The Robotics Science Class in 5 minutes or less

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

My Robotics science class was the focus of a five minute presentation I recently did at Microsoft’s Mountain View facility, as a Semifinalist for the STEMposium competition, on March 12, 2011. Below are the slides from the presentation, and the script of my remarks.

My name is Luke Laurie. Today I’m going to tell you about the Robotics Science Class that I’ve been teaching for seven years.

Let me tell you a few things about myself.

Science Teacher 13 years -El Camino Junior High in Santa Maria, CA I teach a student population who are mostly English Language Learners, and almost all live in poverty. My school is not unlike many schools in California.

MESA Advisor 13 years -MESA is a statewide program focused on hands-on activities and college attainment in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science

RoboChallenge Director 10 years -A collaborative regional program funded in part by grants from UCSB, providing robotics materials, competition rules, audio-visual and web-based resources, and teacher support to several schools.

Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow- in the U.S. House of Representatives with Congressman Mike Honda, where I worked for a year on Education and Science Policy

and… I Still play LEGOs

From all of my experience in various STEM programs and STEM education policy, it is clear to me that

STEM must be a part of the core curriculum.

In our schools:

We teach science

And we teach Math

but our students need to know more. We need to ensure that they all have opportunities to explore the concepts of technology and engineering too.

To me, it’s artificial to teach Science without integrating technology, engineering, and mathematics. That’s why I created the Robotics Science Class.

 

Kids need more STEM experiences and they need to begin them at a young age to have meaningful impact on their lives.

To change the face of STEM, we need to remove the barriers that keep STEM out of reach for most of our students.

The best STEM education programs don’t require high costs or major sacrifices, nor steep qualifications to participate. Good STEM education needs to be easy to access.

Unfortunately, too often, STEM programs don’t reach the student populations that need them the most, and target their efforts only at small teams in after school settings, or to select students during summer programs.

We do have a way to reach all students with high quality STEM education. We have our public schools. And in our schools we need to look at what we’re doing, and make STEM an integral part of our curriculum, and we must implement policies to provide schools with the technical resources, and training they need.

By making my class open to all students, during the school day, and part of the core curriculum, I have enabled hundreds of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain STEM skills and experience they might not otherwise have had.

My students learn that there are tremendous career opportunities for people with STEM skills, and STEM skills are becoming increasingly important to all careers.

The Robotics Science Class integrates California 8th grade physical science standards with the design, construction, and programming of autonomous robots for a variety of fun and interesting challenges.

Students are learning all the California State Standards for Science, including conceptual physics, chemistry, and astronomy, while also learning to use computers and robotics materials as creative tools to solve complex problems.

The Robotics Science Class adds technology and engineering to the science curriculum in a manner that is effective and efficient.

The class primarily uses low cost, durable, flexible, and easy to use LEGO Mindstorms robotics materials, but we’ve used other materials too.

Some of our challenges have included Tug O’War, Sumo, Linefollowing, Robotic Soccer, and Robotic Exploration.

Students learn computer programming concepts using an object-based programming environment where they aren’t stuck dealing with syntax errors and arcane symbols, and instead can focus on the logic of their programs and how to use the sensors and motors to control their robots.

Robotics is a great way to bring all of the aspects of STEM together. Kids love robots, and the idea of working on them is highly motivating. I believe that with more classes like my Robotics Science Class, we will vastly improve STEM education in California.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today.

If you wish more information on my class or other STEM work I do, please send me an email, or visit my website or blog.

Thank you.

 

Advertisements

CDE Poster Featuring My Robotics Class

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Click Here to See a Medium Sized Version of the Poster

Click Here to See a Full Size Version of the Poster

The Robotics Science Class has been getting a lot of attention lately, with people asking to visit the class from elsewhere in California, and people wanting to use elements of the class in in Georgia and elsewhere. A book coming out this Summer called “Getting Started with LEGO Robotics,” may feature some of my work, written by Mark Gura and published by the International Society for Technology in Education.

Also, a very cool thing was that a large poster put on display (above) in the California Department of Education about Career Technical Education featured a picture and reference to my Robotics Science Class (look where it says Engineering and Design).

