Credit: Courtesy of Claremont Graduate University
Carl Cohn, executive director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence

Now that the recent school board elections are over in the Los Angeles Unified School District, there will be the usual calls for a new beginning and getting down to the serious business of charting a bright future for the 600,000 or so deserving students that the board is privileged to serve.

Such a view ignores the fact that LAUSD’s governance structure is fundamentally broken and needs to be replaced by smaller units of school governance that are much more capable of delivering educational change that better serves students and their parents. In addition to being nimble and flexible, smaller school districts are physically closer to the parents they serve, and can initiate change strategies in a much more timely fashion. For example, Long Beach Unified, Garden Grove Unified and ABC Unified are all known as urban districts that can move quickly to implement needed changes that parents care about.

Ten years ago, while a faculty member at the University of Southern California, I served as the federal court monitor for the Modified Consent Decree, the blueprint for improving services to students with disabilities in the behemoth district.

During moments of frustration with the district’s intransigence, I would sometimes say to the courageous disability advocate lawyers representing the plaintiffs that I had a tough time figuring out how students and their parents benefited from maintaining the district at its current size, and that breaking it up into smaller units would better serve students’ interests.

They would quickly counter: “Now, Carl, if you broke it up, you’d get a lot of Comptons or Inglewoods, which might be even worse than what you’re getting now.” And I’d came back with: “You might also get some Long Beaches, which would be a vast improvement over what these kids and parents are getting now.”

The argument for breakup becomes even stronger today when you consider the important equity promise of Gov. Jerry Brown’s remarkable LCFF/LCAP school funding reform initiative, which places even greater authority at the local level to get things right for kids. When Los Angeles Unified screws up, more than half a million California youngsters are denied a critical opportunity to get a decent education during their one shot at using education to alter their life chances.

The missteps of the district are legion – everything from expensive attorneys arguing for the district that a middle school student was mature enough to consent to have sex with a teacher to the billion-dollar iPAD and MiSiS technology debacles and school board elections where records have been broken for adult special-interest-group spending.

No single event better captures the failure of this system than the recent revelation that 75 percent of the current class of 2017 is not on target to meet the school board’s 2005 adopted policy requirement that all students must meet UC/CSU A-G college entrance requirements in order to receive a high school diploma. For urban school boards, there’s more to policymaking than adopting well-intentioned higher standards. An important part of the job is to make sure that staff develops timely implementation plans without waiting 10 years to check progress. No matter how much we adults may wish it so, not all youngsters need to go to college.

Urban school boards like Los Angeles need to first deliver on the basics before they start adopting high school graduation requirements that are higher than those in the Palos Verdes and Palo Alto school systems. Last October, you had students at Jefferson High School still walking the halls and in auditoriums without scheduled classes even though school had started back on Aug. 12. Even worse, you had a superintendent giving a deposition in court (Cruz v. California) that he was powerless to get these students scheduled in the right classes, and that he needed assistance from the State of California to get this basic responsibility done.

I often wonder how the Long Beach school community would react to school starting in August and high school kids still without classes in October. I know from experience that there would be a universal and collective sense of community outrage and betrayal that no school board or superintendent could survive.

The Los Angeles school system has fundamentally lost its way, and the notion that a couple of new faces on the board and a skillful interim superintendent, Ray Cortines, can improve it is a huge disservice to the youngsters and their parents who deserve much better.

A blue ribbon task force with representation from the more than 20 cities served by the current district might be the best way to go. In the past, the strongest argument against breakup was that you would end up with new racially segregated districts. Today’s demographics make that a weak argument. On the other hand, Gov. Brown’s belief that the rescue of urban kids will take place closer to schools, classrooms and families bolsters the case for this type of change.

Breaking it up won’t be easy, and I’m sure that Sacramento doesn’t have this on its “to do” list, but we who advocate for education change often frame the debate as those who are committed to the adult status quo against those who are really for the kids. This will be the ultimate test of where we stand.

Carl Cohn is Director of the Urban Leadership Program at Claremont Graduate University and until earlier this year was a member of the State Board of Education. He was formerly superintendent in Long Beach Unified and San Diego Unified.  He is co-chair of the  National Research Council’s Committee for the Five-Year Evaluation of the Washington D.C. Public Schools.  He is a member of the EdSource Board of Directors.

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent solely those of the author. EdSource welcomes commentaries representing diverse points of view. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our guidelines and contact us.

