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Readers React: A non-educator to lead the LAUSD: What could possibly go wrong?

Austin Beutner, seen in 2011 when he was deputy mayor of Los Angeles, was picked to be the new superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District on May 1.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher, I’ve kept tabs on those who’ve been chosen to helm the humongous and unwieldy district.

There’s a somewhat successful past superintendent who had served as a state governor; a dogged bureaucrat who thought giving an iPad to each of the district’s 650,000 students was a wise investment; and a career naval officer who achieved the rank of admiral but was unable to right L.A.’s ship of schools.

Now the Board of Education has chosen as the newest superintendent Austin Beutner, a wealthy, charter-friendly former investment banker, deputy mayor of Los Angeles and L.A. Times publisher, who has no experience as a classroom teacher or a school administrator.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, let’s not allow the superintendent of schools to interfere with the free and appropriate education of L.A. students.

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Ben Miles, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: It is quite disappointing to see, yet again, a highly qualified woman who worked her way to the top, winning unanimous praise of colleagues and stakeholders, be passed over for a man with almost zero experience in the field but plenty of money and friends in high places — as Vivian Ekchian was by Beutner for LAUSD superintendent.

The pattern is all too familiar in America, and our liberal bastion of Los Angeles is no different. We may have had the largest 2018 Women’s March in the country, but there is still much more work that needs to be done in our city for gender parity in positions of power.

Nicole àBeckett, Hollywood

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To the editor: The two largest school districts in the nation within weeks of each other named Richard Carranza and Austin Beutner, respectively, to lead them. Both men face similar daunting financial and academic situations in New York City and Los Angeles.

If history is any guide, neither will be able to achieve his stated goals because the systems are too big. Yet no one dare mention breaking up the behemoths into manageable size.

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That has nothing to do with ideology but instead with reality. Diversity and excellence are not achievable under the present order.

Walt Gardner, Los Angeles

The writer taught for 28 years in the LAUSD.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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