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LAUSD turns over control of schools to outside groups

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to turn over control of 18 new schools and 12 troubled ones to groups of teachers and administrators, charter groups and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s nonprofit organization.

The big winners were the teacher-led groups, who claimed the vast majority of the schools, including some that were expected to go to charter schools.

The move came after nearly 50 speakers appealed to the board for their various constituencies and others demonstrated outside the downtown Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters.

Bidders inside and outside the district have been vying for the schools under a reform plan that the board adopted in August.

The main competitors have been groups of district teachers and charter school operators. Charters are independently run schools that are free from some restrictions that govern traditional schools.

In the end, charters claimed only four new small schools, one of which would be shared with a district school run by an employee-led group.

Another competitor has been Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who seeks to increase the number of schools under the control of his education nonprofit.

Villaraigosa will now control one new school, Carver Middle School in South Park, and Griffith Joyner Elementary in Watts. For the last school, he had to rely on a decision of the school board, which overruled L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Sgt. George Sandoval, of the Los Angeles School Police, explains the ticketing and seating procedures for Tuesday's meeting to teachers and supporters waiting outside district headquarters. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (48)

Who was the articulate guy in the blue shirt who joyfully said the board had started a revolution last August when it adopted the school give away plan, but that something had gone wrong in the meantime? I'm referring to the charter advocate wh0 smeared his opponents with Joe McCarthy type charges and compared this archconservative school board to Joe Stalin. The guy who ended his remarks with a threat that: No matter what the board does today we are going to take back our schools "BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!" Oh, you mean that was Ben Austin, the law and order man in the city attorney's office? The cheerleader for Green Dot? The guy who writes pro-charter op-eds for the staid old Times and the Daily News? Surely that wasn't Ben Austin. President Monica Garcia must have introduced the wrong speaker. That must have been a union teacher, masquerading as Ben - another of UTLA's sneaky tricks.

Why give more control to teachers? Aren't they the ones ultimatelyl responsible for the failing districtin the first place?

Who will stand up to the teacher's union? Anyone?

They always say "It is for the kids", but after 20 years of hearing it, I only see "failing kids".

Charters are free from district restrictions, but still get money from the district. So, they are still taxpayer-subsidized. Yet, they are free to pick and choose their students. Students with discipline problems, learning disabilities, and special needs need not apply. You will not be accepted. If they are paid for by taxpayers, should they not be open to all students? I thought public education was for all.

Siegel,

No charter schools? I teach at a charter school that is significantly outperforming surrounding LAUSD public schools with similar demographics. Without a doubt, 36 years is respectable and commendable. You bring undeniable experience to the table. However, 36 years also breeds a sense of entitlement, and with the "almighty" providing job security, perhaps a lack of passion for innovation in the classroom... I'd love to observe your class, and hopefully report to our fellow readers as to your effectiveness...

Peace,
Peer

LAUSD schools were bad when I was going to school 30 years ago and they are still bad today. The difference between private and LAUSD schools were night and day; attending a LAUSD school located in suburbia part of the SFV I had to waste time copying homework questions because we couldn't take home our books due to shortages (homework only took 30-45 minutes to do anyways) and there was no discipline in the classroom. Transferring to a private school, I had 3-4 hours of homework a night with my own books, teachers who pushed and encouraged me to do better and didn't have to worry about controlling rowdy students. The telling difference was my classmates at UCLA who went to public schools in the same area I did in the SFV had to take remedial courses their first year while I didn't have to (and I was just an average private school student).

Jeff,

The idea that charters are free choose their students is a myth. Charters have open enrollment, first come first served, and lotteries as methods for filling up their enrollment cap. Do some charters find loopholes, and enroll "preferred" students, sure. It is against the law however. It would be interesting to analyze methods for enrollment used (with explicit documentation) and state achievement scores....

LAUSD is broken. Time to burn it and start over. Get rid of the teacher's union. Make teachers accountable like in the "real world" where everyone else is accountable. Get this turned around.

One of the reasons we have failing schools is that school administrators wait too long to pull the disruptive students out of class. how is a student suppose to learn when the another student who obviously doesnt want to be there continualy disrupts the class thereby interrupting the learning of the other students who do want to be there. In this screwed up PC Board of education we have they rather keep the discipline student in class, rather than send them to a continuation school. but the admistration puts all sorts of road blocks to any efforts to take this disruptive student out of class and leave him out of class. when that happens you will then see a great improvement in the grades of the students who truly want to learn not just stop and watch the unruly kid.

@I'm for Quality EDUCATION...

Hmmm, you're at a charter school that is outperforming the local public schools? How many of you're students have learning disabilities and/or IEP's? Oh, I forgot, charters just want "the good kids". How many students are enrolled at your charter school? Not many, that's for sure. So of course your test scores would go up--you are not responsible for teaching the "undesirables"...because they're at your local PUBLIC school.

