Education LAUSD

Brave New Schools


The fever among frustrated parents and educators
to break free from huge, dysfunctional school districts is not limited to Los Angeles.

In Denver, eighteen principals of eighteen Denver schools
have decided screw the centralized system. As an alternative, they intend to try to build an “autonomous school zone” with the idea of tossing overboard the union and district rules they feel are “bureaucratic barriers to improving student achievement,” according to the Denver Post.

Principals from the 18 schools
want to create a “zone of innovation,” giving them control over their budget, the educational program in the schools, staffing and incentives.

They want their own human
resources department, a budget support office and an enrollment center to help schools balance populations — sending more students to schools with empty classrooms and alleviating crowding in others.

“We’re talking about putting an umbrella
out here to make sure our kids get help,” said Ruth Frazier, principal of Greenwood School that serves kindergardeners to eighth-graders. “We’ve come together as a region. . . . This zone is to create a new operating system.

According to a second Denver Post article, several of the schools are making solid progress.

A few weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune reported an equally creative and drastic move in which Chicago officials proposed an overhaul of a cluster of failing schools that involved firing the staffs of eight schools and replace them with better qualified educators. Nay sayers say the move is something of a gamble, that it will require “an almost perfect alignment of stellar principals, committed teachers and re-invigorated curriculum and programs to succeed.”

It’s an enormous gamble. No school district in the nation has yet managed to pull off such a feat.

But, evidently in Chicago the mood of ABTT—Anything’s Better Than This—is winning the day.

We understand. Oh, how we understand.


FYI: Interestingly, the link to the article about the Denver plan was originally sent to me by Green Dot CEO, Marco Petruzzi, in an email with a subject head that read: The Revolution Spreads.

Yep. Seems so.

(photo of student at Aurora’s William Smith High by Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)


  • Meanwhile, the LA Times, Daily News, even the left-leaning L A Weekly you know so well ran critical pieces about the three bozos running for UTLA head: the self-same Duffy, Guthrie and Robinson. They’re variously described as “left leaning, even for the left-leaning UTLA,” “union hacks,” etc. If anything, they’re more anti-charter than Duffy, their major attack on him. Guthrie would insist that any teachers who join charters still be members of UTLA, while Robinson would ban them from membership — whichever is the greater punishment, they can’t seem to make up their minds. They see Locke’s embracing the Charter system a Duffy failure, and vow to battle the Mayor even more fiercely.

    All of them are mighty, mighty skeptical of other school districts that actually embrace charters, especially NYC’s. They even deride NYC for giving incentive pay to highly qualified teachers who agree to teach in the worst schools, for some bizarre reason. You yourself blogged about how the teachers put the cabosh on consolidating classrooms whose enrollments declined by midyear, although that could have conservatively saved some $25 million. Meanwhile, the district will start charging youth groups like AYSO soccer and the Scouts to use the facilities for after-school programs, which will raise all of an estimated $2 million — when that’s the cheapest investment in keeping kids out of gangs and trouble that I can think of.

    Other articles and Op Eds a couple of days ago lamented that it only took LAUSD 8 years to comply with a legal judgment to let Charters use underutilized school space. The L A Times quoted old-timer Julie Korenstein as saying, since Charters have proven that they could succeed even in storefronts and warehouses on year-to-year leases, they should just continue doing so, instead of stealing “our” space. HELLO, Julie, you and UTLA don’t “own” the schools, the taxpayers do, and they’re telling you they’re unhappy! Plotkin said that Charters “were just plunked down in our midst from outer space,” and now want “our” space.

    Never mind what I think about their refusal to build any schools on the westside in over 30 years, despite forcing busing on the areas — residents have even had to raise money on their own for basic renovations and playyards for the handful of elementary schools that they send kids to.

    Things are a little better with the “new” Mayor-controlled school Board, and the fact that all three UTLA candidates are so resentful of them is a good sign. But not enough.

    (Yup, I’m up too late, don’t ask…)

  • Charter schools largely succed because they concentrate on education, not meeting the current buzz in education. Get rid of the me-me-me programs, the left leaning faux historical outlooks and get back to historical efforts like there were say 50 years ago and even the LA School districts could shine. Get parent’s involved and get them to demand real education and you would be surprised what can happen.

