xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Don't Forget South Central: April 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

L. A. School Board Fails to Heed Jackie Goldberg's Haunting Advice

What does the passing of the current LAUSD budget for 09-10 mean to schools with a high percentage of new teachers? These teachers will be fired and replaced with demoted/displaced workers from Downtown headquarters and Local District offices. Per LAUSD policy, positions created by the firing of new teachers must be reserved for displaced workers. Even if schools are able to buy back positions with the increased Title 1 funding, those positions will be offered to displaced workers first. L.A. Academy has dozens of new teachers who will no longer be serving our students, arguably some of the least served students in society, come July 1st.

Jackie Goldberg, a former school board member, vividly warned the current school board about approving the current budget cuts. Nonetheless, Marlene Canter, Yolie Flores Aguilar, Monica Garcia, and Richard Vladovic voted to approve the layoffs of thousands of teachers (Garcia saying it was in the name of the children) thus assuring that schools in South Central such as L.A. Academy, Jefferson HS, Bethune MS, 75th St., and newly built schools like Miguel Contreras Learning Center and Frank del Olmo School will bear the brunt of the budget cuts.

What does this mean for children? It means that teachers who have worked with these children, who know what their needs are and how to cultivate their potential, will not be around to encourage these children to be the best they can be.

The displaced workers chose to not work directly with students a long time ago, for varied reasons. Many were not around classrooms when standards-based education arrived, technology became embedded in instruction, and programs such as block scheduling and small learning communities were implemented. This is not to say they will not be successful, but to have to train dozens of workers at schools where professional development time is already a luxury, and where the new school year starts in 10 weeks, is a recipe for disaster.

The one school board who represents schools such as L.A. Academy, Richard Vladovic, voted to approve the budget cuts. If our own school board member fails to advocate for our schools, who is representing these children? Only public pressure will force our elected politicians to not let this educational catastrophe occur. Consider doing one of the following:



School Board Members

Ms. Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte District 1 (213) 241-6382

Ms. Monica Garcia District 2 (213) 241-6180

Ms. Tamar Galatzan District 3 (213) 241-6386

Ms Marlene Canter District 4 (213) 241-6387

Ms. Yolie Flores Aguilar District 5 (213) 241-6383

Ms. Julie Korenstein District 6 (213) 241-6388

Mr. Richard Vladovic District 7 (213) 241-6385

Superintendent of Schools
Ramon C. Cortines
Address: 333 S. Beaudry Ave., 24th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90017
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3307 Los Angeles, CA 90051
Tel: 213-241-7000
Fax: 213-241-8442

Saturday, April 11, 2009


April 14, 2009

Dear Superintendent Cortines,

Hello. My name is Cindy Borunda and I am an eighth grader at Los Angeles Academy Middle School. I will start by saying this school has come a long way since I first started out in sixth grade. I have seen countless sessions of after school tutoring and enrichment programs organized by the teachers. I have seen teachers work countless hours after the school day to figure out what they are doing wrong when one of there students is having trouble understanding the lessons. These are people that care, these are the people we should proclaim heroes, but instead you are giving them indecent wages and laying them off. This is an injustice! Where did all the money from the Stimulus package go? Was the money spent on careless things instead of making an effort to make public education better?

We are the future. I am guessing all the people in the important offices have forgotten about us, or they frankly just don’t care. If they did care they would not be doing this. The people you are firing are more than just teachers, they are mentors, role models, and for some of the students in the school, they are the only people who motivate us to try our best and that we can become anything we want.

Without these teachers I never would have gotten to where I am now. I am now independent and play an active role in my community. I am also a student who has gotten a $25,000 scholarship and will be attending a private school next year. The whole application process was very overwhelming, but I had teachers who helped me and motivated me when I felt like giving up. I want to thank them all. Thanks to them I believe I can be someone important who will make a big difference to the world. I just want other students to have the same opportunities. To have someone to look up to, someone who cares, someone who believes they can be anything they want.

I am furious to know, that there will be more students in the classroom. How will students be able to get one-on-one attention? How will they be able to ask questions and get well informed answers?. Do you really expect students to learn in this kind of environment? This is outrageous!

Are you really going to fire all these amazing and caring teachers and replace them with people who haven’t been in a classroom for years? They will lack passion, they won’t care about us. These are not the teachers that will inspire students to be great; these are the people that are teaching just because they have to. Instead of taking a step forward to make public education better you are taking a step back. That is not right.

I would like to commend all the teachers who helped me get to where I am now, thank you all very much. Who would have guessed, that a student from South Central LA would be as successful as I am now? My teachers guessed. I will like to thank them for taking the time to listen to what I have to say and helping me become who I am today.


Cindy Borunda

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

District Finances and Furlough Days

Teachers in many schools are willing to take furlough days to reduce the number of teacher layoffs. It is difficult to ask teachers to make this sacrifice when it is unclear how thorough the district has been in finding every last place to make cuts, before balancing the budgets on the backs of teachers. Placing trust in a system that can't even pay its employees correctly is against the better judgement of many (see my overpayment letter in sidebar.)

