LA Times reporter Jason Song has written a series of reports weakness of The Los Angeles Unified School District and Power of United Teachers Of Los Angeles in why it is nearly impossible to fire bad, incompetent or dangerous teachers. On Sunday,The Times began a series called “Failure Gets a Pass show the power of the Teacher Unions in California and United Teachers of Los Angeles in particular on the ability to dismiss teachers. In most states it takes three years to become tenured. Here in California it’s two.
Removing teachers in California and LAUSD virtually impossible. The system is arduous, time consuming and when the school district may have done everything right the teacher will still keep their job thanks to lengthy appeals.
Part one deals with trying to fire teachers: Carlos Polanco, a former teacher at Virgil Junior High , make a sarcastic remark to a student who was hospitalized after making a suicide attempt. The student showed the wounds. Polanco allegedly called the cuts weak; carved deeper next time. Look you couldn’t kill yourself. Another student told the boy how do it. The Polanco said see he (the other boy) even know how to kill himself. The LAUSD school board voted to fire him. But Polanco kept his job. He was misunderstood by the student and school board. The Teacher review commission overruled the school District board. The commission acknowledge Polanco made the statements. The teach meant no harm. Polanco now teaches At East Valley High School, in North Hollywood.
Part Two LA Unified Pays Teachers Not To Teach; LA Times reporter Jason Song goes into detail LAUSD warehouses 160 teachers in various locations in the school district a few others are at home earning their salaries while appealing their suspension or termination. Meet Matthew Kim, a LAUSD special education teacher with cerebral palsy who taught at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Village section of LA. Kim has was accused of inappropriate touching of female students and colleagues. Kim said this was not the case. Kim has the partial use of one hand. The school district has tried to fired Kim but to no avail. Kim said it was an involuntary movement. The district and Kim’s legal defense team has both scored victories. Kim claims disability discrimiation. Today Kim still earns his $68,000 salary while staying home.
In LAUSD teachers who are suspended are not allowed by their union contract to anything but teach. Although there is no specific reference in the contract to housed employees, an attorney for L.A. Unified pointed to Article 9, Section 4.0, which defines the “professional duties” of a teacher, such as instructional planning and evaluating the work of pupils. United Teachers of Los Angeles President A. J. Duffy, said”Why should we deingrade teacher by forcing them to doing something that they are not suppose to do.” This leaves teachers twitting their thumbs waiting for news for their reinstatement or for termination.
In other school systems, are mixed. New York City Department of Education teachers do the same things in Los Angeles Unified nothing. About 550 teachers of the nation’s largest public school district teachers sit around doing nothing in so-called “rubber rooms” throughout the city.
In Chicago, the process moves faster fire or reinstate the 30 or so teachers who are waiting for fate who are assigned to secretarial task in Chicago Public Schools(District 299).
In San Francisco Unified, teachers who waiting for their fate perform administrative tasks or working warehousing or doing inventory.
LA Unified Chief Ramon C. Cortines would like to fire the teachers but cannot. Cortines believes this needs to change. An attempt was made by one of two LA School Board members
“It’s a glaring example of how hard it is to remove someone from the classroom and how the process is tilted toward teachers,” said school board member Marlene Canter, who recently proposed — unsuccessfully — to revamp the disciplinary process.
These are some of the reasons that the LA Unified Schools District needs to broken down. Other reasons includes Payroll system debacle. in which teacher salaries and other district employees pay was shortened or was missing for 6 months making district employee go through a financial hardship in which some district filed bankruptcy.
Another scandal involved short term of LA Unified School District Superintendent Vice-Admiral David C. Brewer, The school system first African-American leader. Brewer was bought out of his contact in the summer of 2008 due to lack of improvement in test scores and graduation rates. Brewer felt that he was not given enough time to reform the spwalling school district. He was hired in late 2006. Brewer and some in the Africian American Community believed the that the Vice-Admiral Brewer was removed because he of his race.
Another problem is that the Los Angeles Unified School District building spree. Late 1990’s to early 2000’s the School district began a campaign new school campuses. The campuses were planned during explosive growth in district. However, the LAUSD is facing declining enrollment. During housing boom, many students moved to the outer ring suburban and exurban areas such as Fontana, Moreno Valley, Beaumont; Lancaster, Palmdale, Victorville, and Apple Valley. Some families moved out of the state to Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
More students are leaving for Mexic0 and Central America, Illegal immigrants have moved due to the housing bust and the current recession and the mounting job losses and opportunity have dried up. Wholesale families have given up on the American Dream and they are fleeing. Some schools will be built sitting empty until population increases.
With that in mind its time to brake up the school district. LASUD is too unwieldy, too week in some aspects, too incompetent. The model is broken and need to be demolished. More local control. Change the laws in Sacramento so that real reform can happen. Make school teachers and adminstrators more accountable to parents and state education leaders.
A smaller school district would function more nimbly, more responsively and better results. San Diego is divided into four regional school districts: San Diego Unified School district is the cities largest covering most of the city south of State highway 52 to the National City, Lemon Grove, La Mesa borders.
Northwest San Diego(Torrey Pines, Carmel Valley and Sorrento Valley) is in the San Dieguito Unified School district one of the top school district in the State and nation.
North Central and Northeast San Diego(Rancho Penasquitos, Rancho Bernardo, 4 S Ranch and Sabre Springs) are in the Poway Unified School District San Deigo County’s second largest school system.
Sweetwater Union School Disrict contains the San Diego communities including Otay Mesa, Palm City, South San Diego and San Ysidro.
San Dieguito, Poway and Sweetwater Union students have better scores than the San Diego Unified and San Diego Unified has far more high school graduates that LA.
Bigger is not better. Change must come to the district. Or the students will pay in the long term.