Governing Schools

* “Urgently Needed: Better Ways to Govern L.A. Schools,” (Feb. 19) is an excerpt from a report by a group of business leaders critical of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. The business report correctly criticizes the board for micromanaging the district. But the report also proves that business leaders lack even the foggiest understanding of issues that really matter in education.

The lofty leaders of commerce criticize the board for failing to include the L.A. Systemic Initiative (LASI) and other programs for “improving student achievement” into “an overarching integrative plan.” We owe our gratitude to the board for its partial failure in this regard. LASI advances the most feebleminded, faddish math and science curricula of the past decade. LASI promotes “Mathland,” a touchy-feely elementary school series without textbooks or much arithmetic. In the secondary schools, LASI pushes “integrated math,” a scrambled-eggs version of mathematics that empowers students to feel good, but which radically de-emphasizes algebra and geometry.

Business leaders have fallen into the same trap as education experts. They focus on process with little concern for content. I count my lucky stars (without a calculator) for the rare board member who questions misguided programs like LASI, even at the expense of overarching integrative planning.


Professor of Mathematics

Cal State Northridge