In Los Angeles, a police officer turned teacher and then principal tries to turn around a very large, very troubled high school. A year ago, Santee erupted in two days of fighting: 34 students were arrested and 10 taken to hospitals. The “model school” was number one for crime in the district. Vince Carbino was put in charge in July. Bob Sipchen looks at his attempts to change the culture in his LA Times column.
Santee, with its five “learning communities” focusing on such subjects as culinary arts and finance, was supposed to be the district’s symbol of hope, the school that proved the pedagogic establishment could overcome societal circumstances and maybe even begin to close the so-called achievement gap. When Carbino took over, the campus was another embarrassment.
Carbino is trying to create a can-do culture at the school. But teachers can be as hostile as the students.
A teacher who worked with Carbino at Belvedere Middle School calls Carbino “abusive.” He says the teachers union forced him out of the school after only six months because, among other missteps, he had publicly criticized teachers in violation of the union contract.
The first comment, which comes from a teacher, is a classic:
In my opinion, Mr. Carbino’s achilles heel is his inability to grasp the indesputable connection between race, class and the politics of ethnic identity in American public education (choosing instead to frame the discussion in terms of “standards” and “small learning communities,” both demeaning, politically correct pedogogical jargon meant to appease parents and the school board while simeltaneously qualifying the institution for government funding).
Compound Mr. Carbino’s Eurocentric unconsciousness with the fact that he is not poor, black, brown (nor is he from the community he purports to serve), and you will witness inevitable failure… For how can Mr. Carbino implement solutions to problems which he does not experience, much less “understand”?
White-Male Public School Teacher in South L.A.
I didn’t fix the spelling or punctuation because that would be demeaning and orthographically correct. Also, I’m a mean person.