RoboChallenge and the Robotics Science Class

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Robotics is a great way to combine many aspects of STEM education under one unifying theme. I’ve been working with students of all ages using LEGO Mindstorms robotics materials since shortly after they came out, in 1999. I’ve developed dozens of competitions, run events, trained teachers, held workshops, and have created dozens of videos and other audiovisual materials to share my work with the public. I find building and programming these robotics to be fun and intellectually stimulating, and by building my own, I’ve become a better teacher. I think this work with robotics benefits students in a multitude of ways, including college preparation, developing comfort with computers and peripherals, introducing programming concepts, using the engineering design process, developing skills for technical trades, applying mathematics and science concepts, working in cooperative situations, problem solving, technical troubleshooting, and spacial reasoning.

My most significant and lasting projects with robotics have been the RoboChallenge Program, and the Robotics Science Class.

RoboChallenge

Website: http://homepage.mac.com/mrlaurie/robo/robochallenge.html

RoboChallenge is a program designed to reach students from under-served communities surrounding The University of California at Santa Barbara, with the highly motivating and richly educational field of robotics. Students in RoboChallenge build LEGO robots for a variety of challenges, such as Sumo, Tug O’ War, and Linefollowing. The program began with grants from the University of California, but has been sustained by the hard work of participating teachers and funds and support from a variety of sources, especially schools and districts in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Guadalupe, and Santa Barbara.

RoboChallenge was created to encourage students in underserved communities in the Santa Barbara area to pursue careers in Math, Science, and Engineering. There are other robotics programs out there, but we felt that we needed to develop a program that was extremely cost efficient, using LEGO Mindstorms materials. The program was modeled after the concept of the LEGO robotics classes offered at UCSB for graduate and undergraduate engineering students.

Programs such as FIRST can provide amazing experiences for those involved, but are cost prohibitive and offer robotics opportunities to only a handful of students at a school site. We wanted schools to be able to build multiple robots, be able to work in groups of three or four students maximum, and enable as many students to be involved as possible. The schools we targeted were schools that lack many of the financial resources available in wealthier communities.

An effective engineering outreach program needs to do more than work with students that are already college bound. Highly ambitious and talented students do need encouragement, but an effective outreach program brings in students who might not have any STEM motivation. In designing RoboChallenge, we emphasized the fun of engineering design and programming and the inclusion of all ages and ability levels across a demographic region traditionally underserved by higher education.

To get as many students involved across a broad geographic region, we developed a model that uses the skills of ambitious teachers, provides them with sufficient low cost LEGO robotics materials, and allows them to involve as many students as they want. Some schools have had as many as 50 students in a year. On average, approximately 200 students have participated annually from 10 schools, building as many as 50 robots.

The Robotics Science Class

Website: http://homepage.mac.com/mrlaurie/roboscience.html

The Robotics Science Class has been offered to students at El Camino Junior High since 2003. In this class, students are taught all California State Standards for 8th Grade Physical Science, in addition to learning to build and program robots. Students have a choice to be in the Robotics Science Class. Sign ups for the course occur in the Spring. The course is more difficult than a traditional 8th grade science course, because students are required to do a considerable amount of reading and note taking outside of class. In addition, robot building and programming may require students work on robots at lunch or after school.

The Robotics Science Class teaches all 8th grade Physical Science Standards, as assessed on the California Standards Tests (CST). These learning objectives are taught through traditional methods; including through textbook reading, lectures, demonstrations, and labs, but also through integration into robotics activities.

 

HIV Prevention Education

Blog Post- Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog

My last post was on the need for sex education. In California, even though comprehensive sex education is not mandatory for all school districts, providing HIV prevention education to all students is required. The development of an HIV prevention program is up to local districts, but some very strict requirements mandate that this instruction informs students of many of the health risks and behavioral choices that will reduce teen pregnancy and disease transmission.

I’ve been studying this topic in great detail, and have found many interesting statistics and facts along the way. This information does not represent the policy or attitudes of my school district, nor does it represent any kind of requirement on teachers. These are merely concepts to be considered during the development of a successful program.

HIV Prevention Education Key Points

1) HIV is a great threat, affecting over a million people in the U.S. Heterosexual transmission is accounting for more of the new cases. Many new cases are amongst teens and young adults. HIV rates in Santa Barbara County, fortunately, are relatively low.

