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A School District's Broken Promise

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"Aren't we in the business of getting students ready for the world?"
- Nicolle Fefferman

As a parent, teacher, and founder of "the largest parent-led education advocacy group in Los Angeles," Parents Supporting Teachers, Nicolle Fefferman has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in Los Angeles schools. Therefore, she was able to sound the alarm when the LAUSD tried to quietly shut down its highly regarded Primary Promise literacy program. The following are comments that she made to the School Board last week demanding that they reconsider the decision:

I have taught high school history for 16 years. In my earliest years, I quickly realized I had students who needed me to do a better job of teaching them how to write for social studies. History became the content I used to teach literacy. In classes of 35 to 45, this was a nearly impossible task. I taught peer editing protocols, met with students individually, and created all sorts of writing activities. However, the deeper I got into my career and working through this consistent student need, I recognized that a key piece of students becoming better writers was for them to become better readers. Many of my students were reluctant readers though and much of that was about their insecurity in their reading skills and their long experience of struggling with reading throughout elementary and middle school. Their lack of confidence made reading feel hard and bad. They needed intervention earlier than high school but I did my best to support them.

This is why I was alarmed to hear that you all are ending the Primary Promise program with zero public conversation and without completing a study that would have established its efficacy. Started during the pandemic, this program has given struggling readers the daily intervention they need at an early enough age to make a remarkable difference. Primary Promise gave students a dedicated staff on campus whose sole focus was boosting literacy and numeracy skills. These folks didn't step in to substitute classes or provide playground supervision. They weren't asked to sit in on meetings or answer phones. Their time on campus was spent developing relationships with students and providing the high dosage support that our youngest children need to build a solid academic foundation.

When word got out that Primary Promise was being dissolved, our FB community's reaction sort of stunned me. I had NEVER SEEN in 16 years so many teachers, staff, and families, express anguish over the end of a district initiative. NEVER. Families said their children had grown immensely with this help. Teachers and staff said they witnessed incredible development in literacy and numeracy.

Why would we kill something that is clearly having a positive impact? When did you all discuss this decision? How did you all determine that this wasn't a worthy investment of our taxpayer money? Aren't we in the business of getting students ready for the world? Why would we end something that is doing just that? Something that has an incredible ripple effect through the entire life of a child in LAUSD and beyond? I am happy to provide my students with whatever support they need in my history classroom. It would be so so much better if every child coming into my classes could focus more on the big questions of history as confident and capable readers.

Please do not kill this program.


(Image by LAUSD)   Details   DMCA

Decisions being made by fiat without input by affected stakeholders have become standard operating procedure under the leadership of Superintendent Carvalho:

The seven members of the School Board are elected by the voters to set policies and to hire and oversee a Superintendent to implement these policies. Instead, they delegated their responsibility to Carvalho and his army of bureaucrats. This has left stakeholders with a dwindling say in the District's operations as the Superintendent leads like an authoritarian rather than a public servant. The resulting dissatisfaction should worry the school board members from the odd-numbered districts as they prepare to face the voters next year. Kelly Gonez's near miss last year should have served as a warning shot, but none of them seem interested in listening.


Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs. He was elected to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)
 

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