By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"It was a waste of time, like lunch in a classroom," Reed says, clutching a cell phone and a book bag covered in purple hearts. The sub had so little control that students littered on the floor and "would write graffiti on the board."
She says substitutes were "babysitting" instead of teaching, which caused students to slip behind. Despite help from the permanent teacher finally brought in, Reed herself hasn't caught up on the material she missed. Yet she faces a standardized test this month.
"Most kids have trouble at home, and they come here to get away from it," Reed says of Markham. "They come for stability, and they get all these subs. It's unfair. And we're the future."
She said Principal Sullivan held the school together with humor and commitment. "Without him, it would be chaos." Yet this fall, even Sullivan is on the chopping block.
Another plaintiff, eighth-grader Liliane Rodriguez, was getting an F in history — as 10 substitutes paraded through her history class last fall.
This month she was named "most improved student" and got a B in history, after getting a "real" teacher. A petite girl with fingernails each painted a different color, who hopes to attend UCLA to be a pediatric nurse, Rodriguez says the LAUSD substitutes repeated the same lessons, then kicked her out when she complained.
In March, shortly after the ACLU filed its lawsuit, 34 of Markham's 70 teachers and long-term subs were notified that they wouldn't be returning this fall. So were 26 of the 78 teachers at Gompers.
At Liechty, where 72 percent of returning teachers were laid off last year, with half later returning as subs, only 11 core-subject teachers are considered safe from layoffs this fall.
While Duffy talks of insufficient funding, LAUSD wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars training these new teachers — then forcing them out under the union's "last-hired" rule. Sullivan estimates his school spent $1.5 million, including about $300,000 from the mayor's Partnership, on professional development and educational resources — only to see much of it disappear.
Marshall Tuck, the Partnership's CEO, says that if the judge upholds the layoffs, "Markham and Gompers will be forced to repeat the cycle of teacher vacancies, substitutes and stop-gap measures that have left these schools reeling."
Joan Sullivan, Villaraigosa's deputy mayor for education, says the mayor supports the ACLU lawsuit and is "interested in the question of how to gain greater flexibility, and local empowerment and control. ... He is also committed to in-district reform working with the union."
Nick Melvoin, 24, an enthusiastic teacher of English as a second language who came from Teach for America and who is deeply committed to the inner city, returned to Markham as a long-term sub this year. Then he got a permanent job. He's being laid off in June.
"A higher moral calling can only sustain a young teacher for so long," says Melvoin, his tidy classroom walls resplendent with students' work.
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