John Burroughs Middle School teacher, Charlie Unkeless, was taking his students into the wild blue yonder until the L.A.U.S.D. proposed firings cancelled all flights leaving over 200 enthusiastic students grounded in their overcrowded classrooms.

Unkeless teaches aeronautics and computer technology to 7th and 8th graders at Burroughs.  He uses 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.

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.  They develop note-taking skills, write summaries, and reflections about their experiences. 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 his proposed firing, the teacher adds:


“Three weeks ago I received a Pink Slip along with 4500 other teachers in the L.A.U.S.D.  I'm told that even if my RIF is rescinded, I won't be allowed back into the computer lab because the Principal will no longer be able to authorize my ability to teach technology.”



Charlie Unkeless’ story is one of the faces that can be put on the current firing 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.

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