Saturday, June 13, 2009

LA Hungry for Education: The Struggle Continues

I thought I was winding down for the school year. Literacy week at my school gave me an opportunity to do some last minute tech projects with my students, a few voicetreads, some video, and blogging. All I needed was wrap up with paperwork and I was off on summer vacation and back to my online projects. And then... I found myself in the middle of a debate on the future of public education and it was in my own backyard. I really hadn't given much thought to what was happening with the budget crisis in California and it's effect on our local schools.

As I browsed my twitter feed I came across lahungry4ed. I had heard about Los Angeles teachers protesting the cuts and job losses through the local media on the weekend. Now this was interesting, it wasn't the teachers union, UTLA. These were individual teachers bringing together a coalition of teachers, parents, and community activists. Their efforts are to bring attention to what's happening with LAUSD and to pressure the school board to save teacher jobs. Their actions have included campouts at school sites and also a hunger strike by a few teachers.

I asked myself what I could do? I decided to reach out to my network on EdTechTalk. I wanted to learn more about the issues but more importantly to document and share with others. As we interviewed onsite I began to understand that this was more than a simple budget problem. As Sean Leys frames it "as a civil rights issue." The actions by our State Government and our local school board are part of a bigger picture. There has been an assault on public education and inner city schools. It goes back to the whole premis of NCLB and punishing schools that are not making the grade.

It is interesting to note how the organizers of this effort have used social media in getting the word out through their netvibes page, by the use of hash tags on twitter, by press releases through tinypaste, pictures on picassa web, facebook group and interacting with media both on the web and local print, television, and radio stations. This organizational structure makes this grassroot movement easier to have sustainability beyond the events of the campouts and the hunger strike itself. So, as I go into my last week of teaching for the 2008-09 school year, I find myself engaged and committed to be part of the struggle.