Well, no one would pretend it’s been easy, but the LEARN plan to reform Los Angeles public schools is on its way, with the help of 39 schools that have signed on to be the pioneers of the program.

LEARN (Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now) is supported by many business and community leaders, school district officials, parents and teachers. The reform of the nation’s second-largest school district simply could not be successful without the support of its teachers, whose backing was in doubt recently when some union leaders voted to oppose the plan unless teacher power was strengthened.

The unexpected vote by United Teachers-Los Angeles’ House of Representatives came on the heels of a long and bitter contract negotiation that included a 10% pay cut. We would like to think the anti-LEARN vote--which, it should be noted, came from fewer than 200 leaders in a union of more than 27,000 members--was just a result of when it occurred, after a difficult period.


That’s why the support of 39 schools, all with strong teacher support for reforming public education and vesting more power in the individual school, is so heartening. The list of schools may grow or shrink by a few in the next few weeks. But the important thing is that there are schools willing to take the risk necessary to improve--even save--public education in Los Angeles.

“You are going to cause change in this district,” Supt. Sid Thompson told representatives of the schools. Thank goodness, and let’s get on with it.