Concepciona's Story

05/12/2010 06:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I want to share with you the heart-breaking story of Concepciona Flores. Concepciona is just one of thousands of low-income students being disproportionally affected by the LAUSD's outdated and unjust teacher layoff system.

The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of students at three LAUSD schools to change this layoff system. Concepciona submitted her story as part of the lawsuit.

I am in 7th grade at Markham Middle School. I am in the AVID program, which is a program to help students go to college. At our school, the top students get to be in the AVID program.

When I go home from school, I like to do my homework, read, and take care of my little siblings. They are 4 years old and 11 months old. I take about 1 or 2 hours taking care of them everyday. I don't like having homework, but I know its good for me so I do it after I take care of my brother and sister. I like to read too. Sometimes, I read the same books over and over again because I like them so much.

When I grow up I want to be a teacher or a lawyer. I think that being a lawyer would be cool because lawyers hear the lives of people and why they're so hard. A good lawyer hears people's stories and then helps them out when they need help.

My favorite subject is math. I also like English class because I like prefixes. Prefixes are cool because the change the meaning of the root word. I also like to read book and then discuss them with my teacher. My favorite book is City Of Ember. My next favorite book is Bridge to Terabithia. I also like Harry Potter.

At Markham, my English class this year has 30 kids in it, and we didn't have a real teacher at the start of the year. I think we had 6 or 7 subs this year until we finally got a real teacher, Ms. Rodriguez, in December.

We learned very little in English while we had the subs. Sometimes, the subs would teach us about figuring out the main idea of books. But that's all I learned about literature in my English class until we got Ms. Rodriguez. With other subs, all they do is put a word on the board and then have us look it up in the dictionary. We don't discuss what the word means or anything, and we don't understand why we are looking up that word or what it has to do with our English class. I want to do well in English so I can do well in school and get good grades, and I know many of my classmates also feel the same way. But we can't learn about things if the teachers don't teach, and that is what happened with the subs.

When our class was being taught by subs, my English classroom had nothing on the walls or the boards. At Markham, most of the classes taught by real teachers have posters and other materials on the walls that make the classroom interesting. But the subs I had in English didn't care about decorating the classroom, because they just think that they're babysitting us for somebody else.

My English is in room 45. Besides my English class, there are 5 or 6 other classes that have English during the school day and were taught by the same substitutes my class had until December.

I have A's in all my classes and I'm a really good student. I had never gotten a C on my report card before this year. In my English class, one of the subs that had been teaching us for only a few days gave me a C, and I don't know why I got that grade. It made me really sad and I think its unfair that I received that low grade when I did everything I was asked to do in my English class. I don't know how that sub could grade us on anything, because he had not assigned any graded work or given us tests or quizzes before he gave us our grades. And the subs that were there before him never gave us graded work either. If we did any work in class, we gave it to the subs, and then we never saw it all again. The grades he gave us are kind of messed up. Because almost every student in the class got the same grade, a C, although a few students received Fs because of their behavior. I do not think it is right that we were given low grades when the subs had not given us work or taught us the things they were supposed to cover in our 7th grade English class.

I've cried about it a lot of times because good grades are important to me and I'm afraid that the C might keep me from participating in AVID next year. I didn't do anything to get a C, and its really unfair. I have A's in all my other classes. I have never even been assigned homework in my English class, but I got a C in it because the teacher had to make up a grade and picked that one. Three or Four other students cried when they found out they had received a C in English. My friend Xitlani was also crying because she also got a C and she didn't do anything wrong.

I feel really sad that we didn't have a real English teacher for the first months of the year. I cried about it at home, but I won't cry in class. I told my AVID teacher, Ms. McDonnell, that I wanted to learn more and that the subs in English weren't teaching me anything. Ms. McDonnell has talked to my parents about the problem with the English class, but the couldn't do anything about it anyway.

Ms. McDonnell tried to help me and other students in my English class by using our AVID class to cover English, because she knew the subs weren't covering what we were supposed to be learning. But even with her help, when we had to take the periodic test for English a few weeks ago, I didn't have the answer to a lot of questions because I didn't recognize the information we were being asked about. I think we were supposed to have learned that information, otherwise we wouldn't be tested on it, but our class had not had a chance to learn it because the subs never covered it.

Being in Ms. McDonnell's class is different than being in my classes with subs. In Ms. McDonnell's class, the kids sit in their seat and do what she asked them to do. The same kids act differently when they are in classes with the subs; they don't listen to the subs because they know the subs don't care about us and wont be there for long. When you have a sub tat doesn't know how to run a class, the kids act however the want to because they don't understand why they are in class. My classes with subs feel like there is a lot of confusion in them. Its kind of weird because ive never had an experience like that before. It doesn't feel like school because kids play a lot in the classes with the subs. But playing is for the playground and not for class.

Now we finally have a real teacher in our English class. She is Ms. Rodriguez. She's good because she has experience teaching English and she is now teaching English and she is now teaching lots of things. We are finally learning something now and have learned more in a few weeks we've had her than in the months we had subs.

It doesn't have to be this way. Let's work together to change the unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional layoff system that leaves some of our most at-risk students with less resources than their peers at other LAUSD schools.

It's time to protect Concepciona, and all our children, from instability and inequality in the classroom.