FIRST PERSON-If what we do and what we say can continue to be ignored with impunity, then it is not worth doing.
You can propose reforming the corrupt practices of a long failed, still segregated entity like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), but what if the administration and their corporate puppet masters will never suffer any significant consequences due to their behavior? The now endemic and generational corruption that interferes with students' fundamental rights to receive a good education will never end.
One action that could finally confront and radically change LAUSD's corrupt administrative culture would be a districtwide strike of all students. This would make it impossible for the LAUSD administration to collect Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money from the State of California, which is based exclusively on student attendance, even as the district fails to educate most of its super-majority, de facto segregated minority student population. It's now 65 years after Brown vs. Board of Education which declared, "Separate but equal . . . is inherently unequal" and yet we are more segregated today than we were then -- a fact nowhere to be found reported in the corporate and foundation-controlled media.
The mere presence of students in the classroom, who have been socially promoted grade after grade without even basic academic skills mastery -- almost assuring failure after they leave school -- can no longer be tolerated. The way to stop this is to cut off LAUSD's undeserved and unearned ADA funds, ending the subsidization of a school district that knowingly continues to fail at providing even a basic education to most of its students.
Luckily, there are very few steps, questions, and conditions that need to be addressed and answered to bring about a successful boycott:
- If parents agree to pull their LAUSD students out of school, they need to know that their children will be safe.
- The safe part of this equation can be supplied by giving classes in local community churches and other public buildings, where students could go as an alternative to their regular schools. Simply stated: If the students don't go to their LAUSD schools, LAUSD doesn't get the ADA money. Now you’ve got their attention.
- Another concern of parents is having their children be competently educated. This could be addressed by retired, credentialed teachers offering to teach these striking students for free in church site classrooms within the community. It is worth mentioning that there are approximately 10,000 excellent former high seniority LAUSD teachers who were and continue to be wrongfully terminated, enabling LAUSD to hire younger, cheaper teachers on emergency credentials. One would think these fully credentialed targeted senior teachers might be predisposed to supporting an LAUSD school boycott.
- It is also worth mentioning that the regular teachers of the boycotting students should be encouraged NOT to respect the student boycott, but to show up for work at their respective schools. This would require LAUSD to pay them and would increase the pressure on the district to settle the boycott.
- We could create a website program with a list of every school within LAUSD, where parents, students, teachers and their supporters could go to leave their contact information connecting them to all others who go to the site in their communities. They could get together in person and organize not only to win the boycott, but to plant the seeds of individual-school-based parents’, students’, and teachers’ councils which, after the strike, would play a controlling role in choosing a principal based on student academic success and not on LAUSD's present blind obedience to the administrative hierarchy model.
- By using an existing well-designed website, individuals will not only be able to connect with their local school's interested students, parents, teachers, and community members, but could also connect to other like-minded groups at different elementary, middle, and high schools. They could come together to elect representatives from throughout the District at large to meet in person to ensure that their majority status and democratically devised public educational plans are no longer ignored. Sadly, the corrupt and dysfunctional LAUSD administration has shown over time that real public education for all students is its last concern.
- Dr. Martin Luther King's successful 1955 Selma-Montgomery bus boycott was founded on the critical fact that 74% of that segregated bus system's ridership was African American; if they didn't use the bus, the system would go bankrupt. Faced with bankruptcy, they integrated the bus system. At LAUSD, 90% of the district's student body is African American or Latino. If they don't go to school, LAUSD doesn't get the ADA money from the State and federal government and is sure to go bankrupt.
It presently costs as much as $146,000 a year to incarcerate a juvenile -- far more than it costs to properly educate one student.
(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles, observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second- generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected].) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.