2) Teen pregnancy rates (and rates of intercourse) nationwide have been falling significantly since their peak around 1988. Great disparities exist between races, with Latina teens universally having the highest rates. The current rate for Latinas in Santa Barbara County is one of the highest rates in the State of California (9%). By comparison, however, this rate is better than the rate for teens overall in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

3) Youth are engaged in risky behaviors at high rates, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex, with 61% of teens reporting that they used a condom during last intercourse. The rate of condom use, though, is actually much higher than it used to be, and has risen steadily in the last several years. In 1991, the rate of condom use in last intercourse was only 46%.

4) Under the law, HIV prevention education is part of the statute with the following purpose: “To provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” AND “To encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.”

5) Abstinence-only education is illegal in California. HIV prevention programs must emphasize that abstinence as the only 100% effective method of preventing HIV, STDs, and pregnancy, but also must teach that condoms are highly effective and should be used during any sexual activity. Instruction must also specifically teach the means of transmission of HIV: anal, oral, and vaginal sex, contact with blood, and intravenous drug use.

6) Instruction must be free of religious doctrine, and provided free of bias to GBLTQ (gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and questioning) youth.

7) STD’s, their symptoms, and means of transmission must be included in HIV prevention programs. (This point may not be clear when studying California law as written, it appears to be omitted from HIV prevention education requirements when not part of a comprehensive se education program. However, there is additional guidance and justification for including all STD’s in any HIV prevention curriculum. I will hopefully address this item in a later post, along with a recommendation to the legislature to revise the statute to match the necessary practice.)

8) HIV prevention education must include lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills.

9) HIV prevention education does not cover topics such as contraception other than male and female condoms, abortion, nor other issues relevant to pregnancy, birth, prenatal care, or human development.

10) California Health and Science standards provide strong direction for the instruction that should be included in an HIV prevention unit.

11) The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum was developed in conjunction with health agencies and the California Department of Education to specifically meet all the requirements of the HIV prevention requirement, without including content specific to Comprehensive Sex Education.

The Need for Sex Education

Effective sex education and HIV/STD prevention programs delay sexual activity, increase condom use, and promote healthy attitudes in youth.

California has one of the most progressive policies for teaching comprehensive sex education, and has a strong mandate for teaching HIV prevention lessons, even when a full sex education program is not offered. Yet, too often, the subject of health is short-changed in schools because of a standards-based regime of annual assessments and time encroachments by the core curriculum: specifically Math and English.

But health needs are paramount in the lives of youth. Without accurate knowledge of their bodies and the risk and development of good communication and behavioral skills, youth are at risk for a variety of diseases, pregnancy, and other potential dangers. The newest Health standards issued by the State of California cover a broad array of issues dealing with all aspects of becoming healthy people, including social, emotional, physical, and sexual health. I’m currently involved in a project to improve the sexual health of students in my district, and I’ve found some very compelling data to highlight this need.

I will have a later post that will list many data resources on HIV,STD’s, Teen Pregnancy, and Risky Behaviors in Youth

Note on the Data below:

The following data are derived from different sources using different methodologies, and may also represent slightly different age groups. For example, one set of data may say “high school students”, while another may refer to students age 15-19. Some are based on nationwide surveys, another may be raw data of numbers of cases reported to public health officials.

These numbers are based primarily on National Averages- this is not a region-specific analysis, yet the birthrate and pregnancy rate is derived from State data specific to Latina teens.


For every 100 Junior High students:

6 of the students have already had sex, or will have sex before the age of 14

By the Time Your Students Finish High School

46 of them will have had sex.

55 of them (more than half) will have Oral Sex.

14 will have four or more sexual partners

11 of them will have anal sex with someone of the opposite sex

3 of the males will have anal sex with another male.

7 of the girls will have intercourse against their will.

20 will contract an STD of some kind

7 of the girls will get pregnant.

4 will give birth.

2 will have abortions.

And, if you were to ask 100 students during their high school years,

20 of them did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

For Santa Maria:

Many of our Junior High students are already sexually active. Most of the data above is based on National Averages. The Pregnancy Rate of our Latina teens (included in the above) is twice the national average. Therefore, it is highly probable that the rates of risky behaviors are also much higher than the national averages.

