Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update - Week of February 4, 2013 | http://bit.ly/Y0Wl0C
Jan 30, 2013 :: AALA is pleased to see that Superintendent Deasy has allocated two campus aides to elementary, middle and span schools to improve supervision at those sites. We appreciate this initial step to address the appalling lack of resources with which school sites have been dealing for the past several years. While the District has continued to say that the safety of students and staff is a top priority, it has been woefully lacking in tangible evidence of such. But since public education received such tremendous support from voters with the passing of Proposition 30 and the horrible tragedy in Connecticut, it has become incumbent upon LAUSD to put some renewed emphasis on school safety. And while we were happy to see the memo from Michelle King, Senior Deputy Superintendent, School Operations, indicating that selected schools would receive two aides as early as March 1, 2013, we want to acknowledge that this is a very small step toward providing the resources that schools need to ensure student and staff safety.
Last month, President Obama laid out a series of new and reinvigorated federal programs aimed at bolstering districts' emergency preparedness; helping schools hire safety personnel, social workers, and psychologists; and training teachers to better identify students with mental illness. The core of his proposal was the improvement of mental health services in order to promote school safety. Last week’s Update featured an article about the LAUSD School Mental Health Unit and the many services it provides. Yet, it is inadequately staffed; the ratio of mental health clinicians to students is 1:2,200, compared to the recommended ratio of 1:250. In terms of counselors, California has the highest student to counselor ratio in the nation, 1:1,105. Research has shown that there is an inextricable connection between students’ social, emotional and mental health and their academic success. Economic constraints have dealt a heavy blow to support staff at a time when the recession and its aftermath have burdened students and their families with extra stressors. Lynn Linde, former president of the American Counseling Association, stated, “You can have the most outstanding curriculum in the world and the finest-trained teachers in a school, but if you have kids who are unavailable for learning because of what’s going on in their personal lives, it doesn’t matter.” We urge District leadership to improve support services for students while we have the momentum on safety and improved funding from Proposition 30. Use some of the additional revenue to improve the norm allocations for supervision, counseling and other support personnel.
Despite the plethora of new schools in LAUSD, the majority of the sites are more than 50 years old. Some date back to the 19th century and others are over 60 acres in size. We must look at the facilities in terms of safety and improve the infrastructure utilizing current technology. Administrators and staff need the ability to see who may be entering a campus, windows and other entrances should be retrofitted, covered by heavy-duty plastic glass or screens, to further limit access to buildings. Schools need to be equipped with updated P.A. systems, motion detectors, security cameras, early warning systems and working burglar alarms. The School Police Department is in need of technology updates, as well, and yes, we need more police officers and security personnel on our campuses and other sites.
As we thank the Superintendent for taking this first step with the campus aides, there is much more that can and must be done to ensure that LAUSD is providing an atmosphere conducive to learning and a climate that will enable the children and adults of the District to flourish.
smf: I prefer agreement over disagreement and I am sorry that I disagree with AALA on this. I had a curious exchange with Dr, Aquino on this initiative to place part-time campus aides on elementary campuses to address the challenges of security last Tuesday. He claimed that elementary principals love this idea – and perhaps they do.
I continue to believe that schools would be better served in terms of school safety, cleanliness and student+staff health if dedicated plant managers were returned to elementary schools …and my back-o’-th’-envelope budgeting tells me the cost of that would be similar to the part-time aides.
(Each puts a single person on campus at any one moment.)
I have had a couple of on-line and in person conversations with parent leaders in LAUSD – and with state PTA types – and they seem to agree with me …but it’s human nature to appeal to the like minded! This is hardly scientific sampling – but I’m not sure that polling or popularity holds the answer.