LAUSD mom speaks out: Next superintendent must put kids ahead of special interests

In addressing school board, mom paints picture of what school could look like in student-first district

By Chantal Lovell
June 10, 2021

As the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education seeks a new superintendent to replace the outgoing Austin Beutner, one mom has an idea: Hire a superintendent who will put student needs ahead of union demands. 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, the LAUSD mom laments the fact that among the many special interests that have bought a seat at the table in the district – chiefly, the United Teachers Los Angeles – not one represents the interests of students. The impact of this, she explains, is a growing percentage of students graduating without being able to read, write, or do basic math. 

Were the district to make decisions based on what’s best for students, rather than the board’s union backers, the district could thrive, graduating students ready to lead successful lives, and stop the bleed of students fleeing to home and private schools.

Read her comments below, or watch at this link (3:36 mark):

Good evening – thank you for your time. I wanted to address your hiring for superintendent.

It is important that our superintendent has experiences that help him or her to understand the dynamics of schools, but most importantly, a strong conviction to be able to hold folks accountable.

Kids do not have a seat at the table, they cannot bargain, and they do not have a union. Students’ only true advocate, parents, have little access, if any, to board seats in LAUSD. Millions are spent on them by charter school orgs and UTLA to ensure that special interest candidates take those seats. Students and their parents rarely receive responses from board members when they reach out. For this reason, we beg that you focus on an advocate for students’ when you consider this next candidate.

A nose for value. A recent study reinforced that students, specifically black children – but if you look at the stats an overwhelming percent of students of all races – are graduating below grade level and not ready for college or career when they graduate. 50% of students are not on grade level for English Language and 70% are not on grade level for Math in 11th grade, and 80% of those students graduate. This means that in addition to the 20% that don’t graduate, many that do are nowhere near ready for college or a career. There are several reasons for this lack of achievement. 

To be able to identify these things, especially the controllable ones, and then be willing to root them out will take a strong individual. Someone that will not give up after the realization that it is difficult.

There is so much possibility for LAUSD. It is time to stop the bleed. It is possible to attract students rather than just hold those that have parents that are unable to homeschool or pay for a private education.

More and more schools are opening at the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Home school options are becoming more attainable. Every parent should do whatever is best for their child. However, I fear without major improvement, the loss of students will grow. I want to see us be able to provide the most attractive education opportunity. It is not the most beautiful campuses or highest tech gadgets we need, but great teachers that are attracted because they know that the rigor is high, and the students are graduating with immense potential. Our teachers should get paid well to attract them, but we should also have a great program that gives them a tremendous sense of pride as they send off students with great opportunities for a profession and collegiate learning.

The same report that I mentioned earlier had many quotations from black parents and caregivers saying that they want their kids to receive a quality education that sets them up for a professional career. We need to wake up and forget a lot of the narratives that we have heard this year – parents of children of all different races are looking for the same thing – they want their kids to be safe and get a great education that allows them to be successful.

Please make sure that we hire someone that is “students first”. There are already more than enough folks looking out for special interests – but we have not seen the advocacy for kids. All races and religions.

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