Dear Peer,
While it is easy to type things like, " significantly outperforming surrounding LAUSD public schools with similar demographics", it is harder to type out the name of your school. I support school reform and am a union teacher, but most reports don't report what you are saying. See an article in LA Times, "Charter schools may not be a silver bullet." By and large when the demographics are the same, charter schools are not outperforming public schools in Los Angeles. Furthermore, a national study shows that charters are underperforming in some aspects. No one has a magic solution to poverty and the ills it engenders. The charter movement is just another attack on unions. Vouchers failed so charters is the next attack. Please name your school. I would to visit and see what you're doing.

It is naive and a lack of understanding to state that teachers are the ones failing the students. So often children enter the school system lacking the proper parental support that is necesary to ensure the student becomes a succesful student. No chld left behind is also another system that is inherhently flawed. It has been designed to fail teachers and ultimately leave the students behind. Perhaps though Bushes main motivation was to destroy the public education system so that private industries can take control of education in our nation. There is nothing more dangerouse than giving control of our education to private institutions that will find there own ways to exploit our children at the taxpayers expense. Im sure the Mayors "nonprofit" will gain vast sums of money while further pushing his own corrupt agendas.

I'm for quality ED, charters manipulate parents to exclude problem and special needs students. Public charters lie to and pressure parents to take students who are discipline problems out of charters. They lie to parents and tell them that if they do not complete mandatory volunteer hours and attend meetings that their children will be removed from the school. Public charters cannot do this. My friend is being pressured to medicate a 6 year old who commits the serious infraction of rolling erasers because he finishes his work early and is bored. This is a teacher not a student issue if a student is excelling academically but is finishing so early that he has time to misbehave, but at this PUBLIC CHARTER his mom is being encouraged to (1) medicate him and (2) remove him to another school with a special education program. This child does not have a learning disability or an emotional problem, but the school wants 6 year olds who can sit and do test prep worksheets for one hour (are there any of those?) and be little robots. If public schools could rid themselves of all "problem" students, test scores would go up too.

JEFF,

Where do you get your info from??? Did you know that Charter schools ARE PUBLIC schools? Did you know that if they were to reject ANY child that they would be breaking FEDERAL LAW? Did you know that they would get their Charter repealed if they CHOSE who went to their school??

ED.

I've been following this charter movement, since I was a Spec. Ed.teacher back in NYC in '92. I was concerned because... I too... was a strong UNION teacher. However, when LAUSD cut teachers' pay 15% without the teachers' permission in ’92-’93 and the unions here rolled over and played dead...I thought ...that’s crazy! Then I found out that the teachers in one school (Fenton Charter) actually SAVED their salaries by becoming a Charter School ...and because they had control of their own monies, they could give this former LAUSD school better services to both their General Ed. and Spec. Ed. students. Can you believe THAT??
I (am now a Realtor here in L.A. who) became frustrated my first few years teaching with LAUSD and seeing first hand how LAUSD and UTLA frustrated parents and this former teacher. I went into Real Estate because of my witnessing this firsthand. .. BUT not before becoming a Substitute Teacher for LAUSD, Alhambra SD and guess what ... a couple of charter schools as well!! SO I KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON!
Let me just say I'll take on you, any board member, parent and ANY bigwig in UTLA and give them my first hand account on all this. I'm STILL BIG on unions but when they don't bargain for better pay than some of these Charter schools and still manage to jerk teachers and kids at the same time...I say hell... let the charters do what they can for the kids and the charter teachers...because the UTLA and LAUSD sure aren't!
EDWARD B.
P.S. I bet the UTLA is fighting this tooth and nail because they're losing Teacher member dues just like LAUSD is losing ADA money from students dropping out!

To LAUSD Parent, to blame the ill's of LAUSD on unruly students is really a cop-out although unruly students should be dealt with in a different setting. What about unruly teachers and administrators who can't teach or administrate. If only 52% of students graduate what is that saying about the educators and the system being used.

Teachers should be reward on performance or fired on performance, what we have now is SOCIAL PROMOTION of instructors they are kept on inspite of inability.

My mother was a teacher for LAUSD for 37 years. She sent me to private school, and thank God she did.

These people are only interested in saving their own hides, not in improving the quality of education. Voters, please remember this when the commercials start to air showing the grim-faced teachers begging for millions more of our money.

Labor unions will cause the demise of California. Mark my words.

Here's to the privatization of education, selling our kids to "contracts," who bid to do the job for less, using facilities paid for with taxpayer money so outside vendors can make a buck. And when they display their impressively skewed results, remember that while we operate under No Child Left Behind, charters operate under the Pick and Choose. How would you, as a parent, feel to have your child be "just not good enough"?

Our tax money--their profit.

