Scott Schmerelson

Scott Schmerelson

In their first meeting of the new year, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education set a strong new direction for the district by adopting the “Excellent Public Education for Every Student” resolution. The board’s unanimous approval of this action made it clear that the district would no longer be doing business as usual and would stand together to counter efforts to move more than 250,000 students from LAUSD public schools to privately operated charter schools.

The new initiative by the Los Angeles Unified board “affirms and publicly commits to making every possible effort to attract and retain students and parents by engaging with all stakeholders to develop a framework for excellent public schools, and improved outcomes, for every student….” The board directed the new superintendent to analyze how a proposal to reduce the number of students in district schools would impact the district’s ability to provide an outstanding public education for all students.

Steve Zimmer

Steve Zimmer

The unanimous adoption of the new initiative demonstrated the ability of the board members to work together on their shared mission. The resolution was crafted over several months, attracted significant public input and had the collaborative support of all board members.

Board members clearly stated their opposition to internal and external initiatives that view our communities as a public education marketplace and our children as commodities; it is a strong rebuttal to the Great Public Schools Now plan commissioned and funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Over the past 20 years, the Los Angeles Unified board has clearly shown their support for charter schools. Los Angeles Unified has more charter schools than any other school district in the country. More than 236 privately operated charter schools have been approved and are in place. Board members have historically believed that charter schools provide options for parents and students and have looked favorably on this school model originally conceived to develop new approaches to education.

George McKenna

George McKenna

But charter proponents referring to our community as an educational marketplace and using the terms of battle, weapons and war when promoting the benefits of competition is inappropriate when referring to the universal right of every child to a public education. The constant banter of the claimed failure of the teachers, school site staff, and students who attend Los Angeles Unified neighborhood schools is demoralizing to those who have devoted their lives to benefit the children of our community. All board members acknowledge that our schools should be constantly and consistently improving, but all also recognize the multitude of stellar and successful schools and programs within the district.

In our role as policymakers, this resolution also provides a roadmap – a plan that reiterates that we will not be satisfied until there is fair and equitable opportunity for all students, constantly improving instructional outcomes for all students, and adequate resources for all schools. We want to better support our teachers and continue to nurture extraordinary school leadership. We are committed to growing early education, restoring music and the arts, pursuing new strategies for parent engagement and tirelessly promoting community schools until we reach zero dropouts and 100 percent of our students are graduating career- and college-ready and prepared for productive roles in the civic life of our local communities.

With a unified board, we have a once-in-a-generation moment to invest in transforming educational outcomes for students in every community and to galvanize support for our children and our schools. All those who care deeply about the future of Los Angeles are urged to join us in our shared mission, in the spirit of collaboration and partnership, to provide the best possible education for all students, not just some students.

•••

Scott Schmerelson is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and author of the “Excellent Public Education for Every Student” resolution. Steve Zimmer is president of the LAUSD board. George McKenna is vice president of the LAUSD board.

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  1. jackie 5 months ago5 months ago

    There is a good reason charter schools exist and are taking students away from LAUSD. All parents want is a great education for our children. It is reasonable for parents to look to the Charter option if a school is performing poorly and under enrolled. But my kid is in a high performing LAUSD school and I wish our school would go charter. Why? The Mandarin Immersion Program at Broadway Elementary in Venice turned the … Read More

    There is a good reason charter schools exist and are taking students away from LAUSD. All parents want is a great education for our children. It is reasonable for parents to look to the Charter option if a school is performing poorly and under enrolled. But my kid is in a high performing LAUSD school and I wish our school would go charter. Why? The Mandarin Immersion Program at Broadway Elementary in Venice turned the failing school in 2010 to a highly sought after one that people are begging to get in. Parents would camp out overnight to get an early spot on enrollment day. We have four incoming kinder classes since 2011 but demand can easily fill six classes each year. Isn’t that the kind of program LAUSD would wish to have in every school?

