Thursday, March 17, 2011

THE VIEW FROM ECHO PARK: Five Academies Chosen for Taylor Yard High School + LAUSD Trustees Pick Camino Nuevo to Run Echo Park's New Middle School

Five Academies Chosen for Taylor Yard High School: Of the five schools chosen, four have been asked to revise their plans.

By David Fonseca | Echo Park Patch |

March 15, 2011 | The Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Trustees decided on Tuesday afternoon which five learning academies will be allowed to operate in Central Region High School #13 in Elysian Valley, better known as the Taylor Yard School.

update: According to the Los Angeles Times mapping project, the school is actually located at the border of Cypress Park and Glassell Park.

The school will enroll students from across Northeast Los Angeles communities, including Mount Washington Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Echo Park.

Those five academies include Technology and Math and Science High School Alliance College -Ready Public Schools, ArtLab: Arts and Community Empowerment, the Los Angeles River School, Partnership to Uplift Communities (PUC) LA and the School of History and Dramatic Arts.

The five academies were approved by a vote of 5-2, with members Steven Zimmer, from District Four and Marguerite Lamotte, District 1, dissenting.

The sixth applicant, the School of Business, Technology and Education, will be considered for implementation at one of LAUSD's numerous campuses that have been slated program improvement.

Of those five schools, Supt. Ramon Cortines was only able to give a recommendation to Technology Math and Science High School Alliance College Ready Public School without a single reservation.

The other four academies will be required to re-submit their plans to Supt. Cortines by April 25. for consideration before they receive his final approval.

Of the L.A. River school,  Cortines said that the instructional proposal "pays close attention to student cultures and organizes the instruction in a coherent and standards based manner."

However, Cortines said the plan needed to be revised to provide research to support some of their instructional choices.

"Plans for assessment and data analysis seem unconnected to the instructional program and finally it does not spell out clear plans for addressing needs of English learners," Cortines said.

Cortines described the Partnership to Uplift Community's plan as "visionary," and listed the plan's well developed support structures as a strength. Like the L.A. River School, though, Cortines also called upon the group to provide more insight into how they would address the needs of English learners.

The School of History and Dramatic Arts was praised by Cortines for their instructional philosophy, which is built on the idea that "students learn best through experience and performance." Cortines lauded the academies proposal to bring together "strong academics, demanding technical education and real world experience."

The weakness in the School of History and Dramatic Arts' plan, according to Cortines, was a lack of emphasis in the areas of math and sciences. He asked that their plan be revised to address those areas in greater detail.  He added that their plan for English learners was not well developed and that their professional development regiment, while exhaustive, lacked rigor.

ArtLab, the last of the five schools to receive Cortines' recommendation, was noted for its basis in state and national instructional standards as well as its "emphasis on arts and media, a well articulated learning competency and multiple modes of assessment."

The plan needed to be developed though, Cortines said, to address math, science and english language development. The superintendent also called upon ArtLab to include language about vocational education in the plan.

The School of Technology, Business and Education was the one applicant left on the outside looking in. Cortines said the plan had some strong aspects, but overall, was underdeveloped. He  encouraged those academies that did receive his recommendation to take a close look at the School of Technology, Business and Education and integrate those stronger aspects.

Trustee Steven Zimmer, who represents District 4, asked that Cortines reconsider the decision to exclude the school and asked instead that all six academies be required to resubmit their proposals.

He pointed out that, for example, the Alliance Ready Public School only had experience operating as a school of choice and had not clearly laid out in their plan how they would effectively serve students of all abilities as a neighborhood school.

"It would be good for them to address how they would be a neighborhood school," he said. "They're very explicitly a school of choice because of the leverage and empowerment that allows them. I would never say they aren't serving all kids. I just want to get more information on how they would take their model and make their model into a neighborhood boundary school model."

Yolie Flores Aguillar, who represents District 5 communities, including Mount Washington, Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Echo Park, said the Alliance school would have no choice but to serve the needs of all students.

"We have made it very clear to the charter schools that if you want to play in this game, you have to meet the needs of all students," she said.

Zimmer also said that the School of Technology, Business and Education offered a distinct approach from the other five candidates and deserved a chance to refine their plan.

"There are some real important points that this plan offers that none of the other plans offer, and there are some special skill sets that the teachers bring to the table and they should at least be able to have a chance to re-submit," he said.

