This Los Angeles parent explains why parents are alarmed by the prospect that the new mayor Eric Garcetti might choose Thelma Melendez, one of Arne Duncan’s deputies as his advisor.

She writes:

“In making this appointment, the Mayor should follow his creed to lead by listening and consider first and foremost the concerns of public school parents, the only “special interest” group whose only concern is children. In so doing, he can resist appointing a staffer who will advance the so-called “reform agenda” which tends to view schools as business franchises in need of a quick corporate turn-around.

“Two-thirds of public school parents reject reform policies including an emphasis on standardized testing, closure of struggling schools, shifting resources from traditional schools to charters, narrowing curriculum, reducing teacher pay and benefits, and budget cutting. This was revealed in a national poll of public school parents (including those at charters). Conducted last month, it reflects the same views Angelenos have already demonstrated at the ballot box….

“Parents know the “reform agenda” itself needs reform. The highly political movement, largely funded by business plutocrats, has become as inflexible and oppositional as the unions it points to as the root of all educational evils. Parents are caught in the middle. We want reform, but reform that helps our children, not an imposed agenda that eviscerates neighborhood schools. Reform that aligns city resources to support and to strengthen local neighborhood schools along the Community Schools model makes sense. Mayor Garcetti succeeded at this kind of political leadership as a city councilman when he helped direct anti-poverty grant funds to Mount Washington Elementary School’s new community center and library.

“Taking a cue from both local elections and the overwhelming evidence from the recent parents’ survey, the mayor should appoint an education deputy who will support public schools. That means professional development over teacher bashing, improvement of neighborhood schools over increased competition, and broadening quality curriculum over teach-to-the-test.”