LEARN Reaches Accord on L.A. Reforms

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The broad-based community coalition that has spent months crafting a blueprint for reforming the Los Angeles public schools has reached final agreement on what measures must be taken to reinvigorate the troubled district.

The more than 600 trustees of the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, known as LEARN, signed off late last month on a number of amendments to reports that had been produced by seven task forces.

Generally, according to Mary Chambers, the group's executive vice president, the amendments included language to "clarify and enhance'' the original recommendations and did not contain substantial changes.

One proposed change, for example, was to include a glossary of terms used in the report, she said.

The group is advocating that the massive school system, the second largest in the nation, be decentralized so that teachers, principals, parents, and community leaders will have more of a voice in education. (See Education Week, Oct. 21, 1992.)

In addition to examining school governance, task forces offered recommendations on accountability and assessment, school facilities, integrating social services with education, parental involvement, professional development, and preparing students for the workforce.

Now that consensus has been reached, Ms. Chambers said, LEARN intends to mount a "massive mobilization campaign'' to familiarize residents with the recommendations and to build political support for their implementation.

Cost Estimates

Each of the trustees, for example, has agreed to enlist the support of his or her organization--whether it be a business, community group, church, or law firm--to help forge support for the plan.

The group also will begin to put a price tag on its plan, identifying which steps could save money, which would not cost anything, and which would be expensive.

Some time after the first of the year, LEARN expects to take the plan to the board of education for adoption. Before then, however, the organization intends to draw up a list of priorities for beginning the enormous task of implementing its suggestions, Ms. Chambers said.

Until now, the group and its efforts have received mostly accolades from the beleaguered education community in Los Angeles, which continues to face the possibility of a teacher strike because of deep budget cuts that have affected teachers' pay.

Whether the group can move its agenda forward with continued support remains to be seen.

"Many hard days are still to come,'' Ms. Chambers said. "But no one would have bet that we would have gotten this far.''

Vol. 12, Issue 10

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