Thursday, November 04, 2010

PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE 3.0: REFORM OR GIVEAWAY? – The Players, The Scorecard + The imminent arrival of 'Superman'

the headlines:








San Pedro secondary school will not be part of school choice program

By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer | Daily Breeze |

11/03/2010 07:21:03 PM PDT - A new secondary campus that is planned as an "annex" of San Pedro High School will not be subject to a forthcoming Los Angeles Unified reform initiative, district officials announced Wednesday in a reversal of previous statement.

The school, which is being built on the former Upper Reservation at Fort MacArthur, is expected to house up to 810 students. Its construction divided the San Pedro community, which was promised that the campus would act as a satellite of the existing school and likely house two magnet programs.

Then, on Tuesday, the district announced that the new campus - known currently as South Region High School No. 15 - would be subject to the so-called Public School Choice process.

The unusual initiative allows charter operators and other outside groups to bid to run new and troubled LAUSD campuses. District officials have included 43 schools in a third round of bidding that was announced this week.

"It wasn't supposed to be on the list," said David Kooper, chief of staff to board member Richard Vladovic, whose district includes San Pedro.

San Pedro High School was required to undergo the first round of Public School Choice, which concluded last winter. The "annex" campus was included as part of that intensive reform plan.

"It already went through one process, it shouldn't have to go through another," Kooper said.

District Superintendent Ramon Cortines was unaware of a commitment to run the new

school as part of San Pedro High - a decision that was made in 2008 during the tenure of then-Superintendent David L. Brewer, LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz said.

"The superintendent was unaware of a commitment his predecessor, Admiral Brewer, had with the community," Alaniz said.

Cortines said he wanted to maintain the district's agreement with San Pedro residents.

"It's important that the district keep its commitment to the San Pedro community regarding the future status of South Region High School No. 15," Cortines said in a statement. "I look forward to this new high school surpassing all academic expectations under San Pedro High School's Public School Choice plan."

Along with San Pedro High, Gardena High underwent the first round of Public School Choice. Neither school received any outside bids.

A second round, currently under way, includes a new school in Long Beach that will cater to Carson and Wilmington students.

The forthcoming third round will include Carson High and a new K-8 campus in Wilmington. Also included will be a new elementary school in Playa Vista, which was not mentioned in an initial news item about the initiative in Wednesday's Daily Breeze.


School district puts Wilson High up for grabs

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Eastsider (El Sereno) in School Yard |

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - The Los Angeles school district announced a third batch of poorly performing schools it wants others to have a chance to operate, and El Sereno’s Wilson Senior High is on the list. The hilltop campus is one of 26 existing schools that will be made available to groups ranging from existing teachers to charter school operators in an effort to boost academic performance.  The schools were placed in L.A. Unified’s Public School Choice program for a variety reasons, ranging from low academic performance, slow improvement in test scores and, for high schools, poor dropout and graduation rates.

In addition to the 26 existing schools, 17 campuses currently under construction will also be made available for others to operate, according a school district press release. Groups interested in operating any of the schools must submit an application by October of next year. The school board and district superintendent would then make a final selection in December 2011.

More LAUSD schools up for reform

EDUCATION: District says 43 campuses are eligible, including nine from Valley.

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News |

11/02/2010 07:36:35 PM PDT - Los Angeles Unified officials announced Tuesday that nine San Fernando Valley schools will be among more than 40 campuses eligible for the third round of the district's landmark Public School Choice plan.

The reform effort, approved in summer 2009, allows nonprofit organizations, charter operators and teachers to apply to run new and underachieving campuses.

Union leaders, who have criticized the reform effort as a giveaway of public schools, are concerned about the district's decision to put such a large group of campuses through the competitive process.

A total of 43 schools will be open to the bidding process in round three, compared with just 12 in round two and 36 in round one.

But district officials celebrated the inclusion of so many campuses in a process they've touted as the cornerstone of Los Angeles public school reform.

"Our communities keep demanding greater movement on the part of the district," said LAUSD board president Monica Garcia. "Today I see us getting more aggressive."