According to the CDC:

Effective HIV/STD and Pregnancy Prevention programs should address the needs of youth who are not engaging in sexual intercourse as well as youth who are currently sexually active.

Well-designed programs have been shown to decrease sexual risk behaviors, including:

  • Delaying first sexual intercourse
  • Reducing the number of sex partners
  • Decreasing the number of times students have unprotected sex
  • Increasing condom use

References:

1CDC Healthy Youth! “Sexual Risk Behaviors”

2CDC “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2009

3Guttmacher Institute “U.S. Teen Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by State and Ethnicity

4CDPH “STD Sexually Transmitted Diseases in California 2008

5CDC Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2008

6Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008

Education Cuts in California- Abel Maldonado Responds!

Abel Maldonado, my highly responsive State Senator responded promptly to my letter concerning the cuts to valuable education programs in California, in particular the plight of former Santa Barbara Teacher of the Year, Ron Zell.

In spite of my carefully articulated letter about my concerns and my position as Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, and in spite of the fact that I teach at El Camino Junior High, the very school that educated Mr. Maldonado and other local community leaders, I was sent a lousy form letter response that dealt with none of my concerns. I was a witness at one of your Education hearings! You gave me a certificate that’s on my wall!

Response from Abel Maldonado is Junk

C’mon Abel. I’ve written constituent mail and this one is junk. I wrote you an individualized letter, about a particular circumstance, and your staff responded with a form letter that only vaguely approaches my concerns. I am Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, don’t I deserve a personalized response like I get from members of the U.S. House of Representatives? This letter was so bad that my junk mail filter, which never flags anything, flagged this one as JUNK.

I have taken the liberty of editing Mr. Maldonado’s response:

Dear Luke:

Thank you for writing to express your support for funding our university, community college and K-12 education programs (or something like that).  I understand and appreciate your concern (whatever it may be) regarding the recent budget cuts the state of California was forced to make (that I made certain it would make).

Education is a high priority (what isn’t) for me.  As a father with children in public schools, I too am deeply concerned with the state of our education system.  I personally know the great opportunities education can bring, which is why I will always support education (at least as a cheerleader, but not with money).  Long-term funding (doled out in small, rationed amounts) for our education system is not only essential; it is a legal and moral obligation to our growing student population (that’s why we change the laws to be able to make education cuts).

There would never be enough money to satisfy all the deserving interests in this state (So why try?) .  However, I do not feel that the state’s budget problems should be placed on the backs of students (That’s why we’re firing teachers, and keeping all the students).

Thank you for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me again on any state-related issues of importance to you.  It is an honor to be your representative of the 15th District.

Sincerely,

ABEL MALDONADO
Senator, District 15

Education Cuts – Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year gets Pink Slip

A victim of California’s deep education cuts in the Spring of 2009, the Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year for 2006-2007, Mr. Ron Zell, received a pink slip and was informed that his services were no longer needed, in spite of his award-winning programs and amazing contributions to the community of Buellton, California.

When people hear that teachers like Mr. Zell are receiving pink slips, all across California, they express shock and indignation, that is somewhat different from the way that these cuts are discussed abstractly. It’s one thing to say California is cutting 11 billion in education and that 30,000 teachers are receiving layoff notices. It’s another thing entirely for people to learn that their community schools are ending the programs that they’ve had for decades, and that some of their most prized educators may soon be unemployed, with little opportunity to teach elsewhere.

THIS IS WHAT EDUCATION CUTS MEAN.

About 85% of education funds are used to pay for staff. When cuts occur, it is inevitable that teachers and other education employees will lose their jobs.

Some people don’t understand that this 85% ratio is a result of education spending being HIGHLY EFFICIENT. True, we spend a lot of money on testing, some on transportation, some on facilities, etc. But when it comes right down to it, almost every penny of education funds is used to pay for people who work with students. We don’t have enough money to waste. Cuts to education, therefore, directly cut services to kids, reduce course offerings, and make class sizes larger. Conversely, education increases, like those proposed by the Obama Administration, directly increase offerings to students, decrease class size, and make jobs for teachers and other education professionals. California cannot continue to hold onto any hope of maintaining or improving its economy without providing the public services needed by its citizens and demanded by the companies that make or would make their home here.

