Times Community News Columnist Brian Crosby

Brian Crosby
The Crosby Chronicles: A teacher in the GUSD and the author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Interest in teaching field needs to be increased

Every so often, like the reemergence of El Niño, the topic of a teaching shortage reappears on op-ed pages and talk radio.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Labor Day weekend trip leads to 9/11 Memorial

Fourteen years ago today, an incomprehensible tragedy struck the United States — a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The Whiteboard Jungle: GUSD, BUSD should meet to discuss a common calendar

Earlier this month, I wrote about the early start of school in Glendale and now there is an...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Bigger classes mean more demanding workload

My head is throbbing, my throat’s on fire, and my limbs are numb.

The Whiteboard Jungle: School year should not start so early

One of the most asked questions I get as a teacher is why does school start so early in August instead of September.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Lee's 'Watchman' was never meant to be seen

Imagine you wish to write a book. And you do.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Mandating civics courses would benefit students

The other day, my son was practicing his guitar playing with a new music book and came upon Samuel Francis Smith’s “America (My Country, ’Tis of Thee),” you know, the 1832 patriotic song that is not “America the...

The Whiteboard Jungle: The contributions of fathers should be appreciated

Sunday will mark my 17th Father’s Day, a special accomplishment for me considering that I have been a dad longer than my father was for me.

The Whiteboard Jungle: The arrival of June means a time of goodbyes

Each June, I struggle finding the right departing remarks to say to my students as the class runs its course (pun intended).

The Whiteboard Jungle: Transition to middle school can be rough

This week, I attended my youngest son’s spring dance at his elementary school. After 12 spring dances (counting my oldest son’s tenure), this was my final one.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' still causing controversy

Full disclosure: I am an English teacher, I expose my students to the best literature, I consider John Steinbeck one of America’s greatest writers, and so I teach “Of Mice and Men.”

The Whiteboard Jungle: When a person's words become someone else's

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Screenwriters James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck wrote this famous line for the John Ford-directed 1962 film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Test scores shouldn't be main factor in rating teachers

A lasting legacy of the “No Child Left Behind” federal legislation has been the notion of tying student test scores to teachers’ job evaluations. Due to the controversy of such an idea, school districts across the country that...

The Whiteboard Jungle: People need to do right thing when accidents occur

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m the type of person who believes in doing the right thing. It is a philosophy that flows through the way I conduct my life, including my teaching.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Tuition is not main hurdle for most community college students

What does $1,400 buy nowadays? One year of cellphone service with T-Mobile, one year of television with DirecTV, or one year’s tuition at a California community college — for 60% of students, that is. The other 40% pay no tuition.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the greatness of Nat King Cole

One of my journalism students wrote an opinion piece lamenting the poor quality of music today when compared to 30 years ago, an unusual yet perceptive observation from someone so young. She mentioned the increasing use of Auto-Tune, a computer...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Measles outbreak is a sign of selfishness

What began as a curious story of a small measles outbreak in, of all places, the so-called Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, has stretched to nearly 100 cases across eight states and into Mexico.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Student's tenacity results in gig at Clippers game

I often encourage my student journalists not to feel fearful or intimidated when selling advertisements or speaking to adults for articles. However, it remains challenging for many of these young people to assert themselves. A small minority do...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Exploring the life of Mantle during winter break

Writing a column right between the end of one year and the start of another is tricky. Typically, writers come up with “the list of the [fill in the blank] of 2014.” I thought about selecting the top education stories of the year, but got...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Students trade their front teeth for Mariah

Nearly 70 years ago, a music teacher filling in for his wife’s second-grade class asked the children what they wanted for Christmas.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the legacy of 'The Christmas Song'

For years now on most Fridays, I begin class not with a grammar or writing exercise but with a music lesson as a way to broaden my students’ musical knowledge by playing for them some of the great singers and composers of the 20th century,...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teacher salaries say something about society

Back in 1998, when I was embarking on my 10th year as a teacher, I had an op-ed piece published in the Times about paying good teachers six-figure salaries as a way to attract and retain higher qualified people.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Parent involvement plays key role in schools' success

Lost in the middle of the midterm election coverage this week was a major press conference on Monday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing a $150-million infusion into the Big Apple’s 94 worst-performing schools, creating community...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Writing is a tough but worthy pursuit

Last week, I was invited to participate in the Local Authors’ Showcase held at the Buena Vista Library in Burbank.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Taking son to school is enjoyable experience

A couple of days ago was the annual Walk to School Day. Knowing such a day exists may raise eyebrows as to its need until you realize, as my fellow Friday columnist Joylene Wagner pointed out, kids just don’t walk to school anymore.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teachers could use help outside the classroom

Years ago, doctors took blood pressure, drew blood and administered medicine. Today, medical assistants perform these duties.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Decision-making process should also include teachers' input

In the game of education, there are many players: students, parents, teachers, administrators, district officials, state and federal politicians. Too often, the group that has the most contact with the students — the teachers — is not...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teaching 'Mockingbird' to today's students

One of the charges of the high school English teacher is to help teenagers see the relevancy of literature to their lives. I'm always on the lookout on how to win over the students to read, in their minds, very old books from long, long ago.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Meeting amplifies divergent ideas on education

This summer has not been kind to California educators with increased deductions from their paychecks to pay for the pension fund, and tenure and job protection ruled illegal by a Superior Court judge.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Make real life education's driving force

Knowing that the leading cause of death among teenagers is fatal car crashes, one would think that teaching adolescents how to safely drive would be a national priority — or at least a high school graduation requirement.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Using 'time off' to an advantage

“Teachers have so much time off” is an often repeated sentiment among noneducators.

