The new schools chief: What have we learned?
Re “Wanted: Schools Chief With Zero Experience,” Oct. 15
This article supports the premise that new Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. David L. Brewer III will go on to success despite not having educational experience. Still, the article’s headline misses the mark. Retired Vice Adm. Brewer clearly is not a man of “zero experience.” Rather, he is an “impert” -- one who enters the “expert” domain with a potential to provide a wealth of knowledge and experience having a different context. History is replete with examples of individuals who have made seminal contributions in a given field without being an “expert.”
Professor of Dentistry Emeritus
Brewer has educators in his family, and this becomes a qualification for hiring him as superintendent. George W. Bush is married to a former teacher, and what did we end up with? No Child Left Behind, a policy that has essentially turned the classroom experience into complete drudgery for students and teachers nationwide. It’s not enough that there is essentially no more music, art or physical education in the school experience. Apparently, after years of being led by Roy Romer, a career politician, and years of being forced to follow reading and math programs that ignore the needs of the students, L.A. Unified teachers haven’t been whipped into shape enough. It’s time to call in the military! What an insult to this profession. If ever there were an indication that this school district should be broken up into smaller, more manageable districts (that can be led by people with actual experience in the classroom), this is it.
Congratulations to L.A. Unified on its selection of a Navy vice admiral as its superintendent. I am currently presenting my candidacy to the White House for secretary of Defense. My credentials? More than 40 years of experience as an educator.
So Brewer has no experience in public education. From the two times I spoke before the board at its meetings, and my other dealings with L.A. Unified, I would say that he will fit right in, as the other members have not demonstrated any experience either. The board continues to make the students fit the needs of the board, instead of the board fitting the needs of the students.
Re “How LAUSD should go forward,” Opinion, Oct. 15
Outgoing Supt. Romer’s Op-Ed article points out why his tenure has been a failure. His list of five priorities never addresses the district’s No. 1 priority: the classroom. In his tenure, the size of the classroom has risen to an average of 39 per class. Expectations, new schools, lifelong learning, partnerships, relationships with unions are priorities of a politician; an educator would have put the priority on the classroom.
Having worked for the LAUSD for more than 26 years, I have advice for Brewer:
1. Lower all class sizes to 20.
2. Pay teachers better, starting at $60,000 with up to twice that at the end of a career.
3. Cut the fat and pay administrators the same as teachers.
4. Encourage professionals to become teachers by not taking away their earned Social Security benefits.
5. Provide all schools with new books, computers and audiovisual materials.
6. Train teachers to use technology in the classroom.
Our teachers are not failing our schools. We are tired of being the brunt of all the criticism aimed at the education system. Treat us with the financial and societal respect afforded to prison guards, spend on schools what we spend on incarceration, and perhaps we won’t need so many prisons.