(Photos by Sean Abajian, webmaster of saveadulted.org — which is another WordPress blog.)
Today was surreal, incredibly intense and stressful and ultimately successful, as much as anything can be successful when you feel like you’re fighting like a maniac for every breath. The “success” was attention from the media & the governance of LAUSD. The school where I am UTLA chapter chair — West Valley Occupational Center — was a highly visible presence outside and inside the LAUSD headquarters today (June 12, 2012). Our people were interviewed by three TV stations, KPFK radio (90.7), and the L.A. Times.
Inside the LAUSD boardroom, one of our students — Jonathan, who is hearing & speech impaired & suffers from epilepsy — stole the show with a very brief speech that was basically, “I’m Jonathan, I’m a student at West Valley Occupational Center, I am hearing and speech impaired, and I suffer from epilepsy. Without adult education, I have no future. Thank you.” Jonathan has been an ardent (if quiet) activist at WVOC since the beginning of our current crisis. After he “spoke” (assisted by a sign interpreter), my former student Alcides Tobar spoke, and the school board actually clapped. And when I spoke after him, and introduced myself as Alcides’s former teacher — the school board clapped again!
In December, LAUSD’s board of education passed a budget giving zero dollars to adult & career education — a program that serves close to 300,000 adult students, or 1/3 of LAUSD’s student population, on around 2% of LAUSD’s budget. Since December, we have been waging an ever-more-intense battle, with ever-growing trepidation, for our survival.
Jonathan’s teacher & sign interpreter, Jeannine Bass, was one of the first teachers at our school to step forward with ideas to help us fight successfully. She is now contemplating resignation from LAUSD. Many of my good friends and colleagues are thinking the same way.
I’m exhausted now, this being the end of a very long day for me.
To be continued….