Grandpa for Nick and Alison
I have two grandchildren in public schools and three more on the way to public schools so the performance of these schools is highly personal for me. Furthermore the performance of the public education system for all our children is the key to a fast growing economy and an educated citizenry making good choices for our nation’s future. That’s why I’m supporting Nick Melvoin and Allison Holdorff Polhill for LAUSD District 4.
When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, California’s public schools and its public universities were among the best in the nation. Our state’s public universities are still excellent, but California’s public school system has badly decayed.
Depending on one’s political perspective and interest group affiliation, some would try to lay the blame for the decline on Proposition 13, immigration, integration, societal decline, unmotivated students, teachers unions, dysfunctional school boards or poor parenting. The reality is that a number of the Los Angeles non-profit public charter schools are doing an excellent job educating and preparing for college the very same students that the traditional neighborhood public schools are failing to adequately educate. I have mentored children in Los Angeles’ KIPP schools, attended classes and other school functions, taught an occasional class and been overwhelmed by the first class education offered in the KIPP charter schools. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an excellent model. The keys are local school autonomy, principal and teacher accountability for the school’s performance, and very high standards and expectations for kids’ performance in school.
More than eight years ago, I was fortunate to be in a small group that met Steve Zimmer and attended the pre-election debates. I was impressed, hoped and thought he had the right stuff to help improve LA’s public schools. I have followed his career on the LAUSD Board reasonably closely since and have been profoundly disappointed in my early hopes and expectations.
During Steve Zimmer’s tenure, the district has been running a huge deficit year after year and racking up large unfunded pension liabilities and growing the central bureaucracy at the expense of the local schools. If they are racking up huge deficits at a time when the state’s economy has been recovering and when the state has been relatively generous towards and placed a high priority on funding public school education, what will LAUSD do during the next economic downturn? Receivership?
The traditional public schools have been losing enrollment to the public charter schools. In his campaign mailers to prospective donors to his campaign, Steve Zimmer presents himself as an ardent foe and essential bulwark against the growth of public charter schools; his votes on the Board bear that out. Why would I want to help re-elect someone who describes himself as an arch-foe of model schools that are working very well for LA’s children. Shouldn’t LAUSD instead be emulating the educational models like KIPP that are working well rather than seeking to weaken and derail them?
Over the last year, I have gotten to know, like and admire both Nick Melvoin and Allison Holdorff Polhill. Nick has been an educator and advocate for better schools. Allison has been a key leader of the charter school system in the Palisades. Nick has been a public school teacher, a public interest lawyer and involved in public education policy in the Obama White House. Allison has balanced budgets, negotiated with UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) and improved teacher evaluations and performance in the Palisades charter network. They are both excellent choices and worth your consideration. See http://www.nickmelvoin.com/meet-nick and http://www.allisonforstudents.com But you can only vote for one.
Just remember to vote on March 7; past turnout has been 20% or less and these are the times that test our commitment to democracy.
Prepared by: Grandpa Lucien