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  1. July Montgomery 2 years ago2 years ago

    Vast over simplification of the issues 1. Who becomes responsible for the $19+ billion in construction bond debt incurred by LAUSD over the past decade? 2. Disregards the incremental costs of administration of a myriad of smaller districts. 3. What happens if the majority of schools in a "new smaller" district go charter and all that is left are the deeply troubled schools? 4. Voters don't seem to care about school board elections. 5. Why not … Read More

    Vast over simplification of the issues

    1. Who becomes responsible for the $19+ billion in construction bond debt incurred by LAUSD over the past decade?
    2. Disregards the incremental costs of administration of a myriad of smaller districts.
    3. What happens if the majority of schools in a “new smaller” district go charter and all that is left are the deeply troubled schools?
    4. Voters don’t seem to care about school board elections.
    5. Why not elect school board members at large, rather than by geographic subdivision?
    7. Sacramento doesn’t care
    8. Once again, who pays to implement recommended changes?

  2. Gsolk 2 years ago2 years ago

    This idea is sooooo yesterday. Breaking up school districts accomplishes NOTHING but creating multiple districts and multiple bureaucracies. Indeed, the very way that school districts are structured is the problem with public education today. I hear teachers from district after district complaining about Top Down mandates from persons who havent taught in decades, telling them what the new magic bullet is. I am guessing that Mr.Cohn would fit that description. I … Read More

    This idea is sooooo yesterday. Breaking up school districts accomplishes NOTHING but creating multiple districts and multiple bureaucracies. Indeed, the very way that school districts are structured is the problem with public education today. I hear teachers from district after district complaining about Top Down mandates from persons who havent taught in decades, telling them what the new magic bullet is. I am guessing that Mr.Cohn would fit that description. I KNOW he hasnt been superintendent in Long Beach for MANY years. When is the last time he taught a class??

  3. Bill jones 2 years ago2 years ago

    Once you privatize education with charters it is NO longer a PUBLIC GOOD. That means parent trigger proponents and charter schools must rely exclusively on parent income. All of the tax income must be returned to those who PAID those taxes. Real choice never occurs with someone else's money. The reform movement must tell the truth: the end of public education and its transparent public governance demands the end of … Read More

    Once you privatize education with charters it is NO longer a PUBLIC GOOD. That means parent trigger proponents and charter schools must rely exclusively on parent income. All of the tax income must be returned to those who PAID those taxes.

    Real choice never occurs with someone else’s money.

    The reform movement must tell the truth: the end of public education and its transparent public governance demands the end of public funding.

    Public funding and private governance is immoral and unconstitutional.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      It will add to segregation. It also adds to bureaucracy. Bad idea. California could have 150 school districts instead of thousands. Then some jobs which repeat could be replaced by one-on-one tutors. I call BS.

  4. Ms. Cheryl 3 years ago3 years ago

    What a significant and timely article about LAUSD'S Dominant governance over a district they cannot seem to effectively manage properly. The saddest part of this situation is that the children are "suffering" and someone apparently likes it that way because they receive a check. As an Early Childhood Educator we are taught the "child" is the star of the classroom and the environment: that includes what they eat, drink what they breathe in … Read More

    What a significant and timely article about LAUSD’S Dominant governance over a district they cannot seem to effectively manage properly. The saddest part of this situation is that the children are “suffering” and someone apparently likes it that way because they receive a check. As an Early Childhood Educator we are taught the “child” is the star of the classroom and the environment: that includes what they eat, drink what they breathe in and interactions with staff, and faculty alike “should be” condusive to learning and a healthy environment. Normally when something is malfunctioning as bad as LAUSD is it would be dismantled and restructured or re-built. What’s the problem who is benefitting from a #broken school system????????

  5. FloydThursby1941 3 years ago3 years ago

    I disagree. Smaller is not better. They will lose power. They need courage to stand up to the unions and put children first.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 3 years ago3 years ago

      Rural Californians are a very small percentage of UC admissions. Urban and suburban Asian Americans dominate. I don’t see any evidence that small districts do better. Just looking at whites, they do far worse in rural environments than urban or suburban ones.

  6. Don 3 years ago3 years ago

    Dr. Cohn says, " Time to break up the Los Angeles school system." The assumed reason why we are told, over and over, is -local control is good. After all we got LCFF. That's the argumentation fallacy, Argumentum ad populum. Everybody believes it must be good so it is. He tells us - "...the governance structure is fundamentally broken..." How so? He says, "...smaller school districts are physically closer to the parents they … Read More

    Dr. Cohn says, ” Time to break up the Los Angeles school system.” The assumed reason why we are told, over and over, is -local control is good. After all we got LCFF. That’s the argumentation fallacy, Argumentum ad populum. Everybody believes it must be good so it is.

