Union's proposal calls for local, grass roots control over schools and gives instructors more breathing room to formulate curricula.
By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2007
These are among the ideas a delegation of teachers and their union officers are urging L.A. schools Supt. David L. Brewer to include in the school reform plan he will present to the school board Tuesday.
If Brewer passes on the delegation's proposals, the union can go directly to the seven-member Board of Education. Employee unions recently have had success in getting the board to overrule the superintendent on health benefits for some part-time workers and on school staffing.
At stake now is the Los Angeles Unified School District's effort to turn around its 34 most troubled middle and high schools. The data suggests the urgency: As many as three-quarters of the students in these "high priority schools" scored well below grade level across multiple subjects on last year's California Standards Tests.
Whatever remedy emerges is likely to become a blueprint for widespread reform efforts. Brewer and his team are working on their 11th draft; the drafts have evolved significantly since September because of resistance inside and outside the school system.
At a meeting Friday between the district and the delegation from the United Teachers Los Angeles, union leaders were pointedly clear about what they want -- local, grass roots control over schools.
"This is what we think makes for a good education," said Joel Jordan, the union's director of special projects, who took part in the meeting. "We don't want to continue what hasn't worked and has demoralized teachers and students."
Rhetorically, Brewer has endorsed local control, but elements of his proposal cut both ways.
The separate plans of the union and the superintendent, as well as a "Schoolhouse" framework offered in January by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, all cobble together widely accepted strategies, such as smaller classes and schools, and better teacher training.
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