Editorial in The AALA Weekly Update - from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Newsletter
week of 8 September, 2009
Let's start with the facts:
- On Tuesday, September 1, 2009, as we reported last week, the Board of Education held a "special" meeting––not in the Board Room where they regularly meet––but rather in the "Blue Room."
- The meeting was not televised!
- The single topic was proposed changes in the Board meeting schedule and procedures.
- The meeting was posted forty-eight hours ahead of time to meet requirements of the Brown Act. AALA knows of no other advertisement of this meeting.
- Seven people made up the audience.
Can you imagine what would happen if a school principal posted his/her scheduled meeting forty-eight hours in advance with no other communication to staff, parents, or community members?
It appears that, minus the cigars, our Board is attempting to adopt the Boss Tweed era procedures of closed-door meetings, where policies are determined without open discussion and diverse points of view!
Who has the responsibility of holding the Board accountable?
Principals are held accountable by their parents, staff, community members, Local District staff, and the Board itself.
A principal is required to:
- Post agendas
- Provide meeting notification in a timely manner
- Allow open discussion on all agenda items
- Provide time for public comment
- Permit open community participation
- Provide committees for such areas as budget, calendar, curriculum, and safety
- Ensure proportional representation
- Provide for sign-in sheets in blue ink
If a principal attempted eliminating any of these requirements he/she would get in big trouble and lose critical funds.
School-site administrators are held to strict regulations when it comes to School Site Council, CEAC, ELAC, SBM, LSLC, and faculty meetings.
There are notebooks and bulletins on how to conduct meetings to which site administrators must adhere. The majority of the Board seems to want to do away with public comment, community engagement, and democratic participation.
Shouldn't Board members be held accountable?
Are there different norms and standards for the Board of Education?
Principals must respond to alleged compliance violations. What about the Board?
Transparency has left the building!
MORE QUESTIONS FOR THE BOARD:
The LAUSD Board hurriedly convened another special meeting on September 8, 2009, with a single agenda item, a resolution sponsored by Yolie Flores Aguilar to get Board support for State Senate Bill X5 1, which claims to make California eligible for federal one-time Race to the Top funds.
- SB X5 1 provides for the use of student test data in teacher and administrator evaluations.
- It lifts the cap on the number of charter schools in the State and creates an open enrollment system, allowing students from low-performing schools to transfer to schools in other zip codes or districts.
- It also forces the 5% of schools with the lowest API scores to have redesigned governance.
The Board voted 4 to 2 in favor of this resolution, with Marguerite LaMotte and Steve Zimmer voting in opposition. (Richard Vladovic was absent.)
Remember, the State legislature has not voted on this bill and will not for some time.
- Why are State lawmakers pushing to incorporate federal law into State statute? What sense does it make to change State law for possible one-time federal funds?
- Since Race to the Top is a competition among states, where is the guarantee California would even get the federal funds?
- Why did our Board of Education rush to convene another last-minute meeting, which severely limited public discussion on an important educational issue?
- What political alliances are being forged among Board members aspiring to statewide political office, the governor, and State legislators?
- Did anyone read the bill before voting?
Has transparency left the building for good?
 Yes, 4LAKids was there!
 Alert the Irony Police: Boss Tweed's most infamous boondoggle was the construction of a courthouse - with shady contracts and huge largesse to his friends and cronies -- named in his honor. The Tweed Courthouse is currently the HQ of he New York City Department of Education – where 'Boss Bloomberg'runs the city schools …sans accountability! ("If parents don't like the way I run the schools they can 'boo' me at parades!")