AN OPEN LETTER TO LAUSD'S SUPERINTENDENT AUSTIN BEUTNER

Austin Beutner.jpgThe longstanding endemic corruption at a clearly dysfunctional and always prospectively bankrupt Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will not get better until some of LAUSD's dyfunctional practices- both financial and academic- are finally addressed, eliminated, or radically changed.

After the recent resounding defeat of the Proposition EE parcel tax, that needed 67% "Yes" votes to pass and only got 45% of votes cast, LAUSD's Superintendent Beutner, Mayor Garcetti, and UTLA's Alex Caputo Pearl now want to go to the State of California for the money they were unable to get on the Proposition EE parcel tax.

This actually might be a good and successful course of action, if, big if, Superintendent Deasy et al were finally able to show and convince the California State legislature that agreeing to bail out LAUSD at this time was not just throwing more good money after bad as has now been done for decades.

Some of the following points that could be made by Superintendent Beutner and Co. to the State might just succeed, if they finally had the teeth necessary to fundamentally reorganize LAUSD administration and academic and financial practices to accomplish this difficult task, given the entrenched interests that will fight you every step of the way:

The number one clear reality that stands the best chance of getting the State Legislature to give LAUSD more money is that it presently costs "an average of $407.58 per person per day and $148,767 per person per year" to incarcerate a juvenile. Actually educating these predominantly minority students in LAUSD (Blacks have a 14 times greater and Latinos have a 7.5 times greater chance of being incarcerate than Whites) could be accomplished for a small fraction of this amount. Bottom line: Educated people with gainful employment, for the most part do not wind up in jail.

But up until now LAUSD has continued to socially promote students through grade after grade without mastery of any basic grade-level academic standard. This ultimately leads to the very act of education being humiliating to students put in an Algebra class without knowing their times tables or into a high school Government class with a 3rd grade reading ability.

Ultimately, these students drop out of school, but not before disrupting the academically inappropriate classes they have been put into, where they assure that other students wanting an education in those classes can't be educated, because the teacher is too busy dealing with behavior issues and constant disruption. And the schools administration does nothing to help, because their sole concern has only been with Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money collected by LAUSD for mere attendance, whether or not the students are actually being appropriately educated at their actual subjective levels.

Predictably, these avoidable negative actions and behaviors have lead to the chronic truancy, so that in 2018, 75,000 students were not in class on a regular basis during 10% of the year. LAUSD admitted that this was 9% of the total LAUSD student body, but actually was calculated independently at 13.7%. This lost LAUSD $503 million or $3 million more than they would have gotten if Proposition EE had passed. Militant ignorance to maintain privilege at all costs?

This causes 50% of LAUSD teachers to quit within 5 years of being hired, creating the expensive process of having to always be looking for replacement teachers.

And if the total space offered by all colleges and universities in this country is only 30% of high school graduates, why has LAUSD systematically closed down shop classes that clearly would offer a viable alternative in creating employable high school graduates or dropouts?

Up until now with Proposition EE and before, there has been no systematic and independent cause and effect analysis over time of all the factors leading to why LAUSD continues unabated to fail both as an educational entity and a financially solvent business. If they did, they wouldn't continue to avoid the unavoidable conclusion that LAUSD as presently constituted is designed to fail, because it puts vendor and administrative interest above what should be its primary function of educating all its students to their potential.

And where is it written that six-figure salaries can only go to administrators and not teachers? What if the top of the salary scale at LAUSD was attainable by senior, high tenured teachers, instead of exclusively administrators? Do you really believe that an administrator's job is more difficult than that of an excellent teacher?

And finally, another longstanding unquestioned structural defect in LAUSD has been that its administration has mostly been run by ex-teachers escaping from the classroom with literally no business skills necessary to run an LAUSD, which is also one of the largest business entities in California. An Austin Beutner with a personal fortune of $7.4 billion has the business experience that no other LAUSD Superintendent has ever had to finally and pragmatically allow LAUSD and its teachers and students to live up to their potential in a nurturing educational environment that is no longer financially and morally bankrupt. Alas, LAUSD still avoids an independent audit of both its academic and business practices. And until they allow this truly independent audit, the State Legislature should not give them a penny.

Give me a call, if you'd like some help.

6

06 2019

2 Comments

Leonard, I agree with you on every point, except where you ask rhetorically if an administrator's job is more difficult than a good teacher's. I have been both a teacher and an administrator. As a teacher, I had to interact with parents, the students in my classes and their parents. However, as an administrator, I had to interact with ALL students, ALL parents, other administrators, and ALL staff members. The administrator's job is infinitely more challenging than that of a teacher.
I don't want to minimize the difficulties teachers face in educating students. Among the reasons it's so challenging is overcrowded classrooms; a lack of educational opportunities for students who are not college-bound but could be taught a trade; and the lack of discipline in the schools. It's an unwritten rule that teachers must not discipline their students. If they do, little innocent Tommy will tell his parents how he was mistreated, and the parents will sue the school. Better to dispense with discipline than face a lawsuit. And the tragedy is that there are just enough kids who know they won't be disciplined and who undermine the education of the others who want an education.

Regrettably, you only can become an administrator if you unquestioningly do nothing to challenge your superiors and the status quo, which clearly does nothing to bring about meaningful academic achievement in this present predictably dysfunctional LAUSD public education model. Parents aren't going to sue the District. However, under existing California law, once a student has been suspended multiple times, the principal has the authority to require that the student's parents come to school to assure that they do not continue to disrupt their classes- why is this NEVER used after multiple suspensions? And if you transfer the student to another school without addressing the underlying problem, the cycle starts all over again. All children push for limits. And when they don't get them there is chaos. Just how many times do you think a parent would have to take off from work to come to school, before the parents would truly confront, control, and give meaningful consequences to their child. They might even get involved enough to ask why their child has been socially promoted grade after grade, which, in the final analysis is the real cause of why these students are disrupting class, since an inappropriate not at their subjective academic level is humiliating. Young people are naturally curious. And if they are not, how come nobody in LAUSD administration is asking why?

Leave a comment