Thursday, February 14, 2013


●●smf: Who will train parents in the shared-management model? John Deasy?

by Barbara Jones, LA Daily News |

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten holds a news conference while visiting Woodland Hills Academy on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

2/08/2013 07:19:54 PM PST  ::  Touting the success of an innovative school-governance system created as an alternative to charters, teachers union officials announced Friday they'd received a $150,000 grant to help expand the program to other Los Angeles Unified campuses.

United Teachers Los Angeles plans to use the money from the American Federation of Teachers to create a training camp for educators who want a say in their school's budget, curriculum and scheduling decisions - the hallmarks of the so-called Expanded School Based Management Model.

"This shared-governance model should be celebrated and replicated," AFT President Randi Weingarten, who announced the grant at Woodland Hills Academy, where the ESBMM was introduced in 2006.

Seven years ago, when the Woodland Hills campus was known as Parkman Middle School, a group of teachers was preparing to become a charter because of dissatisfaction with declining enrollment and bureaucratic constraints.

Those were the days before charter conversions, which give traditional schools more flexibility but let them remain affiliated with the district.

Hoping to avert the defection, which would have taken the school out of district control and the teachers out of the union, UTLA created the ESBMM.

That allowed administrators, teachers and parents to collaborate on how the campus should operate as part of the LAUSD system.

Actively marketing a new curriculum that included humanities, health care and law/government classes, school officials saw dramatic increases in enrollment and test scores.

"It's a nice place to be," Principal Ed Hayek said. "We're doing it better. It's a recipe that works. People care and can trust each other."

Mike Bennett, who was principal when the school was known as Parkman, has come out of retirement to oversee the UTLA training program, which will be known as the Center for Effective School Improvement.

He expects to hear from teachers at academically struggling schools or campuses where principals are open to sharing their decision-making authority.

School board member Steve Zimmer, who has raised concerns about the explosive growth of charters, said the ESBMM as an innovative way to create flexibility while remaining part of the system.

"The status quo is dead, and all of us have to be engaged in changing the process," said Zimmer, who represents Woodland Hills and is seeking re-election to his district.

"When parents, teachers and administrators choose to build an unlikely coalition ... change becomes supercharged."

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