District officials said for the third round of the initiative, 26 existing schools and 17 new campuses will be up for grabs.

Of the 26 existing schools, six are from the San Fernando Valley: Maclay, Sun Valley and Vista middle schools; Fulton College Prep and Sylmar and San Fernando high schools.

Three of the 17 new schools are in the Valley: Valley Region Elementary #13 and Valley Region Span K-8 #1 in the West Valley and Valley Region Span K-8 #2 in the East Valley.

Seen as experimental in its first year, Public School Choice placed 36 district schools up for bid, drawing about 200 initial applications from groups across the country.

But LAUSD officials felt they had overextended themselves in the first round and subsequently set earlier application deadlines and cut the number of schools to just 12.

"The superintendent wanted to be very aggressive addressing issues of school improvement," said Parker Hudnutt, executive director for LAUSD's Charters and Innovations division. "The first two years, we were making sure our systems were OK. ... We wanted to ramp up our effort for year three."

To get more aggressive, district officials raised the bar on the academic criteria. For example, any school with a score of 650 or below on the state's Academic Performance Index became eligible for the reform process. Last year the cutoff was 600 points on the state scale, which measures student achievement on a scale from 200 to 1,000 with a goal of reaching 800.

Schools were also expected to reach proficiency rates of 30 percent in English and math this year - up from rates of 20 percent in the previous two rounds.

Union leaders said the new criteria fails to recognize some schools that have made marked improvement, like San Fernando High School which increased its API score by about 70 points over the last two years.

Joel Jordan, director of special projects for United Teachers Los Angeles, said the union was also extremely concerned with the sheer number of schools chosen in this round.

"We don't believe that putting schools out for bid is the right way to achieve reform, but with this the district is basically saying Public School Choice is the only option," Jordan said.

"We don't think in this period of economic crisis the district has the capacity to support these schools, and that is going to make it more likely that they will be taken over by charters. This is the kind of recipe for giveaway we want to avoid."

LAUSD to put 3 area schools up for bid by outside operators

By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer | Daily Breeze |

11/02/2010 09:08:30 PM PDT - Three local schools will be put up for bid by outside operators in the third round of an unusual reform initiative from the Los Angeles Unified School District, it was announced Tuesday.

Carson High School, a new secondary campus in San Pedro, and a new K-8 school in Wilmington will all be available to charter organizations and other outside groups in the so-called Public School Choice 3.0 process.

District officials announded that 26 existing "focus schools" and 17 new campuses - all set to open in 2012 - will be put through the process. Two charter schools were also named to the list of focus schools.

Gardena High and San Pedro High have previously been subject to the intensive reform effort. Control of both schools was retained by LAUSD, as no outside groups applied.

A new high school - which is under construction in Long Beach and will cater to Carson and Wilmington students - is currently undergoing the process.

The announcement may prove controversial in San Pedro, which was divided over plans to build the new 810-seat school on the former Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

District officials had said they expected that campus to house two magnet programs and operate as an "annex" of San Pedro High.

●● smf's 2¢: because sending out a press release is engaging the community in meaningful discussion about the education of their children:

LAUSD SEEKS THIRD ROUND OF APPLICATIONS TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS: Superintendent Ramon Cortines Announces Public School Choice 3.0

LAUSD News Release

For Immediate Release Nov. 2, 2010

LOS ANGELES— Committed to using multiple strategies to improve public education, especially in the lowest achieving schools and new campuses opening in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines announced today that he is again inviting applications for a new round of the Public School Choice (PSC 3.0) initiative for schools opening in fall 2012.

This reform effort, first approved by the Los Angeles Board of Education in August 2009, encourages groups of teachers, other educators with proven track records, non-profit public organizations and charter school operators to develop research-based instructional plans with the goal of improving student achievement.

“Success for all students is the overarching goal of LAUSD. Because there is no single route to academic achievement, we are willing to look at multiple models of excellence inside and outside of the District,” Cortines said. “We are also willing to encourage and duplicate instructional strategies that are paying off, whether they are working in traditional classrooms or in other schools for the benefit of our children.”

