“A Farewell to Arms” – Take a deep breath.

Things are winding down. For those of us who have been in the fray of battle for many months, but will now find ourselves in the hinterland of displacement, hearing those hints that we should seek placement in one of the other reconstituting schools, yet breathing a sigh of both resignation and comic relief, the conflict is over. The mess that ensues at HPHS will belong to someone else.

I’m baffled that people are still contacting Laurie Woerfel in order to brush up on their interview skills. It doesn’t matter people! You’re going to be interviewed by kids, parents, and out-of-classroom coordinators.  The list has already been drawn up. It’s all done. I’m sure Ms. Flores has been meeting with the “right” people for many months now to come up with the definitive list of “good” teachers to retain.

Those of us who know the dynamics of our school during the past several years can easily predict the names on the list of people to keep. The 15 people who will lead the SLC’s and “small schools” will be the familiar assortment of people who have enjoyed “in-group” status since they were first segregated and nurtured under the previous administration with the exceptions of Nick Adolfo and Maggie Mallen. The regular teachers on the keep list will be docile, unquestioning, and authority worshipping – perfect people to have a lasting impact on adolescents. We can also predict who they will be.

There will be a few exceptions to the description and that number could be a larger one considering the new staffing adjustments that have resulted from contract negotiations, but the poor souls won’t last long in the oppressive and unreasonable environment that precipitates. Have you seen the proposal for the remake of HPHS? Deasy wants constant, intense supervision, review, and assessment …… of students?  – NO, of teachers! Welcome to an evaluation system in which you have no control over any of the variables, but reap all of the blame for the results – this will be your reward if your name happens to appear on the keep list.  All I can say in response is a hearty, “no thank you.”

Those of us in the hinterland – and that’s the majority – must now focus on making sure that the district makes good on promises to allow us priority in placement at other high schools for next school year. I’ve heard that the board has set the reconstitution axe in place for Gompers Middle School in Watts.  That would be expeditious of them. The Gompers teachers would jump with enthusiasm at the opportunity to be in classrooms at HPHS. Does that mean that they expect us to move to Gompers? Oh please. I’d rather take out my retirement money early.  I might have to do this – who knows? We’ve reached a point where there are almost no rules in these games and the ones in operation change at the whim of Ms. Flores.

Displacement is okay with me. I can live with it. HPHS has not been a picnic over the past six years or so. With the pressure pushing down and the chaos encroaching, I look ahead with curious anticipation at what the reports from my “spies” will contain in July. The kids were promised no long-term substitutes. The kids were promised no disruption in their course work. The district made all kinds of promises to our kids in order to pacify them and keep them from any more televised embarrassing actions. These kids are the ones in honors classes and with normal GPA’s. They are the ones who will suffer most. The kids who are living it up at “camp HP” will be unaffected, and why should they be? They have no responsibilities and they have nervous “whipping boys” all prepped and ready to receive the consequences of student behavior – such a deal!!

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4 Responses to “A Farewell to Arms” – Take a deep breath.

  1. Laurie Woerfel says:

    Hi Phil, I got a good laugh watching your farewell video, not because of you saying any thing silly, but because this misguided de-form of HPHS is such a outrageous mistake and mess. Based on failed school reform strategies of small schools and reconstitution, which research has proven niether increase student achievement. But oh, no, the powers that be, the LAUSD School Board, fueled by Broad, Gates, and Walton Foundations big bucks, insanelly continue to implement these failed reform strategies. What will not chang is the same old top down incompetent administrators directing the show/circus. It’s sad because our beloved HPHS will never be the same. I’m afraid it will never re-gain it’s “Spartan Honor and Pride”. Laurie

  2. Barbara says:

    Yes it will be a mess and I hope teachers understand the interviews are a sham and that the students are being used. I am in contact with a Fremont teacher who was rehired and he says their is always tension there and that the new young teachers are not connecting with the students- it makes sense- it takes about three years to acclimate yourself to a school like Fremont- what is sad is that those like Yolie know exactly what they are doing but they don’t care- they want to narrow the school experience to English, Math and periodic assessments.

    Schools like Fremont and HPHS used to have full music and vocational departments. They taught drivers ed which made us all safer drivers and by widening our experiences, increased our literacy for life, not just for a test. Imagine how much wider students’ vocabulary was when they went to these schools years ago- they were learning the language of so many disciplines, not just test prep.
    What is happening now in the district is that there will be a small royalty class of administrators, some boot-licking coordinators and serf – like teachers who will be blamed for all of the problems in the schools.

    You have really shown the heart you have for HPHS and I wish you well at whatever school you end up at. Create a space where former HPHS staff can come together- it will make the transition easier. And remember, karma is real so move confidently into the future and allow those who created this mess to sink in their own cesspool of hatred for teachers. They will discover that demonizing those they need in the classrooms is not a successful way to educate our youth.

  3. Laurie Woerfel says:

    Hi Phil,
    I want to clarify something you said about UTLA’s PERB injunction request. The PERB board has not rejected UTLA’s request to file an unfair labor practice charge against LAUSD, for giving Jordon HS and Clay MS to charter schools. Just the opposite, the process of dispute resolution will now begin where both parties will sit down and talk the issue over and see if they can work it out. If they can’t then the PERB board will decide if they will file an injunction. Also Gov. Brown has just appointed two new “pro-union/labor” members to the 4 member PERB board, which should also be in our favor. Also I want you to know that Steve Scanlan presented a motion which was unanimously passed at the UTLA Secondary Committee, that asks UTLA to file with PERB, to get LAUSD, to follow the contract and stop placing teacher new hires in vacant teaching positions before displaced teachers.

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