This is Parent Engagement?

District Goals: 1) 100 percent graduation; 2) Proficiency for all; 3) 100 percent attendance; 4) Parent and community engagement; 5) School safety

- LAUSD Web Site

The parents of the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES) did their homework. When they realized that their school was slated to be enrolled in the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program, they looked at how it had affected other schools in the district. This well-intentioned but poorly executed program had numerous problems including disruptions to the learning environment, bug infestations and a reliance on sugary, processed foods. When the school administration distributed opt-out forms to gauge how many students would not participate, a parent representative reports that 2,050 of the 2,100 students in the school filled them out. It was clear the school community did not want this program.

Opt-Out_Forms.jpgApparently, the LAUSD only values parent engagement if it helps push the established agenda and will ignore the will of the SOCES parents. In an e-mail dated May 8, Byron J. Maltez, the Instructional Area Superintendent of the Educational Service Center North, stated that “per the school’s request, the roll out of BIC will begin Monday, May 18.” With just under 98% of the SOCES parents signing opt-out forms, it unclear exactly which school made the request.

During the primary campaign each of three parents running against Tamar Galatzan made a case that we had entered the race because the incumbent had been unresponsive to our concerns. SOCES parents report a similar experience when trying to get their Board representative’s help in keeping this program out of their school. A staff member did respond to a phone caller by stating that Tamar “doesn’t like BIC either.” Barbara Jones, Galatzan’s current Chief of Staff and former Daily News Staff Writer, must have missed this vote when she wrote in 2013 that “the board unanimously” voted to “continue with current plans to more than double [BIC’s] size to around 600 schools by 2014-15.”

If the LAUSD really wants to encourage parent engagement, they need to switch to a system of “opting in” to programs like standardized testing and BIC. As one SOCES parent stated, “LAUSD requires my signature to take pictures of my kids, to go on field trips, to jump in a bouncy on campus but not to feed them food that I don't approve of?” With 98% of the SOCES parents choosing to opt-out, it is obvious that even the families the program is designed to help are not interested in the 438 calorie coffee cakes. If all students participating were required to get permission first, the district would be forced to present a more thoroughly thought out solution that would better meet its stated goals.