This ongoing situation at Locke High School in Los Angeles is really a bellwether. If you only read one thing today, make it this op-ed from a Locke teacher. I think this is what they call “teacher voice.” And it’s a ground-zero look at how this stuff plays out. But as you read, remember, it’s all about the kids!*
We’ve got a presidential campaign underway where themes of poverty and opportunity are frequently discussed, and a genuine grassroots rebellion for better schools in one of our major cities and cultural centers complete with parents and increasingly teachers battling established institutions like the school district and the teachers’ union…where the hell is the national press? (Green Dot’s Barr is great on TV!)
From the op-ed:
The district’s disinformation campaign was launched the next week. We had a mandatory after-school meeting, at which representatives from the LAUSD and the teachers union attacked the plan for three hours. Green Dot was barred from participating. Mat Taylor, the United Teachers Los Angeles rep from Fremont High School, told our faculty: “You fired yourselves when you signed that petition.” Others said that Green Dot offered no healthcare benefits (a falsehood retracted after I objected), that a continual stream of unhappy Green Dot teachers reapply to the LAUSD and other distortions. After all that, some teachers withdrew their signatures.
Also, another note from the front, this time St. Louis.
*Obvious but too often overlooked point in this debate: This is a debate about power, not kids. The folks who have the power, in this case the local teachers’ union and the school district, don’t want to give it up. This is surprising why? But, since these institutions are not what a lot of people on the left, my side of the political spectrum, traditionally think of as “the man” this causes a lot of dissonance and confusion…it’s also why pols like Indy Mayor Bart Peterson understand the future of urban politics…better than it might seem at first blush.