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.


Gail Desler said...

Jose, please let me know when you schedule EdTechTalks with the lahungry4ed group so I can join in the support effort.

Gail (from northern Calif)

Coach Marino said...

Hey, Jose,

Our class at USC has been trying to tackle the problem through social media for the

We're basically trying to crowdsource the problem by encouraging others to tag pages "sosclassroom" for Language Arts & Math grades K-8.

We're aggregating the results in a Diigo Group, delicious tags, and Pageflakes.

Then we're re-posting on a blog, largely because we want parents to know we've vetted all of the resources.

This social media seems made to allow the communicate to band together in tight times. Of course, what we really need are teachers and students in classrooms. This might be a mild salve or a life preserver for now.

Jose Rodriguez said...

Hey congrats on "crowdsourcing"! Now that you have the crowds attention (me) let's see if we can get some work done. Let's start by defining who "we" are. "Our class at USC" what class? and are you speaking for the class or is it YOU and a few interested folk? I DO see how the your site works and it's a great concept. How do we bridge the concept to making it a practice? If the intended audience is LAUSD teachers to gather resources and LAUSD families in comsuming these resources then what is the plan? I'm comitted to a sustained effort and partnership between classroom teacher, the families we service, and interested community like yourself. I invite you to continue the conversation.