Larry Mantle |

A grieving listener calls-in to talk about his brother's life and death as a teacher

Wednesday morning on AirTalk, we opened the lines for listeners to talk about the apparent suicide of south Los Angeles-area teacher Rigoberto Ruelas, Jr.  Ruelas’ colleagues described him as being hard hit emotionally by the Los Angeles Times’ online publication of his “value added” test scores.  In math, and overall, Ruelas was rated “less effective” than average. 

In talking with the Times about Ruelas’ death, UTLA president A. J. Duffy renewed his call for the Times to stop posting the names and “value added” scores of public schoolteachers.  I asked listeners if they agreed with Duffy that the scores are unfair to teachers, an inaccurate measure, and personally hurtful.

One of our last calls came from “Alejandro,” who identified himself as Rigo Ruelas’ brother.  In yesterday’s Times, Alejandro Ruelas was quoted saying he wouldn’t speak with a Times reporter, as his family was boycotting the paper.

This morning, Alejandro described his family’s loss and called on the Times to remove the “value added” scores.  As you’d expect, it was poignant to hear how the death of Rigo Ruelas is affecting his family and the Miramonte Elementary School community. 

Parents and colleagues quoted in the Times described Ruelas as an extremely dedicated and caring teacher.  His brother echoed that description with his story of Rigo buying a mattress for one of his students who didn’t have one at home.

If you didn’t hear the segment live, I’d encourage you to listen online.  Listeners were clearly split on Duffy’s demand and call to boycott the Times.