Yesterday outside the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Meeting a long line of parents, community members, students, district employees, non-profit representatives, and others waited to be let inside the board room. Many had been in line for more than 3 hours. Also outside of the board meeting were over a hundred students, with their adult organizers protesting cuts to their schools, and wearing t-shirts and holding signs that read “Equity Is Justice, Adopt The Student Need Index” an indicator or measure of allocating funding to the neediest students in the district. Equity in education is what these students are protesting for said Dr. John Dobard, Manager of Strategic Initiatives for the Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization.
But back to how I started this article and the focus of my words today. Standing in line outside of the LAUSD board room for hours….just to get inside to speak or merely witness the meeting is simply WRONG!! No one should have to endure such treatment especially citizens who just want to participate in the public educational process. Board members should be required to stand in such a line for hours so that they can personally experience the toll it takes on the body. Only then can they truly appreciate what people have to go through regularly just to attend their meetings.
And the sidewalk that people have to occupy while standing in line at this busy downtown location can be very dangerous at times. When certain areas of the sidewalk get too crowded people often walk into the street to get around those standing in line – and the busy traffic creates an unsafe (and unnecessary) condition to those waiting to get inside the meeting and passerby’s. It’s unconscionable that the public has to deal with this ….and the school board needs to address it immediately. If the school board can’t accommodate all of the people who want to attend their meetings then it should move the meeting to a more conducive location.
Now moving the meeting to an alternate location may be inconvenient to board members and their staff because they may not have needed resources (i.e. materials, equipment, personnel, etc.) readily available – but that’s where planning comes in. With all the talk now days about education reform I think school board meeting reform should be addressed with LAUSD! Community members should be treated with much more respect!