An open letter to Dr. John Deasy
March 3, 2012
Dear Dr. Deasy:
It will not surprise you to know that you are hated by many teachers and administrators in LAUSD. But even though I myself am an ESL teacher in LAUSD’s Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) – which you propose to eliminate entirely, a purpose I have been working to defeat – I do not write this letter to you in hatred. In fact, I have spent the early hours of this morning in meditation, and in the clarity that comes when the spirit of love and peace touches the heart, I now write to recommend to you a far greater power than the LAUSD Board of Education, and greater still than Eli Broad and all his millions. I am recommending the greatest power known by humankind: the power of love, in particular love for people, all the people. That kind of love can save you and your career, if only you will let it touch your heart. Because adult and career education offers hope to all the people of Los Angeles, and your efforts to take it away have already aroused powerful passions county-wide and beyond.
The best-seller Chicken Soup for the Soul starts with a wonderful story about a teacher who had an unusually high number of students that were very successful. When asked her secret in teaching those students, she answered, “I loved them all.”
You, as superintendent, cannot direct or require that LAUSD’s teachers love all their students, but you yourself can model a more loving attitude towards all, and towards the communities of Los Angeles in particular, by not closing the adult and career education program. Having taught ESL in Los Angeles for more than twenty-five years, I will tell you without exaggeration that the closing of DACE would create a tsunami of chagrin. It would be a disaster for the 300,000+ students and employees of DACE, for the dozens of large communities and countless tens of thousands of families served by DACE, and for local businesses who need trained workers. As you saw on February 14, support for LAUSD’s adult ed programs runs wide and deep. You have made a terrible miscalculation in trying to dismantle it.
As you have apparently not figured out yet, Los Angeles is patchwork of immigrant communities that desperately need English communication skills offered by DACE’s ESL classes. Immigrants also need the matrices of social support and networking offered by community adult schools and occupational centers that help them cope with culture shock here in their new country. Career training classes offered by DACE give hundreds of thousands their only hope for a better future, and their children’s only hope to have successful parents.
Many students of mine have told me that closing LAUSD’s adult classes would result in more children joining gangs, higher crime rates, and a repeat of the civil unrest we saw here in 1992. That might not immediately affect you at 333 S. Beaudry, many floors above it all with a multi-million-dollar security system and armed school police and security guards between you and the huddled masses. But for those of us who live and work down here on the streets, it would be very, very unpleasant.
Please, do not drown DACE – this island of hope – in a tsunami of chagrin. Please, have a heart, and find a way to save adult and career education, because deep down inside, I know that you are a fellow human being, and in your own way, I am sure that you care about the people of Los Angeles.
On the other hand, if (as many suspect) you really don’t care about all us little people, think about your career and find a way to save DACE, because not doing so will enrage a great multitude of voters against your sponsors — the Broad-financed school board members and the mayor — and you will soon find yourself without a job.