There are currently more than 640,000 students enrolled in the LAUSD. These students are not widgets in a factory, they are individual people, each with unique needs. Every individual student has their own interests, most effective method of learning and challenges of achieving success. All are important and deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential - every single one of those 640,000 students.
For too long the education “reform” movement has been allowed to operate in the LAUSD in a way that ignores individuality. Instead of supporting students with special education needs, the District has forced them to mainstream with general education students, even when doing so is harmful to the student. When some parents objected to the closure of special education centers, the District fought them in court. As a School Board member, I will fight to end this litigation and keep these centers open as an option for parents.
The litigation over special education centers is just one example of the way the District approaches special education needs. While IEP’s are supposed to be Individualized Education Plans, the massive LAUSD bureaucracy acts as a gatekeeper to parents and teachers as they try to work together to develop plans that will be most beneficial to the student. These bureaucrats can be so removed from the students as they sit in fortress on Beaudrey that one told me that my non-verbal daughter expressed her life goals to him. As a School Board member I will fight to reform the system so that parents do not have to hire a lawyer in order to force the District to provide the proper services.
The “reform” movement has also pushed an agenda that pretends that all students will go on to attend college. While those headed for higher education need to be supported, those with different career paths should also be respected. We must correct the mistakes of our past where students were pushed into vocational training based on race or income levels, but the solution is not to eliminate these programs. They must be made available and fully funded so that students can choose to explore these career paths. The cost of not doing so is an inflated dropout rate, the ultimate signal of the failure of any school system.
Perhaps the ultimate expression of a lack of respect for individualism in education is the “standardized” test. The “reform” movement has made these worse by tying the fates of teachers, school communities and even entire districts to the results of these tests. As a result of these high stakes tests, students are needlessly stressed, which affects their view of education. Moreover, the District has resorted to teaching to the tests. Because of this, untested subjects like music and art have been short shrifted. This jeopardizes American ingenuity because this relies on the full development and respect of creativity. Remember, while our iPhones may be manufactured in China, they are “Designed by Apple in California.” I will support the arts so that these jobs are not also exported overseas.
To make matters worse, these “reformers” are pushing the LAUSD towards bankruptcy. Before being finally removed from his position, their hand- picked Superintendent, John Deasy, squandered $1.3 billion in construction bond money on his ill-fated iPad program. He was also responsible for the MiSiS data system. While spending on MiSiS “may top $200 million”, it was heavily flawed at rollout and as of the start of this school year did not have my daughter’s correct emergency information. It should be noted that my opponent was one of Deasy’s supporters and he has donated $1,000 to her campaign.
The crowning “achievement” of the reformers is the spread of charters into the District. The LAUSD is already the largest authorizers of charters but Eli Broad is pushing for more. Not only has this reduced the education funds available to public schools, but costs have increased as charters cherry pick the easiest-to-educate students. With the backing of Mónica García, the LAUSD Charter School Division is lead by a former staffer of the California Charter School Association. The predictable result has been a lack of oversight for these private schools run with public funds. As a School Board member, I will work tirelessly to put these charters out of business through competition; District run schools will become the choice of parents who recognize that the District respects the needs of all students.