After surviving opposition funded by the mayors of America’s two biggest cities, newly re-elected Los Angeles Unified School District board member Steve Zimmer says his win has preserved a “system of checks and balances” in running L.A.’s huge school district.
Probably the greatest impact of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $1 million gift last week to the Coalition for School Reform, an independent political group supporting a slate of three reform-minded candidates for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board seats, was on the potential for re-election by LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has given a green light to a proposal for a dual-language charter elementary school to be located in Van Nuys offering classes in English and Hebrew.
It’s easy to conjure up images of the folks pushing education reform in districts where students are obviously struggling. Think of Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the embattled public schools in Washington, D.C., who instituted reforms like variable pay for teachers based upon student achievement. Or consider Steve Barr, who founded the Green Dot group of public charter schools in response to the low graduation rate in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
It’s been dark for almost five hours, the city has slowed, and even the 101 Freeway is sparse and quiet. Steve Zimmer has just wrapped his last appointment, but rushing home seems foolish when a rare sit-down dinner is an option. Most days Zimmer hardly notices how alone he is, because he never stops working.
The atrocities of the Holocaust are difficult enough to understand, let alone teach. But Melissa Mazzei was willing to tackle the challenge with her at-risk teens at West Adams Preparatory High School near downtown Los Angeles.
"Many of my students have unstable home lives, some of them living in cars or motels, are gang-affiliated and have parole officers," Mazzei said, adding that learning about the Holocaust might be the last thing on their minds.
The meeting at Daniel Webster Middle School, in the heart of the Westside, embodied all the difficulties of convincing parents that their children will be safe when they leave the cocoon of the public elementary school for the unknown world of middle school.
From the perspective of that child and his or her parents, they are being discriminated against because of the color of their skin. This was part of the context of the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases.
I check in periodically with David Tokofsky, who has represented the Eastside on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) since 1995, just to find out how long it takes to stop being considered an outsider.
For a Jewish boy on the Eastside, the answer is: more than two terms. Even now, despite winning two elections, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has made him the target of redistricting, to insure that the next time out, someone with a Latino surname gets the job.
When Julie Korenstein speaks out on environmental matters, she credits her mother, Dr. Pauline Furth, with shaping her own crusading spirit. Korenstein, who represents District 6 on the Los Angeles Unified School District's school board, said that throughout her life her mother has been "the most important influence on me personally."
When Sherman Oaks resident Robina Suwol drove her two sons to school in the Valley March 1998, she didn't know she was about to become a crusader. The events of that morning kicked off a chain of events resulting in the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) new integrated pest control policy, now considered a model for school districts across the nation.
Dr. Stu Bernstein has spent 40 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as an elementary school teacher, principal and cluster administrator for Westside schools. On the occasion of his retirement, he was recently feted by the Association of Jewish Educators, with proceeds going toward the Multicultural Scholarship fund he helped establish. The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews, will give Bernstein its Humanitarian Award at an April 26 dinner.
Helen Burnstein, the former president of the United Teachers of Los Angles, used to argue, "Teachers want what students need." Many Jewish educators and parents feel the same way about Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). "Jews want what LAUSD needs." Educational excellence, higher standards, and more enrichment activities have become the mantras of educational reformers.
Among those who care about public education, "multiculturalism" is one of today's favorite buzzwords. But at the Community School, a magnet campus that falls under the auspices of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the concept of multicultural education has been in place for 25 years.