L. A. schools Supt. David L. Brewer said this week he would “kick some ass” to improve schools if the school board would give him political cover, which would include standing up to employee unions who might resist reforms.
The comment came at a public but hard-to-reach meeting Thursday on the 24th floor of school district headquarters. The meeting’s topic was the governance of the school district, and the discussion gravitated toward giving school principals real power over their budget — along with demanding real accountability for results.
The room happened to be weighted with administrators — even a representative from the League of Women Voters was a retired principal. There was broad agreement on a need to decentralize the district.
UCLA Professor William Ouchi offered the New York City schools as an example of progress through focusing on principals. These unchained administrators have used their new authority to reduce the number of students each teacher must handle per day, he said, because that tactic raises student achievement.
The Madison School District attempted, unsuccessfully, to give principals more staffing flexibility during the most recent round of teacher union negotiations.