For those of you willing to sacrifice to save newer teachers, thank you. It will help save the jobs of teachers at L.A. Academy, such as Lamar Queen, the rapping math sensation. Right now, furloughs are one of the few solutions on the table. Very soon, it will also be necessary to finally address the issue of seniority, and/or how new teachers are assigned to schools. It is unconscionable that each time there are budget reductions, South Central gets hit the hardest.

Please continue calling and faxing the school board, or better yet, write a letter, telling them to use a greater portion of the stimulus money in 09-10 and to not balance the budget through layoffs.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where is Richard Vladovic?

Richard Vladovic is one of the Board of Education representatives for South Central Los Angeles. At a recent board meeting he recused himself from voting on issuing pink slips to teachers because his son was pink-slipped, and he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest.

Parents, students and educators in South Central want to know: who is fighting for our schools? How can Vladovic be an effective advocate for students and schools in South Central L.A. if he abstains from voting on the issues that are pivotal to us?

Now, more than ever, it is apparent that if we are to survive the upcoming cuts, leadership must arise from the people themselves, not from those in positions of power that we have trusted to protect our schools and our students.

Read more about Richard Vladovic at :


Read about his recusal at:


Friday, April 3, 2009

L.A. Academy Teachers Rally on Friday

Teachers continue to make their voices heard at the Friday morning informational leafletings at L.A. Academy Middle School. Pictured here are many of our RIF'ed teachers, the Rifters, who are trying to stay positive in the face of their layoff notices. Pictured here are Emmanuel Ofili, Silvia Garcia, Giovanni Torres, Ricardo Andrade, Rico Gutierrez

Osvaldo hands out flyers when he could be home in bed.

Carita Spencer Bryant (left) has taught at this schools since it opened and does not want to see her newer colleagues go. Melissa Naponelli is UTLA Co-Chair and is fighting valiantly to help the new teachers.

The Chimalpopoca family participated in the leafleting, even though Osvaldo, an 8th grader in our Advanced Studies program is off track and could have slept in.

Joe Zeccola (left) and Brent Tercero have both been RIF'ed and are devastated.

From left to right are David D'Lugo, Natalie Umber, Maria Flores, Silvia Garcia, and Brenda Talaro. All of these teachers have been RIF'ed.

Join us Wednesday after school and Friday before school in raising awareness of the disproportional impact the RIF's will have on South Central Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

UTLA House of Representatives Votes AGAINST Tentative Agreement

Report from LA Academy's Union Representatives:

Mr. Kelley, Mr. D'Lugo and I joined Mr. Mata at the UTLA House of Representatives meeting last night (4-1-09), and I have to tell you, we were all surprised by what we saw. And what, you ask, was that?

UTLA Representatives and Chapter Chairs ready to fight for our jobs!

When discussing the current tentative agreement between UTLA and LAUSD, multiple people stood up and stated things like:

"As long as one teacher is in danger of losing his/her job, we cannot vote to approve this agreement!"

"We will not vote yes on this contract while 4,000 of our brothers and sisters are in danger of losing their jobs!"

"If we vote for this contract, not only will we be making it easier to lay off 4,000 mostly new teachers, but the next time, they'll be coming for the veteran teachers."

These comments literally caused the room to ERUPT in applause. I am not exaggerating.

What does this mean for us Rifters (and supporters)?

It means we have many, many union brothers and sisters prepared to fight (and yes, strike) for us to keep our jobs. The UTLA House of Representatives voted AGAINST the new tentative agreement, in large part because of the pending layoffs. But the only way we can win this fight is if we join in it. We cannot wait for the union to do it for us. We are the union. We must be active participants in our own rescue.

How can we do this?

We can make sure we get out in numbers to leaflet every Friday morning and Wednesday afternoon to make our parents and community aware of what's happening. We can talk to our colleagues about joining us. And finally, we can make sure everyone votes YES to authorize the one-day protest strike in May.

This is not going to be an easy fight, but it was truly inspiring to see how many people are on our side. If we mobilize and get out there, we can make something happen.

Remember, the only power we have is together! So, let's join together, flex our collective muscle, and overturn these layoffs!

(on behalf of the Rifters)

LAUSD Board Delays Vote on Budget

Board members expressed serious concerns about making important budget decisions without accurate information from Sacramento, so they  voted to delay decisionis until the next board meeting on  April 14th.  Superintendent Cortines made mention in an interview with NBC that he is tired of the Board making decisions based on getting "hundreds of emails convincing them to vote a certain way".  Apparently all the phone calls and emails expressing our concerns have been heard by the Board.

We respectfully disagree with Mr. Cortines' decision not to use a greater portion of the stimulus money in 09-10 to stave off layoffs.  Below are some areas readers have suggested be cut before teachers are fired:

1.  ROTC Program
2.  LEAD program
3.  World Language program
4.  Beyond the Bell

Readers have also encouraged the consideration of furlough days and/or pay cuts.  Some have even said they would not mind paying a higher medical co-pay if it means saving jobs.

Teachers in LA Academy and other South Central schools have received enormous community support and we want to thank you for recognizing that the most disenfranchised students are the ones who will suffer most from the proposed cuts and layoffs.