California Educator

October 2016

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feedback Politics and Critical Thinking I'm a fourth-grade teacher in LAUSD. Regarding "Politics in the Classroom" (September) and teaching about the election, I assigned the first Clinton-Trump debate, with four homework questions, as a weeklong critical thinking assignment. First, I sent home a bilingual letter asking for parent assistance in helping students watch the debate. Then we went over fact vs. opinion. I gave background about issues that were likely to be raised in the debate. Most importantly, I gave a seminar in note-taking. After the debate, we visited the computer lab three times so students who had missed it could watch and take further notes. I shared my own notes with them. After each Trump or Clinton statement, I asked, "Fact or opinion?" Then I put them in groups to share their notes and observa- tions and come up with answers to the questions. Since the assignment emphasizes critical thinking more than writing skills, I will give them a grade based on that. Critical thinking assignments are very Common Core-friendly. As a bonus, I showed them a cartoon I did in 2012 about propaganda techniques such as ad hominem attacks (see excerpt above), the point of which was: Don't believe every- thing you hear, especially on the Internet or on television! TOM LOUIE U N I TED TE AC H ER S LOS ANG ELE S Why Do Teachers Leave? Recently, The Atlantic ran a story that found most educators don't leave the classroom for higher pay, but because of a lack of support — from administrators, lawmakers and the community. Our members chimed in; among the responses: Christine Ferreira: Absolutely. You could not pay us enough for the level of stress we endure daily. Smaller class sizes, less stupid stuff, and more counseling and support for kids would make all the difference in the world. Faith Brandstetter: If administration got rid of the gotcha mentality, more teachers would stick around. It's also the media pushing the bad teacher agenda, that older teachers are not good, only young teachers can teach. Kyle Asti: Actually, many teachers do leave for lack of pay. They know going in they aren't going to get rich. As they get older and marry and start families and buy homes, they realize they can't make a living in this profession. Graciela Camacho: You need transparency, professional- ism, being able to feel as though the actions of your leaders are not only being made by logic but heart. Being able to trust your administration. These are priceless. Jonathan Gardner: If we valued the classroom more monetarily, we would treat those inside with greater sup- port. But that does not tend to be the view of central district offices, state capitols, or any branch of government. I do think value follows expenditure, but the point is well taken. Grateful for Dedication Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) teacher Zoila Gallegos played an important role in securing the new library at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey. A juvenile hall is not an ideal learning environment. Yet at our Juvenile Court School, educators dedicate themselves each day to finding ways to motivate and engage our students. Literacy is fundamental to our students' success in all aspects of life. These skills are the gateway to learning, employment and full engagement as a citizen. I am grateful for the dedication and passion that Zoila and her fellow Los Angeles County Education Association members bring to this important work, which benefits all of our students. DEBR A DUARDO L AC OE SU PER I N TEN DEN T Y O U R O P I N I O N S A R E W E L C O M E ! We accept email and letters (250-word limit); we excerpt user posts from CTA social media platforms. Content subject to editing for clarity and space. Photos must have identifications and permissions.; #WeAreCTA Best Gift Ever? What's the best present you ever received from a student, and why? Tell us at or @WeAreCTA. We'll publish responses in the next issue. Zoila Gallegos 3 October 2016

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