Of all the crimes committed against the people of Los Angeles, and there are many, the most unforgivable is the crime committed against generations of the city’s children by the public schools.
Horrendous dropout rates that fuel gangs and crime and poverty.
Tens of billions spent on new school buildings but little or nothing achieved in student performance.
Near total resistance to every type of reform effort, relegating yet another generation of children to ignorance. Note how Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent three years fighting for responsibility over the schools only to end up with control of just nine, barely one percent of the district.
In the grand scheme of LAUSD’s sins against the people, what happened Tuesday is a small thing — like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic — but it symbolized the hopelessness of all efforts to try to work with the district.
About 300 charter school supporters came to the school board meeting to demand that Superintendent David Brewer and the seven invisibles who supposedly represent the people live up to their commitment to house 39 charter schools on LAUSD campuses as the law requires, as the district agreed to, as common decency commands.
But they were denied a hearing until their cries of protest forced the board to allow a single representative just three minutes to make their case. It seems the public that pays all the bills needs a reservation to speak their mind and the board’s tolerance for public comment is so limited that the taxpayers, parents and concerned citizens need to book a month in advance.
This from a school system that is one of the nation’s worst performing.
This from a school district that offered no cooperation with City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s gang intervention and child safety effort at Markham Middle School in Watts while assigning as an assistant principal a man already under a cloud of suspicion for taking sexual advantage of an underage girl, a man now charged with molesting young teens.
This from a district that squanders tens of millions of dollars to enrich unneeded consultants while facing a massive budget deficit and maintaining an army of six-figure bureaucrats who don’t achieve a thing.
It’s time to pull the plug and put the LAUSD to sleep.
The issue that triggers my outrage is the district’s decision to rescind its approval of seven of the 39 facilities where the California Charter Schools Association had identified available space and been given approval to establish charters.
These aren’t like LAUSD schools. Parents and teachers have a direct ownership stake, children are motivated to learn and failure to achieve results leads to closure. That’s why charters are doing so well and LAUSD schools are not.
“Charter schools put public back into public education,” Caprice Young, head of the Charter Schools Association, told me. “The district needs to accept the fact that charter schools are her to stay.”
That isn’t the position of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that protects mediocrity and failure and thwarts teachers who are dedicated professionals trying to make a difference in the lives of their students.
Young and her team accuse Brewer and the school board of surrendering to UTLA’s ”bullying tactics,” which they say included carefully orchestrated protests and even threats of violence.
The issue for many years was the Valley’s demand for breakup of the district into several more manageable districts. That’s not good enough anymore. LAUSD must be dismantled and completely reorganized.
The charter movement already is taking the district apart school by school, student by student. Let’s not waste another day. Let’s end the cycle of failure. Let’s end the tragedy. Let’s save this generation of children from crime, ignorance and poverty.
Let’s put abolishing the LAUSD at the top of the agenda for making L.A. a city of the people, by the people and for the people.
Here’s the open letter Caprice Young has sent out appealing for the public’s help:
Dear Friend of Public Charter Schools:
I am writing because we need your help to ensure that charter schools can continue to provide high quality educational options to families in
Without warning to public charter school officials, parents and students, Los Angeles Unified School District executives sent letters on April 30th to charter schools purportedly rescinding facilities offers made to those schools just a few weeks earlier, on April 1, 2008. This action is in direct violation of voter approved Proposition 39, and risks leaving these students without an educational home.
Proposition 39 became effective in 2003 after a vote of the people. It requires that public school facilities be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter public schools. To help meet its facilities needs–including obligations under Proposition 39–the District has had access to billions of dollars in bond funds approved by voters since 2002 in Measures K, R, and Y. Regrettably, of the $120 million earmarked specifically for charter schools, roughly $62 million remains unspent.
Last year, after four years of noncompliance and indifference by LAUSD, the California Charter Schools Association and a coalition of charter operators and parents filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court demanding compliance with the law. The resulting legal settlement–executed just days before the purported rescissions– represented significant progress toward compliance with Proposition 39 and laid the groundwork for collaboration between the district and charter representatives to provide adequate facilities to all public school students, including those in charter schools.
However, in response to intimidation and bullying tactics at district sites, LAUSD staff rescinded facilities offers to Charter Schools. We haven’t seen this degree of intimidation tactics against students entitled to a public education since the 1960′s. United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) orchestrated hundreds of persons, directing them to march angrily and shout threats at
However, we find ourselves in our current circumstances because–despite the settlement agreement–in the years since Proposition 39′s passage, the LAUSD Board of Education has chosen to throw up roadblocks to its successful implementation. The Board and staff have treated their legal responsibility to public charter schools in an ad-hoc and arbitrary manner consuming valuable financial and human resources while creating confusion and angst among charter school students and parents. At every turn, they continue to prioritize students attending district schools over those attending charter schools. This recent action only continues the years of mistreatment.
Attached are the email and mailing addresses for members of the Los Angeles Unified School Districts’ Board of Education as well as a sample message.
Thank you for helping us to provide adequate learning space to the students of
President & CEO