Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vacation - Smore

Wow! I'm starting my 23-day holiday break from teaching today. The last sixteen weeks were a long slog into the byzantine and cobwebbed depths of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and I'm glad to report that I have once again emerged into the light.

I was teaching 6th grade math and science for the last four years and was offered a new position this year teaching electives in the computer lab. The lab contained 39 underpowered PCs running the Windows 98 Operating System. Neither the hardware nor the OS is supported by our own IT department. They were purchased in 1999 and are still running because of spit and shoe polish applied at personal expense.

We have also endured a payroll scandal that began at the beginning of 2007 and has affected everything adversely. There have been multiple errors on tens of thousands of paychecks including my own throughout the year. The overall costs have been horrendous and reverberated with cutbacks to every functioning level of the bureaucracy.

LAUSD Payroll costs balloon

LAUSD's image problem - Los Angeles Times

Many teachers have huge classes with poor support, and as one administrator gleefully informed me, "your union voted for the contract that allows me to put 40.5 kids in each of your classes."

Oh yeah, I did get a grant from the State of California to teach a career technology class about aeronautics. My school site administrators were very supportive but the grant funded after the school year started and we finally got our 14 Windows XP computers and flight yokes operating last week.

I do have some great students and there are many supportive teachers, counselors, and administrators. I love teaching and have many good moments but I fear that the dearth of resources and support will drive many teachers and parents away from the public school system if it continues.