by Paul Clinton, Staff Writer | Daily Breeze
December 17, 2007 - Hoping to stem the tide of sixth-graders abandoning Los Angeles Unified elementary schools on the Westside for private schools, trustee Marlene Canter is stepping up recruiting efforts for seven middle schools.
Canter wants local parents to take another look at LAUSD, so she's offering tours of higher-achieving magnets, hosting an open house and extolling the virtues of
"Many families in the areas that I represent send their children to LAUSD elementary schools, but opt for private schools when their children get older," said Canter, who represents schools from
"But as the district opens new schools in overcrowded areas, we now have the opportunity to increase local resident enrollment."
Her case should be bolstered by the decision of two
Last week, parents and teachers at
Parents often switch from LAUSD to private schools, because they perceive them to be safer and believe they offer higher quality academics, parents and educators say.
Or they'll search out homes in places like
"You get a heck of a lot more house for the dollar in
The tidal outflow may be starting to reverse itself.
Stephen Rochelle, principal of Wright Middle, said he has captured more local residents in the past two years. He also acknowledged the district must improve its academic program.
"We need to reform schools, so we can do a better job of educating all children," he said. "When we do a better job, we will get the results we're looking for. Those results will be higher test scores, lower suspension rates, higher attendance rates and high rates of parent satisfaction, teacher satisfaction, student satisfaction."
At Wright, about half the incoming sixth-graders arrive from five local feeders - Cowan Avenue Elementary,
Of the crop of 306 entering in 2005-06, 162 arrived from local feeders. Another 109 arrived from other LAUSD schools. The remaining 35 moved into the district or transferred in from a private school.
When they leave LAUSD, parents often enroll their sixth-graders in private schools such as the
Nancy Timmons removed her son from Cowan Avenue Elementary midway through second-grade and enrolled him in Westchester Lutheran.
Her son had been identified as gifted and was often bored in class.
"In LAUSD schools, there's a particular curriculum they have to abide by," Timmons said. "If your child falls outside of that, they will not tailor the curriculum to your child's needs."
The LMU Family of Schools has set a goal of repairing the broken feeder link. Only a small group of students attend LAUSD schools from kindergarten through 12th grade on the Westside.
Drew Furedi, executive director of the LMU Family of Schools, said keeping students on one education path would provide them better continuity in instruction and likely raise achievement.
"The overall thing we're seeing is that parents, now going back several years, are making other choices," Furedi said. "If you're creating those linkages (between the schools), there's greater support for those students going through the pipeline."
Parents have until Jan. 11 to apply for enrollment at LAUSD magnet programs.
After Jeanette Salazar's son leaves
"Private schools are so expensive," Salazar said. "If they improve the academics at the public middle school, that could be a good decision for me."