A few weeks ago, LA Times city columnist Steve Lopez zeroed in on the topic of teacher layoffs at Alexander Hamilton High School, a Beverlywood neighborhood LAUSD school with two magnet components. Today, Big Journalism contributor Alexander Marlow bites back.
It definitely helped in this case that the school sits in Marlow’s boyhood backyard, thus allowing him to easily vet the contents of the March 16th column. His main beef is that Lopez painted too much of a one-sided, positive view of the school’s magnet programs:
Many of [my Music Magnet friends’] experiences didn’t resemble the mythical land of incredible teachers and students anxious to learn that Lopez describes. An anonymous Hamilton graduate told me she recalls students doing cocaine in the state-of the art auditorium…
One of the spectacular teachers Lopez mentions in the article taught an acting class; an anonymous source sums up the class experience this way: “She taught me nothing about acting but a lot about AIDS.” Another teacher mentioned in the article, according to an alum, “pushed an anti-Bush agenda” and openly discussed his alcohol abuse with the students during class time.
After a Republican rant detour, Marlow admits that collectively, his Hamilton alumni friends had a range of good, bad and indifferent school experiences. He just wishes all three of those flavors had made it into the Lopez piece.