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Opposition to LEARN

May 16, 1993

* The leadership of LEARN is deeply disappointed by the vote of the United Teachers of Los Angeles governing board to oppose the LEARN plan to reform the Los Angeles Unified School District. Their characterization of the plan (May 4) as one that infringes on teacher rights and/or protections is just plain wrong!

No reasonable person, having read the plan, could conclude that it is somehow a step backward for teachers. During the entire two-year process of community consensus building to develop the plan, teachers stepped forward and were represented in greater number than any other single group.

After hundreds of hours of discussions about accountability and "principals as school leaders," consensus was reached on a system that allows for nothing but collaboration. The plan frees up each school community to create and maintain its own distinct character and holds professionals accountable for decisions over which they have authority.

Teachers, administrators, parents, business and community leaders designed a system to move budget and decision-making authority to the school site.

No one expects reform to be easy. The community came to the table aware of the long history of conflict between the district, central office, principals and teachers.

We appeal to every teacher within the district to read the plan and then talk with those UTLA leaders who do not support it to ask them to reconsider their position, particularly since the schools in LEARN's first phase are volunteers. We'll do the same. Support by teachers is critical to the effort to improve learning for all our children, which is LEARN's goal.

Maintenance of the status quo is not an option. LEARN presents our community's last best chance for constructive action. If teachers abandon the effort now without giving it a chance to succeed, they leave this community few options. Change is inevitable--the remaining alternatives are stark but clear: a stampede to support the vigorous campaign to dismantle the district or a ballot initiative for private school vouchers that will further deprive the district of funds and create more division in our community.

Is that what the teachers of Los Angeles want? We don't think so.

MIKE ROOS

President & CEO LEARN, Los Angeles

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