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May 17, 2015

Preschool, Adult Ed, Counselors: All the Pieces Matter

I was picketing because the board, in issuing those reduction in force notices (RIF), is cutting vital personnel, and program pieces who serve the neediest students in our district. Sharing the streets with me that day were preschool students and their parents, high school students, and continuing education adult students. Several of them spoke and their stories reminded me of why it was important that we save those 609 positions. Why all the pieces in LAUSD matter.

April 29, 2015

Appreciating Teachers Who Change the World Student by Student, Day After Day

One thing I will be forever grateful for in my time spent out of the classroom is the opportunity it gave me to watch teachers teach. As a support provider to teachers working at two large elementary schools and going through coaching blitzes, I have seen well over 100 teachers teach. Yes over 100. Because I always learn something when I watch teachers teach, I've decided to distill my reflections down into some key takeaways worth sharing with you.

April 21, 2015

Funding to Create the Schools California Students Deserve

I am thankful to report that my district, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and my union, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) have come to a tentative contract agreement and the possibility of a strike is no longer looming on the horizon. Like most agreements, compromise was made on both sides of the bargaining table. I won't bore you with all the details but I do want to talk about one - college counselors.

April 17, 2015

SEC Examining Los Angeles iPad Deal, Newspaper Says

The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked the district whether it properly disclosed how bond funds would be used for the school system's Apple contract.

March 31, 2015

Open Letter to UTLA President and LAUSD Superintendent

It's time to take advantage of a lapsed contract, a reorganization of district administration, and the mediation process to create something new in the Los Angeles Unified School District, hybrid positions. A hybrid position would be where administrators would support schools by spending part of every work day actually teaching and the other part of the day would be devoted to administrative tasks of supporting students and schools.

March 23, 2015

Leveraging Teacher Evaluations in Los Angeles

The opportunity is there to negotiate for their priorities - smaller class-sizes, fully staffed schools, and a pay raise - if they are willing to accept three levels of performance in teacher evaluations. I think the three levels are worth it, if it means better conditions for teachers and students.

March 18, 2015

The Perfect Person for Imperfect Circumstances

Don't ask schools, students, or teachers to rise to your expectations of excellence if you aren't just as deep in the fight for their expectation of equity.

March 17, 2015

What Would You Choose: a School Nurse or a Copier?

I have sat in on school budget councils where we had to decide between funding a school nurse a few more days per week or purchasing a maintenance plan for our copy machines. This happens a lot, robbing Peter to pay Paul. The issue of essential school personnel is a huge roadblock in the heated negotiations between my union, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and LAUSD. What personnel are essential for schools and their students to thrive?

March 03, 2015

Vergara Part 3: Reimagining Tenure

In my 20-plus years of teaching one thing I have learned is teachers need the protection of tenure to effectively advocate for their students. I joined the most recent Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles (E4E-Los Angeles) policy team out of a strong desire to preserve tenure, along with collective bargaining rights and our unions. Here are some of the big takeaways of our recommendations for creating tenure for teachers in California.

February 23, 2015

Vergara Part 2: Tenure Is a Misnomer

Permanent status, that's what I have earned as a second grade teacher in the state of California. I didn't even notice that my pay-stub had changed from the words "Probationary" to "Permanent." I didn't get a letter of congratulations from the superintendent, nor from my principal. It was just another ordinary day. The term tenure in California is used strictly with higher education faculty members.

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