LAUSD Safety Engineer Writes Us: Teachers Harassed For Reporting Rodents... Schools In "Depressingly Poor Physical State"

When a Safety Engineer says LAUSD is good at running "one two or ten schools out of 900", there might be a problem. Free-range rats? Millions of dollars wasted on inefficient and "rag tag" renovations? Count the times "management" and "mismanagement" appear in this letter and then ask yourself, what does a Safety Engineer really know anyway?

Here's the email, which besides providing some very pointed insights, should also serve as a cautionary tale for any teacher thinking about reporting a rat infestation at their school.

"I just wanted to comment on how schools can be improved within the current environment. I worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 10 years as a long term substitute at King/Drew Medical Magnet and in a classified capacity as a Safety Engineer inspecting schools and responding to complaints and emergencies. My first impression of LAUSD is the depressingly poor physical state of most schools.
I once investigated teacher's verified complaint about a pervasive rodent infestation. The rodent problem reached the attention of the media and was mitigated. The Principal was displaced and each of the complaining teachers was so harassed after mitigation of the problem that they transferred. The rodent problem returned shortly thereafter (75th St. Elementary).
Technology innovations and needs are poorly identified and transferred to the classroom. I witnessed the rag tag deployment of innovative technology into schools and classrooms during my tenure with the District. While LAUSD receives significant grants to both study and implement innovative technology the actual deployment is so fractured sub-district to sub-district and school to school that hardware, software and technical support result in the mismanagement of millions of dollars and good intentions. LAUSD is very good at having one two or ten schools out of 900 that are successful and well managed. Consistently these successes are pushed forward to the media, while the bulk of the schools are dysfunctional and poorly managed.
I will not go further but the mismanagement is so pervasive that if the District was a private enterprise the entire management team would have to be replaced. Racism exist and conformity of high ranking minorities in such a way that the failure of the system can never be adequately confronted and effectively changed. Rather than the ugly and constant battle between the Management and Union a think tank with the finest minds in and outside of the District should convene a summit. The concepts of how to proceed should be comprehensive and include changes in school environment, staff customer service training, continuing professional development of faculty (in a progressive rather than threat environment), student input, community input all joined with actual funding and quarterly evaluations of effectiveness so that adjustments can be made.
An entire paradigm shift but how can the warring bodies disengage long enough to improve the retch that is Los Angeles Unified School District.
...the discussion of creating more effective schools can be summarized in three declarative statements: "We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far."
-Ron Edmond, 1978

Any other Safety Engineers have something to say?

Flickr:The Bosshog



01 2010

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