Monday, October 15, 2007

Ranting re: LAUSD; Raving re: KIPP LA Prep

I just read that the Superintendent of LAUSD finally filled a few cabinet positions. Never mind that it took him almost a year to do so. His reasoning: "to find the right people, sometimes you have to be a little patient."
In the meantime, my daughters experienced another YEAR of LAUSD education. But never mind that, Brewer! Never mind that these kids have no time to lose since they've already lost so much time. I just need more patience. (This guy drives me NUTS.)
And who got these positions? Well, friends of his from the Navy, of course!! And guess what position still isn't filled? The Academic advisor one - the one that's supposed to fill in the holes of his lack of experience. But, hey, what does that matter when you're only the SUPERINTENDENT of a SCHOOL BOARD!! Oh, that's right! It's ME who needs more patience.
The good news is he did hire someone who's actually knowledgable about payroll problems. Guess you kind of noticed that people not getting paid for doing their job is kind of a bad thing, huh? Guess you couldn't get away with telling them to just be patient.
Well, guess what? My patience is OUT!
A while back, he wrote an article that said basically, I'm either with him or against him. (yeah, because it's really just that simple, is it?) Count me on the "against" side, then, because I'm SO done!
I have seen the light, and the light is called charter schools. Specifically, KIPP LA Prep Middle School (link below on My Favorite Sites). For the first time since my daughters commenced their LAUSD education 5 years ago, I finally have a partner!
Here's just a tiny example of what makes KIPP different, what makes them truly understand that parents and teachers can work TOGETHER.
For years now, I've been writing little notes on the PTA flyers about how they discriminate against working parents by holding their meetings at either 8:15 or 3:30 in the afternoon. Yet, I continue to get newsletters that say things like, "thanks to the parents who took the time to attend..." implying that I'm not willing to "take the time" - never mind that I'm a single parent who works on an hourly basis and can't just leave work whenever I feel like it. No, I'm just not taking the time.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, KIPP had a bbq at a nearby park and families were welcome to attend. I would've loved to have come, but it was on a Friday from 10-12. Wouldn't you know it, on the next newsletter, they thanked the parents that "were able to make it." Just that difference in phrasing said to me that they get it. They know some of us work. (They also have Saturday meetings for parents with the Principal, and hold things like Open House after work hours!)
At Open House last Monday, I was talking to Sylvia's writing teacher about my concerns about Sylvia's spelling. She mentioned that most kids from LAUSD had trouble with spelling.
I thought about that as I was helping Riley (still in a regular neighborhood LAUSD elementary school) with her spelling homework. There's always a little note saying what vowel sounds they're concentrating on (long i's, that sort of thing - which I still always forget what is what, and don't find it nearly as beneficial - but that's for another post I guess) that week. But when I looked at the words, there was no consistency to them whatsoever.
For one thing, they're concentrating on three different vowel sounds the same week. That doesn't make any sense to me. The words are random, and don't always seem to be high frequency words. For instance, two weeks ago, one of the words was "chomp." Now, really, how much do you use the word chomp? Their "concentration" is so unfocused, it seems silly to call it a concentration. If you really did want to concentrate on a certain vowel sound, shouldn't all the words have the same vowel sound, and just use all the different spellings?
And as I thought back, I realized that all of Sylvia's words up until now have also had no sense of cohesiveness about them. I mean, I'm no education expert, but I could choose better words than the ones Riley has!
Sylvia's words at KIPP, on the other hand (and, yet again) DO have the same vowel sound all week long. I expect that the writing teacher's prophecy will hold correct, and that Sylvia's spelling outside of the vocabulary words will improve as the year progresses.
Hey, maybe I could be the Superintendent's Academic Advisor. Oh, wait. I never served in the Navy. Never mind.

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