    He tells us – “…the governance structure is fundamentally broken…” How so? He says, “…smaller school districts are physically closer to the parents they serve, and can initiate change strategies in a much more timely fashion.” Do they? Is it a fact that small districts better serve their students? I don’t know, but Dr. Cohn tells us this is so. Ostensibly, the reasoning again is that local control has to be better. That is, local control is good because everybody believes it is good. People believe local control is good so use the idea of local control to support the breakup. SFUSD is 8% the size of LAUSD but don’t hold your breathe waiting for its bureaucracy.

    He tells us that others cautioned him – “… if you broke it up, you’d get a lot of Comptons or Inglewoods, which might be even worse…” And counters with “You might also get some Long Beaches..” Not too convincing, considering the numbers of ‘Comptons’ v. ‘Long Beaches’. So local control might be good some of the time? Is that right?

    He tells us -” Los Angeles need to first deliver on the basics before they start adopting high school graduation requirements…”
    And he uses Cruz v. California as the reasoning for why there should be a smaller district. However, some of the Cruz schools are in small districts. How’s local control working there?

    He tells us – “The argument for breakup becomes even stronger today when you consider the important equity promise of Gov. Jerry Brown’s remarkable LCFF/LCAP school funding reform initiative, which places even greater authority at the local level to get things right for kids.” In other words the argument for local control is well…local control, again! It must be good because we just passed a local control reform. I do admit is sounds good at any rate, though I’m still waiting for the benefits to become apparent. There certainly are a lot of pissed off people on Ed source complaining till the cows come home about LCAPs.

    He tells us – “The missteps of the district are legion…” And that is supposed to mean that the incompetent persons involved would be less incompetent if they worked at a smaller district?

    He tells us – ” In the past, the strongest argument against breakup was that you would end up with new racially segregated districts. Today’s demographics make that a weak argument.” Hum? So let me get this straight. We should have smaller racially segregated districts rather than larger less racially segregated districts? Though Dr. Cohn doesn’t tells us why, I think he’s saying modern demographics are no different than the former ones and that, therefore, we need to go beyond race and think in terms of local governance. OK, so we should have local control. I get it. Again.

    If there was any one reason why Brown initiated LCFF with the Supplemental and Concentration grants included it was so districts with high concentrations of challenged students would be better served. If breaking up large urban districts into smaller ones was an integral part of the solution, he certainly never mentioned it.

    Look, I’m not against smaller districts, but I’d like more than unsubstantiated theories about the benefits of local control. Is there any research based evidence to conclude that small districts do a better job? And if so, what exactly is the benefit a small district imparts? I think the subject deserves more than just the reasoning that ” closer to the people” must be good.

    If you say so.

    Replies

    • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

      Don, it’s clear that you were absent from your moral theology class when the principle of subsidiarity was discussed. Local control is important because all human beings, even those economically marginalized, have free will and do NOT have to rely on ever higher levels of government to make decisions for them.

      • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

        Mr. Cohn, to say I was "absent' is incorrect. In fact I never took a class in moral theology having been brought up in the public school and UC. But you misunderstand. I don't disagree with local control. In fact I prefer it. But local control in itself is not a solution but simply a smaller division of government. You failed to make the case to break up LAUSD by positing a working … Read More

        Mr. Cohn, to say I was “absent’ is incorrect. In fact I never took a class in moral theology having been brought up in the public school and UC. But you misunderstand. I don’t disagree with local control. In fact I prefer it. But local control in itself is not a solution but simply a smaller division of government. You failed to make the case to break up LAUSD by positing a working alternative. Basically, your case revolved around the central premise of the primacy of subsidiarity from the Christian teachings. Let me ask you again: If closer to the people is better (and I tend to agree, though it depends largely upon those people) why do you support the Common Core, which, as I said before, removed any participation by the very people you purport to hold close? Not only that, but CCSS is so far removed that it is almost impossible to change the copyrighted standards as information builds and there’s no feedback mechanism to do so even if you could. As far as I’m concerned, your moral belief in subsidiarity seems to be “at will”.

        • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

          Actually, Don, I’m more agnostic than exuberant on Common Core. What I do know is that California’s leadership, by suspending the accountability system and emphasizing local control, has created a climate that will give the new standards the potential for success.

          • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

            Dr. Cohn, not to go back and forth, but what is this climate you speak of? Sure, I see why administrators, particularly superintendents, would enjoy having their budgets freed from restricted funding. Not to be a climate change denier, but I just don't see the climate changes you speak of. I don't understand what you mean when you say the new climate creates more potential for success with the standards. Give it … Read More

            Dr. Cohn, not to go back and forth, but what is this climate you speak of? Sure, I see why administrators, particularly superintendents, would enjoy having their budgets freed from restricted funding. Not to be a climate change denier, but I just don’t see the climate changes you speak of. I don’t understand what you mean when you say the new climate creates more potential for success with the standards. Give it to me in real world nuts and bolts for increasing student achievement? Here in SF, I presume we have the most proactive program for the needs of the unduplicated students (for lack of a better word) in the state, but the worst results of any urban district. What does that mean to you?

            • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

              Unlike some other states that didn't take a break from their accountability system and touted the Common Core as "this is what Arne Duncan wants," the California leadership consistently put up a fight against the feds on waivers and a number of other issues...I actually accused them in another EdSource opinion piece of treating us like "Southern sheriffs." Not rolling over for the feds creates a climate where teachers feel that they haven't been abandoned … Read More

              Unlike some other states that didn’t take a break from their accountability system and touted the Common Core as “this is what Arne Duncan wants,” the California leadership consistently put up a fight against the feds on waivers and a number of other issues…I actually accused them in another EdSource opinion piece of treating us like “Southern sheriffs.” Not rolling over for the feds creates a climate where teachers feel that they haven’t been abandoned by their leaders, thus fostering an openness to implementation of the new standards.

            • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

              Sorry to say it, Dr. Cohn, but you're sounding more and more like an out of touch politician. We lost the waiver (CORE excepted) from the reviled NCLB sanctions, didn't get any RTTT money, got hoodwinked into relatively inferior Common Core standards costing the state billions and more, and teachers are unsupported and unprepared to teach it while simultaneously evaluated on its test scores. But you think they ought to feel good about … Read More

              Sorry to say it, Dr. Cohn, but you’re sounding more and more like an out of touch politician. We lost the waiver (CORE excepted) from the reviled NCLB sanctions, didn’t get any RTTT money, got hoodwinked into relatively inferior Common Core standards costing the state billions and more, and teachers are unsupported and unprepared to teach it while simultaneously evaluated on its test scores. But you think they ought to feel good about how they haven’t been abandoned? With all due respect, get real.

            • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

              In addition to having teachers in my Urban Leadership classes, I also volunteer at a school on the North Long Beach-Compton border. I hear from teachers all the time, and they’re open to the new standards.

            • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

              I'm sure teachers treat you with the respect and deference your long and fruitful career deserves, Dr. Cohn. But people of your stature are not always best positioned to personally attest to what's happening "on the street" or, in this case, in the schools for that reason. It goes with the territory. CCSS support has been eroding across the country as teachers become more familiar with it. Since we are relative late comers to … Read More

              I’m sure teachers treat you with the respect and deference your long and fruitful career deserves, Dr. Cohn. But people of your stature are not always best positioned to personally attest to what’s happening “on the street” or, in this case, in the schools for that reason. It goes with the territory. CCSS support has been eroding across the country as teachers become more familiar with it. Since we are relative late comers to the national standards party hosted by Mr. Gates our teachers are only just getting acquainted with their new master who has been spending money hand over fist in an all out push to prop up the flagging frameworks. There are cracks appearing throughout the new foundation and day by day its unionized workers are becoming concerned for their safety. Meanwhile, parents are about to get a mouthful of common core test data and they are opting out of having their children stuffed and served on a platter.

            • navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

              So I'm curious. Is the 'problem' that this mouthful of common core test data represents that of poorly educated students? Or is it poorly prepared teachers and schools? Or is it 'inferior standards'? Or is it bad tests? Or is it the concept of accountability itself? Which of those things can we reasonably argue for after essentially only one year of 'implementation' on most of the standards-related items, if that? 'On the street' isn't what happens … Read More

              So I’m curious. Is the ‘problem’ that this mouthful of common core test data represents that of poorly educated students? Or is it poorly prepared teachers and schools? Or is it ‘inferior standards’? Or is it bad tests? Or is it the concept of accountability itself?
              Which of those things can we reasonably argue for after essentially only one year of ‘implementation’ on most of the standards-related items, if that?
              ‘On the street’ isn’t what happens from the teachers up. On the street is what the kids get out of our system. The rest of it should be support structure. From that standpoint, I disagree that we have jettisoned accountability, because we are still giving the tests. The problem right now is not that we haven’t explained the results to parents; the problem is that we have not explained them to kids. Even if we pretend they are not being used for anything, the students are quite aware of them and their importance to adults. The very first thing in our standards documents should be the goal of convincing students that the results on these tests (or any other designed to classify) do not reflect their value as human beings. They often do not even reflect what they know. That they are designed specifically to separate people. We cannot continue to allow students to believe otherwise.
              One of the horrible side-effects of standardized testing occurs when a student begins to adopt a sense of futility as a result of believing test results say something about who they are. This is what the term ‘high-stakes’ should mean. Anything else is an insult because in the end what the students get out of the system is the only thing that matters. Everything that is not support structure is superfluous.

            • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

              Navigio, the answer is no to the first question and yes to the next three. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on these tests and appreciate the sentiment expressed. That in combination with the SBAC items and scoring issues and the very early and uneven rollout of pd and materials is reason enough to sit them out, though even without those I would opt-out as a matter of principle concerning Common Core.

  7. Replies

  8. Don 3 years ago3 years ago

    I wonder how many of those who support the break up of LAUSD support the break up the massive federal bureaucracy that is stifling this nation in the same fashion as the district bureaucracy? Many like Carl Cohn see no hypocrisy in that stance as both local control and Common Core advocates, even while CCSS, perpetrated upon the localities by a cadre of government and industry lobbies, removed their voices.

    Replies

    • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

      You’re absolutely right, Don…I don’t see the conflict that you describe. As I travel the country, I see Governor Brown’s revitalization of local control as the best possible protection against the federal overreach that you fear. Other states wish that they had been as smart.

      • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

        Dr. Cohn, local control sounds wonderful - a true exercise in grassroots action and participatory democracy. Who wouldn't want that? The reality is local voices had more (though not much more) voice with state oversight and processes in place for complainants. Now we have the LdAP, local dog and pony, and advocacy strangled in its bed. Dr. Cohn, here in SFUSD, the LCFF is nothing but a giant slush fund for the secretive agenda … Read More

        Dr. Cohn, local control sounds wonderful – a true exercise in grassroots action and participatory democracy. Who wouldn’t want that? The reality is local voices had more (though not much more) voice with state oversight and processes in place for complainants. Now we have the LdAP, local dog and pony, and advocacy strangled in its bed.

        Dr. Cohn, here in SFUSD, the LCFF is nothing but a giant slush fund for the secretive agenda of this district. Now you need a professional auditor to track down how untethered money is spent. You know,Superintendent Carranza loves to remind everyone how SFUSD was an early adopter of the Weighted Student Formula, a model for LCFF development. Well, did he use the WSF to distribute the Supplemental and Concentration Grants to students and schools? No. And why not? Because that would require automatically providing SC funding to every unduplicated student who generated it rather than allowing the Superintendent full control to use the funds as HE wishes, which in this case is to prop up the ever failing Superintendent Zones, even while most of the SC target students don’t attend those schools and their achievement is just as poor.

        So let’s here what local control has done for you? Anyone? – allowed plenty of discretionary funding for Ipads or to support special ed?

  9. Barbara Inatsugu 3 years ago3 years ago

    Thanks, Carl. An eloquent statement that many will agree with.

  10. Don 3 years ago3 years ago

    Dr. Cohn, the case you make to break up LAUSD for the purpose of local control and "smaller school districts ... physically closer to the parents they serve" is hard to reconcile with your unabashed support of Common Core, which has removed every last one of those parents and their children's teachers from any participation whatsoever in the development of the standards you find so important. If you're for local control don't support … Read More

    Dr. Cohn, the case you make to break up LAUSD for the purpose of local control and “smaller school districts … physically closer to the parents they serve” is hard to reconcile with your unabashed support of Common Core, which has removed every last one of those parents and their children’s teachers from any participation whatsoever in the development of the standards you find so important. If you’re for local control don’t support nationwide efforts to control education from afar.

  11. Jason May 3 years ago3 years ago

    New York City has devolved (a very small amount of) authority to 30 geographic districts spanning the city, with Community Education Councils. But they are a long way from truly breaking up the system as you are suggesting here. Would similar baby steps represent progress or do you feel that nothing short of an actual breakup is necessary?

