Romancing the stone
For months, leaders from LAUSD and the UTLA have stalled within a deep tunnel of negotiations, unable to reach consensus on, well, anything. This week, light broke at the end of that dark passageway: Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy and the newly elected union president, Warren Fletcher, have reached a partial agreement. And it’s an exciting one: Under the new pact, district schools could exercise charter-like autonomy over hiring, curriculum, and work conditions. If a school wants to diverge from current norms by, say, altering its salary structure or length of day, neither union nor district officials can object. (Take note of this innovative approach for combating union strong-arming: Pitch the reforms to teachers as a respite from meddling district policies, not just cumbersome union ones.) So, what catalyzed this union change of heart? Pressure from charter schools—which hold a 10 percent market share of L.A.’s student enrollment. According to Fletcher, “There’s been a lot of focus on out-of-district resources and answers. This is the beginning of moving back to some semblance of balance.” Before the agreement becomes official, though, it must be ratified by union membership. Here’s hoping; what a worthy experiment that would be.
“Individual Los Angeles Schools Gain New Autonomy,” by Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2011.
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