Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Time to Change the Rules to Benefit Kids

As most of us know, the rules we have in place within our educational system do not – by and large – favor children. Mostly they benefit adults. This is certainly the case that the ACLU made in its recent lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District and the State Department of Education. Indeed, when faced with decisions to lay off teachers because of the draconian state budget cuts, the rules and practices benefited teachers with longevity in their employment with the District and not the needs of students.

While it should not have to take the courts to move us to do the right thing, this is how social change frequently comes about. In the case of the ACLU lawsuit, the District will now be required to address the needs of students at three middle schools: Markham, Gompers, and Leichty.

But we need to change the rules for ALL kids, not just some. This is why I am introducing a resolution asking the Superintendent to 1) immediately begin working with partners and advocates to urge the State to act on needed legislation to give districts needed flexibility to allow lay-offs based on criteria other than seniority; 2) work with UTLA to reform and improve all aspects of our union contracts that impede the stability of effective teaching staffs; and 3) work with reform partners to revise and improve procedures affecting staffing at school sites.

Ensuring equal access and opportunity for all our students is our moral imperative – but this requires that we change the rules to benefit students, first and foremost. Both the ACLU lawsuit and this resolution attempt to do just that. Please stand with me tomorrow and over the coming weeks as this resolution is debated. The message is simple: make the rules work for kids!