Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lincoln High teacher speaks on hunger strike issues; Professional Development on a Saturday

Something that I heard about but I did not hear much about it -(think about that one) was the story on the teachers staging a hunger strike. It's really a small story, print-wise, but there's a comment explaining the action by Sean Leys, a Lincoln High School teacher. He says it's about demanding that there be a new budget that does not include teacher layoffs or class size increases. They want the stimulus funds that the District received to be used for this. "Teachers start hunger strike to protest layoffs," By Ruben Vives, May 28, 2009, L.A. Times,0,2354830.story A protestlike this is really only effective when there is some conscience that is being addressed that feels that there is a wrong or guilt.

The LAUSD would not be a good subject now that they are getting slim with available cash as they continue to reduce the layoff numbers. From my observation, as these things progress and more money is "found" and "adjustments" made, it just fuels the critics and the Board loses credibility as to those "There-is-no-more money" statements. So the harder the Board works on the issues and produces results here, the more they are distrusted and blamed.

On the other hand, a hunger strike is usually more effective to cause OTHERS to feel guilt or sympathy so that THEY put on the pressure on the targetted entity. So if the public opinion is loud enough (and it doesn't have to be any majority of people, only a noisy-enough representation of people to bother the Board) then there might be some reaction. The Board, especially with Monica Garcia as President, seems to have its decision making saturated with political correctness. Here is where you can expect some reaction to a hunger strike protest. It seems a matter of caving in to pressure of opinion (and like I said, it's not even necessary to have it be a majority or public, only noisy and bothersome) or, addressing what the math calculations show them and then act accordingly.

The number of teachers that were subject to layoff has been gradually reduced by an assortment of measures taken from the 5,000 level down to about 2,000. That's quite a change. There's still more that can be done but I doubt that the hunger strike will do much for causing such things. In the end, if there is not enough money to pay to keep all the teachers, then some will have to go. But it your job is at stake, and the Board has a long tradition of position-changing, that history brings hope that the Board will vacillate again on its decisions.

The District, through Supt. Cortines, announced last year, during local meetings, that it was doing some cost cutting measures and scaling back some of the expenses, like off campus professional development and meetings. I think there was mention of cutting back on the professional development but maybe not. Most of professional development is scheduled within the hours of the school day, so it's not changing anyone's pay. I see that there is one whole day, Saturday, May 30, 2009 that is on the Lincoln High calendar that is an additional day's pay that the District will incur above the regular work days:

Professional Development Day - Saturday, May 30, 2009 Lincoln faculty will meet on this Saturday to revisit the value of academic rigor and explore awesome resources online in technology from 8:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Sometimes I wonder where the District can and can't reduce expenses, but it's apparently not on this day added to a teacher's schedule. The matter could already be set by the union contract and thus not an item that can be withdrawn. So that could be a reason for not cutting down to the bare bones on operations, but instead, continue with plans for it to be held. There's really never much communication to the public on day-to-day operations from any LAUSD school, and this is no exception.