Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LAUSD Cancels Aeronautics Electives

The LAUSD district choose to cancel the aeronautics elective school wide on a day that USA Today ran a cover story about the urgent need for up to 500,000 pilots globally in the next twenty years. There are at least two aeronautics programs citywide that have shown great success.

John Burroughs Middle School teacher, Charlie Unkeless, was taking his students into the wild blue yonder before his class was cancelled leaving over 200 enthusiastic students grounded in their overcrowded classrooms.

Unkeless taught aeronautics and computer technology to 7th and 8th graders at John Burroughs Middle School. He used Microsoft Flight Simulators hooked up with a Joystick and a classroom PC. A creative teacher who delivers content in unique ways, Unkeless has seen his Aviation class become one of the most popular elective courses offered at Burroughs.

The past and present Principal at his school both supported his methodology. New rules put in place recently by the district will not allow the principal to authorize him to continue teaching technology.

In Unkeless’ own words:

“Students learn to fly a Cessna and read all the gauges. They keep portfolios and organize all their missions, journals, and worksheets. We take field trips to airports and study aviation history. It is a busy semester and the kids who sign up know my class is challenging but they are motivated and responsible students. Last year I arranged for my top students to fly a plane with a pilot instructor who donated her services.”

Regarding the cancellation of his elective, the teacher adds:

“Kurt Vonnegut couldn’t have dreamed up a more absurd situation. We need to create bridges to 21st century careers. The district is shortsighted and uninformed about what good things are actually happening in their classrooms.”

Charlie Unkeless’ story is one of the faces that can be put on the current crisis at the L.A.U.S.D. It’s a powerful, moving story that adds a human dimension to one of today’s most vital issues.

USA Today - Demand for Airline Pilots Set To Soar