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~ Every Student Deserves a Quality Teacher
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Lynwood Parents Research Access to Quality Teachers
What can be done to ensure quality teachers in Lynwood?
Three Interviews by Mary Johnson
Photo: Mary Johnson © Marty Lipton, 2001
Lynwood's schools have some of the highest percentages of uncredentialed teachers in the state. Mary Johnson, Parent Director of Parent U-Turn, conducted interviews with Assemblymember Marco Firebaugh, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and Director of UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, Eloise Lopez Metcalfe to determine what can be done to ensure quality teachers in Lynwood.
About Mary Johnson:

Mary Johnson, chairperson of the Parent U-Turn in Lynwood, Parent Liaison at Hosler Middle School and Parent Director of the UCLA Parent Project, works extensively with the community in South Gate and Lynwood. Mary Johnson has run for City Council of South Gate and is a South Gate City Commissioner. Ms. Johnson currently lives in South Gate where she also serves as Director for Community in Action, an organization that locates resources for communities in South Gate.

Mary Johnson began her work as a community activist in 1996 after local police harassed her and her neighbors and threatened to arrest her daughter. The following day she wrote a petition calling for an end to the harassment by police and for better living conditions in her apartment complex. According to Ms. Johnson, "there were cockroaches, and there were dope dealers that would sell in the front. It was not a good environment for kids, but parents with limited budgets for rent did not have any other options. It was time for a change." Ms. Johnson led the way for that change by rallying 200 people to attend a South Gate City Council meeting. "I felt that we were living in a concentration camp, and as good people we should not be treated that way." Her actions led to a dramatic chain of events that eventually included the beginning of tenant forums, and regular meetings with city officials, the police and health department representatives. Ultimately, the owners of her apartment complex were cited for violating health ordinances and the complex was sold to new owners who eventually made repairs and even built a playground for the children. Most importantly, Ms. Johnson’s actions led to a greater trust and communication between community members, the police and city administrators.

In 1999, Ms. Johnson joined the UCLA Parent Project with the first class of parents trained by Director Angela Hasan to develop skills that can improve the educational opportunities of disadvantaged urban students. Today Ms. Johnson works with parents to submit writing and interviews to Teaching to Change LA on the Students’ Bill of Rights. For this issue Ms. Johnson interviewed Eloise Lopez Metcalfe, Director of UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, Assemblymember Marco Firebaugh and Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. "I decided to interview these people because they play a major part in school reform. The progress of our community and children depends on the people who represent us in congress and Sacramento. I wanted to find out what our congresswoman feels about the new bill on school reform." Ms. Johnson believes that "If the district doesn’t live up to the new school reform, the federal government should stop giving us money until they perform…This is such a rich country, no kids should be without a quality education. I don’t care what his or her status, nationality, or income is, every kid should be able to read, every kid should be able to have a book, should have a cafeteria, a gym, all the things that are missing in our community. Every kid deserves this."


For interviews, please click on the links below:

Marco Firebaugh
Member of the California State Legislature representing the 50th Assembly District in the Southeast Los Angeles County. < Haz clic aqui para español >

Juanita Millender-McDonald
Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald was the first woman elected to represent. California’s 37th District, which includes Carson, Compton, and Long Beach.
< Haz clic aqui para español >

Eloise Lopez Metcalfe
Director of UCLA's Teacher Education Program.

Touched by an Angel: Thoughts on a Quality Teacher
by Mary Johnson

There is an angel in my family life. Her name is Marianne Annis. This lady must be an angel because she is blessed with a unique talent for teaching. Marianne Annis teaches students that most of society has written off—special education students. Many of her students have graduated and gone on to college. Ms. Annis has a gift for reaching out to her students with love and patience to build their self-confidence. She takes the students’ strengths and builds on their weaknesses. She pushes her students to give their best and never stops trying. Ms. Annis is an advocate for her students. Many times, Ms Annis has challenged her administrators to ensure the rights of her students. After teaching my son and daughter, Ms. Annis is no longer just a teacher, she is part of the Johnson Family. I ask myself if this sort of teaching is a skill that can be learned or a gift that God gives at birth. My thought is that it is a gift you are born with because only an angel with a gift for teaching could have helped two of my children get into college. I wish that I could bottle her passion and caring and commitment and share it with other teachers, so many other students could be touched by an angel.

- Mary Johnson

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