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SHERMAN OAKS : Schools Leader Touts LEARN Reforms

June 18, 1993|SCOTT GLOVER

The future of Los Angeles schools is in new LEARN reforms, which will decentralize control while providing greater accountability, according to Los Angeles Unified School District board member Mark Slavkin.

Slavkin, a board member from the Westside who will represent the West Valley beginning July 1, also criticized a proposal to break up the district and called the defeat of a voucher initiative critical.

Passage would make tax dollars available to parents who want to send their children to private schools, and would lead to mass segregation in which poor students would be relegated to under-funded public schools, according to Slavkin.

He spoke Wednesday at a community meeting held by the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. Slavkin conceded that the district "has been adrift until recently," but emphasized that it is headed in a new direction.

Slavkin took credit for having called for a recent audit by the private accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. that blasted the district for general mismanagement.

The LEARN program, unanimously adopted by the board in March, is a pilot program in 38 LAUSD schools and is expected to implemented districtwide. Slavkin said many of the recommendations made by the auditors go hand in hand with the changes planned under LEARN.

"Between LEARN and Arthur Andersen, I think we've turned the corner--we have a vision for where we want the district to go."

But one woman, who identified herself as a teacher in the district, was skeptical.

"The LEARN thing sounds great on paper," she said. "But we don't have any assurance that this is going to work.

"Don't be too content with what you are hearing," she told the crowd of about 30. "You've really got to watch and listen and pay attention to what is happening."

Slavkin said that it is "critical that we defeat the voucher initiative. It's leukemia for the public schools. We wouldn't die the first day, we would die a slow and ugly death."

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