I have a guilty parent-secret. I like to pause at the start of the school day and watch guardians and children part company. The most miraculous images of connectedness and love shine forth. Even among that hardest of age-classes, The Middle Schooler, from out of the safe confines provided by a car a whole lot of tenderness shines forth.

It is possible to see a huge burley tattooed bloke embrace a tiny iteration of himself with a kiss reciprocated tenderly. It is possible to see a mom reach past a sleeping sibling to give a squeeze of strength to the elder ex officio. There are together-parents and disorganized-parents. There are shiny children and others who need to cry privately before starting their day.

But the exchange of a child from the guardian’s care to the schools’, is a profound shift of trust. The transfer is predicated on a bond of equal magnitude. Guardians are a force of such profound importance in the child’s life, why are they not more equal partners in the child’s education?

It feels from here as if there is an awful lot of non-listening going on in LAUSD; from the institution toward the guardians.

And while I understand there is great diversity in home life and circumstance, all the same I have yet to speak with a single parent from anywhere across this district, of any socioeconomic status, who feels comfortable with the incipient Breakfast In The Classroom program. At best it feels forced and derivative in purpose. At worst the list of suspicions for its inception is formidable: it is, conservatively, “unpopular”.

Spending priorities in this district do not mirror any parent’s perceptions of want that I have met. Parents need their children to be in safe physical surroundings. Schools with dangerous playgrounds and condemned bleachers and asbestos-riddled portables and insufficient functioning toilets or broken water fountains or water sprinklers or HVAC systems – these constitute a collection of edifices that are not safe. It is not acceptable to relegate our precious children amongst such decrepitude: no guardian would countenance such conditions. There is no way to listen to a parent and not hear their dismay at the decay. And often, downright filth. One wonders why the Department of Health or even OSHA is not more attentive.

Most disrespectful of all is the impervious insistence that learning and staffing alike are both merely personnel matters not beholden to the wishes of our students’ guardians. Despite near-unanimous decrying from parents that class sizes are too large, that children cannot and are not learning or receiving an acceptable experience in schools taught by too few teachers, staffed by too few supportive personnel, and administered by too few managers – despite these conditions of patently obvious scarcity, prioritizing the remedy of hiring more teachers, staff, administrators, janitors, counselors, nurses, librarians, plumbers and copy clerks – none of this happens.

Why are guardians ignored? Why is this not the first sector consulted in the ongoing quest for “excellence”? Are our public schools occupied territory such that the wishes of the inhabitants are gratuitous?

It’s not actually hard to find us-guardians and ask us what we want, how we think things are going. But no one is listening, much less asking.

Sure, it would be fantastic for all our students to enjoy modern tools including ipads. Sure it is possible to find students, parents and teachers alike around the district eager to incorporate learning via modern technical devices. But it may not be the way we would prioritize scarce resources. It could just be that other matters take precedence, as alluring as all that modernity might be. Before we fall for the latest gimmick du jour, most guardians I have ever met, want to ensure that requisite necessities of safety, cleanliness and pedagogy are not compromised. Context matters.

To get to this answer requires asking – and listening – to guardians. Rather than dismissing the flurry of media attention critical of ipads as just so much “negativity”, perhaps the school board should recognize these media reflect a voice, unheard: that of LAUSD’s 650,000 families.

These families need attention and their children need funding. 383,890 children are title I-eligible according to LAUSD’s historic calculation of children in need of funds to ameliorate poverty. This calculation was changed two years ago, critically alienating thousands of needy children (5,565 by this year’s poverty count). Read about a resolution to restore these children’s entitled funding HERE and please lend your support to the resolution by signing this petition:

https://www.change.org/petitions/lausd-board-members-stop-taking-money-away-from-our-kids-please-vote-for-educational-equity-and-achievement-for-all-title-i-students-resolution-on-11-12-13 .

LAUSD is a zone of poverty, that is within itself highly segregated. 97.8% of LAUSD’s title I-eligible children attend schools of poverty concentration that is 40% or greater. And these children account for 71.9% of the entire district’s school population. Fully 73.6% of LAUSD’s enrolled students are living below poverty. 98% of these children cluster in schools where at least 4 in 10 children are poor. And the 26.4% of LAUSD children who are not title I-eligible cluster among LAUSD schools of poverty concentration less than 30%, that constitute just 9.5% of district schools.

it is an avowed challenge for seven school board members to reach and communicate effectively across such a vast, diverse community. But the alternative is our status quo where one disconnected edict after another is administered from on high and it leaves the rest of us feeling occupied by imperialists. As a parent I feel disenfranchised from the system my tax dollars and vote supports. I do not feel the children’s true needs for safety, cleanliness and functional teaching by a real, live, breathing, interactive teacher are being addressed. When these constitutional necessities are confronted, then and only then will I happily move on to outfitting our children with modern electronics. But relegating them to stressed out, dangerous and unhygienic conditions feels like circumstances that could never develop were children’s guardians fully empowered, listened to and in charge.