oh right— the reapplication process

just F Y I

superintendent deasy made the decision to reconstitute by any other name— and of course, it smells as sweet. his decision to target crenshaw for "magnet conversion" is just a ruse to force the reapplication process of teachers and to shove out not only the incompetents (which of course do exist) but also the activists (of which there are many more). such are my suspicions at this moment. i am trepidatious until i see the key rabble-rousers, competent teachers all, return.

i emailed the principal my letter of intent to reapply; he forwarded same to the district liason; the district liason emailed me saying he was in receipt of the letter. nothing more was stated.

it was not until 6:45 PM on a friday when a colleague called me on the phone to ask my why i was not present for my 6:30 PM interview— i answered, "because no one told me one was scheduled." i have emailed the principal and the district liason telling them that due to the medical leave and my absence on campus, i would have been oblivious to the scheduled time unless contacted by phone or email. i respectfully asked for another interview, but i have yet to hear back from either of them.

never again will i go through this nightmare

having been on medical leave for just a little longer than i had expected but a little less than i would have hoped, i returned to work this week only to find myself thrown into the debacle that is CST testing at crenshaw high school.

for the last several years, CST testing has never gone quite right, mostly due to the incompetence of the person who fills the District-created position of Testing Coordinator. this is not entirely her fault, as the lack of administrative oversight allows for her incompetence to bloom like a foul rose, its smell penetrating every last classroom on campus.

i struggle to find the words to express my disdain and utter repulsion at the situation. i fear i will vomit on my desk.

the kids themselves are resilient, and manage to make the best of the situation but there is a major impact— i'd approximate that the confusion and chaos of yesterday has directly led to a full 1/3 of yesterday's students being absent today—and this in my classroom, where i struggle to shield from the tempest of the treacherous bureaucratic buffoons.

is it any wonder that the superintendent finds cause to criticize our school? is it any wonder that we all fear his desire to close the school down? i wonder if they will let me interview for my position, and more: if they will deign to allow me to return to the school i call my home.

collaboration in theory and practice, or: a silver lining

For whatever reason, our local leadership council decided to propose a new bell schedule. This was introduced after the contract says the matrix must be completed (and even that hadn't been done!). We have the option of moving some times around (essentially a maintaining of the status quo) or completely re-doing the schedule into a 2x8 set-up. While I admit I like the idea of the 2x8, the fact that we had done precious little research was enough for me to say FUCK NO. While I did try to convince faculty of this, 2x8 won the day, and now we have to get people together, during furlough days, and technically summer vacation, to get them to create the matrix.

As a bonus, the assistant principal they put in charge of this is leaving the 24th, the assistant principal over counseling is also leaving that day, and the "computer guru" who helps with all that is officially on vacation beginning 3pm today.

While this would seem like a horrible work situation—and believe me it is!—there is a silver lining here: an opportunity for real collaboration. By bringing all department chairs and lead teachers together, we could actually craft a matrix we want! Instead of having a bunch of moppets running things, we could actually have some people with innovative ideas and solutions.

Oh theory. Always so much more appealing than the reality. So now, I have the brutal task of synergizing these people. Granted, I've never attempted this. And yet, pessimism is creeping in. it is 12:37am and I need to be up at 6:30am.

When, on an autumn evening, with closed eyes

As I finished dinner, I went up to my room to begin my work on tomorrow's lesson. Perhaps it's the fact that it gets so dark so early now, but the entire neighborhood felt so quiet, almost lonely. As I entered the room, and began fumbling for the light, I could hear the muted sounds of a trumpet. Since I live next door to a middle school, at first I believed it must have been a kid in band practicing, or a mariachi band playing for a party. As I listened some more to the muffled sounds, I knew the player was too good to be a middle school kid. Also, it was far too late in the evening for some kid to still be hanging out on campus.

I went to the bathroom window, opened it, and pressed my ear against the screen. I could easily hear someone playing a sad, slow trumpet in the middle of the field. The echoes against the walls of the school made the song sound so melancholy and beautiful. I went back downstairs and outside to the backyard, under the pretense of letting the dog out. Once downstairs, the sound did not echo as well and I went back upstairs.

I went out on the balcony to hear the trumpet player. I'm not sure why, but it was the most beautiful thing in the entire world. A single person, standing in the middle of a field, in the middle of the night, creating such pretty noise. The sounds of the city made such a lovely accompaniment: the barking dogs (not just mine), the cars zooming by, the sirens off in the distance, the white noise of the jet engines as they headed to LAX.

As I listened, I went from feeling like a privileged audience of one to feeling like an intruder. Here I was, hidden by the shadows of the house, listening to this person perform such an intimate act. I felt like I had stumbled upon something I was not supposed to be aware of. Still, the notes carried by the evening air fell upon my ears, and I felt a joy usually reserved for the final movement of Beethoven's 9th, the feel of grass in my feet or the sun on my face, or a cozy bed with the dog.

