We agree that the new contract for Los Angeles Unified School District teachers should include some important reforms regarding school independence when it comes to hiring decisions and curriculum. Without a doubt, the quality of education, even in a budget context that is difficult for everyone, should be relatively more important than protecting teachers based on seniority.
Many teachers are asking for changes in the system and agree that their current performance evaluation system does not work. At the same time, good teachers should be properly compensated for their excellence. We also know, because we have heard it from them several times, that many teachers are tired of the straitjacket that school bureaucracy often inflicts upon them, killing creativity and imposing uniformity rather than excellence.
The chorus of voices of various organizations that are calling for reform keeps getting louder and louder. United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the LAUSD School Board must prioritize the education of Los Angeles ‘ 700,000 students above everything else. These students still have an abysmal graduation rate: only 56% finish their studies, while more than half do not graduate on time.
We know these are difficult times, and that disinvestment in public education is a chronic problem for our society, one that has been ongoing for decades. As a result, solutions that are different and creative must be sought; we think a large majority of teachers agree with this. Both LAUSD and UTLA should lower their weapons in this battle and put our 700,000 children first. After all, they are our future.