By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | DAILY NEWS/dAILY BREEZE
08/29/2008 Welcoming administrators back to school Thursday, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III outlined new measures to track student performance and urged educators to work harder to improve test scores.
Also, following a school year in which there were several reported cases of sexual abuse by teachers, Brewer said the district has developed a new system to report abuse.
About 1,800 principals, assistant principals and administrators attended Brewer's annual address, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
While Brewer said individual schools had shown improvement, he noted there is still a deep achievement gap between white students and Latinos and African-Americans.
"Let me tell you what this is about," he said. "We have to hold ourselves accountable.
"This is the future of America," he said. "If we don't solve this, we will be a second-rate nation by 2020."
Strutting across the stage and speaking without the aid of a script, Brewer borrowed a quote from a preacher, telling his audience: "If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat."
Educators, he said, need to leave behind the status quo, move beyond complacency and work to improve student achievement with the support of the community.
Debra Burris, an assistant principal at Woodland Hills Academy, said it was important that Brewer expressed faith in individual campus leaders.
"The important message is the belief in us that we can raise student achievement and that he has empowered us at our schools," Burris said.
LAUSD board member Julie Korenstein said, "He made people comfortable and he recognized them, which is the first time I've seen a superintendent do that."
In January the district will make available to parents and staff what Brewer called comprehensive school report cards tracking student achievement and post-graduation activity.
Also to be rolled out this year at 30 schools in the district is a Web-based program he termed "mydata," which will provide instant access to achievement rates for school sites, subgroups and individual students.
The program will be developed with principals and teachers, he said.
Brewer opened the address on that note, saying educators cannot break the trust of students and the community by allowing child abuse to go unnoticed.
Protecting an abuser, he warned, makes you an accessory in the eyes of the law and, he added, the issue will come out in the courts.
He urged educators to report suspected cases of abuse to authorities.
Brewer said a new system to report suspected abuse has been developed that involves principals, local superintendents and ultimately himself.
"Child abuse is going to be front and center in terms of your training and your development," he said.
Dee Apodaca, a field nurse coordinator, said she was glad to hear the connection between student safety and education.
"All of this supports the bottom line, which is student achievement," she said.