“Investment School” Training Hours: Five Hours of Darkness.

Cynical, but true.  Poor Chihuahua Pirate...we barely knew ye.

Cynical, but true. Poor Chihuahua Pirate…we barely knew ye.

So, there’s a whole lot going on in the page above, which was actually drawn as two pages, and digitally completed. The key point is this represents Day One of the Reed “Investment School” settlement training, which I had to attend. An outside contractor, called “Catapult Learning” is providing the training and lecture content, as opposed to an interior LAUSD presenter. That contracting firm pretty much trains teachers, and has little real connection to the realities of Inner City Education, outside of things that might have been seen on “The Wire.” In addition, the entire training curriculum has been carefully managed by a team of Administrators, Union People, and Lawyers, rendering it a collection of concatenated buzzwords of truly limited utility. All of those facts come together to produce the enemies in Panel One…the Phonies.

See…the training is presented as something I would like, and be interested in…”Creating a Student Centered Classroom Environment.” That’s a topic that I like, in much the same way that I like, say…ponies. However, that title just sneaks in two and a half hours of buzzwords, group work, and “sharing out,” with no clear curricula, directives, or even solid research. Kind of like replacing that pony with a Phony.

You’ll note, from Panel Two, that Phonies are @#$%ing mean. Ruthless, in fact. That represents the very concept that newer teachers will take those buzzwords right back to the classroom, and possibly change their mentality or presentation to accommodate them. Not such a good choice, if you have a system that is firing pretty well, seven weeks in. A good student centered classroom has a structure that isn’t arbitrary…changing plans because a training suggested you might want to do it isn’t always the Best Play.

In the training, a newer teacher suggested doing just that. I’m not saying that changing methods isn’t a good idea…don’t misquote me, True Believers. All I’m doing this year is re-inventing my curricula and presentation…I’m all for it. However, if a think isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing. That’s my point.

All of these hours of training result from a settlement between the Union and the plaintiffs in the case Reed v. UTLA. The Supreme Court of California kicked it back down to lower courts for more “due process,” and in the long run, a settlement was made because that due process is costly.Reed was like Vergara v. California in that it addressed the fact that the contract’s “last in, first out” layoff policies disproportionately affected staff at inner city schools. This proved to create an environment that removed from minority schools the kind of educational stability enjoyed by the affluent. The training hours are agreed by all parties to satisfy the contract language of “specific training” that makes an educator expert for the sites on the list of schools in the settlement…and thus exempt from the “last in, first out” rule.

However…EVERY educator, even those that would not have been affected by “last in, first out” has to be trained, at a school on the list. It’s part of the settlement. So, a teacher such as myself, with almost two decades in, has to do the training that would prevent me from being laid off because I’m a junior teacher, at the beginning of my career. You know…because of reasons.

So, this happened. As well as the reasons for the training being explained to some of the junior teachers, by me…which basically inspired panels Three and Four. The most interesting part of this is it was all drawn pre-training…the events were pretty predictable.

I felt bad for the Phonies in the strip, though. Pirate Chihuahua totally owns one of them in Panel One, and the Phonies are clearly disliked and scary to the junior Edu-Squires and Princesa. As a result, I drew this Phony at rest, looking distrustfully up at us from one eye opened:

Poor little Phony.

Poor little Phony.

More training ensues tomorrow, so the adventures with Phonies continue! I promised more action this week, and we have Panel one with a pirate fighting Phonies with some kind of Gun-Fu and a cool looking sword, and then Panel Two where he’s impaled by a jagged horn. Tomorrow, there’s a disruptive Mega-Phony on the rise….so that’s a thing to look forward to.

As a sidenote, since they have jagged horns, I considered calling the Phonies Hitlercorns. It seemed like a bit much. I mean…the training is a bit boring, and not all that useful, but its not a Fascist Regime Change of some kind, with Dark Overtones. Although one of the readings we were provided was mildly offensive…suggesting that students should be taught to communicate in the “formal register.” If students complain about that as “talking white,” the text advises that it should be corrected as , “no, that’s Money Talk.”

That one paragraph had so much wrong with it, I can’t begin to criticize it enough. It’s like the author couldn’t decide how many targets they wanted to be racially or culturally offensive to at once, so they went with a “carpet bombing” approach of foulness. Thankfully, another fairly senior teacher jumped on that, so that I didn’t have to.

Maybe, in retrospect, I should have gone with Hitlercorns. I didn’t…I went with Phonies. To be fair, the presenter did an AMAZING amount of backpedaling on the content when he was called out on that, so I’m going to stand by my initial naming.

As an important side note, you’ll note that the Phonies have many BUG LIKE qualities. Insect like wings, buggy eyes, sort of a chitinous shell on their jagged horns. It’s almost a year since Comic Bug took over the space of the old clubhouse, Comics Ink, and I can’t think of anything more populated by Phonies than Comic Bug. The sheer volume of trash talk put forth by their owners and staff about the owners and staff of Comics Ink, who cut them a deal while “the Bug” was generally mean spirited and disingenuous, is incredible. So what I’m saying, if it isn’t clear…

…a year later, I made sure that the Phonies had bug-like qualities, because those guys are…phony. A huge number of old customers have come to me at events and other stores, and said things about the staff and owners being generally harsh, and talking a huge amount of trash. Comic Bug maintains an excellent Yelp presence, in part because many of the people from the old clubhouse of Comics Ink are too classy to retaliate with a negative review online.

Me…not as much. I’ve decided that I’ll stop taking periodic cheap shots, when they stop taking cheap shots in public about Comics Ink’s owner, who is a dear friend. However, if you’d like an variant printing of “Edge of Spider-verse” No. 2, I’m pretty sure they have a few thousand left in stock.

Be here for the next Action Packed Phony Issue!

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