“The key to the success of a school is the principal, and the worst thing a school can have is a mediocre principal, not just lousy, but mediocre.” — Dr. George McKenna
An educator since 1962, George McKenna has seen and experienced a lot in the world of education. He has been a classroom teacher, a principal, the subject of a made-for-television movie in 1986 (Hard Lessons: the George McKenna Story), starring Denzel Washington as McKenna, and he currently represents South Los Angeles on the LA Unified Board of Education. He has received over 400 awards and accolades to date, and his story is very interesting. I must admit that I did not know much about him myself until I read an article in a local education blog, but I have been intrigued ever since.
As a member of the Board of Education, McKenna recently added another notch to his belt, charter school advocate. Dr. McKenna recently spoke in defense of them at a NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) forum. On February 9, 2017 at a hearing before the NAACP’s Task Force on Quality Education, he stated, “Black people need an alternative to underperforming public schools.” He also emphasized the need to work together in a collaborative way rather than a competitive one among public and charter schools.
You may or may not be aware that the NAACP called for a moratorium on new charter schools throughout the country. Several supporters of school choice have come out in defense of charter schools, including Dr. McKenna. As a Board Member in the predominantly black District 1, Dr. McKenna’s testimony is vital to the debate about educational choices for black children. We applaud his willingness to defend what is good for students. No doubt he has had to stand up to a variety of forces throughout his career to become the respected educational leader that he is and no doubt there will be more. I simply want to acknowledge that LAUSD has an educational hero serving as the Trustee from District 1 and though he has not been a huge supporter of all Charter Schools, his recent defense of school choice is encouraging! We need more leaders like him that are willing to see the positive aspects and undeniable results of school choices for parents, especially in communities of color like District 1.
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