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New Superintendent for L.A. School District

May 11, 1997

Your editorial, "Zacarias Faces a Huge Job in Reforming the LAUSD" (May 4), basically missed the point. The selection of the superintendent was a minor distraction from the primary challenge. Let's face it, the board itself, with its foundation in mediocrity, is the real problem. It is made up of products of the system. How many companies have directors who devote their entire time to being a director? How many companies have directors with roots in the bureaucracy itself?

You point out that we should look to teachers and principals for improving performance, but we can't create an environment that rewards initiative and achievement. Rather, the bureaucracy continues to live entirely to ensure that the rules are followed.


Woodland Hills

* When a school district "Human Relations Summit" took place in November 1991, school crime statistics were high and public confidence in our district's ability and commitment to ensure safe schools was low.

Today, all schools have "safe school plans," which address crime, disaster preparedness, crisis intervention, environment and health and human relations.

Today, our district has increased its ability to respond to school safety needs through the establishment of a board subcommittee and through organization of a "school safety planning committee," inclusive of district offices and bargaining unit representatives and parents and community. Additionally, a new "Office Of Intergroup Relations" has been created to assist schools in prejudice reduction and conflict resolution.

Who has been most responsible for this marked improvement in the level of safety within our school district? Which administrator has been most responsible for providing vision, leadership, and support? In my judgment, that person has been and is Ruben Zacarias.



* If we examine the contributions of the two previous superintendents we can predict what Zacarias will do. Both William Anton and Sid Thompson were seasoned bureaucrats with the district. Both had been deputy superintendents before being selected, ostensibly, over less-qualified candidates. Both failed to make significant improvements. Both men, like Zacarias, had more than 30 years with the district.

All three men lack the creativity, innovation and courage required to lead the LAUSD. Creativity to come up with new ideas for dealing with today's students. Innovation to implement new teaching methods and systems in our ever-changing world. Courage to set and demand excellence from all of the employees at the district.


Mission Hills

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