t have it yet. Do you? Is it going to be another cut-and-paste plan culled from some place that played the reconstitution game? Well, you’ve got 74 days to go… if you plan to work tonight… Maybe the song should be “Run Like Hell.”


Do you even want to get into the way the students with special needs are pretty much non-existent in the District’s plan? And just wait, since you’ll be operating the New Fremont (I have to remember to stop doing that, since you’re not allowed to call yourselves the New Fremont because non of the guidelines are being followed… Of course, neither are any of the conditions under NCLB… As my students would say, “I’m just sayin’.”) with fewer counselors, just how many ELL students and students with special needs are going to slip through the cracks on your watch?


Cracks? That’ll be like calling the Grand Canyon a crack! That’ll be like calling the Marianas Trench a crack! The District uses the “Cake Metaphor” for declining enrollment (at least I’ll assume that is the purpose behind its use as Slide 17), with the enrollment at 1,988 freshmen, 1,067 sophomores, 1,012 juniors and 575 seniors in the 2007-2008 school year. Since the students will have far less access to a counselor, maybe you’ll have to switch from the “Cake Metaphor” to the “Pancake Metaphor”—you know, a pancake on the bottom (representing the 9th Grade) and three dwindling pats of butter stacked one upon the other (representing the other grades). Which is a crying shame, because on the District Powerpoint, it states in scholarly, beard-stroking terms that “JohnsHopkinsUniversity research stated that students that complete the 9th grade on time are 85% more likely to graduate from high school.” You can claim “No 9Rs” as was done on the District’s Slide 16, but you could just as easily claim you could take on a UFC fighter—with the same effect. It will be like Frosty the Snowman taking on the Human Torch—at least with this plan.


It is appalling how easily the District has not only written off the faculty and staff of the Mont, but the students it was created to serve. So before you start telling us that the plan we’ve put together sucks, in the words of Ellas McDaniel, who wrote a song Eric Clapton recorded on 1989’s “Journeyman”, although I can’t remember where else I’ve heard it: “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”

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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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