Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When In The Course............

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to rest control from a huge bureaucracy that continues to provide examples of their basic inability to deal successfully with the most fundamental issues they are charged with, then it is time to provide drastic action to change the behaviour of that bureaucracy.

Such is the case with the Los Angeles Unified School District, and now is the time to deal with the issues, once and for all.

For too many years, bond measures have been passed by voters who are then 'entertained' with the results of their votes, with items like the Belmont Learning Center, the new High School for the Arts, near the Catherdral, and so many other items that I do not need mentioning, unless it becomes necessary.

Since Proposition BB, the approximately two billion dollar measure that preceded at least three other bond measures being passed by voters, what do we really have to show for all that money?

Do we have more students passing courses with better grades and better test scores? How is the dropout rate compared to times before Proposition BB was passed?

How do schools within LAUSD compare to schools in San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Diego?

How do standardized test scores and dropout rates compare to schools in New York City?

When do we stand up and state clearly, enough is enough?

We have the opportunity beginning Monday October 20 and ending on November 4 to state loud and clear that OUR community is no longer willing to fund what we can no longer afford.

We can no longer afford to build new schools in a failing school system. We can no longer provide the funds the LAUSD may want, but does not necessarily need.

Remember please, that the first look at the bond measure was for only 3.5 billion dollars, before the dollar value doubled, with very little consideration as to the need for the doubling.

Measure Q, the "Safe, Healthy, Neighborhood Schools Measure" is on the ballot with a request for voters to approve a bond measure that would supply at least $7,000,000,000.00 to a school system that cannot adequately prove that it needs that much money or that its bureaucracy deserves SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS.

In reading information supplied by LAUSD concerning the measure, there are many references to items that may come up, perhaps sometime in the future.

There are statements about school projects that have been 'mothballed' not necessarily for economic reasons and that may never be brought back for further discussion.

With the history of lack of real oversight in the school district, what might happen to too much money if voters approve the doubling of the funds originally asked for by the school district?

Now LAUSD has provided assurances that IF South Region High School #15 is approved for construction on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur, it would be built using funds from previous bond measures and the district has basically guaranteed that the money is already allocated for the construction and finishing of that school.

Does anybody honestly believe these claims made by LAUSD? If anyone does, I hope they are proved to be correct in their belief.

LAUSD claims that the new bond measure would allow for many issues to be dealt with at San Pedro High School. How can or why should we believe that?

We have seen a long history of San Pedro schools being ignored by LAUSD and it is proved time after time that San Pedro area schools have been left out of much of the real improvement dollars.

Yes, we can be pleased with the additions to 15th Street School, but LAUSD is a long way off in providing necessary fixes and other schools in our area.

It is long past overdue that residents living within areas where LAUSD schools are located stand up and join together in demanding better quality education for all kids, in all areas.

The only way we can speak with one voice is at the ballot box.

The only thing that LAUSD's bureaucracy seems to understand is dollars, or the lack thereof.

We need to clearly demonstrate to all the 'suits' within LAUSD that they can not take their bureaucracy for granted any longer and that the people who actually fund their paychecks demand major changes.

We should expect to see higher test scores and lower dropout rates before voters approve any new bond measures.

We must receive the most benefits for our dollars spent and that is demonstrated when the students succeed in greater numbers than we have been seeing lately.

Since 1999, we have witnessed what LAUSD has done since we have repeatedly thrown money at them.

All students deserve the best education we can afford to give them. LAUSD has demonstrated that they have not provided the education so many students deserve, even with bond measures being passed over the last several years.

Before giving LAUSD any more bond money, we must demand that they recreate themselves from the top down.

It may mean that LAUSD can no longer afford both Superintendent Brewer AND Mr. Cortinez, someone who does much of the work that the Superintendent used to do.

It means that senior staff membership must be cut down more effective streamlining must be done, even though no new funds are provided to accomplish the streamlining.

It means that there is still quite a long way to go to pare down the number of 'bureaucrats', administrators, and staff members to a point where everyone is more accountable for more actions.

It means that when a document is produced, it can be tracked, traced, and dealt with at the lowest points on the pyramid of the bureaucracy.

It means that there must be fewer 'policy' makers and more teachers, coaches, teaching assistants and student-facing staff.

It means that more parents must become more involved with their children's education, whether they want to or not.

It means we provides the best opportunities at the lowest levels and not the best opportunities to those who are already in higher positions.

It may mean breaking up the entire Los Angeles Unified School District if is comes to pass that LAUSD cannot handle the loss of the bond measure now being debated.

It means that LAUSD must pass tests it does not wish to take but must take and pass for there to be more money provided, sometime in the future.

It means that as everyone else is now required to tighten their belts in tough economic times, so must LAUSD. Perhaps they need to come back with their original request for 3.5 Billion Dollars, at the next election cycle in 2009.

As LAUSD tests its students and hopes for higher grades and better test scores, it means that the administration within LAUSD must take and pass new tests and achieve higher grades and better test scores to be allowed to go forward if they want their same bureaucracy.

