- Northridge East Neighborhood Council
The Northridge East Neighborhood Council (NENC) is one of 99 Neighborhood Councils in the City of Los Angeles. These Councils "are advisory bodies who advocate for their communities" and are comprised of "City officials who are elected by the members of their local communities". They are designed to be "the closest form of government to the people."
On October 17, 2018, the NENC considered two resolutions proposed by the Education Committee. Both were passed with overwhelming support and have been forwarded to Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, Chair of the Health, Education, and Neighborhood Councils Committee.
The first resolution was a result of a presentation to the Education Committee by Rudy Gonzalves, the Director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). As part of the Reclaim Our Schools LA coalition, LAANE helped develop the education platform "Reclaim Our Schools LA's Give Kids A Chance that promotes the need for investing in teachers, community schools, parents, and most importantly our students within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)." This platform includes the following demands:
- Fund Our Schools: California is the richest state in the nation yet ranks 43 out of 50 among the states in per-pupil funding. LAUSD must fight at the local, state, and national level to increase funding to $20,000 per student by the year 2020.
- Reduce Class Size: Students have a better chance to succeed with smaller classes. LAUSD must stop ignoring the rules that protect students from huge classes sizes.
- Charter School Oversight: LAUSD must regulate charter school growth and charter school co-locations on neighborhood school campuses. An unchecked expansion of charter schools drains millions away from our neighborhood schools.
- Less Testing and More Teaching: LAUSD must increase educator discretion in testing. Let's limit unnecessary standardized testing that reduces critical instructional time.
With this vote, the NENC stands in support of this platform.
The second motion passed by the Council calls on the Los Angeles City Council "to urge the LAUSD School Board to pass the 'Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public' resolution that has been submitted to them for consideration." This resolution calls on the LAUSD to remove obstacles to public participation in their meetings including:
- Preventing regularly scheduled public meetings of the Board from occurring during the hours when school is in session, during the hours of regularly scheduled bus transportation, or during the time after school closing that it would take to commute from the furthest school in the district to the meeting location using public transportation.
- Ensuring that the meeting that hears public comment regarding the following year's budget is held on a weekend and held at a site that accommodates the number of people expected to testify.
- Ensuring that people from both sides of an issue are given an opportunity to speak before the Board.
With the LAUSD's declining enrollment, it must make itself more competitive if it is to survive. While it cannot do anything about demographic changes, it can stop the growth of charter schools. However, to do so it must counteract the image of being a bloated bureaucracy that treats children like widgets. The changes recommended by these resolutions are student and parent-centered solutions that will make the District stronger. Hopefully, the elected representatives of the City and the School District are listening.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.