First published on @TCFKSM on June 6, 2013
"As it is, the meetings are held downtown in the middle of the day when most parents, students and employees cannot participate. Ultimately this behavior pattern leads to decisions made in a vacuum, isolation from reality and the rubberstamping of pre-determined outcomes."—Bennett Kayser
Former teacher and current Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education member Bennett Kayser's Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Daily News entitled LAUSD should have more public meetings is well worth reading a sharing widely. Following the piece are excellent comments including ones by special needs children advocate Sonja Luchini and substitute teacher Fredrick Bertz. Not surprisingly, my favorite commentary following the piece is mine, reproduced here:
The current one-public-meeting-a-month schedule was imposed by Mónica García so that she would have more time to spend with her real constituents: billionaires, real estate developers, and well heeled 501c3 sector and charter industry executives.
How does holding frequent public meetings accessible to working class families mesh with certain board members' pro-corporate education reform agenda of forming policy with millionaire Elise Buik of the United Way at Chamber of Commerce luncheons, or deciding which new district building to give away to Philip Lance and Anna Ponce while grazing the buffet at the California Charter School Association headquarters?
Mr. Kayser is right to call on the LAUSD Board to open itself up to the public that pays for the board and our schools. It's time for LAUSD to actually listen to voices of the community instead of outsiders greasing palms of certain board members who have turned the district into a handout for corporations, developers, and greedy charter executives.
With a new board member who actually knows something about education because she was a classroom teacher, and the end of the tyrannical reign of the perpetual president, we might see a district that finally prioritizes people over profits.
The struggle to make LAUSD meetings more accessible has been going on for some time. United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has been circulating bi-lingual petitions in support of evening meetings for over a year. During my campaign for LAUSD I wrote the following.
For far too long only the well-paid members of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) posing as parents have been able to attend public LAUSD board meetings. Why? Because the meetings are intentionally held when working people...well, are at work or attending school. This petition calls on LAUSD to move public meetings to the evening so that the true voice of the community will be heard. Parents, students, educators, and community have been shut out of LAUSD. Meanwhile the charter industry and the NPICs have dominated the dialog and continue to provide the "Anschutz Four" board members political cover.
As a District 2 Trustee candidate for LAUSD, I endorse all efforts to make board meetings accessible to real stakeholders, and not just the NPICs and wealthy charter sector executives. Download these bilingual petitions and get them into our communities!