Waiting for Someone to Speak Out

By Mark Elinson

Having taught for 36 years, I cannot remember a time in the history of education in Los Angeles when there was essentially no dialogue about education policy. Sure there are blogs, and postings that criticize the direction in which LAUSD policy is going. But there is not a single elected or appointed official who will speak out against the shameful behavior of the Superintendent and the Board.

Why are the voices of reason silent as the district takes money clearly ear-marked by voters for school construction and repair, and spends it on iPads? The teacher who started the website “Repairs Not iPads” has courageously documented the repairs that are not being done. I taught U.S. Government for most of my career. I always told my students that voting is important. I don’t know what I would say today. The will of the people who voted for the school bond has been ignored. When a watchdog committee tried to prevent the district from buying more iPads, the LAUSD disbanded the watchdog committee. Is this democracy?

Does no one care that most of the adult schools have been closed, leaving tens of thousands of working people with no way to improve their English or prepare for the citizenship test?

Does the public know that the decision about how to spend certain funds is left to each school, and that some high schools with over 2,000 students only have a nurse ONCE a week? Other schools have no librarians.

Is anyone concerned about the fact the district is about to administer an assessment tool that is mostly untested, and where it has been tested, the vast majority of students have failed? The new Core Curriculum test requires students to interpret non-fiction text without being given context or scaffolding.

How is it possible that the groups that fought for multicultural education are silent as the district has almost eliminated all the advisors who were hired to help schools infuse multiculturalism into the curriculum?

I cannot remember a time when politicians on both side of the spectrum have supported policies that are clearly detrimental to staff and students. The progressive politicians whose voices I expect to hear when public officials block all forms of transparency, or abuse teachers’ rights to due process, are silent.

I am waiting for someone to speak out.