  12. L 3 years ago3 years ago

    The Modified Consent Decree might have well never happened. LAUSD is right back to the same policies as before, even worse. And if you give them enough trouble, to fight for what your child needs, they use so-called "assessments", which may be totally inappropriate for your child, to pigeon-hole them. You have to either accept a Special Ed classroom and allow them to ignore your IEP services, or, if you still complain, LAUSD will … Read More

    The Modified Consent Decree might have well never happened. LAUSD is right back to the same policies as before, even worse. And if you give them enough trouble, to fight for what your child needs, they use so-called “assessments”, which may be totally inappropriate for your child, to pigeon-hole them. You have to either accept a Special Ed classroom and allow them to ignore your IEP services, or, if you still complain, LAUSD will try to get rid of your family by offering placement in some abysmal third party vocational school (cheaper for them and they’re no longer liable), where you can write off your child’s education, even denying you access to your home school. Everything is 100% pre-determined at your IEP. They don’t even try to hide it anymore. You get your IEP document days later (because it’s not “ready”) and it’s completely re-written after the fact, like no meeting that you attended. PLOPs, goals, services and placement offers are changed to benefit LAUSD saving money. Reports you delivered are cherry-picked to suit the district, if they’re noted at all. It’s become sport for the district to see what they can get away with. So, yes, break it up! LAUSD doesn’t care at all about Special Needs kids. And by shoving so many into NPA schools with no accountability, they are hiding both their failure to educate these kids, and their true graduation rates, which are much lower that the Department of Education has any idea about. Break them up now!

  13. Carol Skiljan 3 years ago3 years ago

    Thank you, Carl Cohn for restarting this conversation.The justification for keeping the current LAUSD configuration because "the one redeeming factor of having a large district is that the wealthier areas help float those areas of poverty" has never been true. Just compare LAUSD campuses in wealthier areas with those in disadvantaged areas. The differences are stark. Repurpose the educational service centers to be local district offices and sell the central offices and distribute those resources … Read More

    Thank you, Carl Cohn for restarting this conversation.The justification for keeping the current LAUSD configuration because “the one redeeming factor of having a large district is that the wealthier areas help float those areas of poverty” has never been true. Just compare LAUSD campuses in wealthier areas with those in disadvantaged areas. The differences are stark. Repurpose the educational service centers to be local district offices and sell the central offices and distribute those resources to the newly formed districts to provide facilities ALL students deserve. With the advent of LCFF and school funding being directed to our neediest students, this is a great opportunity to bring public education to a manageable scale by breaking up the behemoth of LAUSD. And this idea that “if broken into smaller districts, we will see fewer people who understand special education laws and possibly less compliance and accountability than we see now” is specious. There are many successful models and competent staff delivering special ed services all over California.

  14. Art Rowles 3 years ago3 years ago

    This article mentions Garden Grove and Long Beach and others as being districts that are smaller and that implement change more quickly. I have dealt with all of those districts and each one that you mention is more difficult to deal with and more political then LAUSD. LAUSD although a behemoth still functions in many ways better then the previous ones that are supposed to be so well operated. I do not know if … Read More

    This article mentions Garden Grove and Long Beach and others as being districts that are smaller and that implement change more quickly.

    I have dealt with all of those districts and each one that you mention is more difficult to deal with and more political then LAUSD. LAUSD although a behemoth still functions in many ways better then the previous ones that are supposed to be so well operated.

    I do not know if you are in anyway connected to the Urban League, but I have had more issues with them then LAUSD. Non payment of invoices.
    .
    Breaking up the district into similar geography that the district has with it’s areas N. S.E. W and the newly designed one would just be a duplicate of what already is in place. Same would be said of other issues such as purchasing and accounts payable. Maintenance etc. They would have to probably spend more money finding housing for these new districts as well, since the old LAUSD has been reduced a great deal. I think this has been on the agenda many times and it has not passed for a reason. I do not think it would be for the betterment necessarily. I think the collusion that goes on within LAUSD needs to be addressed but having four or five different district, does not mean that that issue is resolved.

    Replies

    • Carl Cohn 3 years ago3 years ago

      I challenge you to tell me when Garden Grove and Long Beach have failed to program students into classes…Also, both districts have minuscule charter programs, which is often a barometer of parental satisfaction.

  15. Ken Hall 3 years ago3 years ago

    Years ago I commissioned Ken Peters, the highly respected retired Superintendent of Beverly Hills USD, to interview every living former Superintendent of LAUSD and to ask, "Should LAUSD be broken up into smaller districts?". There were about six Superintendents then living from one in the late 1950's to approximately 1992 when Ken's report was written. Every retired LAUSD Superintendent, said "yes" the District should be broken up. 100%. But sadly, not one … Read More

    Years ago I commissioned Ken Peters, the highly respected retired Superintendent of Beverly Hills USD, to interview every living former Superintendent of LAUSD and to ask, “Should LAUSD be broken up into smaller districts?”. There were about six Superintendents then living from one in the late 1950’s to approximately 1992 when Ken’s report was written.

