Will my school be the same?
Natasha, 17, worries that her alternative high school will lose its identity if a third of the teachers get replaced because of budget cuts.
At my school, International Polytechnic High School (I-Poly), there are 500 students and 20 teachers. In April, our principal sent a letter home that said the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), which runs I-Poly, has a $45 million deficit that would require LACOE to layoff 7 I-Poly teachers. Our principal explained that to replace these teachers, LACOE is planning to bring in juvenile hall teachers who have more seniority. Seniority means teachers who have worked at LACOE for more years get to keep their jobs while less experienced teachers lose theirs.
The teachers I-Poly would be losing are the 12th grade government and economics teacher, the 11th grade U.S. history teacher, the 9th grade integrated social science teacher, the 9th grade English teacher, the advanced Spanish teacher, a P.E. teacher and our assistant principal.
There were so many angry tweets and Facebook status updates from students. Senior Hillary Vairin even e-mailed LACOE Superintendent Darline Robles. “…. both Mr. Strand (9th grade integrated social science teacher) and Mr. Navaroli (11th grade U.S. history teacher) play an extremely important role by being the administrators for Yearbook and ASB,” she wrote in her e-mail.
When I heard the news, I ranted to everyone that LACOE should just close our school. Our school is an alternative education high school that doesn’t have traditional classes or exams. Instead students must complete semester-long group projects and presentations in place of finals. What I’ve learned ranges from being able to work in a group to speaking in front of others and being able to teach a lesson for a class.
Bringing in seven juvenile hall teachers who aren’t used to the I-Poly way will only hurt the students. Two of the four freshman teachers are leaving and freshman year is when I-Poly’s presentation skills start. It builds toward senior year so that we’re able to successfully complete our two-hour presentation.
Without this preparation, the freshmen will go through the rest of their years at I-Poly learning less than they are entitled to. It’s the opportunities that I-Poly provides that make our school different than traditional schools. By losing our teachers, I-Poly loses the ability to provide those opportunities.