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Westchester High to become magnet school amid cost, ethnicity concerns

Storied Westchester High, a destination campus for African American students, will convert to a magnet school next fall with a focus on sciences.

The plan put forth by the school's new principal, Robert Canosa-Carr, and his leadership team was approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles Board of Education to increase student achievement and reverse declining enrollment on the sprawling campus.

It will open next fall as the Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets with three separate programs: aviation and aerospace science education for gifted students; environmental and natural science engineering; and health and sports medicine.

Incoming Superintendent John Deasy called the plan "spectacular in its thinking" and "a thoughtful way for substantial improvement."

Although the school's test scores are improving, they remain among the lowest 20% in the state.

"This proposal is our best chance to make a significant difference in the lives of young people," said John-David Webster, chairman of the school's governance council.

But teacher Peter Accardi, speaking for a group of employees, said the plan "lacks clarity and collaboration" and could violate labor agreements.

Parent activist Kelly Kane expressed concern about insufficient community and parent input and worried that her seventh-grader would no longer be able to attend the local high school.

Admission to magnet programs, which were designed to promote integration, is based on a point system that takes into account such factors as a student's ethnicity, area of residence and whether a student matriculated from a magnet school serving younger students.

Westchester High is 73% African American, compared with about 10% districtwide. Largely middle-class, LAX-adjacent Westchester has a significant number of black residents, and black students from across the city opt to attend Westchester High.

School enrollment is about 15% Latino, compared with 74% districtwide. About 8% of Westchester students are white, compared with about 9% across the nation’s second-largest school system.

Under the magnet formula, the target enrollment would be 30% white, with other ethnicities making up the remaining 70%. Not all magnets achieve these targets.

At Tuesday's meeting, school board member Yolie Flores expressed concern that black students could be pushed out by the magnet-selection process.

A recent Westchester High graduate worried some that black students could be left behind because they had not been adequately prepared academically for a more rigorous program.

But Deasy and board member Steve Zimmer, who represents the area, said such concerns had been addressed.

There is room for everyone in the foreseeable future, and no current students would be turned away, Deasy said. With an enrollment of 1,400 students, the campus has the capacity to hold 3,000, district records show.

The president of the Westchester High School Alumni Assn., Joseph Martin, said he wanted to see specific language that would safeguard against the school's traditional "demographics changing."

He also said he wanted to see the new plan become an opportunity to retain only the most effective teachers.

Flores abstained from voting because of her concerns.

Board member Tamar Galatzan voted no. She said she worried about the district starting a new magnet program amid a budget crisis.

Magnet schools frequently add to district costs because students are bused to programs from different parts of the city. Galatzan noted that the current district budget eliminates most magnet coordinators at schools, potentially crippling the programs.

She urged a comprehensive review of magnets, including determining which ones should be eliminated and how to support the ones that are working.

Board members who voted for the plan were Zimmer, board President Monica Garcia, Nury Martinez and Richard Vladovic. The seventh board member, Marguerite Poindexter Lamotte, was not present.

ALSO:

Villaraigosa to focus on schools in state of the city speech

L.A. Unified releases school ratings using 'value-added' method

 -- Howard Blume

California Schools Guide

 
Comments () | Archives (21)

Board member Tamar Galatzan voted no. She said she worried about the district starting a new magnet program amid a budget crisis.

Magnet schools frequently add to district costs because students are bused to programs from different parts of the city. Galatzan noted that the current district budget eliminates most magnet coordinators at schools, potentially crippling the programs....
Good point, Magnet Coordinators have been defunded...how do you run a program without a Magnet Coordinator?...Good question...

"But teacher Peter Accardi, speaking for a group of employees, said the plan "lacks clarity and collaboration" and could violate labor agreements."

Of course why would you want to possibly put providing a useful and meaningful education before your own greed.

Lack of diversity is a bad thing regardless of what ethnicity makes up the majority. This is a great thing for students, and for the neighborhood.

With a school that is currently 73% African-American, some are worried that some blacks will be pushed out.

Would this be a concern if the school was 73% white? Blacks were bused into other neighborhoods because schools were better. Why should whites not be bused into this neighborhood if the educational opportunities are better? Seems we have some double standards here.

Westchester itself has a significant black population, sure, but the Playa del Rey-adjacent part where the school is located is about as black as your average small town in Utah or Vermont. Look, the reason Westchester High is 73% black is because white families in the area pulled their kids out of LAUSD in the '70s when busing started. Even after busing ended, Westchester--and especially the parts west of Lincoln--has remained a private school neighborhood. Turning a decidedly underused facility like Westchester High into a magnet might bring some of these folks back into the public school system.

And anyway, wasn't the big LAUSD construction program intended to eliminate most of the busing from central and southern Los Angeles to half-empty Westside schools? A friend of mine who used to teach biology at University High noted that at least 2/3 of her students were bused in from Koreatown or Westlake.

@ "True" Freedom - FYI - Historically whites tend to not generally be left out.

Diversity is a wonderful thing, but should be equitable.

