District and Teachers Come Together for Education Reform

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

The Port settlement last week was not the only recent agreement that cheered Angelenos. The previous week the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) reached a landmark agreement to improve the process of evaluating and supporting teachers by including student test scores in the process. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce applauds LAUSD and UTLA for reaching a compromise that will help support high-quality teaching and increase accountability for student success.

A year ago there was a similar breakthrough when LAUSD and UTLA signed a memorandum of understanding on local school autonomy. These collaborations are notable, because more often than not, there is discord and disagreement between LAUSD and UTLA on issues related to education reform. A case in point occurred last month when UTLA would not sign LAUSD’s $40 million proposal in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top District competition. The district submitted the proposal anyway but was not among the finalists just announced. The Los Angles Times had it right in its Nov. 2 editorial, “As officials bicker, L.A. students lose.

When school board members, district administrators and teachers all agree to a plan to improve education for students, parents and taxpayers get excited about the possibility of breakthrough results. LAUSD’s Board of Education has been the catalyst for reform and they have hired a team of administrators that understand their mandate to prepare students for meaningful careers and higher education. They are well aware that students around the world are advancing in competitiveness every day and our students will be at a disadvantage unless they have outstanding teachers and mentors.

Two years ago the L.A. Area Chamber joined with 18 major L.A. organizations and educational institutions in signing the L.A. Compact, an unprecedented cradle to career collaboration to support positive change across L.A. public schools. Other collaborators include the LAUSD Board of Education, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Council, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, 11 local institutions of higher learning and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

The agreement signed two weeks ago between LAUSD and UTLA is a big step in the right direction for students, parents and taxpayers. We urge business and our L.A. Compact partners to encourage more announcements of collaborative leadership in the future.

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