Archived: EDITORIAL: School Reform Is Key to Independence


Today, September 16, is the start of Mexico’s 200th year of Independence. This anniversary coincides with the opening of the school year here in Los Angeles County.

In Los Angeles city and county, there has been a constant cry for more and better schools, because the people in these  communities instinctively know that true independence comes from education and the doors it opens.

For generations, parents, teachers and students have complained about the decrepit state of their area schools. They have complained about  the lack of textbooks and other supplies and of course, let’s not forget  the overcrowding and high dropout rates. They rightly understood that the sad state of affairs at these schools has played a part in the problems associated with poverty and crime that have plagued their community.

In the eastside, where a majority of the student population is Latino, and mostly Mexican American, the opening of Esteban E. Torres High School, the first new campus to be built there in 85 years, is an important step toward achieving the freedoms and equality in services that these students deserve.

The school’s opening will also benefit students at Garfield High School, which will finally go back to a regular calendar after years on a multi-track schedule, and where overcrowding  should at long last be reduced. And the community as a whole is sure to benefit if the dream of reform, embodied in the opening of Torres High and other school reforms starting this September, are realized.

The most expensive school ever built in the country has just opened its doors as the new Robert F. Kennedy High School. This high school also has a large Mexican American student population. Many have criticized the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the fancy décor, saying the money would have been better spent on teachers and other programs to raise student achievement.

We agree.

While the physical environment undoubtedly plays a role in the eduction process  – at the end of the day, what matters most, is the quality of the educating going on, and not just its packaging.

But let’s be frank. For the first time in a long time, a great deal of attention is now being focused on student achievement, particularly at the schools that will be the testing labs for new, often untested education models. Students, parents, teachers and administrators will have to show that along with bright new school campuses, comes stability in school attendance, higher graduation rates, greater proficiency in skills needed to earn a spot in college or a job.

Students and their parents must commit to this modern day revolution.

And while the limelight may be focused on these new schools of learning, we must all use care not to forget those still remaining in other, less shiny schools where innovation and success may still be lacking, and where a cry for reform and independence is still waiting to be voiced.

Freedom and independence are never free. Students, parents, teachers and administrator should be watched closely as they strive for new heights in achievement.

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1 Comment

  1. Great editorial!

    I went to an overcrowded, run down school–Roosevelt to be exact. we had 35-40 kids in every class-and still I got an education. My mom and dad may sure of it.

    Parents need to stop just complaining and get involved. my mother didn’t speak English and only had a 3rd grade education, but she knew that the only way I was going to have a better life then she and my dad, was to get an education and work hard.

    Even if I said I didn’t have homework, she made me and my 2 brother and sister sit at our little table and study or read. She went to meetings even if she didn’t understand anything, but would then find someone to translate what went on.

    If I got a bad grade, she didn’t just automatically belve my excuses, she’d march me over to the teacher, my older english speaking cousin or her boss with her, and ask the teacher why I got that grade. If I was to blame, I’d be punished with more studying –but if she thought the teacher was out of line, she would say so, but still figure out a way to to work it out so i could bring up the grade.

    There were no losers, and today, I have a college degree and my life is better.

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