The Whiteboard Jungle: A chat with 'Leave it to Beaver' star

Bringing up decent children in a sometimes indecent world is challenging for both parents and teachers.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Mayor should hold himself to higher standard

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared “this is a big f—in’ day” while holding up a bottle of beer on live television at Monday’s rally celebrating the Los Angeles Kings winning the National Hockey League’...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Writers may be happy to hear from you

This fall, when my students study "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," it won't be the same due to the passing of Maya Angelou last week.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Where are the voices against pot legalization?

The latest Pew Research Center poll shows that 54% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Recognize teachers every day of the year

May is “thank your local teacher” month: Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5 through 9), National Teacher Day (May 6) and California’s Day of the Teacher (May 14).

The Whiteboard Jungle: The balancing act of choosing days off

For the first time in Glendale Unified School District’s history, April 24 is no longer a school day.

The Whiteboard Jungle: People need to take action, not tape it

A video went viral last week of Santa Monica High School teacher/coach Mark Black restraining a student in his classroom.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Adjusting to Common Core will take time

A while ago, my fellow Friday columnist Joylene Wagner lamented that...

The Whiteboard Jungle: The SAT exam adapts to modern times

The high school experience includes several rites of passage for students: getting a driver’s license, going out on a first date, and taking the SAT. Now the SAT journey has just gotten a little smoother.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Hoover High produced an infamous graduate

On March 28, Glendale High School will rename its auditorium the John Wayne Performing Arts Center in honor of its most well-known alumnus.

Whiteboard Jungle: Parents need to be more involved in child's education

Last week Hoover High had a Recruitment Night for the eighth-grade parents of Toll Middle School.

The Whiteboard Jungle: There is no shame in society anymore

When working with teenagers, I try to keep up with the latest trends so that I can name-drop a Kardashian or crack a joke about Instagram to let them know that this old-man teacher does have an awareness of youth culture.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Student teaching is hard and unpaid work

Those who go into the teaching field are often viewed as giving individuals due to the lack of financial rewards, and nowhere is that truer than with those who train to become teachers who sacrifice an entire year’s salary.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Behavior is just as important as good grades

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was from my wife, a box set of the classic TV show “Leave It to Beaver.”

The Whiteboard Jungle: Christmas celebration should be cherished tradition

Each December, there is an increasing amount of attention spent on the word “Christmas” and how its use has to be carefully monitored, especially in schools.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Break was a week lost to education

Now that Glendale students and teachers have experienced the entire week of Thanksgiving off for the first time like their La Cañada brethren, I can officially call such an action a turkey (pun intended).

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teens seem grateful for the assignment

For the first time, Glendale schools will be closed the whole week of Thanksgiving. Because of the large amount of time school will be out of session I wanted my students to write about what they are thankful for (what a clichéd assignment,...

The Whiteboard Jungle: Teachers need to close the 'achievement gap'

The phrase "achievement gap" often refers to the test-score discrepancies between white students and non-white students in public schools. However, the more alarming achievement gap is between high school work and college work.

The Whiteboard Jungle: The good news is there's something to learn

I know what many of you expect me to address this week, the recent headline-grabbing story about a teacher at Hoover accused of sexually assaulting a student. After all, I work there and that teacher was a colleague of mine.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Students, and what comes after

One of the wonders of working with young people is finding out what happened to them years later, and hearkening back on the work I did with them. And when you have taught for nearly a quarter of a century, there are plenty of "years later."

The Whiteboard Jungle: The importance of back-to-school nights

Visit an elementary school at 10 a.m. in the middle of the week for a third-grade dance festival and you'll be lucky to find viewing space on the playground as you stand among parents with cellphones and iPads deployed in order to record the event.

The Whiteboard Jungle: The loss of a signature standard

"Signature" — a word that appears on legal forms and credit card transactions.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Later in the day, not earlier in the summer

Glendale schools opened on Aug. 12, the earliest start date in history, doing away with the traditional September-through-June school calendar that hasn't been all that traditional for a while now. The back-to-school ads that once appeared in...

The Whiteboard Jungle: How I ended my summer vacation

The start of school is a time when districts have their teachers begin work a couple of days before students arrive with the purpose of getting everyone focused on teaching at their full potential. 

The Crosby Chronicles: Competitive youth sports

When you are a parent of a child playing sports, it is not all fun and games.

Crosby Chronicles: The joys of summer

One of the benefits of being a teacher is extra time off from the job compared to other people’s two or three-week vacation periods.