Thanks, whoever you are, for reminding me that the world is still a beautiful, wonderful, awesome place.


I am teaching a video game class, where the kids are learning how to program their own games (there will be more about this later, folks, so just be patient).

While still inside the classroom, I asked the kids to describe, using simple commands like "walk, stop, turn left, turn right" to navigate me around the desks to the other side of the room. They did this splendidly. One of the assistants from USC said, "Now do it blindfolded!" What started as a joke quickly turned into a great idea.

I went to my car, took my dog's scarf out, and gave it a good shake. I went to the corner of the quad, where students now had to give me even more detailed commands. Now, they were giving me turn commands in degree measurements! And then they had to program me to go down the stairs. They were really good about saying, "Now raise your right arm! Grab the rail! Step down! Step down!" It was a really fun exercise, which not only taught them about programming the playable character, but had the added benefit of me learning something from them.

Obviously, letting go and having my teenagers guide my every move was difficult psychologically. It was hard to believe that my kids wouldn't make me step in goo, or that they wouldn't make me brush past a tree or a bench "on accident." It was also difficult physically, since I was wearing high heels! Imagine taking an unseen step, even in 3" heels!

Ultimately, the kids got a kick out of it, and I did not fall and crack my head open and die.

Thanks to Mr. Quijada for snapping some pics on his iPhone!

Plugging Away At This Test

There are about a million things I could be doing at the moment, but all energy left in me is being stored in reserve. I'm going to need it later this week, I'm sure. For now, I have senior finals to give. The Algebra 2 kids took theirs today, and even now at 4:o7pm, I still have one darling girl plugging away at this test. I don't think I made it too hard. Then again, I always say this and every year my kids give me grief.

I wrote out a grievance for a teacher today. No details (obviously) but I don't think I'm going to be successful. This person is a probationary teacher, and they enjoy very little protection under the collective bargaining agreement. Still, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not attempt even a single slingshot's stone at the LAUSD Goliath.

It seems strange that after all these months I would return to this site, but I've been largely ignoring my writing and this seems a tragedy. I don't let these thoughts out into the wilds of the internet much anymore, and given the circumstances of my existence at the moment, it would seem a tragedy to remain quiet.

I've retained the UTLA chapter co-chair position again this year. I'm honored, and slightly bewildered, that my colleagues place this trust in me. I feel much about it now as I did when I was editor in high school. Not only do I think not many people could do it, I'm certain now that there are not many who would do it. The duties, while easy and tolerable, take an emotional toll that taxes my psyche even more. As if dealing with my students' troubles were not enough!

As we near the last day of school, I am nonetheless quite excited about the progress at Crenshaw. It does not feel like the same campus. I only wish some friends had stayed to see it. You know who you are.

2 Days of CELDT

We administered the California English Language Development Test over the last two days. Blecch.

Basically, it's a test designed to evluate the progress which "Limited English Proficient" students are (not) making.

There are several parts, like reading and writing, but we administered the speaking part. We provide prompts, and the students have to provide a specific reply.

There's a section where they identify objects using visual clues. It's amazing how many students say "lawyer" when shown a picture of a judge. It is also amazing how many students cannot identify a beaker from science class.

It was really repetitive. I could recite the script by heart.

I had a sub for the two days I was doing testing. The sub yesterday was OK. The sub today lacked classroom management and "somehow" two of my graphing calculators turned up missing in second period. Ooh, I am going to tear into them tomorrow.

Remind me not to assume substitutes are capable. Yecch.

Happy New Year!

How I am spending my Rosh Hashanah holiday:

In bed 'til noon. ... This was foiled by a parent calling me at 7:30 and wondering whether it was true that the students didn't have to come in today.

Watching episodes of Law & Order until 2 pm. Sitting on the couch. Drinking iced tea. Playing with the files on my hard drive. Looking over the lesson plan for tomorrow.

Leaving the house at 2 pm to meet the boy, who shall be taking off from work a few hours early. Then off to Disneyland.

Putzing around, trying to get on the Nemo Subs (hopefully the line will be short!), until dinner time, when we head over to the Blue Bayou (AKA: the restaurant inside Pirates). Topping off the experience with a smoothie from the Tiki Room.

Gah. And then school tomorrow.

Odds are not too many kids show up tomorrow, cos thats just how it is.

09/05: Never Forget

Ah, the first day of school.

I think things went smoothly enough. There is currently one working copier available to teachers. Another one is made sporadically available. The rest of the machines are (as one teacher said) "guarded jealously by the clerical staff as if the machines were their first-born." I was told I need to get there "no later than" 7:30 am in order to make copies for tomorrow. Luckily for me, I;m usually there by 7:00 am. Ah, dedication, you'll be the death of me yet.

