It's not about the kids
Can Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa catch a break? Not only does he have to battle with hardnosed politicians in Sacramento, intransigent school board members, tough union types, and angry parents--now he's catching flak from the kids! That's right, according to the Los Angeles Times, the city's public school students are the latest aggrieved group to demand a seat at the school-reform negotiating table. High school junior Ana Exiga wants more counselors and college advisors, fewer military recruiters on campus, and more classes about African-American and Latino history. "We want to see more kids going to college," she said. None of these complaints is original, and some are a little off-base. We know it may be unpopular to say so, and we know kids may know a lot about a lot of things (Barry Bonds?), but they don't know much about the best ways to fix their schools. Villaraigosa is quite aware that more of L.A.'s students need to go to college; the hard part is figuring out how to make that happen. Extra classes about Martin Luther King, Jr. and José de San Martin are worthless if youngsters don't show up to them or can't read. L.A. doesn't need another uninformed bunch clogging the education debate. Start a "Student Advisory Group" that meets at Pizza Hut twice a semester, and forget about it.
"Left out, students want a voice in reform," by Duke Helfand and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2008