  • Lots of bloviation from Roper but few examples. What is “Me, Me Me”? GM? Sounds like the Reagan Library! Faux historical outlooks? You mean when I was in school half a century ago and learned that Lincoln freed the slaves with no help at all from those, er, “negroes”? I think they told me George Washington Carver was real handy with peanuts but that’s about it. And don’t even ask about the indians!

    (We all built models of the missions where happy Indians toiled under the beneficent guidence of the padres)

    Oh, one more thing. All thes eterrible programs exist in the suburbs. Funny, those schools seem to work. Now why could that be?

  • RLC, as usual you work real hard at not understanding. I too went to school 50 years ago, in Arkansas and Virginia no less both southern states and Arkansas when we first moved there in 57 was going through the riots over integrating Central High School in Little Rock. But you know what, I learned a whole lot about Carver, about Slavery and it’s loathsomeness, I learned about John Brown and the Underground Railroad, I learned that all men were created equal and I’ve stuck by that. If you don’t know what the “Me-Me-Me” is all about, I suggest you try to update yourself on the self esteem mantra and how competition leads to Hurt Feelings and we can’t have that now can we?

    reg, don’t knock Rickover, he did a great job in modernizing the navy.

  • Let’s see. 50 years ago the Commonwealth of Virginia, in an attempt to keep Whites from being contaminated by Black students, closed down many of the public schools. Then “Segregation Academies” were opened. 30 something years later the Reagan Justice Dept tried to make the survivors tax exempt. Good conservative values eh?

    Yes Central High was integrated – with the help of the 82nd Airborne. I’ll give you style points though.

  • Hey GM Roper Room, your idea sounds great – now its time for you to donate some extra hard earned tax money to support the transition from LAUSD to Charter Schools.
    Your really a die hard liberal!

  • There’s nothing quite like her blog – unless perhaps some of the anti-McCain wingnuts on the GOP side. It’s bizarre. And they call US a “personality cult.”

  • RLC, see what I mean about your education? It was the 101st not the 82 and there were also 125 federalized Arkansas National Guard troops. My old man was the Regular Army Advisor to the ANG and took a lot of grief from some of those yo-yo’s who weren’t federalized. Years later, he said that they gave him grief, but always added “Sir” after it. 🙂

  • Taylor is becomming a bit shrill! Well, bound to happen. I mean if I were taking the kind of crap the Clintons have had to put up with I’d probably be bonkers too. So why not a surrogate feeling their pain?

    But I do think Obama might start noticing the incoming and strike back. Now he’s being hit for not immediately going to public financing as he said he might! Screw that! Throw McCain (whose broke) and his wife who is so proud to be an American (I would too if I skated drug charges like she did) an anvil.

    The media will bloviate for a few days – and ignore the fact that mister straight talk has reneged on his deal to use public financing in the primnaries – but the public don’t care.

    Let’s see. This week Obama was “unmasked” as:

    1. a plagerist
    2. a “Red Diaper Baby” (see NRO)
    3. void of ideas
    4. And his wife “hates” America

    Result – he CRUSHES Hillary in Wisconsin and outdraws the whole GOP Field (But then so did Hil).

    OOOH! I’m sooo Scared!

    (Goog practice for the fall when the scum dwellers on the right come out and play)

  • Actually, I’d think that Woody and GMRoper might be helping to circulate these McCain stories, except for the fact that the only other man “standing” on their side is Huckabee.

  • I can’t get fully inside your head, but I just think that’s weird. If I defined myself as a “conservative” (and I know it may come as a shock but I actually consider myself conservative in some ways) I’d vote for McCain in a minute. And if I were someone who was comfortable with George W. Bush – which is another can of worms – I’d be more than happy with a “compassionate Christian” amiable know-nothing like Huckabee.

  • Reg, no, it’s about taxes, immigration, national security, education, healthcare and how one looks at solutions to those very real problems. Does the Government step in and take care of us cradle to grave – – No Thanks!!!!

    Does the governmnet get the hell out of our way and let us be responsible for our own choices? Seems better to me, and remember, one of my choices was to smoke so the federal government doesn’t owe me crap for my cancer treatment, I’m fully responsible for that.

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