Sunday, June 04, 2006


RE: NYC to LA: Don't Let Villaraigosa Run LAUSD probably nothing speaks more eloquently about the situation than the letter referred to in Mack Reed's original posting to – smf

An open letter to Los Angeles public school parents:

We have heard that your Mayor is lobbying to obtain control of the public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As parents in NYC and Chicago, we would like to warn you against allowing this to occur. Despite all the talk about how this will improve "accountability" and lead to improvements in your schools, we have experienced Mayoral control, and it has led to even less accountability than before.

The Mayors of our cities and their appointees now feel empowered to ignore the priorities of parents, teachers, and other stakeholders in the system, and have imposed radical changes from above without reference to research, experience, or conditions on the ground. This has resulted in more chaos, violence, and worsening opportunities for many of our students.

There is no genuine consultation with any of the people who best understand the needs of our children. There are no checks and balances on the erratic and often irrational decision-making of the officials in charge, and no respect for our rights to have a say in how our children's schools are run.

Some recent examples from NYC: a ban on allowing students to bring their cell phones to school, violations of state law as regards class size, a smaller percentage of funds devoted to instruction, increased overcrowding, more bureaucracy, more police in the schools, less transparency in spending, and huge contracts routinely bypassing the City Council, the City Comptroller, and every other independent authority.

In Chicago, schools have been closed and handed over to private contractors connected to the Mayor. Our elected parent-majority local school councils, which have an 18-year track record of successful school improvement, are being disbanded and replaced with toothless advisory boards. Scarce resources are being taken from the poorest schools and handed over to schools in more advantaged communities.

Even those educational initiatives that might have held promise, such as the formation of more small schools in both cities, have been botched because of poor planning, inept implementation, and the total absence of any attention given to the collateral damage on other schools in the system.

We have much in common with you, as parents of the three largest school districts in the nation. Like you, our schools are unfairly under-funded and our children have many unmet educational needs. We urge you to do everything you can to ensure that Mayoral control is not added to the list of the problems we share, so that your schools work for your children, not for any individual's political gain.


Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters, and NYC parent

Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible
Education (PURE), Chicago

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