Howard Blume | LA Times/LA Now Blog
February 16, 2010 | 2:59 pm -- Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines on Tuesday accentuated the positive amid dire financial realities in his first “state of the district” address before students, parents, school officials and dignitaries at Belmont High.
He chose the Belmont campus, west of downtown, because of the school’s steep rise in academic performance, but also spoke of the need to do better still, saying that only 52% of district students graduate in four years.
Cortines cited a looming $640-million budget deficit as a prime reason that warring district factions must work together.
“Too many times we focus on blaming each for not achieving our goals,” he said. “We point fingers at our students…administrators and our parents. And that has got to stop.”
Even in difficult financial times reforms will continue, he said, citing such efforts as the hard-fought competition between groups inside and outside the district to control 30 campuses. The bidding frequently has pitted teachers from traditional schools (which operate under union contracts) against independently operated -- and mostly nonunion -- charter schools.
“I no longer want to see mudslinging” between traditional schools and charters, he said. “A good school is a good school period. ... We need to spend more time learning from each other. The best schools in the country are right here.”
He reiterated past remarks that he would brook no excuses for failure to improve, be it family poverty or the budget crisis.
“I will never accept low expectations for students or adults in our district.”