Saturday, February 27, 2010


Themes in the News for the week of February 22-26, 2010


This week the Los Angeles Unified School District, following some, but not all, of Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ recommendations, overlooked established charter operators and assigned most of the schools in contention to be run by organized groups of teachers and administrators who are already employed by the district (Education Week).

To the surprise of many, three of the “most politically potent” competitors for control of the schools “got knocked out”: “Green Dot Public Schools, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and ICEF Public Schools (Educated Guess).

Not surprisingly, the decision was heralded by observers who see great potential in the combined and cooperative efforts of thethe district, local communities and parents, and teachers to run local schools. According to Cortines, "So many of our school communities have stepped up to the plate to improve the conditions at their schools," he said. "Schools that have been struggling for years now have a sense of urgency and commitment to improving their schools" (Los Angeles Times).

In a similar vein, Professor John Rogers of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, said, “I think it was a positive thing. We need to look at school improvement efforts as a combined focus on education programs and building civic capacity in the community and building the skills of community members to participate and take action” (Our Weekly).

Disagreeing, Jed Wallace, chief executive of the California Charters Schools Assn., thought it was “an appalling decision.” “Merit was not at the heart of the matter today. The three organizations taken out of the process today . . . are understood at the national level to be the gold standard as far as charter operators go" (Los Angeles Times).

Yet, Charles Kerchner, Research Profesor of Education at Claremont Graduate University, agreed with Cortines and the Board, indicating that teachers and their union, allied with parents and the district, had plenty of merit. “In the contest with the charters, though, UTLA and the school district provided vivid proof that they could compete with the best of them. The school designs they proposed were not radical, but they were interesting and coherent (Huffington Post).

Maria Brenes, Executive Director of Inner City Struggle (ICS) and a key player in organizing the community, civic leaders, Eastside teachers, parents and students, applauded the Board’s decision and made clear that it is only the first step in the reform process. She promised that ICS and the broader community “will be there to monitor, make sure that we create one of the best high schools in all of East L.A. in all the district” (Eastern Group Publications).

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