Education Los Angeles Times

Talking About the Suicide of 5th Grade Teacher Rigoberto Ruelas


The funeral for Rigoberto Ruelas,
the Miramonte Elementary School 5th grade teacher who killed himself over the weekend, was held on Wednesday at 5 pm.

It is still not clear whether the fact that Ruelas got an unfavorable rating according the LA Times online data base was among the reasons Ruelas decided to end his life by jumping off a bridge in Big Tujunga Canyon. Friends have reportedly said that Ruelas was “very concerned” about the ratings.

The situation was made somehow sadder and more confusing when an LAUSD administrator announced earlier this week that, in his final district evaluation, Ruelas received a “great performance ranking.”

Also on Wednesday, Larry Mantle of KPCC had a good and sober-minded discussion about whether or not the LA Times should have published the value-added teacher ratings in question, in light of the adverse emotional affect the public airing of those ratings may have on the teachers who received less than stellar scores.

The most affecting moment in the show was when Ruelas’ brother called in to talk.

You may find a podcast of the discussion here.

7 Comments

  • “Also on Wednesday, Larry Mantle of KPCC had a good and sober-minded discussion about whether or not the LA Times should have published the value-added teacher ratings in question, in light of the adverse emotional affect the public airing of those ratings may have on the teachers who received less than stellar scores.”

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    Maybe the L.A. Times should not have published the names of the Bell City officials I’m sure they have suffered “adverse emotional affect”.

  • I’m pretty sure the LA Times equating a teacher struggling with results to white collar grand larcenists in Bell might have been what pushed the poor guy over the edge.

  • What Script said. Really. They’re not the same thing. Teachers are not criminals. I was at the service and spoke to an LA Times education reporter and she was trying to make a similar connection: the public’s right to know, their database was reporting not activism, the Times has no agenda, etc. But really, the public has a right to know when people are stealing from them but they don’t have the right to know other people’s employee evaluations.

    But after hearing from Mr. Ruelas’ students and their parents I am even more confirmed in my belief that the real problem here is not privacy but the apparent consensus that the job of a teacher is to ensure all students score equally well on standardized tests. That was not what Mr. Ruelas believed his job to be. He believed his job was to help students grow and fight for a better future than was being offered to them.

    But after hearing again and again that teachers are the problem and that his students’ test scores show they would be better off without him, he lost the thing that enabled him to get up every day and overcome his other problems, the belief that his kids were better for having him in their lives. It’s a shame he wasn’t alive to hear what was said at the service because kid after kid credited him with helping him do what it was he really set out to do, help them believe in themselves and succeed.

  • I think the elephant in the room when it comes to the whole school results thing is parents bullying teachers into giving their kids better grades. End resulting being the kids don’t actually learn anything. So when it’s time for these state wide exams or whatever, their lack of real progress is exposed. Then we conveniently turn around and blame the teachers. Then you start hearing about the evil teachers’ unions bringing down education. It’s really the evil, lazy, trash parents of today.

  • I taught for the last decade in Watts and East Los, honors classes and remedial classes. and never had a parent complain about a grade. My sister taught in the more affluent part of Irvine and got it every report card. Parents in Irvine also enroll their kids in private weekend classes where they study test prep. It’s no wonder what would happen if we erased the achievement gap and my varrio kids started doing as well as my sister’s kids. The parents in the suburbs would freak out and insist their kids weren’t getting a good enough education and the state would respond by giving them whatever they wanted. If testing ever resulted in anything other than an achievement gap that exactly mirrored socio-economics it would be immediately rejected by the people in power.

    Anyways, I don’t want to bash my kids’ parents. For the most part they’re trying the best they can and the schools don’t really want them involved. I don’t believe any parent ever bullied Mr. Ruelas, only administrators and people who claim to be education reformers but don’t spend time in schools. There were a lot of parents at Mr. Ruelas’ memorial service and I got the feeling they had always been grateful for having him.

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