Re "Mayor's Take on Schools," March 18
The mayor wants to control the Los Angeles Unified School District, but he has yet to spell out in detail what he plans to actually do with such power. The issues facing the classroom -- the place where education actually happens -- are enormous, but this only skims the surface of key concerns. It doesn't touch on the bigger issues that affect education outside the classroom, such as poverty, crime, lack of parental support and so forth. It's these issues that the mayor needs to focus on; that's where he could make a difference. That's what he was elected for and why I (to my chagrin) voted for him.
Re "A is for accountability," editorial, March 20
The Times is right on point in its analysis of school governance needs for the Los Angeles Unified School District. A key purpose of mayoral control is streamlined accountability: a single entity responsible for boosting the academic success of 741,000 schoolchildren.
L.A. Unified desperately needs leadership that instills confidence and consistency, not further confusion. Any hybrid leadership scheme would only exacerbate the tangled octopus of school governance wherein everyone points fingers and no one takes responsibility. Leaders cannot straddle the fence on this one. It's all or nothing.
State Senate Majority Leader
Under mayoral control, New York and Chicago have utilized the coaching model in schools. Taxpayers in Los Angeles probably don't know that L.A. Unified has had the coaching model in place at the elementary level for seven years. At my tiny school of 300 students, we have one principal, two assistant principals, two half-time literacy coaches, a half-time math coach and a coordinator -- seven administrators to oversee a staff of 18 teachers. We have seven highly paid administrators who never teach but who spend the day pretending to be experts. The coaching model is a fantastic waste of money.
Why not hire qualified teachers and expect them to teach? Is there a shortage? Why not let the experts fill the gap and teach? They can model their expertise instead of pulling teachers out of classrooms to tell them how to teach.
Richland Avenue Elementary
School, Culver City
The mayor's plan is not the answer. Giving the mayor total control over the district's billion-dollar budget and the appointment of the people to run its daily operation, choose its curriculum and chart its future is too much power to give one man. Besides, how long will he be the mayor -- three more years? What happens when his political ambitions take him elsewhere? Villaraigosa may be an honest, hardworking man, but will the next mayor have our children's best interests at heart?