The teachers in Los Angeles who write to The Times — and I may be understating the intensity of their views here — are no fans of John Deasy. So when the embattled former superintendent resigned from the Los Angeles Unified School District last week, one might have expected a collective sigh of relief from our educator letter writers.
Hardly. Though a handful of teachers celebrated Deasy's departure, the vast majority who wrote us expressed continued anxiety and frustration over their jobs. If letters are any indication of broader opinion, it's safe to say there may be a morale problem in L.A. Unified classrooms.
Melanie Panush Lindert of Los Angeles takes the pulse of teachers: at several campuses:
I thought it couldn't get worse, but indeed it has: LAUSD teachers are even more stressed than last school year.
As an itinerant dance teacher, I work with several dozen teachers a year. I trudge to a different school every day. The teacher inferno has reached epic proportions this year, with no relief in sight. We must remember that what befalls our teachers trickles down to our children.
We have the endless flow of testing. One fourth-grade teacher explained how frustrated she was because there was no opportunity to prepare her children for a math test. Teachers must know the new Common Core curriculum, terminology, objectives and how to record data on computers.
Parents and principals are demanding more. There is a new, complex system for evaluating teachers, and teachers are required to take workshops to comply with this new system.
Teachers are serious, responsible, caring, creative, resourceful and patient. Why haven't these professionals been part of the team to create the very best system for our kids?
Rancho Palos Verdes resident Michael Whittemore gives credit to his fellow teachers for gains in achievement:
I am a retired teacher (30 years of experience), and I am amazed by the arrogance of education "talking heads" claiming credit for student achievement.
They don't teach; teachers do. It is the joy of that nexus that brings progress. Teachers love teaching.
Giving us decent class sizes, materials (most teachers spend their own money on classroom materials) and administrative support will result in even greater achievement.
Jim Wakeman of Long Beach says education reforms are driving away teachers:
Deasy's sympathizers give him credit for reducing the number of student suspensions and raising students' test scores.
Well, when teachers are required to keep students in class in spite of their behavior, yes, there will be fewer suspensions. And when teachers' jobs may be threatened by low student test scores, some teachers, understandably, will "teach to the test." Then, yes, test scores will improve.
Neither of these predictable results will improve student learning, but they will drive more teachers away from the profession.
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