By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Having been the recipient of the Weekly’s pointed inquiries for the better part of four years in my capacity as communications adviser to two LAUSD superintendents, I would normally be the last to criticize the L.A. Weeklyfor being soft on the L.A. School District. However, Howard Blume’s most recent article [“The Short Season of Howard Miller,” June 23–29] on the departure of Howard Miller, the district’s interim chief operating officer, was I believe symptomatic of just how effective Miller and the now-departed interim superintendent, Ray Cortines, were at fooling the city’s media watchdogs, including the Weekly, the L.A. Timesand every other news outlet in Los Angeles.
Many may remember that Howard Miller ascended to his job after participating in the plot to oust my former boss, Superintendent Ruben Zacarias. But few seem to recall that when Miller and Cortines first took charge of the school district, they announced a highly touted agenda of “books and bathrooms.” Astonishingly, they left amid glowing praise from the press without compelling evidence that either problem had been solved.
Miller, who was the object of Blume’s tepid reportage, also was a glaring failure at the job for which he was first brought into the school district, the position of facilities czar. Not only was he a party to stopping the construction of the Belmont Learning Complex; nary a school was built under his stewardship. The district’s facilities plan is no better for his efforts after his year with the school district, for which he was paid some $150,000 in salary. What makes this more amazing is that he had a $37,500-per-month consultant helping him with the job of building schools.
Likewise, the tight-wired Cortines, who was lauded for his “reforms,” left the district after having done little more than implement the decentralization and reading plans originally proposed by Dr. Zacarias, and after participating in an elaborate shell game of increasing the number of administrators who can earn higher salaries in the name of cutting bureaucratic fat.
All things considered, I believe the Weeklyowes its readers a complete obit on this most recent regime, including an analysis of the millions that were spent on consultant contracts to the friends and allies of these two interlopers, and those of certain school-board members as well.
Perhaps Howard Miller’s departure from the LAUSD brings tears to some observers’ eyes, but not mine. Miller’s tenure at the board was marked by a degree of stupidity that is the hallmark of most of the LAUSD’s bureaucracy. Particularly asinine is Miller’s promise that if test scores improve, teachers’ salaries would soar. Indeed? If I remember correctly, back in 1978, when I began teaching in the LAUSD, Miller — then on the school board — was adamantly opposed to granting teachers probationary contracts, on the grounds that this would bankrupt the system.
Students in inner-city schools — such as the high school where I teach — will always do poorer, for a number of reasons, which have already been rehashed so many times I won’t bother to go into them. The LAUSD’s answer to these problems, year-round scheduling, only adds insult to injury, because teachers actually have fewer instructional days year-round than they did during the traditional school year. It goes without saying that students who spend fewer hours in the classroom will score lower on standardized tests.
Howard Miller epitomizes everything that is wrong with LAUSD central and the 11 satellite systems designed to replace the current institutionalized stupidity. I doubt that Roy Romer will provide much of an improvement.
Re: Harold Meyerson’s “Ralph Rising” [June 30–July 6]. Thanks for a great interview with Ralph Nader. You do the public a service by presenting a voice that is often muffled by corporate media for political and monetary purposes. Please continue to publish articles on alternative voices and important issues that otherwise would not be heard. Down with corporate politics, and up with democracy and environment!
Some on the far left cannot resist the urge to embark on a course of conduct that will result in the most reactionary candidate winning an election. Though Ralph Nader seems to think that he will not hurt Gore in states in which the vote will be close, the risk is far too great. And Nader is also apparently oblivious of the difference between prospective Bush and Gore nominees to the Supreme Court. His dismissive recounting of history, in which some progressive judges were appointed by Republicans and some archconservatives were appointed by Democrats, fails to realistically look at the present climate.
In 1976, incumbent U.S. ã Senator John Tunney defeated Tom Hayden in the Democratic primary. Many on the left were so miffed at Hayden’s loss, they sat out the general election and thereby contributed to Tunney’s loss to archconservative S.I. Hayakawa. Those who do not learn from history . . .
Member, Platform Committee
I think it is lamentably characteristic of our national, and especially our journalistic, degeneracy when we, like bafflingly conflicted Harold Meyerson, must find a hard-working, frugal, quietly populist hero like Ralph Nader as somehow lacking because he doesn’t ape the disingenuous theatrics of our reptile president, the weenie bravado of his party-appointed successor or the braying moronity of the opposition’s puppet. Does no one understand that public office was not meant to be an extension of Hollywood, that difficult busman’s work constitutes the bulk of the duties, that a true executor of the office would ideally be a combination of lawyer, accountant, conciliator and philosopher? No, instead we take the governors of the worst-managed states in the nation (Arkansas, for instance), prep ’em up with acting lessons and set ’em loose to create exactly the sort of outrages we have seen under the previous fool.
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