Especially in the Harbor Area, I hope Measure Q receives more NO votes than YES votes.

It may pass because other areas for YES for it, but if the Harbor Area stands together and holds LAUSD to higher standards than they have been preforming at, it will provide a swift kick with a boot in demonstrating that we are not going stand any longer for the continuing ways found within LAUSD.

Please vote NO on Q.

2 comments:

San Pedro Rogue said...

Hi Mark, I really wanted to make it last night to the Forum but had some family stuff to take care of. Thanks for your reporting and thoughts on the presentations.

I agree with you about M. Studies show that we need to provide kids with constructive alternatives to joining gangs along with better policing.

I also agree with you about Q. I don't want to provide LAUSD with a blank check without them telling us what it is going to be spent on. I don't think this bond affects the financing for SRHS #15 correct?

I am interested in your reasons for not supporting the increase in sales tax for transportation. I am generally against increasing sales tax because it is a regressive tax and unfairly burdens those making less but transportation is really a regional issue.

While there are no current specific plans for public transportation linking San Pedro to the greater regional network (like some of your ideas), improving regional transportation by extending the Red Line to Santa Monica I believe will reduce traffic on the 10 freeway which could improve flow on the interchange from the 405 which will speed up the 405 and so on and so on. This is my "trickle down" theory of how increasing the sales tax and funding some of these regional projects will ultimately improve things for us in San Pedro. Not sure if it will work.

I am disappointed that there aren't more discussions about projects that would improve transportation to San Pedro neighborhoods. I have written about this before in my blog. We in San Pedro really don't seem to be getting much for our contribution in sales tax but I also hate to see us turn our back on the greater Los Angeles region simply because we don't have our own project. That is just where I am leaning right now.

What about the bond for the community colleges?

Thanks again for the reporting.

Jeromy Rogan

M Richards said...

Thanks Mr. Rogan.

Mr. Rogan's blog is roguesyarn.wordpress.com and he provides views concerning our area and other areas.

The first post submitted by a contributor to my Ponte Vista Blog was about light rail options coming to OUR community.

It was important to think about it then and it still is important to consider it now.

I would love to be able to support Measure R, but I don't know that we can afford the increase in sales taxes right now.

It is going to be pretty tough for a while, I think to be able for many people to afford larger ticket items like televisions, laundry equipment, new cars, and furniture and increasing the sales taxes on these items might cause many folks to select items that may not be what they truly need or want.

In the Harbor Area, we are usually ignored by government entities that feel we are somehow less deserving than other areas of the County.

While we do have local choices for public transportation, there are very limited numbers of public transportation choices that OUR community can use and I don't think there would be many choices added if the measure were passed.

It would be wonderful to have light rail to the beaches of Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Cabrillo Beach, oh wait! We DID have light rail to those places once upon a time.

It would definitely help having light rail all the way to the terminal areas at LAX, too.

Can we really afford the increase in sales taxes right now?

Do we want to pay more in taxes specifically for more transportation options we MIGHT be provided?

I have to consider the backers of some measures, too. I have a great deal of problems supporting much of anything the current Mayor of Los Angeles supports.

I would urge caution in any measure strongly supported by Mayor V. that would have folks pay more of their own dollars.

I do understand and support Mr. Rogan's comments about the 'trickle down' in the areas of the 10, 405, and the west side of Los Angeles, but things never seem to 'trickle down' to the Harbor Area and the voters here may want to send a message to the County stating that they are not pleased with being so left out.

What would probably happen is that if the measure passes, we would pay more in sales taxes, but not receive more in transportation choices for our area that would justify the increased revenue coming from our area.

A good case in point would be our new Target Store.

Folks shopping there would pay 1/2 cent increase in their sales taxes per dollar, but receive absolutely nothing that would provide them with better choices in coming to and from that store from farther away areas in south San Pedro or along the coastline.

I would feel better about voting to increase my taxes if I knew it would benefit our local area more and it would be a 'good deal' for everyone.

As we have all been told recently, we must tighten our belts and try our best to make it through some pretty bad economic times.

Can and should we vote to increase our sales tax at this difficult time, or wait until the current problems find resolution.

Some really dire predictions indicate that there will be fewer cars clogging the roads because the drivers of those cars won't have jobs to go to and I think keeping folks employed is much more important, right now, than trying to deal with what measure R supports.

I do think however, it would be wonderful to come back before a vote at a time when there wasn't already an almost 7% rate of unemployment and it was funded better.

Heck, we might yet see a new type of Works Progress Administration like was done in the 1930's where infrastructure projects were done using more Federal dollars and put people to work doing some things similar to what may be projected with Measure R.

I don't live in the city of Los Angeles, but if I did, I would support Measure A to work at dealing with gangs all over the city.

It is a measure that would cost parcel owners about $36.00 per year, or $3.00 per month.

Measure R would cause a 1/2 cent increase in sales tax for 30 years. That seems like a long time and we don't know if future measures calling for more revenues from sales taxes would be required during the 30-year lifespan of Measure R.

Mr. Rogan, you have inspired me to ponder using a whole new post. Thank you.