Community Advocates’ chairman, former mayor of Los Angeles Richard J. Riordan, has a clear and illuminating op/ed in today’s Los Angeles Times.
Riordan points out the significance of the LA School Board’s recently adopted Public School Choice Resolution. The motion allows charter school operators, unions, teacher groups, universities and others to apply to the District to take over low-performing schools and some of the District’s newly built schools.
Riordan describes the new act as a “big step in the right direction.” But he wisely warns that he (and I suspect others who have observed the District in action over the past few decades agree) is “skeptical as to whether the LAUSD will take full advantage of this window for change.” Undoubtedly, he recalls, as do we, the thousands of hours of staff and volunteer time invested in LEARN and other reform efforts that evaporated into an ossified, unresponsive and overly centralized bureaucracy.
Riordan offers concrete steps that ought to be taken to make sure “that this isn’t another wasted opportunity” to effect meaningful change. Among his proposals are holding Board members accountable for low performing schools, granting all new school operators the same powers (i.e. autonomy) as charter schools, and urging that new school operating proposals be judged on merit not politics.
His wish list for change is daunting but it may be our last hope for making the LAUSD work.