LAUSD had a meeting last week at Dorsey High School to roll out the Public School Choice Program for the parents and community members present. I went to the meeting, because my own analysis of this program, which I covered at perdaily clearly showed that this was just more of the same recycled and renamed vacuous school reform rhetoric from the past, e.g.LEARN, that has no chance of bring about any positive change to communities of color and poverty in LAUSD.
What I felt most important for the parents to be aware of that were being asked to go along with this program is the fact that like all other supposed LAUSD reform, power will stay with the school principal and LAUSD Superintendent, who have an absolute veto over anything that teachers, parents, and students might decide actually worked better. Again, what LAUSD says in terms of parent, teacher, and student input is belied by the reality of the clear legal language that again and again say the principal and superintendent maintain a veto and absolute control over what will continue to be done at LAUSD schools.
Specificity and substance are nowhere to be found in Public School Choice document that the school district says will address student deficits. There are plenty lofty platitudes as usual, which seem to be the exclusive means of implementation of this program. Without specific and different interventions in a timely manner by qualified staff in an alternative environment built with the specific task of cleaning up LAUSD’s longstanding mess in the implementation of public education, what could be expected to change.
Today in the Dorsey High Library I couldn’t help but noticing in the eyes of many of the parents present that although hope always springs eternal in the human spirit, there is no longer any expectation or belief in these parents that their children would finally be treated as they should. Maybe this accounted for the gallows humor that was pervasive in the parents banter among themselves.
What was missing from the platitudes that are always laid on with a trowel in the presentation by LAUSD’s Andrea Canty, in her presentation along with numerous documents passed out, was any specific recognition of the subjective level today of minority students in at Dorsey or anywhere else in LAUSD where this Public School Choice program is being steam rolled out. There is not one school in all of the schools LAUSD that is trying to implement this reform where the students are at grade level. Not only are they not at grade level, but with API scores at Dorsey of 593 and language and math skills that are completely inadequate to do high school level work, Dorsey and virtually all middle and high schools within LAUSD are middle schools and high schools in name only. Taking cognizance of this fact has had me labeled a racist by those at LAUSD who continue to think saying “I am somebody” is a viable education alternative to actually dealing with student deficits in a timely manner to actually educate students, before their brains atrophy. .
“High quality teachers…loving and nurturing with high expectations,” along with many other lofty goals will be DOA if there is no cognizance taken of the subject levels of the students and just what this reform plans to do to address their existing deficits. Ignoring them and thinking that students with elementary at best levels in language and math can somehow function at a middle or high school level with teachers who are single-subject credentialed with no time or training to deal with these deficits, is the height of dishonesty on the part of LAUSD and anybody else that is selling this snake oil.
It didn’t take LAUSD’s Andrea Canty very long to identify that I was not going with the program. As we broke into small groups to discuss the Public School Choice Program documents, she tried in every way she could think of to marginalize me. The more she did this, the more the parents present wanted to be in my group, since I seemed to be the only one present who had actually read the Public School Choice documents.
It got rather ludicrous as I started addressing the specific questions of the parents present, concerning the reform plan that we were supposed to be going over. Canty and others from the District surrounded us to tell us we were not going through what they wanted us to go through, even though the time was supposed to be for parents and community members to discuss what concerned them about the Public School Choice plan.
In remembering that Canty-Toole had told us – in her interminable introduction that took an hour of the time allotted for parent review of the documents – that she too was a graduate from Dorsey High School, that being the case, I could not help but feel that this might account for the fact that she did not seem to understand what she was selling – or selling out, as the case may be – to her community.