Based on criteria released today, 26 existing schools, now known as ‘focus schools,’ are eligible for this latest round of Public School Choice due to low academic performances and the pace of improvement based on standardized test scores, academic proficiency--and for high schools, both the dropout and graduation rates.

The seven elementary schools are: 42nd Street, 107th Street, La Salle, Manhattan, West Athens, Western and Woodcrest.

The eight middle schools are: Bethune, Clinton, Cochran, Gage, Los Angeles Academy, Maclay, Sun Valley and Vista.

The one 6th-12th grade school is: Fulton College Prep

The 10 senior high schools are: Carson, Dorsey, Jordan, Los Angeles, San Fernando, South East, South Gate, Sylmar, Washington Prep and Wilson.

In addition, Superintendent Cortines has decided to accelerate the process for Huntington Park High School and Jordan High School.

Two charter schools, Cornerstone Prep and Bert Corona, also met the criteria identified for focus schools. The LAUSD’s Innovation and Charter Schools Division either has, or will follow-up with, these schools to take appropriate action as necessary including, but not limited to, establishing benchmarks, corrective action, possible revocation of the existing charter or school closure.

Focus schools may be considered for removal from Public School Choice 3.0 based on demonstrating accelerated improvement in student performance as measured by standardized tests and other criteria.

Seventeen new campuses will also participate in PSC 3.0.

The newly-constructed elementary school campuses are: Central Region #21; Central Region #22; South Region #5; South Region #9; South Region #10; South Region #11; South Region #12 and Valley Region #13.

The newly-constructed middle school campus is: South Region #3.

The span school campuses, designed for grades kindergarten through eighth, are: South Region Span #1; Valley Region Span #1 and Valley Region Span #2.

The senior high school campuses are: South LA Area New High School #3; South Region #7; South Region #9; South Region #12 and South Region #15.

More than one school may be located on each new campus.

Regarding all Public School Choice 3.0 participants—focus schools, charter schools and new campuses—family and community meetings will be scheduled in March and April of 2011.

For interested parties, a draft of the PSC 3.0 RFP and rubric will be released on November 30, with the final copy released on January 14, 2011. Important deadlines are as follows: March 1, 2011 is the due date for letters of intent; October 14, 2011 is the due date for applications, and following recommendations by the Superintendent, the Los Angeles Board of Education is expected to vote on which applications will operate the schools on December 13, 2011. The schools are scheduled to open in August or September of 2012.

For the latest Public School Choice information, please go to:


Los Angeles Unified School District
333 S. Beaudry Ave., 24th floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 241-6766
FAX: (213) 241-8952


blast from the past:

Echo Park’s newest school becomes a takeover target

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The eastsider (Echo Park) in School Yard |

The steel skeleton of Central Regional Elementary School #14 has risen quickly on a vast two-block site that was scraped clean of more than 50 Echo Park homes and apartments. L.A. Unified, which waged a battle with residents and several neighborhood groups over the site,*  had long claimed it needed to build the 875-seat campus to reduce overcrowding at nearby public schools. That does not seem to be a problem anymore, and the district has put the $68 million Echo Park school – scheduled to open in the fall of 2011-  up for grabs for others to operate.

CRES #14, located  southwest of Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard, is one of 9 new campuses that L.A. Unified is making available to private charter school operators, groups of teachers and other organizations as part of its School Choice program. Offers have been submitted by 129 groups to operate the new schools, L.A. Unified announced earlier this month.  Seven suitors submitted letters of intent to operate the Echo Park school. The bidders ranged from Gabriella Charter School, which currently occupies part of the nearby Logan Street School, to the Los Angeles teachers’ union. The applicants seeking the school are expected to make presentations to the public in the coming months before the school board decides who gets the school. That decision is expected to be made next February.

Here’s a list of the groups bidding for CRES #14

* One of those groups was the Echo Park Historical Society. The Eastsider is a society board member

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