December 18

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

 

   Thousands of words have been and will continue to be written about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. on Friday morning.  This op-ed from the blog This Can’t Be Happening, published on Sunday, offers an angry answer to the question posed: “America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?”  http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1474  If you need more details about how teachers, administrators and custodians helped to save lives, NBC NEWS had this story on Saturday:  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/15/15927932-lives-saved-by-teachers-custodian-and-even-children-in-connecticut-school-shooting?lite  How should parents and educators deal with the events in Connecticut with their children and students?  This item from the Contra Costa Times offers some timely suggestions and includes 6 very specific tips on how to deal with the situation with kids:  http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_22194941/bay-area-parents-schools-discuss-how-they-plan  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) web site has an article titled “Dealing With Incidences of School Violence” that includes a number of links about what to say to children and students about the shooting.  It includes a specific link about how to discuss the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary:  https://www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/together/violence.cfm  Valerie Strauss reprints a portion of a blog (she includes a link to the full text) from a real teacher describing how she/he plans to deal with the massacre when her/his students arrive in class Monday morning:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/12/17/back-to-class-the-tightrope-teachers-must-walk/  In light of the events in Connecticut, the LAPD will try to have a uniformed officer stop by each elementary and middle school campus in the LAUSD once-a-day starting when schools return from their winter break in early January.  Today’s L.A. Times provides the details in a front-page story:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lapd-security-20121218,0,2476583.story  As students and teachers returned to classes yesterday in California and around the nation after the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary, an article in today’s Times describes what they faced and how they dealt with the incident in Connecticut:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-shooting-back-to-school-20121218,0,4255297.story  An item in the Fresno Bee, by way of the Associated Press, details how lawmakers in California plan to introduce legislation to promote gun safety:  http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/17/3104631/calif-lawmaker-promises-action.html  You can file this one in the “Ooops!”folder.  Several large state teacher retirement funds (including CalSTRS) have investments in companies that manufacture weapons for personal use.  The Huffington Post broke this story late last night along with an update early this afternoon describing how California has millions invested in a private equity fund that owns several firearms brands:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/gun-company-investors-teachers-_n_2319064.html
  The LAUSD continues to promote good nutrition programs at its campuses. The school board voted last week to make nutrition education part of its curriculum, give students more say in school menu selections and to try to insure that students have enough time to eat lunches. Saturday’s L.A. Times provides the details: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-food-lausd-20121215,0,2724803.story

   The same paper reports that a number of Bellflower High School (Bellflower Unified School District) drama alumni have gotten together to put on a performance on campus of “A Christmas Carol” to help raise funds to support the school’s theater arts program: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bellflower-christmas-20121215,0,2705464.story
   A Sunday op-ed from the L.A. Times revisits the issue of tenure and seniority in the hiring and firing of teachers.  It is written by an educator who has been “pink-slipped” four times in over 8 years because she lacked seniority.  She offers some provocative suggestions for changing the system in California:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bhakta-teaching-20121216,0,6435290.story
   If you think working conditions are bad at your school or in your district due to pay cuts, furlough days, or class size increases at least be thankful you don’t work in Thailand.  Human Rights Watch reports that rebel insurgents in the southern part of the country have murdered a number of school teachers over the last couple of months:  http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/17/thailand-rebels-escalate-killings-teachers
   And finally, one of the biggest problems with NCLB is that schools can make significant progress and still be labeled “failing” for not meeting steeply rising federal standards.   The Sacramento Bee uses schools in northern California to illustrate this conundrum:  http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/16/5057340/schools-improve-yet-fall-behind.html#mi_rss=Top%20Stories

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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