The Crosby Chronicles: Superhero movies loud, violent and boring

"Man of Steel," the reboot of the Superman film franchise, had the biggest opening of a film in June, earning more than $125 million.

The Crosby Chronicles: the pros and cons of AP tests

Each May high school kids have a soft two-week vacation when Advanced Placement exams are administered.  

The Crosby Chronicles: Taking in a hockey game

A longtime diehard Los Angeles sports fan is one who roots for the Dodgers or the Lakers. Unfortunately, neither team is fun to watch these days. Laker fans are trying to obliterate from memory one of the worst years in franchise history, while the...

The Crosby Chronicles: Zen and the art of lawn maintenance

Before I became a homeowner, I would frown down upon houses in my neighborhood whose front yards looked like a scene from a horror movie.  

The Crosby Chronicles: Equal time for Little League players

Those of you with kids in little league right now are familiar with the usual to-do list: buying the gear, bringing the snacks, rushing to all the practices and games, and dealing with coaches who favor their own children over yours.

The Crosby Chronicles: Jackie Robinson biopic worth seeing

You should consider going to the movies to see “42,” the new biographical film on baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson’s first year with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The actual date of his major league debut, April 15, is...

The Crosby Chronicles: Make the most of life

The email was dutifully sent out to all school district employees.  “Former Hoover High School Librarian Joyce Brace passed away Friday, March 29, 2013.” 

The Crosby Chronicles: Baseball and birthdays

Due to my son’s school being closed on Monday, I had to take a day off of work to be home with him. That day happened to be my birthday, so the stars were aligned when I found out that April 1 was...

The Crosby Chronicles: Restaurant experiences sometimes lack

Going out to eat is supposed to be one of life's pleasures. You don't have to cook or clean up afterwards. Plus, servers take your order and bring your food. For just a little bit of money you can feel a lot of specialness - even if it's only for...

The Crosby Chronicles: Hoover team victorious at Scholastic Bowl

Please allow me to boast. Congratulations to Matthew Benitez, Jacob Deyell, Victor Garcia, Gayane Hovsepyan and Meagan Yuen for winning Hoover’s first Glendale Unified Scholastic Bowl in five years – and my first victory as coach.

The Crosby Chronicles: Something good about getting older

When's the last time you went shopping for children's clothing? Specifically, sports clothing? I just spent nearly $300 at Sports Chalet so that my 9-year-old son could play baseball. And that's with a discount from his coach's company who is helping...

The Crosby Chronicles: Thanks Dr. Jerry Buss for success of L.A. Lakers

The death of Dr. Jerry Buss affects any L.A. sports fan. I kept reading and watching the sad news on Monday as a way for the loss to sink in even though his absence in the public eye the past two years was an unspoken foreshadowing of what...

The Crosby Chronicles: Is NetFlix's 'House of Cards' too much of a good thing?

Last week, NetFlix made available to the public the complete first season of their new TV series "House of Cards." This meant that a viewer could watch all 13 hours of the show, one after another. And people did.

The Crosby Chronicles: Remembering and honoring John Sage

I was contacted by an author to contribute an essay to a book on influential teachers. No, I’m not one of the influential teachers; rather, I am writing about one of my influential teachers.

The Crosby Chronicles: On the inevitability of a second TV in the home

Well, it happened. It was inevitable, friends tell me. It's part of the parenting experience, or so the experts say. We got a TV for our son's bedroom. He can now play Call of Duty yelling out bizarre yelps in the comforts of his own room.

The Crosby Chronicles: Family visit to the USS Iowa docked in San Pedro

Over the MLK holiday I took the family to visit the USS Iowa that is permanently docked down in San Pedro. Ever since it was moved here in October, I wanted to visit the famous battleship. Wanting to avoid the huge crowds that it attracted, I figured...

The Crosby Chronicles: We've lost a piece of California gold

For the past week a deep sadness has shadowed me concerning the death of Huell Howser. I am so grateful that Huell Howser was able to hear what I wrote about him in the Crosby Chronicles a month ago. His assistant called me and said that when he read...

The Crosby Chronicles: Carrying the memories of a father

This past Christmas my father would have turned 100 years old.  This upcoming January is the 40th anniversary of his death.  Two milestones each on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The Crosby Chronicles: Schools should reexamine lockdown procedures after Sandy Hook

When I was in elementary school we used to practice two emergency drills: one for fire which was an evacuation, and another for a nuclear bomb, commonly known as a duck and cover. During the Cold War, the Red Scare, a Soviet Union attack, was on...

The Crosby Chronicles: Support a local theater

If you’ve never been to the Glendale Centre Theatre located on Orange Street especially at Christmas time, you should go.

The Crosby Chronicles: Huell Howser documented California's best

Hearing the news that Huell Howser, whose public TV shows included Visiting and California’s Gold, is retiring for unknown reasons (possibly illness) is a sad day for Angelenos.  His programs — whether they were hour-long specials or...

The Crosby Chronicles: School's automated phone calls are intrusive

How many of you parents receive regular robo-calls from your child’s school, those automated phone messages sent home? I receive three of them a week: one from my son’s elementary school principal, one from my other son’s middle...