Jordan High School Protest Targets Principal

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Jordan High School in Watts is one of the lowest- performing public campuses in Los Angeles. Yesterday, half a dozen teachers protested outside the school. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says they don't like the approach the principal is taking to boost Jordan's performance.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Education researchers believe that teaching black and Latino students about their cultural heritage engages them in their studies. That's what Jordan High School probationary history teacher, Mark Gonzales, said he did last year, when he taught a lesson about the murder of a black teen that helped spark the civil rights movement.

Mark Gonzales: Two days later, I had an informal observation note in my classroom saying, "I want to speak with you about your hip hop curriculum regarding Emmett Till."

Guzman-Lopez: Gonzales said the school district hasn't asked him to return next year. He's resigning from his position at Jordan High to protest what he describes as intimidation by the school's principal against him and other activist teachers. The principal wasn't available for comment. L.A. Unified Assistant Superintendent Ray Cortines said school administrators are concerned that teachers aren't covering required coursework. Jordan High history teacher Lacey Buidosik agreed with that perception. She said that principal Stephen Strachan enjoys wide support.

Lacey Buidosik: I've only been here for three years, and he came in the year before I did, but if I talk to my colleagues, they say, "Wow, you should have seen it before you got here."

Guzman-Lopez: Fights and disorder ruled the school, she said, adding that Strachan introduced morale boosting changes, including uniforms, a student newspaper, and more extracurricular clubs. Suspensions at Jordan High School are down, from 648 students three years ago, to half that number last year.