    Instead LAUSD decide to cut the incoming kinder classes down to two!! Why? Why? Why? Talk about punishing success! The issue of not enough space for the program to grow is a non-issue and fixable, if LAUSD is willing. The decision is irrational and ultimately hurt the program that the principal, teachers and parents all worked so hard to build. This is the kind of thing that you wonder why parents want to go Charter!

    Stop hurting our children! It is not too late to reverse a bad decision. Reinstate our four incoming kinder classes at Broadway Elementary’s Mandarin Immersion Program. http://laschoolreport.com/commentary-lausd-should-reverse-cuts-to-immersion-program-at-broadway-elementary #saveBMI #saveBroadwayMandarinImmersion #saveLAUSD

  2. RedDonnaAnn 6 months ago6 months ago

    Charter schools are backdoor union busters. What LAUSD is doing supporting them is a mystery to me. Thank god we are getting back to fixing one of the greatest institutions in the world: free public education. It is one of most cited reasons poor, disenfranchised immigrants come to America, so their kids can get an education and shot at a great life.

    Good for the new board. I’m all in!

  3. Don 6 months ago6 months ago

    Still waiting to hear what LAUSD plans to do to counter the charter school explosion.

  4. Heidi Landers 6 months ago6 months ago

    The term “privately” run is, in my opinion, inaccurate; these schools are “independently” run.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 6 months ago6 months ago

      Is attempting to replace “private” with “independent” an Orwellian effort to control language and thought, or just a clumsy marketing effort? Discuss.

      • Don 6 months ago6 months ago

        I'd like to know more about the resolution itself rather than the hopes and dreams of LAUSD leaders. Regarding whether private or independent is a better choice of words, let me just say, as Bernie Sanders would say, that many LEAs as public entities might just as well be private given the wholesale lack of transparency under the LCFF. The authors have made a case for charters. LAUSD realizes it has to come up … Read More

        I’d like to know more about the resolution itself rather than the hopes and dreams of LAUSD leaders. Regarding whether private or independent is a better choice of words, let me just say, as Bernie Sanders would say, that many LEAs as public entities might just as well be private given the wholesale lack of transparency under the LCFF.

        The authors have made a case for charters. LAUSD realizes it has to come up with a plan to counter the charter movement or ever more students will leave.

  5. Joshua Leibner 6 months ago6 months ago

    This is going to be a very long and protracted battle. It's a relief that LAUSD's Board of Ed has a sense of the gravity of what we face. This is from today's WASHINGTON POST: GOP-led states increasingly taking control from local school boards https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/gop-led-states-increasingly-taking-control-from-local-school-boards/2016/02/01/c01a8e4e-bad3-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_takeover654pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory In LA, it's the rich neo-liberal Democrats who push this reform with business interests. The Board knows this and these three know that the guns are aimed at them in the next round of elections. It … Read More

    This is going to be a very long and protracted battle.

    It’s a relief that LAUSD’s Board of Ed has a sense of the gravity of what we face.

    This is from today’s WASHINGTON POST:

    GOP-led states increasingly taking control from local school boards

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/gop-led-states-increasingly-taking-control-from-local-school-boards/2016/02/01/c01a8e4e-bad3-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_takeover654pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

    In LA, it’s the rich neo-liberal Democrats who push this reform with business interests. The Board knows this and these three know that the guns are aimed at them in the next round of elections.

    It is not about their political survival but the survival of the very concept of public education.

    I hope we all write, expose and fight the battle against a foe that is very well armed with the financial and political resources for–well, forever. They are never going away.

    The effort will take more imagination than what we have invested so far in LAUSD and urban education. Let’s work to give students a great education using pedagogies that the rich take for their own kids, This is not a peripheral concern–it is the very thing that will keep students WANTING an LAUSD education instead of our side adopting the corporate cliche ” career- and college-ready” graduates.

    This is a class warfare in all senses. I hope our side gets smarter about how this manifests itself in the daily lives of LA’s children. We need our leadership to understand all the contours of this war and how to win it.

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