LAUSD'S ROMER TAKES MESSAGE TO TV.Byline: Harrison Sheppard Staff Writer
Tinseltown, politics and education. Mix them together, and you've got Los Angeles Unified School District The Los Angeles Unified School District (the "LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California and the second-largest in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. Superintendent Roy Romer Roy R. Romer (born October 31, 1928 in Garden City, Kansas, United States) was the 39th governor of Colorado and served as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2001 to 2006. , a seemingly irresistible draw for the national media.
Less than a month on the job, Romer made the round of TV talk shows last week, drawing more national attention than past school chiefs by appearing on NBC's ``Today'' show, and ABC's ``Politically Incorrect politically incorrect
Disregarding or unconcerned with political correctness.
political incorrectness n.
Adj. 1. .''
Romer downplayed the significance, noting he had been on ``Politically Incorrect'' when he was head of the Democratic National Committee and Colorado governor.
``The show is one where before I got in the superintendency Su`per`in`tend´en`cy
n. 1. The act of superintending; superintendence. , you can really take off on anything you want. But when you're a superintendent of schools, you have to be careful.''
``There is certain bantering back and forth that I would not participate in because I just can't do that.''
But the national attention for the LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) didn't find a warm reception everywhere in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. .
School board member David Tokofsky, for one, was unimpressed, saying he would rather see the superintendent focus on the district's specific problems rather than play to a national audience.
``I don't mind TV appearances, but all politics should be local,'' Tokofsky said. ``We've got some local problems here that require an understanding of local audiences to know communities from Chatsworth to Pacoima to Watts to East L.A.
``And those shows are particularly national audiences. And I don't think the national audience cares much about L.A. Unified, to tell you the truth.''
On the show, Romer did join in some of the bantering, getting in a few barbs barbs
the primary, delicate filaments that are given off the shaft of a bird's contour feather. They project from the rachis and bear the barbules. at host Bill Maher William Maher, Jr., (pronounced: /mɑɹ/) (born January 20 1956) is an American comedian, actor, writer, and producer. .
Maher tried to provoke him by criticizing teachers, suggesting that rather than following President Clinton's suggestion to hire 100,000 more teachers, they ought to fire 100,000 lousy teachers.
``I gotta take you on that. Look, there are some lousy teachers like there are lousy comics,'' Romer replied, to laughter and applause from the audience. ``You just don't generalize for everybody.''
And Romer did tout some ideas that he might try in the district.
In between lighthearted repartee rep·ar·tee
1. A swift, witty reply.
2. Conversation marked by the exchange of witty retorts. See Synonyms at wit1. , Romer made a few serious declarations about educational policy, saying teachers are ``tremendously underpaid,'' supporting merit pay Noun 1. merit pay - extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)
pay, remuneration, salary, wage, earnings - something that remunerates; "wages were paid by check"; "he wasted his pay on drink"; "they saved a quarter of all - as long as it is based on more than just test scores - and suggesting programs to put high school seniors into the working world before they graduate.
``We learn a lot by doing work out there,'' Romer said during a debate on the problems of public education. ``I think you ought to get out of the building. In fact, I think there's a very good argument to be made to take the last year and cut it in half and put you out in the field and have you experience what the world and the job market's going to be like.''
In a later interview, Romer said he thinks seniors tend to lose interest in classes once they've been accepted to college, so schools should consider ways to send them out into the working world.
He said he has bounced the idea off several staff members, but is not yet actively working to create a program.
On the ``Today'' show, which was filmed in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Romer appeared between Police Chief Bernard C. Parks Bernard Parks (born December 7, 1943 in Beaumont, Texas) is a member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing the 8th District in South Los Angeles and former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Parks attended Los Angeles City College, received his B.S. and a report on the county's recently completed subway system. He said he supports merit pay for teachers - a proposal bitterly opposed by the Los Angeles teachers union - but said it should be based on more than test scores.
``To pay a teacher only because of the scores of the students I think is wrong,'' Romer said. ``You ought to pay a teacher in a broader way. What does a teacher contribute to the whole school?''