The Los Angeles school board last week demonstrated that it can move quickly on district business if it wants to. However, it's unfortunate that its action to strip Supt. Ruben Zacarias of direct oversight of the district was its defining moment of expediency.
The board's actions were ill-conceived, illegal and will do nothing to resolve the issues that some board members purport to care so deeply about. In fact, the board managed to inflict further damage to a district that is already drowning in its own bureaucratic morass, and it added confusion into the mix for good measure. We have taken several steps backward because of the process that was used--or rather not used--when the board made its decision to turn the district upside down.
Make no mistake about it. Our schools are in deplorable shape, and they have been for many years, fueling the discontent that has caused many to advocate the breakup of the district. The board's recent actions may lead many to believe that the board, too, is out of control and unable to provide the kind of leadership and direction the mammoth district needs at this time. That is regrettable because we had hoped that individuals recently elected to the board would bring a fresh spirit of cooperation and determination required to move the district forward.
The board's actions are questionable in several respects. The individual they have appointed to oversee day-to-day operations has little educational experience. His selection raises the issue of whether the best-qualified person is heading the district or whether other political motivations might have been at play.
Secondly, there seems to be a sudden interest in the district's financial activity and the hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts that go through the system.
Thirdly, and equally important, questions arise as to who the board actually did discuss and strategize with before making its decision.
Clearly, many community and educational leaders who have worked on educational issues for decades were not consulted.
Finally, the board has placed a wedge between groups that should be working together to tackle an issue that should be of grave concern to all who live in Los Angeles and who care about the future of this city and its children.
Latino children represent 70% of the district's student population. Members of the Latino community are deeply concerned about the viability of the district to serve the educational needs of these students.
We are disappointed with the board's recent actions, which are clearly contrary to the best interests of the district's students. We join others in demanding that the board rescind its vote and legitimize the process it undertook last week, so as to return some order to the district and, hopefully, to the classroom.