    Every retired LAUSD Superintendent, said “yes” the District should be broken up. 100%. But sadly, not one of them expected it to happen. They cited federal and state court decrees and union resistance as the biggest impediments.

    Replies

    • Ric Loya 3 years ago3 years ago

      AND – several of those past LAUSD superintendents WERE willing to head up a
      proposed “San Antonio Rancho USD” should the Southeast pull away from the
      LAUSD. San Antonio Rancho was used since the Southeast cities were long ago
      part of the San Antonio Rancho.

  16. Marc Litchman 3 years ago3 years ago

    It’s about time Carl. Welcome.

  17. Sonja Luchini 3 years ago3 years ago

    When LAUSD first created mini-districts (they were letters then, A,B,C, etc. - I was in "D" at the time), it just created yet another layer of bureaucracy that slowed down provision of services for students with disabilities. If broken into smaller districts, we will see fewer people who understand special education laws and possibly less compliance and accountability than we see now. The ONLY way families get action is to call Beaudry. … Read More

    When LAUSD first created mini-districts (they were letters then, A,B,C, etc. – I was in “D” at the time), it just created yet another layer of bureaucracy that slowed down provision of services for students with disabilities. If broken into smaller districts, we will see fewer people who understand special education laws and possibly less compliance and accountability than we see now. The ONLY way families get action is to call Beaudry. If the big district is dissolved, there will be no central accountability of any worth for families to resort to. The state is distant and unconcerned with compliance issues. Years ago, I was told mine would “sit on the floor and collect dust unless I sued them to take action” because there were so few people staffed to deal with it. Even then, all they did was call the school and ask, “did you do that?”, then the school lied and said, “no”. My case was closed and one phone call was the “investigation”.

    The Compliance Department works. The Complaint-Response Unit/Parent Resource Network works. Those offices will no longer exist if the district is broken into little pieces. Parents of students with disabilities will have a frustrating lack of support if those disappear.

    And what about those areas of poverty? The one redeeming factor of having a large district is that the wealthier areas help float those areas of poverty.

    As for 75% of students not on target – blame that on Monica Garcia (politician, not a teacher or education specialist) who pushed removing the “D” grade which once would be considered a “passing” grade. Many students are not able to get a “C” grade or higher and with the elimination of the “D” (as well as teaching to the test) we are seeing these idiotic “reform” ideas destroying the future of our students. Bring back vocational classes, not everyone will pass A-G courses, but we need plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

    What’s wrong with LAUSD is what Mr. Skeels had mentioned. We have had the influence of outside, corporate interference far too long that has created a culture of fear and hostility toward our teachers. Until we remove these corporate reformer$ and start believing in and supporting our teachers, LAUSD will continue to have problems. That is the issue. That is the discussion.

    Replies

    • Tom 3 years ago3 years ago

      Sonja. Please advise on what relationship you have, or had, with the LAUSD or associated entities.

      • Sonja Luchini 3 years ago3 years ago

        I'm the parent of a young adult with autism (attending college) and have been a volunteer with the Special Education community advisory committee for 18 years (served 2, 2-year terms as chair in addition to other officer positions - retired from service in March 2014). I've been an advocate (no charge to families) for IEP meetings and enjoy helping them learn about their rights and responsibilities. I was the first person to ask … Read More

        I’m the parent of a young adult with autism (attending college) and have been a volunteer with the Special Education community advisory committee for 18 years (served 2, 2-year terms as chair in addition to other officer positions – retired from service in March 2014). I’ve been an advocate (no charge to families) for IEP meetings and enjoy helping them learn about their rights and responsibilities. I was the first person to ask for data from LAUSD regarding “enrollment by disability type” and “services provided” of the LAUSD charters back in 2005 when the district never thought to do so. It was my digging that started people realizing charters were not taking students with moderate/severe disabilities in the same percentages as regular public schools. I’ve spoken to the Board of these inequities over the years and motivated the Independent Monitor’s Office (while under Fred Weintraub) to do an in-depth study of this issue. I tell people I’m just a mom, though, because that’s my main job.

  18. Ric Loya, former Huntington Park Mayor 3 years ago3 years ago

    A required reading for background on such a proposal would be the “Feasibility Study of Removing the Schools in the Southeast Area of the LAUSD from the School District” written March 25, 2002. This study was made possible by state legislation by then Senator Martha Escutia. Quite extensive study concluding that breaking away from the LAUSD could be done but wouldn’t be easy.