Ron Zell has written the following letter about his plight, and I would like to share it with you:

Thank you students, parents, teachers, and involved citizens.  Thank-you for being here, for turning out to support teachers and students in this statewide Day of Awareness and support for our schools, Pink Day.


Let me introduce myself, – My name is Ron Zell.  I am the music teacher for the Buellton Union School district.  I teach over 500 students per week in classes from Kindergarten to 8th grade.  I am the 2006 Jonata School Teacher of the Year. I am the 2007 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year and a nominee for California State Teacher of the year.  In 2008, I was selected  to speak at State Education Conferences in Sacramento, San Francisco, and the Central Coast.  My topics were “Quality in the arts and in Education”, “Technology in the arts and in education”, and the importance of Community in the Arts and in Education.


In  2009, I have a new distinction. I have received this years token of appreciation from the State of California for my years of service to my students and my community. I have received my pink slip.   This is the way that California shows its gratitude and also its farsightedness in planning  for education   I have been laid  off,  pink-slipped in Buellton.

Myself, and nearly 30,000 or so of my colleagues services are no longer required, says the state.  Colleagues who like myself, give of themselves daily, are over-worked, underpaid, and directly influence the future of millions of young people in this state.  Thank-you very much says California.  You’ve done a great job, but we have mismanaged the finances of this state so badly that we need your help.  Would you just walk away from a career where you are desperately needed, and we’ll ignore the sacrifices that you, and every teacher like you have made daily to bring quality and excellence in education to the students you teach.


We get paid, says the state of California, to govern, and to plan and prepare for the future. We just never thought that there would be an economic downturn.  We thought we could keep spending, and  borrowing, raising taxes and selling lottery tickets, and everything would be okay.  We didn’t think that we would ever be called to account for the billions of dollars we waste each year.  We just kind of forgot about planning ahead for education. After all, – its only kids, and they can’t vote.   Now we HAVE to cut the education budget.  How else do you expect us to pay for our mismanagement.  And you teachers, – You know all of those years of schooling, and training, and experience, and sacrifice and caring and giving, that everyone of you do.  – Sorry about that.  Maybe students won’t notice the over-crowded classrooms that they’ll be forced to be in next year. Maybe parents won’t notice the wider achievement gaps, the loss of programs, the lower test scores, or the unsafe campuses that will result from overcrowding, and too-few teachers.


I can’t conceive of what this state will be like with the undervalued, underfunded and understaffed education system that will result from these budget cuts.  I do however fear that the state will need more money in the very near future for new projects, like the new prisons that it will need to hold these kids who will be dropping out of our failed educational system.  Hey, – Maybe we can even afford to put arts programs in the prisons, because the arts are one of the few interventions that has been proven to mediate violent behavior in abused children.  Too bad  we can’t afford the Arts in our schools now, but then, that’s another part of our state’s not planning ahead.


I am furious that billions of tax dollars go to investors and banks, and insurance companies because they are “too important to our economy to let fail”.  Yet our state can justify taking billions of dollars away from children to pay for their irresponsible handling  of our state finances.  I am not at all politically correct on any of this.   I’m a teacher, and I believe that the only investment that we can’t afford to let fail is the investment in our kids.  Only that investment will  result in positive change for our country, growth in science, space exploration, technology, energy conservation, creativity, the arts, culture and a better future for the next generation.   Without quality education, we are looking at a spiraling  decline in our culture, and in our way of life.


Did you hear my Band earlier.  They’re pretty good, They’re not real good yet of course, because they’re young, they’re learning. They haven’t had the time necessary to fully learn or develop their skills, but they’re working on it.  Some of them have only been playing their instruments a few months, some for 3 years.  Oh they’re getting better, but in this current budget crises, they may never get the opportunity to develop their full potential in music or the arts, or in their creativity.  It takes years of dedication and instruction and practice to become proficient on an instrument, or at writing, or to become a great artist, actor, or dancer.  Of course, now there will be no music program next year, because the state and my district have determined that “my services are no longer required”.


