I am writing to correct some of the many inaccuracies in The Times article about the picketing teachers from Inglewood High School which appeared on Feb. 16.
Our story is an unusual one, since it features teachers demonstrating for the right to teach. We are not asking for higher salaries; we are only asking for better learning conditions for our students.
At the beginning of the article, the writer spoke of "a group of Inglewood High School teachers." In the third paragraph from the end, she acknowledged that this "group" represents 88% of Inglewood High's 86 teachers, according to a 1984 survey. This survey was repeated three months ago with the same results. Clearly, we are not talking about a "group of teachers"; we are speaking about the overwhelming majority of the faculty of Inglewood High School
To state something as fact does not make it true. If one repeats it often enough, outsiders in the community will tend to believe it. Is (Principal Lawrence)Freeman tough? Are penalties for tardies and truancies strictly and consistently enforced? Is attendance higher? (Or is attendance tallied differently?) Are lessons and exams to be photocopied by the principal always returned and returned on time? Is there a decrease in thefts? Are supplies and audio-visual equipment readily available to teachers? We who work on site daily have a more accurate awareness of the truth and we say,"NO!"
The reporter represented Mr. Freeman to be a "tough" disciplinarian. (He is NOT!) Although his policies sound tough and look tough on paper, they are unenforced. Students and teachers have learned there will be no follow-through on most of his threats, and he is therefore ignored by many. His brand of toughness does not alter behavior. The only tough things about Mr. Freeman are his street language, which he often broadcasts into our academic classrooms, and the baseball bat he swings at students as he occasionally roams the campus after school.
It is ironic that Mr. Freeman claims he would like the teachers to work with him, for it is he who refuses to have a dialogue with us. His idea of working together means blindly following his orders. Many of us have years of successful experience and we would like to contribute to solving our school's numerous problems, but we are not permitted to speak. All decisions are unilateral and teachers who disagree are systematically punished. The stress and tension are so high and the morale is so low that many teachers are transferring or going on stress leave. An effective administrator gets a faculty to work with him to accomplish his goals. Mr. Freeman is NOT an effective administrator.
The subject so conspicuously missing from this article and the reason for the teacher protest is: ACADEMIC EDUCATION. But Mr. Freeman doesn't discuss education or academic excellence--these matters are low on his list of priorities. He interrupts our classes regularly for trivial announcements or personal denouncements; he often calls students out of class for athletic, pep squad or student council meetings (and instructs teachers to mark the students present) and he takes students out of class to run the one-and-only photocopy machine (which teachers are forbidden to use). At Inglewood High School, we have no semester academic electives. All courses are geared to our lowest students and no challenge is presented to our good students in the elective area.
The most distressing comment in the article was offered by Supt. Rex Fortune who said that Mr. Freeman is "just the kind of role model students at Inglewood High School need." WHAT AN INSULT TO THIS COMMUNITY! Rather than opting for a principal who is organized, efficient, articulate, dignified, honest and learned, the superintendent and the school board chose Mr. Freeman. I feel very sad for our students. They deserve so much more.!
Inglewood High School