Monday, August 17, 2009


by smf for 4LAKids

17 August -- Monday evening saw the latest (and smoothest running) in the series of districtwide meetings about what to do with New and Underperforming Schools. Those challenges are not one and the same …but if you have a hammer every problem looks like a nail This meeting was held at Hamilton High School in Local District 3, hosted by LD3 Superintendent Michelle King, co-hosted by LD3 Parent Advisory Council Chair Bill Ring.

Again with the presentation PowerPoint, again assigned as homework - although at least most of the slides were discussed this time.

What was really never clear was whether this exercise is intended to address the Flores Aguilar “Choice” Resolution …or whether it’s a counter proposal.

Perhaps it’s something as a stalking horse of another color.

Q&A from the stakeholders were entertained, both from folks lined up at the mics and from questions written on 3x5 cards. Some questions were answered, others recorded, charted and referred.

Fewer folks were there than at earlier meetings - perhaps because LD3 only has one new school coming on line.

There was a contingent of charter school parents in matching T-shirts “Families That Care”.  Apparently the rest of us don’t.

Boardmembers Lamotte and Zimmer were there - as was Judy Burton from charter operator Alliance for College Ready Schools - and Superintendent Cortines - all listening at what was billed as a “listening session”.

We heard the plaintive cries of elementary parents worried about middle schools - and concerns about downsizing campuses and upsizing classrooms. About progress made and inertia lost.

The Stanford Charter School Study - bought and paid for by the charter community (and damning thereof) was brought up.

Q: Why can’t bond funds be used to pay teachers?

A: (not presented) Because that would be a criminal act.

And the real telling question: Doesn’t the Flores Aguilar Resolution amount to a vote of no confidence in the Board of Ed’s own leadership ability …let alone the superintendent and the entire District staff?

HWGA (Here We Go Again): A couple of speakers brought up the District’s half-baked half-hearted embrace of reform for half-the-time. Before giving up and reversing direction before they’re half-done.

And the ubiquitous “Why now’s?”

  • Why now in the summer when parents are aren’t focused on schools?
  • Why now, when there is no money, are we changing direction?
  • Why now, when tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) test scores from the state will show improvement in LAUSD schools - and a lack thereof in charters.? (This brought spontaneous applause from Superintendent Cortines!)

Teacher activist Rick Salen made an impassioned statement about the difference between teacher quality and seniority - and the Ed Code, LAUSD’s and UTLA’s refusal to acknowledge this . And Alvin Burton, a grandfather figure among parent leaders, reminded us of our own history of reform and progress made …and that all new ideas are not necessarily good ideas.

The current thinking in the Dept of Ed in D.C. is that charters are the answer. In L.A. we have more charters than anywhere else. Yet LAUSD is just as mired in Program Improvement and the Achievement Gap as is New York City, Chicago, Denver or any other major urban school district including D.C. itself - districts LAUSD being asked to emulate. What’s with that?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

A fair summary of the evening, Scott. As I was assisting in facilitating the meeting, I was holding my tongue in favor of hearing from those who had come to express their concerns and ask their questions - and many very good ones were both asked AND submitted on 3X5 cards. I am going to press the District to make ALL of the public feedback available as a part of the outcome from these meetings. Whatever happens, I hope we recognize that instead of abandoning the system, parents should be driving it.