EDUCATION POLITICS-I’m as desirous of allowing one and all to speak as the next. But permitting a parade of the voiceless to be heard with the mute button on does not a democracy make.
What’s the point of letting everyone speak, as the LAUSD school board did last Wednesday night, when no one’s listening? And by “no one” I mean the ones with the votes, the school board members.
They may all have been sitting up there in the “U”, those lights might have been on but no way was anyone home. No way did it matter one iota what that parade of good citizens and elected officials had to say.
Those school board members had their minds all made up all in advance of the political theater. That public charade was just a feel-good exercise: we, the public were allowed to feel, and they, our elected, said it was all-good. But it wasn’t. Because they went ahead and voted as ulterior forces had long, long ago dictated. Tuesday night’s farce was just an unrolling of the preordained, prejudiced factions that have been rolling about for a long time.
The issues have been well-laid out here, as they were at the special BOE meeting on Tuesday night. Democracy is predicated on elections, but representation is not conferred exclusively by one.
In this instance, representation is crucial on the LAUSD board of education right now, in the immediate future. An election will ensure the alienation of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders up and until such time as an elected board official can be seated, months and months hence. In this instance, ironically, it is clearly the case that insisting on holding an election to replace the late Marguerite LaMotte, is insisting on disenfranchising her one-time voters.
Tuesday night was hugely instructive. Ten elected officials asserted a prerogative of protected expression in advance of the hoi poloi. With just two exceptions (one in absentio), all were very clear that the issue of disputed voting rights is a red herring; the imperative at hand regards functional, timely representation. Not an exaggerated display of support for some democratic expression that is not in jeopardy.
As noted, the people of LAUSD1 have voted already; they are not in danger of having that vote abrogated. What they are in danger of, is having their representation curtailed for months while suffering an election whose expense is at that of their children’s education and the opportunity to be represented during critical negotiations determining the distribution of incipient, new monies.
One elected voice stood in stark contrast. Mark Ridley-Thomas maneuvered himself in front of our elected board and stared them down with a speech that scanned like melodrama. Quoth he: “…civility is a function of the democratic process as well. And everybody ought to have the opportunity to listen to and share the views that they have: undeterred. Unintimidated. By anybody. Under any circumstances”.
What coded complaint was he referencing? Was he signaling some promise? Making a threat? Of whom-by whom? More importantly — how does any of this relate to “the babies”??
Tuesday night was a charade staged to make it appear that the voice of the public held some sway, when in reality the process of representation was usurped offstage and previously, by an official never elected to the education arena. It is hard to understand the education-interest of supervisor Ridley-Thomas. Perhaps the Education-Reformer-stuffed coffers of his son’s recent election might provide some hint of the father’s proclivities?
The actual stakeholders of actual public education were sorely abused by our elected board this Tuesday past. Voting to relegate the board of education to under-representation subject to paralyzing hung-votes, is a terrible governance-decision.
While one seventh of the population goes not-represented, and the board relegates itself to paralysis, for a multi-million-dollar taxpayer’s bill, yet the top education administrator who is himself (at least indirectly) underwritten by private, corporate money-interests, will convene a cabal of extra-elected or publicly scrutinized, hand-picked partisans to guide his hand in running LAUSD1.
And all in the name of safe-guarding civil rights.
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com)
Vol 12 Issue 030
Pub: Jan 10, 2014