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'Insider' superintendents have had success at LAUSD

To the editor: Steve Lopez's less than enthusiastic endorsement of "insider" Michelle King as the new Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent overlooks the failures of recent "outsiders" such as retired Navy Adm. David L. Brewer III (who wanted to run the district as if it was an aircraft carrier), Leonard M. Britton and John D. Deasy. ("Will the safe choice for L.A. Unified chief turn out to be the best?," Jan. 13)

Insiders Ramon C. Cortines and Harry Handler were far more successful in navigating the district's political shoals.

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Coincidentally, in the same issue of The Times was a retrospective on the accomplishments of insider Susan Dorsey. Dorsey and another insider, John H. Francis, have high schools named for them. It's not likely that any future high schools in Los Angeles will be named for Deasy, Britton or Brewer.

Abraham Hoffman, Canoga Park

The writer is a retired LAUSD teacher.

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To the editor: That the LAUSD clung to the status quo with an insider pick for superintendent, after wasting time and untold funds on a months-long head-hunting process, is a crushing disappointment.

The juxtaposition of that news with the Supreme Court challenge to the union stranglehold on teachers in California is an extraordinary harbinger of change. Philanthropist Eli Broad's proposal to create hundreds more charter Schools in Los Angeles to improve the quality of teaching and learning is visionary.

Only serious change will improve L.A. schools.

Judith Bronowski, Pacific Palisades

The writer is founder of New West Charter School in Los Angeles.

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To the editor: The upper echelons of the LAUSD were known as an old boys club for a very long time. If King survived and managed to keep a low profile while rising in the system, she is a very smart and cool lady.

Don't knock being an "insider" or a "team player," because that may be the only kind of person who can be a successful superintendent in Los Angeles. Many high-profile men with top-notch credentials and "creative" agendas have come, failed and gone.

Give this woman a chance. She may be the last hope for a school district riddled with problems that no one, to date, has been able to solve.

Diana Wolff, Rancho Palos Verdes

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The writer is a professor emerita of education at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

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To the editor: It was with appreciation that I read about the first female superintendent of Los Angeles schools, Susan Miller Dorsey, since I am a proud graduate of the high school named after her. ("The last time L.A. schools had a female superintendent was 1929," Jan. 12)

When I attended this great school in the 1950s, not only were students and the community so proud of our academic and athletic achievements, but Dorsey was among the most integrated schools in the state and the nation. By my recollection, about one-third each of its students were white, Asian or African American, and we all got along and did not think of our racial makeup as an anomaly, which of course it was.

Whatever success I have had in later life I know that I owe a great debt to the teachers who guided me so well during my three years at the school.

Donald L. Singer, Redlands 

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