LAUSD: Where $92,000 Gets You A Math Coach Who Manages The Yearbook

You ever sit in a meeting where drinking battery acid starts to sound like a good choice? Or where you feel like you're a hobbit trapped in Mordor with the Eye of Sauron burning on you?

I felt that way this morning while sitting in a 2 1/2 hour long meeting for the Compensatory Education Advisory Committee at my children's school. That super long committee name translates into the parents who help oversee the way Title I funding is spent at a school site.

It's no secret there are massive budget cuts in the Los Angeles Unified School District. At one point we were going to lose the assistant principal, 4 or 5 teachers due to class size increases, math and literacy coaches, and custodial staff.

Now, thanks to President Obama's stimulus money, we were told we're still losing the teachers and the AP... but our math and literacy coaches get to stay on. My mind immediately wondered why these coaches get to stay on? If we have money to keep them, how come at least two teaching positions can't be saved instead?

So I asked the principal what hard, results driven data exists that shows what these coaches have accomplished this year. The answer was that she'd get the job description and that the committee couldn't use the stimulus money for saving teacher positions and she was going to exert her authority to veto any decisions to NOT keep the coaches.

INSTANT side-eye from yours truly! First of all, I think the principal says this stuff because she knows it's a 95% low-income school, there are a LOT of parents who are recent immigrants, and maybe folks will be intimidated and not ask questions. The thing is, I'm not intimidated and I'm gonna ask the tough questions. You want me to recommend to keep this position? Where's the data that shows me I should want to keep it???

Let me tell you what I saw yesterday afternoon when I walked on my children's LAUSD campus: The math coach was taking pictures! Why's he taking pictures? Oh, because he's in charge of the school yearbook! Does that have ANYTHING to do with math??? Nope. And this is the type of stuff this man does all the time!

Does it make any sense for a parent led committee to approve $92,000 in a budget to keep that coaching position over a classroom teacher? I don't think so!

I'm sure he's a nice man but he should be at the school making sure that more than 50% of the kids score proficient in math on the all important standardized tests. Instead, he's managing the yearbook, moving boxes and standing in the hallway chatting.

I mean, the teachers work directly with the kids, and having been a teacher, it's a big difference, especially in the upper grades, if you have 32 kids in a room instead of 24 or 25. Keeping an effective teacher in a lower class size instead of a coach that we have no performance data on should be a no brainer!

Seriously, if you have no data to back up a position's effectiveness, why should it be kept on???

If we have tough budget choices to make, I'm all for keeping the people who are working effectively with kids, not folks who are paper pushers and are, in my opinion, completely ineffective at their jobs. This kind of ineptness and inefficiency just can NOT be tolerated in schools.

Now I'm going BACK to the school for round two of this discussion via a School Site Council meeting and I'm not retreating from the demand that this principal show and prove. You want to keep this position, show me how it's effective. Prove it to me... or spend that $92K keeping an effective teacher!


Jameil said…
YOU BETTER WORK IT, LIZ!! LOVE IT!!! I'm SO tired of educational cuts at every level!! It's ridiculous.
Liz Dwyer said…
Jameil,It is BEYOND ridiculous at this point. I don't drink but if I have to sit through many more of these meetings...
Abigail said…
Liz--your kids don't go to the same school as my kinder babies, but reading this makes me feel like you're fighting for them right along with your boys. I know how much patience it takes to breathe through those meetings, but keep going! So many of us are behind you....
sarah Auerswald said…
OMG! We just had this same meeting at our SSC last week. What we were told is that the local district admin will veto any budget that doesn't include the coach. So even if we wanted to get rid of a coach and pay a classroom teacher, they'd just send it back and make us do it anyway.

Keep on fighting the good fight -- but sometimes there's just no winning.
Liz Dwyer said…
It feels like it is a never ending fight and it's so tiresome. People SAY they want wants best for kids but then take actions and make decisions that demonstrate otherwise. It's just insane. But I'm not giving up on this. Not at all.

AAGH! Someone sent me this link -- so that proves that this vetoing any budget that doesn't include a coach isn't true. You know what's sad? That we can't trust what our administrators tell us, that there's some sort of other agenda that is not student achievement based. It's really sad.
nick said…
Good for you fighting your corner. I agree, surely a teacher is more important than a coach, and where's the proof that these guys are earning their salary? There's a hidden agenda here, for sure.
Jessalyn said…
At my daughter's school, the PTSA does the yearbook. Yours truly did it this year. :-D Like you, I would have a huge problem with a math coach making 92k and making that much money while being responsible for the yearbook. Kudos to you for standing up to it.
cbabbott said…
Here is the LAUSD policy on school site councils and CEAC councils, designed to adhere to state law:

Some highlights are the council meetings must be properly posted, open to the public, with members properly elected, with at least 7 out of 10 members being parents and teachers, and the principal gets just one vote. I can post links to the relevant education code sections if anyone wants.

There seems a clear pattern of principals doing whatever it takes to get councils to purchase coaches instead of teachers.

Note particularly “TeacherJoe in tarzana”’s comment:

The abused seems to range from just wearing the council down to misleading the council to outright violations. Typically teachers are too afraid to file complaints and parents don’t know their rights. Most teachers aren’t even familiar with the rules.

Teachers and parents should file complaints any time they where denied access to or notice of council meetings, or when the rules or decisions of the council where violated, or when elections or votes were not held properly, or when they cast votes based on misleading information.

Also, anyone knowing of a violation can and should demand reconsideration at a proper meeting per section 8 of the procedures. Rather than have the chapter chairs educate these councils on their rights so they can better stand up, resist the pressure and actually make their own decisions, the union has chosen to oppose the entire process and actually stated their preference for central LAUSD control of the funds.

Don’t give up! You are right! And…you’re not alone!
Anonymous said…
The role of a math coach is not to directly work with students, but it is a support position. Under the DIRECTION of the principal that person is to provide support and assistance to math teachers in the implementation of the District Math program, provide professional development on instructional strategies and research-based classroom practices, assist teachers in maintaining pacing of instruction, conduct observations, disseminate periodic assessments, and "other duties relevent to the successful implementation of the District Mathematics Plan."

Perhaps the principal is not fully familiar with the job description and has mandated the coach to also be in charge of the yearbook.

Check this link out:

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