I’m hearing mixed messages from LAUSD. In the last week, I’ve mentioned articles highlighting the $20 million parent center project on 300 campuses, and in another article the district’s desire to minimize the impact of “professional parents” during public comment and other district meetings. Now comes word that LAUSD will be reducing ELAC/CEAC/Council of Council and Parent Community Advisory Council meetings by half. The reason we’ve been given is that reduced local district staff means prioritizing the allocation resources. I’m afraid the Performance Meter hints at the real type of parent involvement the district wants–increasing the percentage of parents attending parent/teacher conferences and filling out the School Experience Surveys. Real active dialog from involved parents? Not so much.
Historically, ELACs (English Learners Advisory Committee) and CEACs (Compensatory Education Advisory Committee) meet on school campuses and advise schools on how to spend categorical funds for English Language Learners and Title I (low income) students. Once a month these groups have met with other schools at the local district level as well. Council of Councils, generally attended by school site council representatives, meet to hear updates from the district, but also feature guest speakers from various district offices who speak on school programs including GATE (gifted and talented), the lunch program, technology, and high school requirements. PCAC is an elected board of parents from each school complex that sit down with the local superintendent once a month and get updates and provide valuable feedback.
There is nothing inherently exciting or powerful about attending these two-hour meetings once a month. I’ll be honest, anything that can be done by email or read on a website is welcome, rather than me driving all over the Valley (or further) for meetings is welcome. Yet based on LAUSD’s own history of communication, I have serious reservations on reducing any contact among these groups. As soon as I leave the meetings I attend (CoC and PCAC), I’m usually emailing my daughter’s principal or other parents in my area, or blogging or posting messages places. I’d love to think that LAUSD will magically provide that information to the masses and be available for comments and questions at any time via interactive websites. Just based on the volume of posts I respond to over at Ask a Magnet Yenta, the district doesn’t do a great job of explaining itself, so parents like me spend several hours a week (or more) sharing what we know and trying to encourage other parents to advocate for the types of education that will work for their kids.
I’m willing to see how these changes play out, but I’m also going to be very loud and clear when the district hits the easily predicted bumps in the road.
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