LA Teacher Layoffs – The blame game begins

American’s love to play the blame game. We hate to take responsibility for our actions. Take the economic mess for example. It’s Bush’s fault, Jim Cramer’s fault, Wall St, toxic mortgages, people for taking those mortgages, the “American Dream“, atheists. Everyone throws the blame around.

For education policy nerds out there, we know it’s no different in the education system. Ask who is to blame for poor student performance and you’ll get almost as many different responses as people you ask. The students themselves, poor teachers, poor administration, lack of money, lack of accountability, lack of common sense, lack of initiative, society at large. Everyone will say they helped make the meal if it is tasty, but when it makes one want to vomit the chef becomes a mystery.

So it comes as no surprise that the recent teacher layoffs in LA are turning into a shouting match of who’s fault the whole mess is.

from LA Times

As Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines and the Board of Education attempt to bridge a $718-million budget deficit with widespread cuts and layoffs, supporters of each program, position and school at risk are pointing the finger elsewhere as they try to redirect the budget ax.

It is oddly reminiscent of a scene from “Alice in Wonderland” as all sides try to escape fiscal pain. The board could vote on the budget cuts on Tuesday.

Parent groups, unions and other organizations have launched campaigns for each potential fiscal victim and rallied their members to make calls and write e-mails and letters. They’ve flooded the offices of the board and the superintendent, who said he has received between 50 and 100 e-mails, calls and letters a day.

“Because that’s the way we do business in L.A., you come and scream and yell and you usually get your way,” Cortines said in an interview. “Well I’m a little different. I listen, but it has to be logical, it has to be reasonable, you have to bring me a plan that lives within the budgetary parameters.”

At last week’s school board meeting, and at previous sessions, supporters of special education, assistant principals, cafeteria workers and custodians, art programs and graduation advisors spoke about why their positions must be saved.

Moms Unite is now turning its attention to try to prevent cuts that would increase class sizes. Hurley said the group is different from others because they have no special interest.

“Our interest is to protect the entire school system.”

Others who are trying to protect their jobs and special programs, however, consider their positions to be equally crucial to the functioning of the district.

At Tuesday’s meeting, one group handed out fliers that read: “Why LAUSD schools need Diploma Project Advisors.”

Another flier distributed by Service Employees International Union members stated that laying off more than 1,000 cafeteria workers, custodians and teachers aides would deal “another devastating blow to our children’s education.”

Some who are at risk are trying to save their jobs and programs by insisting that their elimination won’t save the district much money, or could even cost more.

“From a practical standpoint we were told passion is great, teaching is great, environment of the school is great, but all the school district cares about is dollars and cents,” said Steve Rosen, a West Valley parent who spoke at the February meeting attended by Cortines. “We have to be practical.”

At Sellery, parents told Cortines that savings from closing the school wouldn’t be significant in light of the huge deficit, said Principal Karol McQueary.

“They say we’re sort of a drop in the bucket,” McQueary said. “Especially because of the cost of moving our students, they [the parents] feel that cuts should be made elsewhere.”

More as it comes.

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