Tuesday, February 23, 2010

T&A in a blog about education! + LAUSD OPENS THE BOOKS FOR ITS EMPLOYEES

by smf for 4lakids

23 Feb 10 -- We have had much talk of “transparency and accountability” from the superintendent and the board of late. The Talk and The Walk are far removed.

Talk about T&A and T&A are not the same. One last-minute poorly-publicized “open the books”/”budget transparency day” is not T&A. 

This new transparency…

  • immediately following  public disclosure of the superintendent’s apparent conflict of interest as director of a textbook publisher with whom the district has a mufti-million dollar contract.
  • on the eve a a controversial and legally challenged giveaway of schools (new and used) to outside operators – masquerading as “choice”
  • in the midst of a financial meltdown.

….is neither accountability nor transparency …any more the PSC is “choice”.  It is all Orwellian Newspeak.*

This is made even worse by some parties complaint that the process was too open and transparent: ”Who invited all these parents?”   One supposes that some will find refuge that complaints about too much transparency balance complaints about not enough.  Goldilocks, meet Pollyanna.

When then Superintendent Brewer sent teams of staff, educators and parents to Houston and Miami-Dade to study how those districts do things we learned that in Houston the school district posts its checkbook online – truly opening the books. We recommended this to Brewer and he said that could and would happen.  CFO Megan Reilly has said it is doable.

We are still waiting.


LAUSD OPENS THE BOOKS FOR ITS EMPLOYEES -BUDGET: District officials, facing a $640 million deficit, hope to encourage workers to agree to plans.

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

20 Feb 10 -- Facing a deficit of some $640 million for next year, Los Angeles Unified officials hosted an "open the books" day Friday in an effort to answer questions about the budget and encourage workers to agree on furloughs and other cost-saving plans.

"This meeting is to make sure that we open up our books and that we are being transparent with our information," said LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly.

Requested by district Superintendent Ramon Cortines, the meeting was also designed to face the common complaint from some employee unions that district officials fail to answer their requests for budget information.

The meeting was announced shortly after Cortines proposed to cut the school year by a week - which has to be negotiated with district unions - and less than a month before LAUSD will have to send out layoff notices to thousands of workers unless other concessions are reached.

But what was supposed to open up a path to negotiations seemed instead to stall discussions. Union leaders who had hoped to go through the budget in detail, so they could justify the case for furloughs to their members, were not satisfied with the information they were allowed to see.

"We know there is a budget problem, no one is denying that we are in trouble," said Adriana Salazar, a representative for the Teamsters Union.

"But they told us things we already know. What we need now is to see, line by line, what the budget is so that we can go back to our

members and with confidence tell them that there is nowhere else to cut."

For example, union leaders wanted to know exactly how many jobs they would be able to save if they agreed to the shorter school year - the equivalent of about a 2.5percent pay cut for most workers.

LAUSD labor negotiators, though, stressed that even without detailed information, workers should realize that the district's financial perils are serious.

"This is about survival," said Richard Fisher, an LAUSD labor relations representative.

Some union leaders were also upset that parents and media representatives were allowed to attend a meeting that they had thought would not be public.

The reaction came after one parent in attendance pointed out that the needs of children were not being discussed as district officials and labor leaders addressed potential cuts to programs and personnel.

"All I hear is your concern about positions," said Maria Ortiz, a parent representative.

"Well how many of you are concerned about the kids of this district?"

Union representatives explained that in a district where 85percent of the budget goes to personnel, it is difficult to separate jobs and the needs of kids.

"If we lose positions, we lose the people who care for your kids," said Susan Gosman, a spokesman for the California School Employees Association.


*aka Doublespeak.  Doublespeak has a multiplier effect: Doublespeak “downsizing” for ”layoffs” [itself a euphemism for firing] has become “rightsizing”,  made all the more current, palatable and ambiguous by the acronym RIF.

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