Friday, July 10, 2009

Public School Choice

Ten days ago, I introduced a resolution for the LAUSD School Board to consider. This resolution, called Public School Choice: A New Way for LAUSD is up for a vote on Tuesday July 14, 2009.

I introduced this resolution after two years of observing very little reform taking place. Despite my efforts and those of my colleagues on the Board and our Superintendent, Ray Cortines, too little progress has been made. The majority of our time has been spent on institutional problems, not problems related to the education of our students: the payroll fiasco, the Rooney case, and most recently, the budget. The distractions are real, but no excuse for not attending to our students.

Further, the reform-minded resolutions I have introduced (small schools, world languages, teacher quality) have paid little dividends to date. It became very clear that something different needed to be done to shake things up.

My Public School Choice resolution attempts to do that. I believe that choice is a strong lever for change. My proposal is that we develop a process that invites internal (LAUSD) and external (partnerships, charters) stakeholders to submit proposals to run our newly constructed schools that will open up, starting September 2010. In a period of four years, we will have over 50 schools.

The centerpiece of my resolution, however, is that parents and students will weigh in on the decision of which plan to approve. They will play an important role in determining WHO should run their neighborhood school and HOW.

This proposal is the perfect opportunity for LAUSD and UTLA (our teacher's union) to step up and deliver better schools for our kids. We have a handful of extremely effective models that we can replicate. And if we don't, then we should give others the opportunity to deliver a better educational model for our students. Anything less is immoral and unacceptable.

We must stop pretending that we own the educational choices for our kids. Especially when we haven't delivered a proper education to close to 50%. The truth is, we shouldn't own these choices, but we can make them available.

The true choice must be that of the parents and the students. Engaging them, providing choice, and putting kids first is the new name of the game.


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  2. why are my taxes from the Bonds being given away to the highest bidder and highest donor

  3. What do you do as a school board to actually improve the education of our students? How will privatizing new schools guarantee a free and appropriate public education for the 800 students at my elementary school (which was established during the late 19th century)?

    You apparently complain about spending the last two years "on institutional problems, not problems related to the education of our students: the payroll fiasco, the Rooney case, and most recently, the budget."--all of which fall on the shoulders of the "colleagues" and administration (i.e. the previous superintendent the school board hastily appointed) you mention above, NOT individual schools, students, or the general teacher population.
    Here's a proposal: how about privatizing the school board? Sale YOUR positions to the highest bidder, and we can use their money to really reform education at the student level!

  4. From Brian Jones' Using "civil rights" to sell charter schools

    "I just pulled Jonathan Kozol's excellent book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America off the shelf. It reminds me of another thing that sticks in my craw about the charter school "movement"--the race question. Everything--from the charter school Web sites, to the rallies, to the glossy brochures--cry out against racial inequality and evoke the civil rights movement.

    But the whole project is based on a rejection of one of the key goals of the civil rights movement: desegregating the schools. For all their talk of the race gap, why is there no discussion about mixing the predominantly kids of color from the city with the predominantly white kids in the suburbs? What about Brown v. Board of Education?

    In his introduction to Shame of the Nation, Kozol writes of Black public school administrators who are pained by the fact that their schools are still so segregated, and by the fact that they are put in a position that requires them "to set aside the promises of Brown.

    Perhaps--while never stating it or even thinking of it clearly--these administrators are being forced to settle for the promise made more than a century ago in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in which "separate but equal" was accepted as a tolerable rationale for the perpetuation of a dual racial system in American society."

    In this context, there's something a little more than sinister about billionaires using the iconography of the civil rights movement to set up "separate but equal" schools in the inner cities, masking the goal of privatization behind a call for racial justice."

    full article

  5. "The true choice must be that of the parents and the students. Engaging them, providing choice, and putting kids first is the new name of the game." Sounds like a tactic to throw children whose parents can't help with homework becasue they spend all their time working to put food on the table to the side while children with parents who have Ph.D.s and J.D.s excel becuase of their favorable financial and educational situation at home.

    Teachers are here to motivate children who live with parents who beat one another, or who don't have higher than a 6th grade education and can't get help at home with their school work.

    Don't encourage our school board to accept policies that will widen the gap!

  6. This is one of the best ideas I have seen come out of the LAUSD Board of Education in years. This is decidedly "kids first." Unlike other players in this field, and unlike many other people who comment, Yolie's resolution asks "what is good for kids." By allowing LAUSD, charter partners, and community groups compete to see who can serve kids best we are allowing our children to get the best education possible. Thank you Yolie for your courage and vision here. Keep up the good fight and don't let reactionaries who would rather have a bloated failing system that is good for adults get in the way of what is best for our kids!

