Editorial: LAUSD’s efforts to address learning loss should inspire hope, not chaos and frustration
With a new leader and a new superintendent, it was high time for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to examine its practices and to commit itself to a serious and thorough review of everything from instructional practices to data collection to the accountability system.
The board’s vote to start all over in an entirely new direction is not surprising. It will be a welcome change for a district that, until recently, had been moving so slowly and haltingly that one year after taking office, the district had still not taken one step in the direction of accountability, or of making significant changes needed to restore L.A.’s international image as a “world-class” education system.
The reason for the district’s sluggishness in action is not hard to find: LAUSD’s leadership, leadership team, and the teachers and staff who work there are deeply flawed. As former teachers and principals make clear in books like “The New York Times”’ “Teaching to the Test,” administrators and teachers alike have been so consumed with the quest for excellence that they have not given any thought to the larger question of what constitutes excellence, and whether the school district itself should be included in that list.
“The district’s new leadership is trying to fix some issues that their predecessors created, but will they fix what ails them?” asked John Hejna, the former executive director for school improvement who led the campaign against teacher tenure changes and helped create the Success Academy and Success Academy International schools. Hejna went on to say, “I’m not surprised that they are taking a hard look at our data, what we’ve known about our success and what we’ve known about our failure.”
This review, undertaken by an entirely new leadership team, one that included a retired superintendent and former superintendent as well as leaders from outside the district, is the best news yet for teachers who have had to struggle under the weight of a system that has been resistant to their concerns.
For those who have been part of that system for