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But I Like Rodman

March 6, 2010

So, this was a joke, right?

Three teachers at a South Los Angeles elementary school have been suspended for allegedly encouraging students to celebrate O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul for Black History Month, officials said Wednesday.

Children at Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School were carrying pictures of the men at a parade Friday on the school playground, said Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry. She said Supt. Ramon C. Cortines learned about the incident Tuesday and had the teachers, who are white, pulled from their classrooms pending an investigation.

It seems like the organizers of Black History Month brought this on themselves.  The phrasing is a bit ambiguous, isn’t it?  They didn’t call it People Who Have Done Great Things for the Black Community in America Month or Great People, Historically Speaking, Who Happen to Be Black Month.  The article suggests that the teachers hadn’t necessarily done anything demonstrably wrong—Rodman, The Juice, and RuPaul are all black people that happen to be a party of history, right?  But there is, of course, this:

District officials did not provide details about what the teachers did, saying the investigation was still ongoing.  Some community leaders aren’t satisfied with the suspensions and are calling for the dismissal of the instructors, who teach 1st, 2nd and 4th grade.

Oh, those community leaders.  Maybe they forgot this little nugget:

In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.

…we also discovered that 32 underperforming teachers were initially recommended for firing, but then secretly paid $50,000 by the district, on average, to leave without a fight. Moreover, 66 unnamed teachers are being continually recycled through a costly mentoring and retraining program but failing to improve, and another 400 anonymous teachers have been ordered to attend the retraining.

Mickey Kaus:

If you are a liberal who believes in public education, do not let the teachers’ unions do to your school system what the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has done to the L.A. Unified School District–make it so hard to fire a bad teacher that most school principals don’t even try. According to an L.A. Weekly investigation, the school district itself seems to have given up.

If there’s one thing that can get you fired, even as a teacher in California, it’s being perceived as a racist.  Still, though, if it’s that hard to fire teachers who are palpably underperforming, how hard is it going to be to fire three teachers who, according to The Los Angeles Times, weren’t necessarily breaking any rules?  Maybe this, of all things, will be something that will alert Californians to the irrevocable havoc that teacher’s unions are wreaking on the educational system.  Perhaps the rest of the country will notice too.

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