This is a story about a teacher, one of 5045 educators that received a layoff notice from the LAUSD. I wish I could write about the other 5044, too, but I'll be busy telling my elected officials what a horrible decision they've made in a series of angry letters I'm planning to write. With lots of exclamation points. And swear words.
While we were talking, I asked him about Moulin Rouge, because it was the first time it was ever performed on stage and I knew that he had done the arranging himself. He told me a crazy story about what he went through trying to get the rights to use the sheet music from the movie and after he jumped through a bunch of hoops they still turned him down. So, he said matter-of-factly, he put on a pair of headphones, sat down at the piano and re-wrote all of the music himself, working eight hours a day all the way through every day of winter break, even on Christmas day. And his birthday. (Are you listening, school board members?)
(Seriously, I was so enthralled by his story I forgot to wish Kira good luck when she went in, but she seemed almost grateful to escape my usual hug and awkward fist-bump.)
Mr. Sacks is the reason Kira is going to the school she's attending, the reason we make the forty-minute drive every morning into Hollywood. The school was one of the last ones we had toured after an exhaustive few weeks of checking out every performing arts campus in the city. Kira had a mediocre response to all of them up to that point, and just as Rigel and I were about to pull out the, 'It's our choice, not yours, young lady' card, we were invited to a series of workshops at the school. We sat in on one of Mr. Sacks' classes and the rapport that he has with the kids is so evident, and by the end of a rousing rendition of "Aint No Mountain High Enough", Kira was convinced. She turned to me and said, "I love this place. THIS IS IT." She's was ecstatic that she had found a home, and I was happy we didn't have to tour those other schools left on our list.
And here's where I shake my fist at those who have decided to cut funding to education – Mr. Sacks is one of the teachers that has gotten a layoff notice from the school district. I'm sure I speak for a lot of the kids and the parents when I say that the department and the school will suffer greatly if he leaves. Kira is dreading the thought of him not being around, and she and her classmates are wondering what will become of their musical education there without him at the helm. Have you ever witnessed the rare phenomenon of a child actually wanting to go to school? I have, and it's usually on days she knows she has an after-school rehearsal.
There are many teachers that have gotten layoff notices in the past few weeks and this is just one story. I wish the people making these insane decisions could get to know every one of the teachers they're planning on letting go. More importantly, I wish they could hear the stories of every one of the kids whose lives these teachers have touched, and hear about the negative impact these layoffs will have on them.
If you have a story to tell about a teacher, please send me a link and I'll post it here. I'd love to send it to our elected officials so they could put some faces to even a few of those 5045 pink slips.
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