  19. Robert D. Skeels 3 years ago3 years ago

    Mr. Cohn, how coy of you not to provide full credit to John Deasy for nearly all of the woes you enumerate above? The Broad Superintendents Academy "graduate" oversaw (read masterminded) MiSiS, iPads, and many more projects that left the district in disarray, nearly bankrupt, with little more than the ability to manage damage control rather than implement any of the forward looking projects you allude to. While some say that Deasy, and all of … Read More

    Mr. Cohn, how coy of you not to provide full credit to John Deasy for nearly all of the woes you enumerate above? The Broad Superintendents Academy “graduate” oversaw (read masterminded) MiSiS, iPads, and many more projects that left the district in disarray, nearly bankrupt, with little more than the ability to manage damage control rather than implement any of the forward looking projects you allude to. While some say that Deasy, and all of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) organizations that supported his abject tenure were following the Andy Smarick roadmap for scuttling school districts (outline in his “Wave of the Future” essay in the fringe-right EdNext journal), I would posit it sounds more like Broad’s meddling.

    Replies

    • Tom 3 years ago3 years ago

      No way Robert, not credible to blame all the LAUSD problems on one guy, Deasy, as well as those evil industrial complex organizations and their supporters, like Eli Broad. Broad has other things to do with his money and deserves credit for trying to improve academic outcomes. The wave of school accountability is coming Robert, so get ready or pack your bags!

    • Matt 3 years ago3 years ago

      I agree. I think Jon Deasy was not the fundamental problem. The fact that a group of people would hire him when one could easily search his name and find multiple scandals. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we will be dealing with his messes for a very long time but the problem lies much deeper than that.

    • Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

      Well stated Robert and Sonja. Note that the outright attacks on teachers often comes from the various Broad folks and this goes on across the nation. Deasy is not the first Broad acolyte to have to "get out of Dodge" because of various crises of competence. It is also interesting the the current attacks on teacher professionalism, like Vergara, are funded by Broad and other tycoons. Deasy was the star witness for the plaintiffs who … Read More

      Well stated Robert and Sonja. Note that the outright attacks on teachers often comes from the various Broad folks and this goes on across the nation. Deasy is not the first Broad acolyte to have to “get out of Dodge” because of various crises of competence.

      It is also interesting the the current attacks on teacher professionalism, like Vergara, are funded by Broad and other tycoons. Deasy was the star witness for the plaintiffs who claimed that teachers’ due process statutes prevented him from exercising good management practices. This in the face of the majority or other functioning districts in CA that operate under the same statutes and do just fine with personnel management. As I have asserted from the first, it’s not statues protecting teacher professionalism that plague certain districts, it’s less the competent mangers who search desperately for scapegoats. It only took a matter of weeks for the former LAUSD to demonstrate his ultimate” competence”–and then hit the road.

      Education for kids has no chance of improving when the primary “reform” strategy is to declare war on the kids’ teachers.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary, you aren't attacking teachers to say 5% are bad and probably more than 5% sometimes take off days they don't deserve when they aren't sick. I would say that's true of just about any profession. It's just when anyone ever questions the effectiveness of teachers or even any teacher, you get this whole group up in arms saying how evil they are for attacking noble teachers. Your attitude is really ridiculous. … Read More

        Gary, you aren’t attacking teachers to say 5% are bad and probably more than 5% sometimes take off days they don’t deserve when they aren’t sick. I would say that’s true of just about any profession. It’s just when anyone ever questions the effectiveness of teachers or even any teacher, you get this whole group up in arms saying how evil they are for attacking noble teachers. Your attitude is really ridiculous. You never even criticized the LA union for defending a child molester and forcing them to pay him 40k. You think no teacher is bad. What, do you go through some mind control thing that makes you perfect as part of the credential? Teachers are human and the performance in the US is pretty mediocre. If people criticize a trucker, not all truckers make it like they are a group of oppressed victims. Same with lawyers, waiters, salespeople, most professions. You have to look at what will get the most productivity and lowest rates of absence from work among teachers. Our achievement gap is awful, and I’ve rarely seen teachers trying to convince kids to put stronger effort in and study as much as groups who thrive, in fact I’ve seen some teachers advising kids to not worry about grades and not put in too much effort. I don’t see an outstanding performance. Not all teachers are Saints. Stop being a victim, every profession has good and bad. I had a teacher show up less than half the time after being fired from a previous school and everyone like you in the union was saying due to personnel rules, we can’t talk about why she left her last job and have to give her the benefit of the doubt. How about giving children the benefit of the doubt.