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  8. Sorry, no price on Yolie. Many have tried... I belong to the kids.

  9. Nearly 65 years after Mendez v. Westminster, and 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, LAUSD is considering a resolution that could all but ossify the segregation of Los Angeles public schools. Given the track record of EMOs and CMOs of creating supposedly separate but equal facilities, this will be inevitable as these institution garner more of our schools. However, we all know that separate is NEVER equal. For the life of me I can't reconcile "putting kids first" and reestablishing Jim Crow. Can you?

    Vice President Flores Aguilar I implore you to read

    "Using "civil rights" to sell charter schools, a second look"

    and explain to our communities how you don't feel the apartheid system created by corporate EMOs and CMOs isn't outrageous and racist. In fact, unless you incorporate language demanding corporations like Brightstar, Alliance, and Green Dot provide detailed plans on how they will desegregate their so called public schools, then you shouldn't reintroduce your resolution.

    Last time I checked District 5 didn't include 350 South Figueroa Street 90071.

  10. let's stop with this "privatization" nonsense. Charter schools are public schools voted by the overwhelming majority of California voters. They are regulated by the State with an oversight by the District. Opponents to charters just want to ignore the simple fact that the current traditional system is failing 50% of the kids. Kudos to Yolie for having the courage to take on that special-interest racket

  11. most people who work at LAUSD are not democratically elected either, starting from the Superintendent on down. You make no sense whatsoever. Have you counted the number of schools that LAUSD has under 655 API? Guess what: it is the majority of middle and high schools. Wake up and smell the coffee. The system works well for adults, not children

  12. What ever happened to kids first!? This resolution is not about charter schools it's about providing the best education possible for our students who deserve better. It's about not being satisfied with what is and inviting parents and the community to take part in improving our schools. We should all be soluting Ms Flores-Aguilar for the leadership and courage she has demonstrated in putting this resolution forward.

  13. You go Yolie! You are following ideas that will let kids race to the top! This jerk thinks Steve and Ben help you to this resolution.
    People who complaining about this being about giving schools to corporations don't understand that schools should be like business. I don't know why people think corporations are a bad. Thanks for putting kids first.

  14. Schools should not be run like a business. Schools need to be funded properly. This board should do more to make sure that the schools they run have the same or nearly the same funding as charters. Unfortunately money is wasted on security systems for beaudry and a payroll system that doesnt work. Instead money should be spent on teacher training and professional development. If the district is serious about reform seek legislation that holds parents more accountable for their children's education in areas like south LA where a parent cannot be reached for parent conferences or when their child is receiving an award. Change does not happen overnight Yolie, a good leader sets a vision and rallies his/her follower to that common goal. A good leader doesnt turn its back on it's people.

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  16. Dear Yolie,

    I just came from the LAUSD Board meeting in which the Public School Choice resolution was approved with a 6-1 vote. I am a young person working in education and a citizen committed to social change. I wanted to share with you three comments from my experience with your resolution.

    First, thank you for your creativity and wisdom in introducing this resolution. We do have a "911 emergency" situation in education, and thinking out of the box is essential to change that. Incremental improvements across the district have been great, but we also need to change our system's century-old outdated structure to enable reform that can scale.

    Second, you stuck by your resolution through thick and thin. Watching from the audience, I saw that many attacks were made that were personal rather than resolution-focused, and could see that you have withstood a high amount of pressure. Yet you continued to stand your ground, while remaining open to the voices of others. This strength in the face of adversity alone is commendable in a leader.

    Third and most deeply moving to me, it was evident that what helped you through the face of adversity was your principles, moral conviction and absolute belief that we need to move reform faster for our students. In your voice, we could hear that this was not about political posturing or self-interest. Your genuine moral strength in doing right for our students inspired me and those sitting around me. It occurred to me that this is politics at its best, this is what politics should be. I grew up in an immigrant family who was politically weary and encouraged me to avoid politics. But today, you inspired me. I walked away feeling empowered. Today you showed us that politics is deeply meaningful, that it can drive toward an end that is life-changing rather than only appeasing to the status quo (mistaking means for ends), and that small people who usually don't have a voice (parents, students) can win on this battlefield.

    Thank you. I hope you get some well-deserved rest.

    Quang Tran


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