The day went rather smoothly. All in all, I look forward to the year. I do, after all, love what I do.

I can already tell which kids are gonna give me a hard time, though. It's the same kids who gave me a hard time last year. Ah, but do not despair. I've had a couple of kids really turn their life around, even if it's two or three years later. It is never to late for them, and as long as that hope is there, I won't give up.

. . . I feel like I need the Fark "sappy" tag on this post.

Buy Back Day: 1

As a way to detail further all the shit I have to tolerate as an LAUSD employee, I thought I would share the song that my bosses played today. According to them, it will serve as "our theme for the year." Like to hear it? Here it goes.

Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We're on the move.(We're on the move)
Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We got the groove.(We got the groove)
There's been so many things that held us down,
But now it looks like things are finally comin' around.
I know we've got a long long way to go,
And where we'll end up I don't know.
But we won't let nothin' hold us back.
We're puttin' our show together, we're polishin' our act.
Well, if you've ever been held down before
I know you'd refuse to be held down anymore.
Don't you let nothin' nothin' stand in your way,
I want y'all to listen listen to ev'ry word I say, ev'ry word I say.
Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We're on the move.(We're on the move)
Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We got the groove.(We got the groove)
Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We're on the move.(We're on the move)
Ain't no stoppin' us now,
We got the groove.(We got the groove)

Gun, forehead. Forehead, gun.

On the bright side? I advanced a few more chapters in William Gibson's Spook Country.

nobody stole your cell phone

yesterday, right before school was to let out, a student told me that his cell-phone was missing out of his bag. he was upset. he was frantic. he was worried about the phone numbers of "all his ladies", and he was certain someone in the room had it.

(these students have me all day. so, there are no people trickling in and out. all the people who arrived, were still there at that moment. "that's some nice police work, there, lou.")

i told him to chill out, that we still had some work to do, and that i was calling the dean. i can search the students belongings, but cannot under any circumstances search their person: this is a bad idea even if the students give permission-- mostly because a student can still say you "touched" them during the search, and i dont want a multi-million fucking dollar lawsuit on my hands thanxverymuch.

i called down to the dean's office, whose handlers assured me would be up shortly. as we waited for over a HALF FUCKING HOUR, i searched their backpacks and purses. nothing.

as my natives grew more and more restless, i allowed them to call their parents to explain the situation, but none of them could leave until the dean searched them. finally the student calls his mother.

" hey mom. i'm still at school. we gotta search everybody because i think someone took my phone. yeah. uh huh. ok. thanks for telling me that."


"... guys: my mom says i left my phone at home."

as he bolted out the door, a collective groan went up, but a single person laughed: me.

today, the student showed up with capri-suns in an effort to reconcile with his classmates. he then stood up and apologized. what a mark of character!

funny. the other teachers and i were betting he wouldn't show today. how pleasantly surprised we all were. he gave us capri-suns too.

my first post in nearly a year is about piss

specifically, this post is about the piss i found in the math dept. supply room as i was leaving school today.

as i was walking to the stairs, i noticed that there was a single book at the top of the stairs, apparently carelessly mislaid or dropped by a student. i noted its lack of a barcode (hmm, not the school's then) and then noticed its esoteric subject matter: some treatise or another on muti-variable algebra. as i picked it up, i wondered how this ever got out of the math room.

as i walked back towards the supply room, i said hello to the maintenance crew, fixing the water fountain. they told me they needed to access the sink in the supply room, so to please leave the door ajar. when i got to the supply room, i noticed all the cabinet doors were open, and that a couple of books were on the floor.

when i entered, i smelt the pungent odor of piss, like that belonging to someone who doesnt drink enough water and too much soda, sick and fermented piss.

as i traced its foul origin, i discovered its source must have pissed on a stack of algebra books in the corner, books once destined for student hands, now tainted by the yellow fluid. the stream ran from the top of the books, flowed down the side, then pooled at the base of a cabinet, making a large puddle.

i questioned the maintenance men, who said they had seen "an old guy in a hat" inside the office, but had not seen anyone "suspicious," and that they had certainly not seen any students, the usual perpetrators of such a crime. however, as nothing was vandalized, destroyed or out of place, i doubt the crime was committed by a student. no, old guy in a hat is prime suspect no. 1.

suspect no. 2 is the maintenance guy himself.

i'm dying

under the onus of 5-week grade deadlines. kinda. not really.

im so busy. life is whizzing by. i am whizzing by.

i need a bath. a spa treatment.

Wednesday: Week 3

I am tired. It is early. I promise to write more later tonight, after the grocery store and a nap (hopefully).

don't let your child be a kangaroo!

this inspirational link is a bit cheesy but has a bunch of cute "awww" and "oh." moments.