Memo to LAUSD Board Candidates: Give us Plans, Not Platitudes!

EDUCATION POLITICS--On March 7, 2017 we will have a primary election for three of the seven seats on the LAUSD Board. If no one candidate for a given seat receives a majority of votes in the primary, that will be followed on May 16 by a run-off in the general election.

In going over the new and incumbent candidates’ statements, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that none of these candidates has put forth a detailed, substantive platform to address LAUSD’s endemic problems that have been the cause of long-time failure, causing it to be on the verge of both financial and academic bankruptcy. 

The notion of "supporting a strong quality public education for all" is right up there with motherhood and apple pie, but none of the candidates -- be they new or incumbent – has addressed how to fix this school system in which students continue to be socially promoted without mastering prior grade-level standards. This has pretty much made it impossible to create a "strong quality public education." 

But how do you "strengthen core subjects and electives programs" in a district with a 50% chronic truancy rate? This fact is completely antithetical to the recent disingenuous assertion of LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King who touted a "100% graduation rate," a claim that has gone unchallenged by the present LAUSD Board of Directors and the mainstream media. 

It sounds nice to talk about increasing school electives, but the reality is that virtually all industrial arts programs have been closed down throughout the District. The classes could give students an employable skill or one with which they could earn enough money to pay for a post K-12 education. This has happened as both the LAUSD administration and the Board refuse to recognize that the total capacity of all colleges and universities in the United States is at only 30% of high school graduates. So what is everybody else supposed to do to stay out of jail? 

I wish one of these candidates would tell me how you "reduce class size, stabilize classrooms, support all staff and establish appropriate discipline strategies," when the LAUSD administration and the Board have spent their energy targeting senior teachers at the top of the salary scale using false charges in order to hire cheaper fresh-out-of-college "teachers" on emergency credentials. 

This has created a critical shortage of experienced teachers. Add to this the continued huge number of students moving from LAUSD to charter schools and you wind up with the remaining LAUSD classrooms filled with 40 or more students, creating over-crowding in a misguided attempt to stem the hemorrhaging of money. 

And of course, since LAUSD gets paid by Average Daily Attendance (ADA) -- measured exclusively by how many warm butts are in seats, rather than an objective measurement of academic achievement -- LAUSD allows chaos to reign in the classroom in order to receive more money from the state and federal governments. 

Administrators are loathe to suspend students ($$$) who are then left free to disrupt classes on a regular basis to the detriment of all other students and teachers; it’s nearly impossible to teach or learn in this administratively tolerated bedlam. Could that be why enrollment in teacher credentialing programs is down to an historic low? 

If any candidate for LAUSD Board is truly interested in positing a three-dimensional, detailed platform to address corporate and administrative corruption and to turn around what used to be a great school district, I would be happy to endorse them. Any takers? Look at it this way: given the extreme levels of student, parent, teacher, and voter apathy, it will not take a whole lot of votes to get you elected.


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at Leonard can be reached at Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.