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School Choice Empowers Parents but Doesn't Guarantee Accountability

July 10, 1994

* While The Times has done an excellent job covering the process of open enrollment for our public schools, I was disturbed by the condescending tone of your recent editorial "Open Enrollment Resuscitates LAUSD" (June 19).

Our schools are not analogous to a dying patient, and the process of school choice is not the miracle cure you seem to suggest.

I am a strong supporter of public school choice. Parents should be encouraged to explore all options and pursue the school they believe will be best for their child. The Board of Education approved the largest and most sweeping school choice plan in the nation on a unanimous vote. By and large we are very pleased with the results. As the representative for the West Valley, I am delighted that many of my constituents have taken advantage of this opportunity.

School choice is important to empower parents. I do not, however, believe it is a very effective tool for school accountability. The district must hold all schools accountable for the bottom line--student performance. An individual parent may prefer one school over another for a variety of personal reasons. While the ability of parents to make a choice is very valuable, such subjective choices should not be looked to as an effective measure of school performance.

Finally, as a new and important policy, open enrollment deserves careful evaluation. Please give the district more than six days before charging that officials are "too slow out of the blocks" in compiling this information.

MARK SLAVKIN

Los Angeles

Board of Education

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