"I hope many people read about your story. Mine is hardly any different. I was sadly amused by the truth you tell."
"I am realistic in the sense that I will change the world on a case by case basis. If I can change the 'ugly' to just the 'bad' or the 'bad' to the 'good' and make sure the 'good' stay on track, then I think I am fufilling my mission in life."
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 08:44:58 -0800
From: Rachel & John (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: Richard Geib (email@example.com)
Subject: Inner City Blues
I was looking for research material for the LEARN movement in L.A.U.S.D. and I stumbled upon your web page. I am truly impressed with the information you compiled on Berendo Middle School. I also read your letter about the faculty meeting! I hope many people read about your story. Mine is hardly any different. I was sadly amused by the truth you tell.
First, here are some amusing parallels. I am, as you were, a naive teacher who thinks they can change the world. I graduated from UCLA and went straight into teaching. I see I share that affiliation. Then, there is where I teach. I currently teach at El Sereno Middle School in North East L.A. We seem to share the same demographics of ethnicity and poverty. I originally taught at Murchison Elementary which feeds into El Sereno. It's not Rampart, but it does have Ramona Gardens Housing project, home of one of the oldest gangs in L.A, Hazard. I teach 6th grade, which I also agree is much preferable to 7th or 8th grade. Developmentally, the 6th graders still have not fallen into the adolesent "abyss!"
I must admit, I am still hopeful. I cannot give up the ship yet. But your words ring in my ear, " the school has just turned the corner..." I know exactly what you are talking about! I am curious, did you leave teaching? I know in your last sentences you say you don't regret getting out, but what are you doing now? As for me, I am realistic in the sense that I will change the world on a case by case basis. If I can change the "ugly" to just the "bad" or the "bad" to the "good" and make sure the "good" stay on track, then I think I am fufilling my mission in life. But there are always obstacles...
I no longer work for the illustrious Los Angeles Unified School District. I currently work in a college prep school up in the Santa Monica Mountains and am much happier that way. Still, I do not regret working for the LAUSD - it sort of puts everything in context. I hear these teachers who only know this posh private school where I teach now complain and I cannot but help laughing to myself. I think I am in paradise! I have students who are (for the most part) polite and know how to read!
John, leaving the LAUSD was the best career move I have yet made. To put it indelicately, that school system sucks (in my humble opinion); even the good teachers - as you seem very much to be - struggle against the idiocy of the system. I have nothing against idealism or wanting to help others. Yet the way I saw it, why stay in a place beating your head against the wall futilely when nothing was going to change? I was not so idealistic as to be blind to reality, and leaving all those problems I referred to behind me was like having a weight taken off my shoulders. I heartily recommend it.
I read your comments with interest. I wish you much luck at El Sereno Middle School. Keep up the good fight out there in the blackboard jungle. And how about those Bruins?, defeating USC in football one more time!
Very Truly Yours,