Jovana Lara | KABC7 News | http://bit.ly/erNai7
Thursday, January 13, 2011 -- WATTS, SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A major shakeup is in the works for one of L.A.'s most troubled high schools. David Starr Jordan Senior High School in Watts is being divided into three smaller schools that will be run by independent groups, not the Los Angeles Unified School District.
LAUSD announced the restructuring of Jordan High Wednesday. Thursday, the school sent letters home to parents explaining the changes.
Thursday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the decision was backed by 90 percent of parents and 60 percent of the school's staff.
One parent said Thursday's letter was the first she heard about the change.
There are big changes in store for Jordan High: Come fall 2011, the South L.A. campus of 1,600 students will be divided into three separate schools, each run by a different private entity.
"It is a matter of urgency," said LAUSD Regional Superintendent George McKenna. "It's been historically unacceptable for quite some time and now is the time to make a move.
McKenna is the man pegged to oversee the restructuring process, which involves having teachers, administrators and all school staff reapply for their jobs.
"When they reapply, we're going to have a list of things that we expect of them," said McKenna. "If you're willing to do it and can prove that you can do it, and show that you've had some experience doing it, you're welcome to come back. If you don't want to come back, that's fine, you'll get relocated."
According to LAUSD records, Jordan High has been underperforming for the last 13 years and the staff has been given opportunities to make improvements.
The last opportunity was in December when school administrators submitted a plan of action to the district. LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines deemed that plan to be short on ideas for implementation.
Jordan High administrators aren't commenting on the decision but some parents say they aren't pleased.
"What's going on here, that we as parents in this community knew absolutely nothing about what is going on?" said parent Helen Price.
"I'm sad. It's a good school, and people in the community are good," said Kelly Smith, a parent and an employee of the school. "I enjoyed working here. I love the kids. I think a lot of it is what you put in is what you get out."
As LAUSD prepares to revamp Jordan High, Thursday, school board leaders and superintendant-designate John Deasy applauded excellence at another LAUSD campus, Quincy Jones Elementary School, where two schools sharing one campus has proven successful.
"What's important is that Superintendent Cortines has had the courage to do the right thing," said Villaraigosa.
Jordan High School's 50 teachers and staff members will be asked to reapply in February. The process should take about a month.
LAUSD SUPERINTENDENT RAMON C. CORTINES BEGINS EFFORTS TO RESTRUCTURE JORDAN HIGH SCHOOL: School Will Be Separated Into Three Small Schools
LAUSD Press Release | http://bit.ly/fonw5W
January 12, 2011 -- Los Angeles – With a deep concern for students and a belief that every child deserves a better future, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines informed the Jordan High School staff on Wednesday that the school will undergo a major reorganization.
―Jordan has its strengths, its traditions, and has made some improvements over the last few years,‖ Cortines said. ―The reality is that even with these positive elements, Jordan is still struggling to educate and graduate most of its students.‖
The school graduates a little more than 3 out of every 10 students. Based on the 2010 California Standards Tests (CST), only one student out of 926 tested is advanced in mathematics and only another 13 students (2 percent) are rated proficient in mathematics. In English, only about 13 percent of students are proficient. Proficient means students are able to read, write and compute at grade level.
This is not Public School Choice; this is an emergency situation that requires immediate action,‖ Cortines said. ―Jordan has been in Program Improvement (PI) status for the last 13 years and needs special attention. The time for excuses has expired. The time for action and progress is long overdue.‖
Cortines is going to use the ‗Restart‘ model under the federal law provisions of No Child Left Behind. Beginning Feb. 1, he will put a trustee in place to see that staff and students understand their roles and responsibilities until the end of the current school year and, in the process, Jordan High School will undergo restructuring. As part of this restart model, all Jordan High employees in the spring—both certificated and classified—will have to reapply for their positions.
“Everyone bears responsibility for Jordan‘s challenges—District headquarters, administrators, school staff and union leadership,” Cortines said. ―”I no longer believe the school should be operated as a comprehensive high school but rather as three small independent learning academies run by internal and external partners that will work together to create a new Jordan.”
Jordan was unsuccessful in testing enough students last May to receive an Academic Performance Index (API) score given by the State Department of Education. In 2009, Jordan received an API score of 560. An API score of 800 is recommended by the State Department of Education. The school recently submitted a plan to improve the educational offerings and success of all students at Jordan but the proposal, while strong in its ideas, was short on how these ideas would be put into action. In response to that plan, Cortines explained detailed concerns about the rate of academic progress and the chronic low performance. As a result, the superintendent ordered the restructuring and invited partners to join him.
The partners that operate the new Jordan High School will be co-located as small schools. Jordan will still maintain its identity as one school, sharing one sports team and one ultimate mission: improving student achievement for every child. Cortines will announce the partners involved in this innovative approach in the coming days.
“During the restructuring we want open and ongoing collaboration around the needs of students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community regarding what is best for the Jordan family,”Cortines said. ―”I believe Jordan can rise to a standard where all students can excel.”