Parents & Schools In Los Angeles

Over the past two days, there has been a lot of media coverage about a recent decision by the Los Angeles School District to “to allow parents to initiate school reforms” (as the LA Times put it).

Here are links to two articles about it:

L.A. Unified to allow parents to initiate school reforms

L.A. Gives Parents ‘Trigger’ to Restructure Schools

Based on what I know about what is going on there (which is not a whole lot — I’m trying to find out more, and would love to get more thoughts from readers in the comment section of this post), I have mixed feelings about this plan.

On one hand, yes, I think it’s good for parents to have more power in school decision-making. One problem in schools is that school staff sometimes feel that power is a finite “pie” and that if parents get some power, that means staff have less. In fact, the more power parents get, the more possibilities and opportunities are created, and the “pie” gets bigger.

On the other hand, based on the articles (correct me if my impression is incorrect), parents are getting the power to do just one thing — if 51% of them in one of thirty schools signs a petition, then an outside operator can come in and turn it into a charter. It’s part of a controversial plan the District announced earlier to turn these thirty schools into private charters. It also sounds like the District may not be doing this in collaboration with teachers and administrators, and, in fact, may not even be working with parent groups on this program — just with charter school operators.

I can’t help but wonder if the District might be doing this to gain a little more political cover for what might be a hasty and unwise move to try to privatize a good number of schools. Why not work with parents and multiple groups with whom they’re affiliated (along with teachers and administrators) on exploring various ways parents can have more power in school-site decision-making, and not just on the charter question?

I can understand a desire to try something like this out at a small number of schools first to work out the “kinks,” but it seems to me if you want true parent engagement, doing something as limited as this in such a controversial context may not be the way to go.

Again, I’m all ears if you would like to differ (or agree)…..

2 thoughts on “Parents & Schools In Los Angeles

  1. I think you are absolutely right. Parents have no idea what goes into running a charter school, and LAUSD isn’t exactly known for having lots of parent involvement. While I think there’s nothing wrong with chopping a few tentacles off the monster, I do think that this is just LAUSD throwing its hands into the air, admitting that it can’t effectively handle the new schools it built, and foisting the responsibility off onto someone, anyone else.

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