A Lesson in Education (Nov. 7, 2013)

Last week I forwarded to you an unprecedented email from the United Way of Greater Los Angeles asking citizens to contact the L.A. Unified Board of Education and urge them to keep education reformer John Deasy on as the Superintendent. According to the LA Times, hundreds of parents, teachers and activists rallied outside of LAUSD offices in support of Mr. Deasy. Even President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, reportedly weighed in with support.You may have heard by now that LAUSD Superintendent Deasy will remain in his position as his contract was renewed until 2016. Hopefully, this will provide the continuity in leadership to drive the reforms needed to dramatically improve LA’s quality of education. While some progress has been made in improving graduation rates and student test scores, much, much more is still needed to be done.So in looking forward, what can be learned from this past week’s drama?

First, when it comes to public education, all stakeholders need to remember the objective – providing a world-class quality education to all of our students, regardless of socio-economic status. We need to remind our elected school board members, superintendent, administrators, teachers, parents and civic leaders that this is the priority focus. In doing so, the dysfunctional noise in the system should fall away, and our students – our future leaders – get the benefit of everyone working together to achieve this important objective.

Secondly, collaboration is crucial to achieve the objective above. We’ve painfully watched the dysfunction in Congress as hyper-partisanship has taken over and no longer do the two parties work together to solve problems. We cannot allow the same to happen with our children’s education.

Finally, community involvement is powerful. This past week’s actions were an example of people being able to defeat a powerful special interest (in this case, the UTLA leadership who oppose Deasy’s education reforms.)

This is a vivid reminder that when average citizens speak out and fight for the greater good together, we can defeat the special interests and the political insiders who too often hijack the will of the people. I hope you agree.