Of all the damage that this new budget will do to education, it is in the arts that it has delivered a mortal blow.  My pink slip is one testimony to that, but right now, around the state as I speak, hundreds of arts programs are being eliminated.  The director of the High School Program here in the Valley has also been given his pink slip.  Building a program takes years.  It has taken me 10 years to develop the program in Buellton to be as effective as it is.  But the state and my district have determined that my “services are no longer required”.  Without  some sort of miracle, the arts in Buellton, or Solvang, or College school district, or the High school or any of the other districts in this Valley will not survive.


I don’t believe that everything is hopeless however.  I’m an optimist like my dad.  I believe in miracles, and miracles was even my topic at one of those state conferences that I spoke at last year.   I entitled it. – “Community, the heart of the Arts”.  If you look around, and walk around the park today, you will find tables, and volunteers already in the business of making miracles.  They’re called volunteers, and donors, and concerned parents and citizens. They support the arts education that occurs in many of the schools in this valley already.


Fourteen years ago I started a non-profit organization called “The Joyful Note Music Education Foundation”.  Its purpose was to provide music in schools in Santa Barbara county that had none. Joyful Note brought the only music that there was  to hundreds of kids in dozens of schools around this county for several years.  After moving to Buellton, I relaxed my efforts with Joyful Note, partly because the importance of the arts was again being discovered by our educational system, and partly because of the strong support for the arts Buellton.  Little did I know that one day, Joyful Note Music would be again be needed to save the music, only this time it would be at my own school.  I never thought that it would be necessary to do the same thing in Buellton that Arts Outreach, and the Solvang Education Foundation, and the High School supporters, and the Valley foundation and dozens of other organizations in this valley have so wisely done for theirs.  That is to keep the arts alive by private funding, and to save yet another generation of children from being impoverished in the visual and performing arts.  Stop by the table over there with material from Joyful Note, and the other organizations that are represented.  Take some information, give them your name, volunteer, donate. Find out how you can help out.  Next year, Joyful Note Music may be the only music program in Buellton, because “my services are not required” by this state

This is ‘Pink Day’, and you are all wearing Pink to protest the idiocy of this annual ritualistic sacrifice of teachers.  I thought it might be good to conclude my talk today by letting you all hear what a pink slip actually sounds like.  This is mine.

“Notice of Recommendation Not to Re-Employ – March 12, 2009.
Dear Mr. Zell, – “Please take note that I have recommend(ed) to the Board of Trustees of Buellton Union School district that notice be given to you that your services will not be required by this school district for the ensuing 2009-2010 school year.  At the regularly scheduled board meeting held on March 11, 2009 the Board of Trustees voted in favor of this decision.


I regret that I am constrained to give you this notice.  My reason for such action is as follows;
The following particular kinds of service will be discontinued or reduced for the 2009-2010 school year: 1. Elementary Teaching – 2.0 FTE,  2. Music – 1.0 FTE.

Because of the foregoing reasons, it is necessary to decrease the number of certificated employees of the District.  You are further notified that there is no probationary or permanent certificated employee with less seniority retained who is rendering service which you are credentialed and competent to render.

Enclosed is a copy of Sections 44949 and 44955 of the California Education Code for your information.  Please take notice that I am recommending that you not be re-employed in this school district…..Very truly yours.  – Tom Cooper, Superintendent.”

I can’t tell you how devastating the emotional effects of a note like this are. Anger, frustration, humiliation, helplessness, hopelessness.  When I received this letter, it was like someone reaching inside and taking my heart out, because my heart is in the music program.   My heart, my passion is teaching these kids, but my State and my district say that “my services are no longer required”.

You know something people, That is a lie.  My services are required, desperately, and so are the services of every teacher in this state who got one of these  pink slips this month. Stop this madness. Fund education and invest in our children.

Oh, – and one other thing.  This Pink-Slip. I intend to send it to  Governor Schwarzenegger, and a copy to my state Representatives, and the Senate and Assembly Education Committees.  What if all 30,000 teachers in the state that got pink-slipped did that.  Maybe that would help them to see the irreparable damage they are doing to our kids. You can help too, write your state representatives and the governor.  Let them know that you think that education is too important to let fail.     Thank-you.

(Ron Zell is also the President of the Buellton Education Association.  You may contact Ron at buellteach@gmail.com or through Joyful Note Music at joyfulnote2@gmail.com)