Board President Monica Garcia suggested instead said than rather forcing all six schools to undergo the submittal process for a second time, that the School of Technology, Business and Education should be considered for implementation at another campus in the next round of public school choice recommendations. "We have an ally in the School of Technology, Business and Education that we should seek," Garcia said.


LAUSD Trustees Pick Camino Nuevo to Run Echo Park's New Middle School

On a vote of 4-3, the board members decided to go against schools superintendent Ramon Cortines, who had recommended an Echo Park team of parents, teachers and administrators run the site.

By Anthea Raymond | Echo Park Patch |

March 15, 2011  - The Los Angeles Unified School District board of trustees voted Tuesday to select an established charter operator to run the new middle school in Echo Park.

The board selected Camino Nuevo Charter Academy on a 4-3 vote against the recommendation of schools superintendent Ramon Cortines.

One of those three votes came from school board president Monica Garcia, whose chief of staff Luis Sanchez faces Echo Park resident Bennett Kayser in a runoff for the LAUSD District 5 seat in May.

Superintendent Cortines had given a thumbs up to a team of Echo Park parents, teachers and educators last week, "with reservations."

Cortines also said at the board meeting Tuesday that the District 4/Community Partners plan clearly addressed  "the needs of the community."

Cortines also called Camino Nuevo "an outstanding partner," saying he was "blown away" with what he had observed there.

David Tokofsky, former LAUSD District 5 trustee who has also worked with Green Dot Public Schools, was critical of the board's vote.

"I'm someone who has worked with charters, but I've also been an elected trustee of the institution," he said.

"As a trustee, you should be finding ways to strengthen the success of the district, rather than spinnng things off," he said.

Board members did, however,vote to allow the community plan to be implemented at another site, if one could be found.

Superintendent Cortines said he thought "co-locating" such a school at an existing site would be difficult.

That idea did not sit well with Cheryl Ortega, director of bilingual education at United Teachers of Los Angeles, who worked closely with the community team.

"The group that put this plan together is the group that will decide what to do next," she said.

"It's like treating schools like Starbuck's," said Tokofsky.  "A neighborhood initiative can't be transferred to another neighborhood."

Hua Truong, director of operations at Camino Nuevo said, "Obviously there will be disappointment on the other side."

"What we really want to do now is to reach out, to collaborate and to talk to the community to make this a school that meets the needs of the community," he added.

Jose Sigala, chair of the Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, said his group looks forward to working with Camino Nuevo on a "parent/community oriented school."


Comments (15)

maz usc

8:59pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

as president of a community association located around one of camino nuevo's school i can say they are some of the worst neighbors and organizations to work with. their school has caused traffic, trash, noise and have allowed street vendor so what ever they wish. not one of my calls of letters were returned. good luck to Jose Sigala.

EP Citizen

9:00pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What a turn of events.

*who were the 4 board members who supported Camino Nuevo? and how would Kayser have voted?
*Tokofsky is an interesting source-- at the end of his board career he was on Green Dot's advisory board which has been "spinning students off" from south LA's schools for a decade now. Intriguing that he's against that practice when it's a different charter school operator "spinning off" a school closer to home
*with their immersive bilingual model, Camino Nuevo will directly serve Spanish-speaking families west and south of the new campus. But that won't sit well with English-speaking parents in Echo Park who have been starving for another middle school besides mediocre King MS.
*Camino Nuevo has more seats so they can expand their business-slash-educational mission. Good for them... Wondering, though, what would've been the community reaction to clearing out blocks of families via eminent domain if people knew then that the school would be handed off to a charter school corporation.


Staci Eddy

9:13pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is a great injustice. And I'm going to keep fighting



9:34pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I am so overwhelmingly disappointed I just don't know how to react. I sincerely hope the EPCP plan still has life because it is such an amazing plan and maybe we can find another site nearby that we could try to implement the EPCP plan.

Robert D. Skeels

11:11pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today's vote was a repudiation of the community in favor of the corporate.

Hua Truong, a businessman, not an educator, could care less about our community. If he and his unelected board of CNCA directors comprised of wealthy bankers really cared, then they would have respected the wishes of our community and withdrawn their bid. I'm sure his bonus will reflect their increased market share at our neighborhood's expense.

As it is, CRES #14 will be another privatized charter school, counseling out the most needy and completely obtuse to the Echo Park Community.

