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  • So I grew up in East Los Angeles,

  • not even realizing I was poor.

  • My dad was a high-ranking gang member who ran the streets.

  • Everyone knew who I was,

  • so I thought I was a pretty big deal, and I was protected,

  • and even though my dad spent most of my life

  • in and out of jail,

  • I had an amazing mom who was just fiercely independent.

  • She worked at the local high school

  • as a secretary in the dean's office,

  • so she got to see all the kids that got thrown out of class,

  • for whatever reason, who were waiting to be disciplined.

  • Man, her office was packed.

  • So, see, kids like us, we have a lot of things to deal with

  • outside of school,

  • and sometimes we're just not ready to focus.

  • But that doesn't mean that we can't.

  • It just takes a little bit more.

  • Like, I remember one day I found my dad

  • convulsing, foaming at the mouth,

  • OD-ing on the bathroom floor.

  • Really, do you think that doing my homework that night

  • was at the top of my priority list?

  • Not so much.

  • But I really needed a support network,

  • a group of people who were going to help me

  • make sure that I wasn't going to be

  • a victim of my own circumstance,

  • that they were going to push me

  • beyond what I even thought I could do.

  • I needed teachers, in the classroom, every day,

  • who were going to say, "You can move beyond that."

  • And unfortunately, the local junior high

  • was not going to offer that.

  • It was gang-infested, huge teacher turnover rate.

  • So my mom said, "You're going on a bus

  • an hour and a half away from where we live every day."

  • So for the next two years, that's what I did.

  • I took a school bus to the fancy side of town.

  • And eventually, I ended up at a school

  • where there was a mixture.

  • There were some people who were really gang-affiliated,

  • and then there were those of us

  • really trying to make it to high school.

  • Well, trying to stay out of trouble was a little unavoidable.

  • You had to survive.

  • You just had to do things sometimes.

  • So there were a lot of teachers who were like,

  • "She's never going to make it.

  • She has an issue with authority.

  • She's not going to go anywhere."

  • Some teachers completely wrote me off as a lost cause.

  • But then, they were very surprised

  • when I graduated from high school.

  • I was accepted to Pepperdine University,

  • and I came back to the same school that I attended

  • to be a special ed assistant.

  • And then I told them, "I want to be a teacher."

  • And boy, they were like, "What? Why?

  • Why would you want to do that?"

  • So I began my teaching career

  • at the exact same middle school that I attended,

  • and I really wanted to try to save more kids

  • who were just like me.

  • And so every year, I share my background with my kids,

  • because they need to know that everyone has a story,

  • everyone has a struggle,

  • and everyone needs help along the way.

  • And I am going to be their help along the way.

  • So as a rookie teacher, I created opportunity.

  • I had a kid one day come into my class

  • having been stabbed the night before.

  • I was like, "You need to go to a hospital,

  • the school nurse, something."

  • He's like, "No, Miss, I'm not going.

  • I need to be in class because I need to graduate."

  • So he knew that I was not going to let him be a victim

  • of his circumstance,

  • but we were going to push forward and keep moving on.

  • And this idea of creating a safe haven for our kids

  • and getting to know exactly what they're going through,

  • getting to know their families -- I wanted that,

  • but I couldn't do it in a school with 1,600 kids,

  • and teachers turning over year after year after year.

  • How do you get to build those relationships?

  • So we created a new school.

  • And we created

  • the San Fernando Institute for Applied Media.

  • And we made sure that we were still attached

  • to our school district for funding, for support.

  • But with that, we were going to gain freedom:

  • freedom to hire the teachers

  • that we knew were going to be effective;

  • freedom to control the curriculum

  • so that we're not doing lesson 1.2 on page five, no;

  • and freedom to control a budget,

  • to spend money where it matters,

  • not how a district or a state says you have to do it.

  • We wanted those freedoms.

  • But now, shifting an entire paradigm,

  • it hasn't been an easy journey, nor is it even complete.

  • But we had to do it.

  • Our community deserved a new way of doing things.

  • And as the very first pilot middle school

  • in all of Los Angeles Unified School District,

  • you better believe there was some opposition.

  • And it was out of fear --

  • fear of, well, what if they get it wrong?

  • Yeah, what if we get it wrong?

  • But what if we get it right?

  • And we did.

  • So even though teachers were against it

  • because we employ one-year contracts --

  • you can't teach, or you don't want to teach,

  • you don't get to be at my school with my kids.

  • (Applause)

  • So in our third year, how did we do it?

  • Well, we're making school worth coming to every day.

  • We make our kids feel like they matter to us.

  • We make our curriculum rigorous and relevant to them,

  • and they use all the technology that they're used to.

  • Laptops, computers, tablets -- you name it, they have it.

  • Animation, software, moviemaking software, they have it all.

  • And because we connect it to what they're doing

  • For example, they made public service announcements

  • for the Cancer Society.

  • These were played in the local trolley system.

  • Teaching elements of persuasion,

  • it doesn't get any more real than that.

  • Our state test scores have gone up

  • more than 80 points since we've become our own school.

  • But it's taken all stakeholders, working together --

  • teachers and principals on one-year contracts,

  • working over and above and beyond their contract hours

  • without compensation.

  • And it takes a school board member

  • who is going to lobby for you and say,

  • "Know, the district is trying to impose this,

  • but you have the freedom to do otherwise."

  • And it takes an active parent center

  • who is not only there, showing a presence every day,

  • but who is part of our governance,

  • making decisions for their kids, our kids.

  • Because why should our students have to go

  • so far away from where they live?

  • They deserve a quality school in their neighborhood,

  • a school that they can be proud to say they attend,

  • and a school that the community can be proud of as well,

  • and they need teachers to fight for them every day

  • and empower them to move beyond their circumstances.

  • Because it's time that kids like me

  • stop being the exception, and we become the norm.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

So I grew up in East Los Angeles,

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A2 BEG US school freedom district gang year day

【TED】Pearl Arredondo: My story, from gangland daughter to star teacher (Pearl Arredondo: My story, from gangland daughter to star teacher)

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    VoiceTube   posted on 2013/10/22
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