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LA School Chief Confronts Concerns

June 9, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer dismissed concerns Thursday that he is too old, too white or too inexperienced to run the diverse and troubled Los Angeles Unified School District.

Two days after he was hired as the district’s superintendent, Romer said he understands the problems that plague the nation’s second-largest school district even though he is not from Southern California.

``I come to this job having lived a long life that’s very much like the same life you live here,″ he said. ``I don’t think I’m ruled out because I didn’t happen to live here.″

Romer, 71, told reporters that he was raised in a town of 800 people, ran a farm and got a degree in animal husbandry before going into politics. And though he was never a public school teacher or administrator, he taught people how to fly airplanes.

``If you put that experience together and you do a profile of the people who live in this area, we come from the same place,″ he said. ``We dream the same dreams. We have the same fears.″

Romer also said there will be no cultural divide when he assumes leadership of a district that is 70 percent Hispanic.

``My name is Romer. You know, you could add an ‘o’ and it would be Romero,″ he said. ``To a parent who is Latino in this community, what is more important? Whether or not I’ve got an ‘o’ at the end of my name or whether I can deliver a school program that helps their youngsters be the very best person they’re going to be.″

During a Town Hall Los Angeles address, Romer outlined several priorities for the district, including focusing on establishing expectations and holding teachers, principals and district headquarters accountable.

His ultimate goal, he said, is to improve instruction in the 712,000-student district.

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On the Net: Los Angeles Unified School District: http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/welcome.html

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