Remember Fremont

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Into the Darkness

Posted by Chuck Olynyk on June 28, 2016 at 11:55 AM

Today is Saturday, June 25, 2016 and Day 172 of Year Seven, Day 2079 since I began writing this blog which was originally about LAUSD’s Fremont High’s reconstitution, and Day 2011 PF or since I realized the issues were about my Post-Fremont time. I hadn’t written anything since August 6th, as we were dealing with Roosevelt High, newly reassembled from the seven Small Schools, then splintered in four Career Pathways, all the while earning a 2-year probationary status from WASC.

Six years ago, I left John C. Fremont High. Facebook told me so when I first looked at my phone. There I was, dressed as the Pathfinder. How appropriate. I was to go find a new path.

No, that doesn’t tell the whole story. I didn’t leave. I got kicked out. That’s very different. Half of my then-colleagues tried to stay under the new terms and conditions that then-Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, local District Superintendent Dr. George McKenna III (did you know Denzel Washington played him in a movie?) and the principal imposed. Woe to the vanquished.

The other half of us fought like Hell. We documented where the bodies were being buried, that this wasn’t about retaining the best and brightest to remake the Mont, but keeping the most compliant. We wrote and people read, horrified at the draconian measures employed to gain the $6 million-dollar School Improvement Grant.

Then we lost and were cast upon the winds.

Six years later, I’m at a new school. I don’t write very much, the principal who oversaw what happened to Fremont was awarded a new school, Dr. McKenna now sits on the school board and is now hailed by UTLA as the Teachers’ Friend, the Superintendent has retired a third time (after returning to clean up the messes of iPadgate and other reforms by Dr. John Deasy), and we’re scattered in what has come to be called the Fremont Diaspora. Those who used to interact with me about blogging on education reform (was it just because we were just inside sources about a once-hot topic or was it we were one-trick ponies when it came to writing about education?), now don’t. Sometimes I read what’s going on and feel disconnected, as if the battle has passed me by.

But now I’m not the Pathfinder of Fremont. I’m the Rough Rider of Roosevelt and am surrounded by a team of dance drill team angels and I am thankful for what I have.

But it is tough to look at that reminder on Facebook of fighting overwhelming odds, lasting as long as we did (I can still see the late Mat Taylor’s boyish grin and hear him exclaim, “We were supposed to be all dead by now, but we’re still fighting!”), and ultimately losing.

I’m in a better place now. I don’t mind driving in on my days off, like I will have to on Monday, because I’m sure there will be a practice and I fulfill different roles, such as being advisor and surrogate dad for forty teenaged girls.

But I do taste those dregs.

And Fremont? How is the ‘Mont doing six years after the reconstitution which the District and the L.A. Times hailed as a success, once those “lazy, incompetent teachers” were chased out and after the $6 million-dollar School Improvement Grant was spent?

Fremont went back on the “failing schools list” a three years later.

 

 

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