Thursday, February 18, 2010

LWV GIVES MEASURED THUMBS-UP TO SCHOOL-REFORM ELECTIONS: “…Supt. Cortines will most likely parcel out the spoils in a politically balanced way…”

By Howard Blume | LA Times LA Now blog

February 18, 2010 | 12:21 pm -- Some adults voted twice and some third-graders voted once, but this month’s balloting on school reform plans in Los Angeles still proved a success, in the view of the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.

The verdict was in part the league endorsing its own efforts — it conducted the early February election at a cost of $50,000 by pulling together 400 volunteers.

The voting process is part of a school-reform plan under which groups inside and outside of the Los Angeles Unified School District are bidding for control of one or more of 30 campuses. Up for grabs are 12 low-performing schools and 18 new campuses that will be divided into 24 small schools.

Later Thursday, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines is expected to announce his recommendations for which groups should be running schools. He will most likely parcel out the spoils in a politically balanced way: Some schools will go to internal groups led by teachers, often working with district administrators; other schools will go to independently managed charter schools — most of which would hire non-district, non-union staff.

Cortines is supposed to base his choices on professional evaluations, his own experience and judgment, and the just-completed elections.

In those elections, teachers — with substantial support from United Teachers Los Angeles, the L.A. teachers union — organized a successful grass-roots campaign that took advantage of teachers’ connections with parents and high school students. Parents and high school students voted in separate tallies and overwhelmingly favored plans put forward by teachers.

Charter school operators cried foul, asserting that teachers had an unfair advantage and misrepresented their record and intentions. They also alleged numerous and egregious examples of improper electioneering and intimidation on the two days of voting.

The League report had little sympathy for these claims, although it acknowledged mistakes and some confusion related to a first-ever effort with a dizzying number of moving parts, including 36 separate ballots. And each of these 36 different ballots was further subdivided by different colors to represent a different group of voters: Parents (who split into four different categories), school employees, students and community members.     >>more |  >>

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