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“What if the loser were right?”

March 25, 2011
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Los Angeles History teacher Charles Olynyk shares a teachable moment, about wars, winners, losers, and how we preserve history.

As the saying goes, “Until the lions have their own historians, the hunter will always be valorized.”


“Twisted Logic” (Originally posted at Remember Fremont)

Today is Friday, March 25, 2011 and Day 74 of Year Two. At least no one tried to run me off the road this morning. The rain is pouring down, Starbucks is currently playing “In the Groove” and I’m trying to get ready for my last day of notes on Imperialism. Then I see something like this in the news and realize I’ve got another teachable moment with my kids.

Yesterday, while we were talking about U.S. Imperialism, Latin America, and economic imperialism, one of my problem kids, D, brought up good questions. I brag about D, just like Y, because I saw him turn around from not giving a damn about school to asking really deep, insightful questions about history. It’s actually a great deal of fun to watch him get into the groove each day as he picks apart words and ideas. He’s got a gift, something I never suspected in September or October. Maybe even November…

But something turned on the learning light, to paraphrase Mat Taylor’s “reading light.” Any victory, eh? And we have too few of those as education gets repeatedly pounded in the media. He asked, “If, say, two countries fight, and the winner claims they were right and they write the history books and control the news, what if the loser were right? Does their story ever get told?”

Then you see in the Los Angeles Times that a new TV show is going to appear on that albatross the District insists on maintaining—the TV station. District-operated KLCS keeps chugging along, rebroadcasting public television programs, as well as School Board meetings, and Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ fireside chats. So Monica Garcia, the School Board President who evidently acted surprised when informed that there were over seven hundred parents who objected to the reconstitution of Fremont (but who was present on Tuesday to celebrate the “victory”) will be hosting “Reform the L.A. Way” on KLCS. The purpose, aside from air-time (aren’t School Board positions usually an effective launch pad for aspiring politicians?) is to
highlight “innovative school models developed by teachers, principals and community members” and “how important choices about school budgets, work rules and instructional approaches are being made from the bottom up, not the top down.”

The phrase “bottom down” tells us a lot about what she thinks of “the little people.”

And, at a time when budget cuts are being made, and RIF notices are being sent out, does LAUSD need to have a TV station broadcasting this Kool-aid? When I see that we are going to lose the college counselor, the career counselor, the band teacher, the art teacher from our Small School, the government teacher, I have to ask, is having the opportunity to watch Monica Garcia fiscally responsible? Is watching her of greater importance to education than providing quality teachers?

I’d rather watch reruns of “Rosanne.” At least John Goodman was in that series.

To answer D: You keep writing, you keep talking, you get your story out no matter what.

One Comment leave one →
  1. markfriedman1 permalink
    March 25, 2011 6:59 pm

    With similar cuts going on in NY State, I’ve had very similar class room discussions with students , “How could we save money in ways besides cutting teachers, libraries, music, arts, and other essential services?” Many students have proved to be insightful, creative and realistic while discussing creative options in these brainstorming sessions. Even with a far-from-transparent budget that will be released “publicly” next week for us here, we’re critically analyzing and pushing alternatives.

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