Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last hired, first fired...teachers say good-bye to California schools

State budget cuts are not only slashing class selections, increasing class sizes, and taking away student scholarships in California schools. Now, it's time for the teachers to go, too. This article in the L.A. Times profiles James Yi, a history teacher at Middle College High School in the L.A. Unified School District - a beloved educator who, with only five years of teaching experience under his belt, will now have to leave the students whose lives he's been trying to change for the better. Mr. Yi has received a "reduction in force" letter from the school board, and will soon have to start looking for another job.

Yes, his story parallels that of countless California teachers over the past year or more...which makes it no less powerful. James Yi graduated from UC Irvine and originally went into computer marketing, transitioning into education after being disappointed in the tech field. Now, teaching the history of the Vietnam war to high school sophomores and seniors, and encouraging his students - most of whom hail from disadvantaged backgrounds - to pursue higher education, Mr. Yi has found what he truly wants to do. His students love him. His fellow teachers and administrators respect him. Are people like James Yi the ones who should be taking the brunt of Sacramento's budget proposal? As the author of this story duly notes, why not institute a higher oil excise tax, or a temporary tax hike with a budgeting balance that benefits education? There must be a way from keeping California's suffering education system from sinking further into the pit of disadvantage, poverty, and low graduation rates. Will firing teachers and cutting classes really help? Think again, state administrators - are people like Mr. Yi and his students the ones you want to keep hurting?

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