Micki Curtis

6:26am on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The board members who voted for CN were:
Monica Garcia  Tamar Galatzan (see following)
Yolie Flores (she will be leaving for the Gates foundation soon- please vote for Bennett Kayser in the run-off- and he would have voted for the community plan)
Richard Vladovic
Nury Martinez

Micki Curtis

8:30pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I apologize for my mistake as I was awake the night before camping out for my chance to be heard. Tamar Galatzan voted for CN and not Monica Garcia. However Monica Garcia, along with the entire board, with the only exception of Margueritte Lamotte, voted at the very end of the meeting for the approval of all the amendments.
We need to remember that Ms Garcia's assistant, Luis Sanchez is in the run off election and most likely the reason for casting this "safe" vote. Vote for Kayser!

Joan Kramer

7:27am on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Please vote for Bennett Kayser! We need to get rid of the corporatization of Los Angeles schools that is led by Monica Garcia and Yolie Flores. These people are a menace to public education and serve Gates, Eli Broad, and the aims of the rich.


12:16pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

the opportunist "moms on the hill" should be ashamed trying to speak for the community on their behalf. These are people who drive their kids out to private schools. Are you kidding me, these people obviously have resources, backing, and the know how to service their kids. I did an informal survey on a block in Echo Park and the only one minority sent their kids to Elysian Hts. while everyone else was driven to Westwood, even a Beverly Hills school. Were they merely trying to cut their commute. Due to gentrification many historic residents with no resources have lost their voice. I speak for many,many long term residents who are not on the same page.

Windy O'Malley

5:46pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I invite you to meet with me, the parents who started Echo Park Mom's don't live on a hill they live next door to the new school site. I don not drive my children to a private school they will attend public and I worked with all my neighbors and everyone who effected by the destruction of our neighbors homes and the development of this school. We are the people without a voice and no funds or support. You are a 100% wrong. Please meet with me to discuss. Unless you are a coward who only sits on the computer and spouts crazy! .Windy O'Malley Co-founder of Echo park Mom's and Dad's for education.

Robert D. Skeels

12:34pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The only opportunists in this discussion are the billionaires providing CNCA with extra funding, including Eli Broad, The Annenberg Foundation, et al. Or are we to believe that these wealthy white plutocrats are now representing multicultural and working class interests. How self colonized @dodgerblue, your oppressors have convinced you that privatization is the solution to poverty. For shame!

It's absolutely astonishing that LAUSD handed CRES #14 in Echo Park over to the private CNCA corporation. Our community voted by an over two to one margin in favor of the public school plan. The Superintendent recommended the community plan over the corporate charter. Residents were genuinely excited that they would have direct decision making in the school and its interactions with the community. Instead, the Mayor's pro-corporate candidates, some of whom had their campaigns financed by the vile reactionary Phillip Anschutz, decided to hand the new multi-million dollar facility over to the outside corporate charter interest. CNCA's board is unelected and doesn't feature a single educator.

Windy O'Malley

6:20pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Something very very dangerous is happening within the Corporate Support and manipulation of our schools. We should watch closely.

Joan Kramer

6:40pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thanks Windy. I have lived in Echo Park for over 30 years. I know we need a middle school, or K-8 that is run by teachers and parents and not corporations. Thank you for all that you are doing. My granddaughter attends Elysian Heights. I'd be happy to see her at the new school - but not at a Camino Nuevo Charter. And she is bilingual and I want her to stay bilingual!
Many experts have weighed in on the corporate take-over of our schools -- Stephen Krashen, Diane Ravitch, Susan Ohanian among them. They are on top of what is happening -- and it isn't for the benefit of our kids.

Janet Davis

7:41pm on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

As one of the plan writers, I knew from the beginning that Monica Garcia and her fellow Villaraigosa- supported board members planned to give the site to Camino Nuevo. I had hoped however, that if we wrote a plan that fit the neighborhood in all it's wonderful diversity, it could be a unifying center for the community and together we could overcome with positive organizing and community building. I am sorry that dodgerblue doesn't see the sincerity of his neighbors. If we don't come together believe me, none of us will succeed. The Board of Education's actions and words could create racial divides. We cannot allow ourselves to be reduced to their level, however, we also must follow the example of Board Member La Motte and call out the racism and political agenda evidenced by several of the LAUSD Board Members on Tuesday.

Dwain Wilson

3:55pm on Thursday, March 17, 2011


Can you comment on what the EPCP plan writers plan to do next? Is there consideration of trying to find a different site in which to implement the EPCP plan? It seems like there's an awful lot of momentum behind this. It'd be terrible to see it go to waste.

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