It's not about the "privatization of education", it's about rethinking the role and effectiveness of government and bureaucracy. Charter schools are public schools, funded by government, open to any student - and yes, there DOES need to be regulation in terms of charters not handpicking choice students, if charters are going to reform education, then that is critical. And THAT'S when the role of government comes into play - enforcing and regulating, ensuring equal access, but NOT acting as the provider. Charter schools are held to the same, if not higher standards, that the state and feds set; the key difference is, they get to choose how to get students to that point. Thanks to No Child Behind, we have graduated an entire generation of test takers, not critical thinkers, and that's a truly frightening prospect. It will take another generation to change that via public schools as we know them now, esp when you are talking about a district as massive as LAUSD. Government and bureaucracy will never innovate - it's inherently impossible for agencies of that nature to do so - but charters can, while providing the equal access that is the key to using education for the betterment of the whole of society. One size fits all - what LAUSD, the state and the feds have been pushing for the past 10 to 20 years - doesn't work in ANYTHING, let alone something like education in a city as diverse as Los Angeles. A public school teacher in a district like LAUSD essentially has had their hands tied during the NCLB era, forced to teach to a test and not tailor education to the specific students they are serving. By changing THAT - which charters can - giving teachers more control to teach to their specific students and hold them to the highest of standards, you can change the entire educational system.

Although we sometimes bemoan the cost and efficiency of the nation's (state/federal) largest social outlay - k-12 public education - the roots of this system are firmly embedded in an early historical understanding by American elected leaders that in order to create and sustain a healthy and functioning federal republic grounded in democracy, it would be critical to educate the populace in a way that would render them capable of staying informed on current issues facing their communities, state, and nation in order to establish the informed and skeptical constituencies that are the lifeblood of our political system. Thus the creation of state-sponsored public education for ALL children across the nation. Although it may groan under the weight of modern challenges to its original mandate – with English learners and new accountability legislation testing its durability and mission - it shouldn’t be dismantled by non-public, capitalist-driven forces that cannot or will not provide assurances that the historical promise and purpose of universal public education be upheld as the backbone of our democracy. Perhaps these groups hope for an educationally fragmented society of which they may take political advantage. Lest we forget, it's public education that's built the richest, most powerful nation on Earth - ours. The LAUSD school board has stopped the barbarians at gate – for now.

Hey,
Why does it say "outside groups" in this title, as if it's being handed over to aliens from another planet or to charter school operators or non-profits?
District teachers and administrators are not "outside groups"...they are inside groups... since it says that,"the big winners were the teacher-led groups that claimed the vast majority of the schools...". More so, we read,"charters claimed only 4 new small schools"
If some schools are being "given to groups of teachers and administrators" where is the reform there? Are these UTLA teachers and LAUSD administrators? If they are ...what is this "reform" really about??
It's confusing to read," the main competitors are district teachers and charter operators"... and that these are the,"bidders vying under the reform plan". It doesn't seem clear to me where the "reform" is ...if the same district teachers and/or administrators are the people who are getting most of these schools.
Shouldn't we, at least, know info on the track record of some of these "charter operators" who were also "vying" for these new and failing schools to see if they might have made a difference? Furthermore, when we read,"charter schools...are free from restrictions that govern traditional schools", does it mean legal restrictions such as equal access, which is a federal law and the like... or just district and union restrictions? Call me a critical reader if you'd like...but it seems like a status quo report on the status quo.
ED.

Maybe kids will have more vocal skills other then the words of, CHILL, K.lol

One thing to say to charter schools:
It must be nice to pick and choose who you want in your school. I want to see you work with the same percentage of special needs children and english learners as regular public schools. This also means...quit "encouraging" children who misbehave, don't do their homework, and have special needs to go back to public school.

One thing to say to taxpayers:
Charter schools are able to offer their children field trip incentives to San Diego for the weekend etc. if they pass the state test. Why are they able to do this? They don't have the bulging administrative costs that regular public schools have.

Before you place the blame on teachers, take the time to find out exactly how much control teachers have in a school. The answer may surprise you.

AS A RETIRED TEACHER OF FORTY YEARS, I CAN SURELY SAY THAT TEACHERS ARE THE BEST PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO RUN THE SCHOOLS....WHO IS BETTER QUALIFIED TO KNOW THE MANY AND VARIED NEEDS OF THE STUDENTS THAT WE FIND IN OUR CLASSROOMS....OUR STUDENTS LOOK UP TO US TO HELP THEM TO GET THE KNOWLEDGE AND GUIDANCE THAT THEY NEED.......NOT THE ADMINISTRATORS WHO HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE IN A CLASSROOM....NOT THE POLITICIANS, WHO HAVE NOT BEEN IN A CLASSROOM SINCE THEIR OWN SCHOOL DAYS, AND HAVE OTHER AGENDAS...IT IS THE TEACHER, WHO HAS DEDICATED HIS/HER LIFE TO THE TASK OF IMPARTING KNOWLEDGE TO THE SUCEEDING GENERATION...THINK BACK,..IT IS YOUR TEACHER THAT YOU REMEMBER, NOT THE ADMINISTRATOR.......!!!!!!........

 
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