"The president of the Westchester High School Alumni Assn., Joseph Martin, said he wanted to see specific language that would safeguard against the school's traditional "demographics changing.""

Wow, that takes a lot of nerve to make that statement.

Admission to magnet programs is based on a point system that takes into account such factors as students' ethnicity...

Really?! I thought ethnic-based decisions were illegal, under proposition 209, passed in the 1990s. When will we move away from ethnicity labels?

Forgive me, I'm from another state, but I thought the term Magnet School referred to schools that draw from the elite level talent from the region. Apparently, the term Magnet School was created for integration purposes...who knew? I hope this doesn't cause confusion on college entrance applications, because a magnet school where I come from shouldn't be held in the same regard as these magnet schools; our magnets schools provide the best education to the best students; L.A.'s magnet schools, well, just another school...race dictates the students who are accepted. Why call them magnet schools?

Who will decide and what will the criteria be for teachers to stay? Where will teachers go who are not retained at the new magnet school?

The most pressing concern is that African Americans will be pushed out of one of the few remaining schools where they are not lost amongst a large latino population. In total, AA's constitute less than 10 percent of the district--Westchester is one of the only schools where AA's can feel safe.

@TrueFreedom, there are many schools with white majorities--its called the "Westside." Many whites can afford to send their children to private, school--which is why you don't have the same problems with brown on white violence. Whites simply move away. Blacks often do not have the financial resources so just pick up and leave, hence the brown on black violence that plagues LAUSD.

I have one kid at Westchester High School, and have been receiving e-mails from the Principal assuring that everybody who is enrolled in school will continue being part of Westchester HS. Also kids from Wright MS who automatically go to Westchester will be accepted with not problem at Westchester Hs. If we are having this opportunity to have a better education for our kids, why start complaining and talking about skin colors, I am Hispanic and I do not feel left out. Please lets be all positive and support our schools, remember those kids are our future.

rusholmeruffian's comments below are correct.
Westchester has 16.6% African American population according to LA Times Data Desk Project of Mapping L.A., which doesn't correlate to the local High School being 73% African American. The students at the local high school are not the students of high school age who live locally. Local kids goe elsewhere due to the poor performance of this school.

"It will open next fall as the Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets with three separate programs: aviation and aerospace science education for gifted students; environmental and natural science engineering; and health and sports medicine."

These are GREAT programs that are being implemented @ Westchester High! These programs will bring nothing but POSITIVE thinking/education to the kids. It's a change for the better. I'm excited to see where it leads in the future.

A destination campus for African American students? Not a learning institution?ethnicity concerns? Oh I see! Say what you really mean dont Sugar Coat it!!!!!!!

So does this mean Westchester will now get book's in the Library which looks like Old Mother Hubbards cubbard (bare). Does this mean Westchester will get a computer Lab like Locke High? So what do all these Magnet titles really mean? Or is this just a politically correct way of of saying "Get back across Crenshaw where you belong?"

i can see this only as positive considering the current low achievement level. if you continue to dumb down the curriculum how can you expect the black students to excell in life. to date about the only success of this school has been the basketball program and that will not provide cahllenges and oportunities for very many of the students

I predict Inglewood High and Morning Side increasing their student enrollment next fall.

Look, if your child is gifted enough to attend a magnet school be happy. If your child is not gifted let him/her learn some street smarts at the other schools.

When I was at ING high, unfortunately, we only had ONE white student. Needless to say he was protected by the Latinos. When a certain ethnicity decided to punk him our entire bench got up. The single act of the entire bench standing up to go intervene stopped the assault.

I am a land owning Westchester mother. I have small children and in it's current condition would not send my children to this school. What needs to happen is for the Westchester community to send their children to the school; therefore, increasing community involvement. And children need to start attending their assigned school. No more of this busing children in, it cost a lot of money is not proving to help these students.

Let's see, a school that is among the WORST in California, and is NOT at all diverse? And the proposed program would create some great new teaching programs, bring in a much more diverse (i.e. balanced) student demographic, and all WITHOUT pushing out ANY of the Af. Am. students who currently or might in the future go to the school. So what's the problem? Or do you want to just keep it as place to send all the AA kids where they will continue to underperform, while those who can afford it continue to go to private schools?

We don't need another failed magnet school. They need to STOP busing in the kids from other areas! This is killing our property values and forcing parents to send their children to private schools. The schools are nothing like the demographics of the local tax paying home owners of Westchester.

Local residents need to get organized and take a stand to get their own school district. Property values would go up significantly if we had better public schools and the children would be the ones that benefit the most.

Stop moving the problem around and fix it locally.

Additionally,

I grew up in the area. I know what the locals think. The same people that went to Westchester in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s would NEVER put their own children in that school. It's not just because white kids are outnumbered or because of race itself, but because the school just sucks.

So what is the causation? Correlation? When did it start? Can we be honest or should we be politically correct at the expense of our kids, black AND white?

These are real questions that should be asked for the sake of public schools in LAUSD. The PC nonsense answers and solves nothing. Let's grow up.


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