LAUSD is a business that for generations has been more concerned with the well being of its exclusive "agreed vendors" of goods and services than it has been for the successful formation of its students. The uncontested reason for this behemoth to have existed in the first place as the second largest school district in the United States is what is called the economics of scale, where in theory a larger entity like LAUSD with its enormous buying power should be able to get the best price for the goods and services it needs at the lowest wholesale market price.But the opposite reality has remained for generations where you could go into any retail store and buy pretty much anything for less than LAUSD pays for it, while getting a newer more up to date model or version with better warranties.
So, given that the sole reason for this generationally dysfunctional LAUSD to exist with its incessant scandals like Belmont High School being bulit on an irremediable toxic waste dump or an Ambassador Hotel school being built with talking benches and way over budget or a $1.3 billion iPad scandal that remains unaddressed years after it was uncovered, why does LAUSD remain unreconstructed generation after generation to the continued undoing of the vast majority of its primarily poor and minority students?
The reason is that power corrupts and absolute and unnecessarily centraized power corrupts absolutely. While something like the economics of scale might be reluctanty tolerated in order to attain the greatest economies in the purchase of goods and services for LAUSD, what is never addressed is that the agglomeration of such power also brings with it the likely danger of indemic corruption especially where highly centralized adminstrative decisions about business are being made by ex- teacher administrators with little or no experience or ability in business or law necessary to stand up to sophicated vendors who have over the years moulded LAUSD into an entity that serves their economic interests and not those of the district and what should be its primary mandate to educate its students.
Now Into this fray comes new LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King who has moved up in this purposeful flawed de facto segregated and academically underactiving culture for the last 30 years not by making waves, but rather going along to get along. In fact, when you look at who gets chosen at LAUSD for the superintendent (or any admnistrative position), it seems that the most important qualification for this top position is the assurance that you will do nothing to change its vendor friendly and student toxic culture.
Whether it is Michelle King or her most recent predecessors Ramon Cortines and John Deasy, the hallmark of this illusory type of leadership and reform is that it only addresses the effects of long-failed LAUSD public education and never the underlying causes. While her first suggestion upon entering the superintendent's job to have exclusively all boy and all girl campuses is supported by competent academic authorities, it never addresses the far more damaging continued practice of LAUSD to continue socially promoting students who arrive in kindergarten already behind. Instead of positing an early intervention program that addresses each student's subject academic level irrespective of age, it seems that LAUSD under Michelle King will continue to socially promote ill-prepared students to assured failure, whether they are in a mixed gender or single gender school.
The same is true for her second goal of "making sure every student graduates." Again this can not be done with nice sounding empty rhetoric without addressing the student's underlying prior grade level standards deficits in a timely age-sensitive manner- something that up until now has remained conspiciously absent in all prior LAUSD superintendents' plans that never question clearly failed social promotion to assured subsequent academic failure.
But one should not just blame LAUSD administrators, since it is human nature to not change unless one knows that there are negative consequences for premeditated generational LAUSD failure. So far, this has not been the case at LAUSD where neither local, state, nor federal oversight have done anything to hold LAUSD administrative failure accountable. So if a socially promoted student without any of the skills that are supposed to be subsumed under a high school diploma arrives at junior college where 75% continue to fail, take remedial class, and disproportionaly drop out, no governmental agency charged under law with oversight of LAUSD ever steps in and says, "What's going on here and who's fixing the grades and CAHSEE exams that these students have supposedly passed?"
It is not lost on me that new LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King is African American and a woman. One can only hope that she might finally comport herself in a manner finally befitting the needs of what remains a close to 90% de facto segregated school district 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education said, "Separate but equal...is inherently unequal." Yes, I still believe in Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy.