Sunday, July 26, 2009

First Draft -- Community School Choice: An Alternative Way for LAUSD

Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsA fellow activist asked me to type up something along these lines that he could use to mobilize people for the 25th. The following is only a rough draft, but in the absence of anything to counterpose to LAUSD VP Flores Aguilar's resolution, it might serve as a starting point. Many activists have been clamoring for an alternative document that parents, communities, and organizations could endorse as being what we want instead.

Please feel free to add to, suggest edits, or any other criticisms felt necessary. Pass along to others who might want to participate in creating such a document. Who knows, maybe we'll have something which all our communities and organizations support, and will be able to provide to LAUSD Board Members not inclined to hand the "proverbial keys to the kingdom" to Steve Barr and his exclusive circle of wealthy white male colleagues.

Community School Choice: An Alternative Way for LAUSD

  • We want schools which commit to educating every child in our communities. Special needs children, ELL/ESL, children with disciplinary problems, and others should never be excluded or later let go in order to boost APIs. Schools should never be able to "dump" students on other schools, we have a problem with institutions that consider certain students as being a problem. The obligation to educate every child is paramount to all things, especially test results.

  • We want schools to have fair and accessible entrance requirements. Institutions that would take our taxes, but impose restrictions that all but a fortunate and select few are unable to meet are the antithesis of community and democracy building. Pitting families against each other for school selection when they are subject to adverse socioeconomic conditions isn't choice, it's divisive. Lotteries and other such methods of selection should only be a last resort.

  • We want schools to begin the process of desegregation again starting now. After the gains of the 1960's and 1970's, we've seen a return to segregated schools. LAUSD needs to lead in this area, especially recognizing the necessity of requiring less accountable educational institutions which fall under the board's oversight to submit plans to desegregate as well. We don't recognize the "right" of non-LAUSD schools to perpetuate "separate, but equal" philosophies at their schools.

  • We want public schools to operate 100% on public money, as to avoid the inevitable biases and other conflicts of interest which come from private funding. Critical decisions on curriculum, vendor decisions, labor relations, and many other important factors are too easily compromised by unelected boards of educational institutions beholden to large benefactors. The potential of political agendas being forwarded as a condition of external funding is far too great, and our children's education shouldn't be hostage to the ideology of philanthropists of any stripe.

  • We want LAUSD to offer real choice to parents, by engaging them and the community with ongoing interaction over the operation of the school and its ability to serve the community.

  • While we want LAUSD to allow choice in how schools will be operated, we want this tempered with the understanding that certain institutions, by their very nature, hold an unfair advantage over community based and other organizations in terms of submitting proposals to run schools. Organizations with millions of dollars in private funding at their disposal, employing a bevy of professional staff tasked with writing grant proposals, and with the ability to "market" themselves in the selection process, hold such an unfair advantage. This would be detrimental to our communities and many ways, and is tantamount to selling our kids' futures to the highest bidder and lowest common denominator.

  • We want LAUSD to recognize union jobs for parents are good for our children and communities as a whole. Rather than accepting a false dichotomy between kids and adults, we see our committees as an organic, cohesive whole. LAUSD kids with parents who have stable incomes and benefits are far more likely to achieve than those with low wage non-unionized jobs. Furthermore, our communities benefit when there are a number of fairly paid workers living in them. Communities don't benefit when CEOs and executives of non-traditional education institutions take the lion's share of our taxes instead of the teachers and employees at those schools.

  • We want teachers empowered by collective bargaining to have the ability to stand up to educational whims and trends which have no proven basis and practice. Political pressure from non-educators, which overlooks proven methods of pedagogy for the purpose of expediency must be avoided, and in some cases, resisted.


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