Thursday, January 26, 2012

EDUCATION TOWN HALL: Community fumes over schools

By Susan Abram, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and board member Tamar Galatzan answer questions from Daily News columnist Doug McIntyre at a town hall at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (David Crane/Staff Photographer)

01/25/2012 09:32:24 PM PST  :: WOODLAND HILLS - Venting anger over rising classroom sizes and a proposed parcel tax, parents and community members packed El Camino Real Charter High School on Wednesday to confront Los Angeles Unified officials over a host of issues. | See photo gallery.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy played defense for much of the 90-minute town hall sponsored by the Daily News and moderated by columnist Doug McIntyre. Deasy and board member Tamar Galatzan were bombarded with challenges to the district's accountability.

"You guys keep coming at us asking for more money, more money, more money," shouted local resident Tracy Haymes. "How am I going to pay for my property taxes?"

"How do you propose to lure back students to LAUSD schools with all the cuts?" another woman asked.

There were no easy answers, Deasy admitted, outlining again and again that the nation's second-largest school district faces a deficit of $543 million for 2012-13 because of state funding deferrals over the last five years.

In addition, Gov. Jerry Brown has threatened cuts that would take $38 million out of the school budget to transport students to magnet and special-education schools.

"LAUSD has chosen to run with more than it can get money for," Deasy conceded, but added defiantly that the proposed parcel tax would keep him from telling children they couldn't attend public school.

"Given the tools we have, I have to go to the community (for more money)," Deasy said. "How can I physically look at a kindergartner and say, `Sorry, you can't come to school'?"

The $270 per-parcel tax proposed for the November ballot would raise about half-a-billion dollars for the district.

Galatzan, who at times disagreed with Deasy's stance on the criteria for what schools qualify for federal funds, agreed that the district was in a

Citizens filled the El Camino High theater to capacity to attend the Daily News town hall with LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and board member Tamar Galatzan. The event was moderated by Daily News columnist Doug McIntyre. (David Crane/Staff Photographer)


"If the state cuts and cuts and cuts, the only money that is really left is for some of these special programs, but nothing is getting to the middle-class schools," she said to applause. "If the middle-class families leave these schools en masse, then what are we faced with?"

Outside the auditorium, at least 20 people gathered holding signs that read "Save Adult Education." Programs to teach adults to become electricians, computer techs and mechanics also are proposed to be cut.

Bettina Roe, a computer instructor at West Valley Occupational, said to cut public education geared toward adult learners means fewer men and women would be prepared for certain jobs.

"I'm very troubled and very concerned," she said. "My students are my heroes. They work two jobs and then come to school. If they take adult education programs away, those programs don't come back."


William McMahon · University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown comments:

The fumes you are referring to are the toxic shaming fumes produced by the perfectionist expectations by the district and state and federal governments under the No Child Left Behind law. In two years ALL students MUST be Proficient in reading and math, Proficient=P, Perfect=P. IF the students are not Proficient, or Perfect in the minds of the students, we are telling them and their parents they are defective, and this will hang with them for life through the toxic shame of not being good enough. Most of these are minority students.

How many times during this meeting were the needs of only the students mentioned? How many new, innovative ways of educating the students for the jobs of tomorrow proposed? From what i read here, the district is just asking for more money to keep doing things the same old way that has been done for years. No where does the community see any innovation in educating students. Even the new proposals by Jaime Aquino, the deputy superintendent of instruction, are strictly about money, nothing innovative being proposed.

The community has a right to be angered. We need innovative changes, and now. Change. Vision.

Will the students graduating tomorrow be able to repair my future hydrogen fuel cell car that has a LiDAR unit on top that drives itself?

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