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LAUSD Board to Vote on School Choice Proposal Tomorrow

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Photo by mondolind via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

Photo by mondolind via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
Many teachers, union leaders, students, and parents are crying foul as the LAUSD Board of Education is slated to vote tomorrow on the controversial School Choice proposal, which will allow non-profits, companies, and other interested parties to apply for control of troubled schools in the troubled district. The plan was authored and spearheaded by Board VP Yolie Flores Aguilar, and is being touted as a vital component of "reform" by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.In an Op-Ed published yesterday in the Daily News, education advocate Robert Skeels raises several questions about the process by which the plan has been put forth, including why so many concerned parents and community members were "locked out" of two recent "town hall" style meetings, and why this proposal is being pushed through without more debate. Many people also question how passing off control of the schools is actual reform, particularly when the LAUSD itself is invited to propose plans for any given school's control, and it is the LAUSD itself who votes on the awarding of stewardship. Further, many question the efficacy of schools run by organizations with heavy financial backing and how seduced the Board might be by their proposals, such as in the case of the Green Dot-run schools already in the LAUSD.

An anonymous LA Times Editorial, however, enthusiastically endorses the School Choice proposal, noting this gives the LAUSD and opportunity to "usher in a transformative era, shedding the district's traditional role as a monolithic operator of schools and instead becoming a clearinghouse for creative educational models run by a variety of groups." The author goes on to call suggested amendments proposed by Board members LaMotte and Zimmer "poison pills" that undermine the proposal's goals and cater to unions, as well as dismiss the input of the high school students, whose approval must be sought in shifting control of their schools: "And since when do we hand power over policy decisions to teens, whose top priority tends to be keeping school uniforms off campus?"

The LAUSD Board of Education will vote on the proposal tomorrow at the regularly scheduled meeting.