Wednesday, November 11, 2009


L.A. Daily News Editorial

Nov 12, 2009 -- HOW do you know when you're on the right track to reform? When the anti-reformers run out of rational excuses to oppose it and resort to dirty tricks.

That appears to be the case with the School Choice plan, under which the Los Angeles Unified School District will start taking bids Monday for outside operators to take over new and failing schools. Though any organization can pitch a takeover plan, its likely the major beneficiary of the new initiative will be charter school operators.

While the district has identified schools to be subject to takeover bids, the plan allows parents to nominate their children's schools to take part if they feel the LAUSD program is failing them. Evidently, that has some plan opponents worried. Anonymous fliers in Spanish have been circulated in heavily Latino neighborhoods warning parents that if they sign any petition supporting a charter school conversion they could be deported.

Dirty tricks, indeed.

Not surprisingly, no one is taking credit for the flier stunt. But clearly whoever created such a fear-mongering campaign is desperate not to lose control of the schools.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the most organized opponent to the plan and going as far as threatening legal action, denies any involvement in the fliers. The union members have legitimate fears; charter schools are publicly funded but don't have to hire unionized teachers.

As ugly as the counterattack was, it should reassure reformers - which include Superintendent Ray Cortines and the majority of the school board - that their School Choice plan is the right course for LAUSD.

There is always stiff resistance to the kind of change that is imminent for Los Angeles Unified schools - even if that change has the potential for positive transformation. But when the other side is left with nothing but shameful tactics intended to shut down discussion and democracy, it can mean only one thing: They haven't got any legitimate ammunition left to lob.

That's too bad. The opponents to school reform would have much more success protecting their agendas by putting their energies into helping shepherd in reform rather than spreading misinformation.

The Schools Choice plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the flailing LAUSD, which will continue to lose students to charters one way or the other. It can be the beginning of a renaissance for Los Angeles education, but it needs the collaborative guidance from all those involved.

We hope the people behind the deportation fliers put aside their nasty tactics and use their creative talents to help make this new era of education something that works for everyone.

●●smf's 2¢: Oft-times the logic of editorial writers eludes me; special interests must be a demanding mistress. I quote:“The opponents to school reform would have much more success protecting their agendas by putting their energies into helping shepherd in reform rather than spreading misinformation.”  Isn’t this saying the opponents to reform would be more successful in opposing reform if they supported reform? Please!

Every this-weeks-flavor-of reform in the past twenty years and longer has been “once-in-a-lifetime”; from LEARN and LAMP to SBM to Clusters and Local Districts to Charter Schools: SLC’s and A-G and 100% Graduation, College Ready & Career Prepared. The District hasn’t stuck with one long enough to approximate the lifetime of anything but a fruit fly.  Young lifetimes have been crucified on the District’s historical lack of committment. and follow-though.

  • I have news: 100% Graduation isn’t going to happen either, especially if A-G means students need to pass those A-G courses with a C or better.
  • And here’s another newsflash: the colleges aren't ready!

Finally, the DN Editorial Board’s paean to the creative talents of the writers of the flyer is misplaced in the extreme. The flyer was race-bating and fear-mongering worthy of Klansmen in Sheets or the Sleepy Lagoon. The dirty-tricksters should be identified and repudiated as hateful whether they are truly opponents of the so called reform or agents provocateurs generating some negative heat.

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