LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer on English reclassification, payroll problems and failing schools.
November 21, 2007
Admiral David Brewer, superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, dropped by the editorial board the other day to discuss, among other things, the problems of English-language learners and his own on-again-off-again plan to create a mini-district for low-performing schools. Some highlights:
English language learners
David Brewer: We have the largest English-language learner population in the nation, over 200-some-odd thousand students. If we were to carve them out as a separate district, they would be the sixth-largest district in the nation. That population right there is the most challenged population. And there's an irony with that population; 70% of them are native born. And so we said, OK, so what's driving this low achievement throughout the system? Well, the standard English learners, a percentage of whom are also African Americans, are also in this mix. So when we began to look at it we said, my God, if, if you look at one of the pieces, called Reclassification to Fluent English Proficiency, and we're reclassifying about 50% of that population K through 5. That means 50% of that population's showing up in middle school not prepared, frankly speaking, for middle school, because of language. And so we said, OK, then we have to go to a family-of-schools approach.
Now you've heard all the UTLA rumblings. If a separate district was the answer, let them run it, was my position. But when I went and presented to the task force our findings, UTLA came back and said — you know, they were clearly opposed to a separate district. When I look back at [former superintendent Ruben] Zacharias, people were opposed to his hundred schools, because of the labeling, of the stigmatism. And my counter to that has been quite clear. I think that in L.A. the general public, other than through the 1381 debate, you know, really does not know how well or how badly the schools are doing. I don't think they really know. I don't think they're really focused on it.
Read entire story here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-brewer21nov21,0,7180339.story?coll=la-opinion-center