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LAUSD's Change of Plan

April 24, 1999

* Re "L.A. School District Curtails Plan to End Social Promotion," April 17: Earlier this year Supt. Ruben Zacarias announced a bold plan to end the decades-old practice of social promotion in LAUSD. His plan called for a large-scale summer school program and Saturday as well as after-school tutoring for every student whose academic performance was below grade level. The future of every LAUSD student was about to take a turn for the better. That hope is now on hold because $140 million is nowhere to be found and some logistical challenges appear to be insurmountable. Are we so shortsighted that we are willing not only to throw away the future earning power of our children but the competitive edge of our great city and state as well? No student should be promoted a single grade level or permitted to graduate without demonstrating he or she has met the learning standards set forth by LAUSD and the California Department of Education.

As proponents of educational reform, the governor and the state Legislature will need to assist LAUSD in solving its logistical challenges. The $140-million investment will be repaid many times over, in the form of increased tax dollars from a well-educated work force.



* So Zacarias wants to take 430 of the district's best teachers out of the classroom and turn them into administrators at salaries up to $80,000. This is yet another example of how the people running the school district have their priorities upside-down. However, I will give Zacarias partial credit. He's got it half-right. Pay those teachers the $80,000, but keep them in the classroom where they can do the most good. And pay the administrators who come up with crazy ideas like this one no more than classroom teachers are currently making. This is the only way we will ever alleviate the critical shortage of qualified teachers.



* In the 20-plus months since his appointment, Zacarias has done nothing to reduce the administrative overhead in the school district. His latest scheme, calling for the transformation of some of our very best elementary teachers into still more administrators is much more indicative of where he is really coming from than is the sum of all his public pronouncements.

I join The Times in calling for the new school board to move forward with the tough decisions necessary to reform and improve our schools, although as a teacher I do resent being called greedy by my family newspaper (editorial, April 15). But that reform must include the insistence that bureaucratic layers be stripped away, not added.


Canoga Park

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