On LA Unified Board, What’s Old is New Again — More Committees
LA School Report | November 25, 2013
It’s that time of year again, and naturally, thoughts turn to LA Unified school board committees.
Well, probably not, but it is worth noting that what’s old is new again, as the deliberative process has returned, echoes of a bygone, pre-Monica Garcia as president time.
Back then, in the middle of the last decade, as many as 10 committees met often, some of them monthly and some of them even more. Who could forget the Committee on the Modified Chanda Smith Consent Decree Committee, which convened during the committee high-mark years of 2005 and 2006, when Board President Marlene Canter had 10 and 9 committees at hand.
When Garcia became president in 2006, the committee system waned, only for a rebirth under Richard Vladovic, who succeeded Garcia as president this year. After Garcia cancelled committees, Vladovic created them. Now there are 7, the most since 2007.
Do they make any difference in running the district? Depends whom you ask. Some board staffers argue they are little more than theater, giving members and the public a chance to express opinions that do little to influence policy. There is also the matter of extra work for staff, like finding someone to turn on the KLCS cameras for last week’s regular board meeting.
On the other hand, some regard committees as vital to running a school district second in size only to New York City’s. As chairman of the Common Core Technology Project Committee, Monica Ratliff raised the idea that high school students might be better served with new laptops rather than iPads. Now, district officials are examining the issue to see if she’s right.
The idea of committees is to provide a venue for deep-in-the-weeds policy discussion so that regular board meetings can proceed more smoothly.
Ever notice how long board meetings are going these days?
Maybe they need more committees.