Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Death Knell for LAUSD?

From Ron Kaye's blog:


LAUSD is dying.

Will no one shed a tear?

For 30 years, the nation's second largest school district with 700,000 ill-served students has suffered a fatal disease but somehow survived against all odds, against all the hopes and efforts of so many to put it out of its misery. Our misery really.

But the death vigil has started. Besieged by charter schools in every direction, the district that spent more than $20 billion overbuilding mammoth schools -- one alone that cost more than $400 million -- now knows small schools work better.

The district that survived because of the tenacity of its bloated bureaucracy has lost even the support of the teachers' union, which for lack of an alternative strategy, became complicit in its failure.

A nearly unbroken stream of school board members and superintendents without talent or imagination has lost the confidence even of those with real power in L.A. who had strived to reform it. And the current superintendent has been stripped of authority and left dangling in the wind.

LAUSD is dying of a thousand blows. The latest came today with its director of innovation, the woman who left the private sector to take charge of the construction program when it was in chaos a decade ago, is joining the California Charter Schools Association.

Kathi Littman, who had served as LAUSD's executive director of innovation reshaping the district into small manageable academies, is jumping the sinking ship to become senior vice president for intergovernmental affairs for the charter school movement.Given her background in construction and reforming LAUSD, Littman is positioned to help tear apart the mammoth district school by school and accelerate the takeover by charters which already is well under way despite the stonewalling and resistance of the entrenched education establishment.

She also is well-connected with strong credentials with the two men with clout who have worked for years to turn LAUSD around without much success -- billionaire Eli Broad and former Mayor Richard Riordan."We're delighted that Kathi Littmann is joining our team where she will play a key role in reaching policymakers and influential stakeholders throughout California and nationwide," said Caprice Young, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "Kathi's leadership and experience will help to ensure equity and quality for our state's charter schools."

Noting LAUSD has more charters than any other district in the country, Littmann said she believes charters can "partner" with the public school sysem.

"Charter schools are the most promising path for public school reform. I'm eager to join Caprice and her talented team during this exciting time when innovative and high quality programs are raising the bar and redefining the public school system here in California."

You can read the rest of Ron's article here.

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