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LA education leaders react to Great Public Schools Now’s plan to expand successful schools

Craig Clough and Sarah Favot | June 15, 2016



MonicaGarcia2The much-anticipated Great Public Schools Now (GPSN) plan to expand successful schools in the Los Angeles area was released today, and education leaders are weighing in.

GPSN says it will fund the expansion and replication of successful schools in 10 high-needs neighborhoods, including charter schools, magnet schools, pilot schools and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools — and not solely charters, as a controversial early draft plan stated.

Reaction has come in across a wide range of viewpoints. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the LA teachers union, offered up the harshest criticism of the new plan so far.

Here are reactions from some key education leaders in California and Los Angeles:

“This new plan is a public relations move meant to distract from the original proposal, which was greeted with widespread condemnation. It’s clear by the group’s new pro-charter board of directors that the goal remains the same—to rapidly expand unregulated charter schools at the expense of neighborhood schools. It is deeply irresponsible for this group to continue to pursue its agenda in light of the recent report that showed the unchecked growth of charter schools is having a devastating impact on funding for the schools that most LA students attend. We can’t let the majority of our schools starve so that a few privately run schools can do well.

“Instead of defunding and deregulating our neighborhood schools, we must invest in sustainable community schools that support student learning and address issues of access and equity. UTLA is working with parents and community members to fight for investment in schools. Our recent contract agreement makes significant strides for our students and our classrooms, sets a foundation for more improvements to public education in Los Angeles, and addresses equity for our highest-needs students.” — Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA 

 “As a product of the Los Angeles Public Schools, I was able to get a strong college preparatory education, attend college at 16 and graduate in four years. Today, with a college education more important than ever, every Los Angeles student deserves the same opportunity that I had. But not every school gives students the preparation they need for college admission and graduation that affords them the opportunities that a college education provides. That is why UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) supports Great Public Schools Now’s commitment to finding what works in public education and ensuring that college is attainable for every child in every neighborhood—not just some children in some neighborhoods. Because, as we say at UNCF, ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste.’” — Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund

“My take is that if it’s sincere, if they’re genuine about this collaboration, it’s definitely a step forward. I think the real question is going to be how it’s presented to the district, in the spirit of collaboration with the district rather than done to the district…. (Facilities is) where it gets really delicate because LA Unified has the buildings. What we need is a way to reasonably and equitably share facilities. Again, that requires a lot of sensitivity to how that’s done on both parts, both on the district’s part and whoever is leading this effort. Right now we have underutilized schools in many communities and charters in inadequate facilities.” — Pedro Noguera, professor of education at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

“I don’t think that this is the plan. I think that it’s sort of a scaffolding and design. And I think that’s fine. I guess it’s reasonable for folks to kind of pull back and take time to develop a plan — what it will actually be and what it will actually look like. So I don’t feel that I can react to what was released today as if it were really a plan. I don’t think is. There was a moment in which I thought that this project really might be or could be kind of an all kids project or an all students project in Los Angeles. The scaffolding that was released today doesn’t have those indicators. And while it is not a charter exclusive plan, it raises a lot of concern about who will be included and who will be left out.”  LA Unified school board President Steve Zimmer 

“Inspiring opportunity to increase achievement, opportunity and learning for students and the adults who build support and services for them. Accelerating achievement is a goal very much aligned with LAUSD families and leadership. I very much appreciate GPSN leadership and experience in serving youth and transforming systems. GPSN is strengthened by champions for children and high commitment individuals who have been partners in the work of LA for several decades. Lastly, when talent, resources and urgency comes to assist LAUSD in addressing unmet need in extremely challenging environments, I am grateful that Superintendent King and so many leaders are embracing the opportunity to build the bridges towards success that lift our students out of poverty, marginalization and into their rightful place in creating solutions for our communities. The quest for educational justice has been a challenge since Mendez vs. Westminster in 1947. We have much work to do.” — LA Unified school board member Monica Garcia

“United Way of Greater LA looks forward to reading the full GPSN plan and identifying areas of alignment that grow successful education models within LAUSD. We believe external resources are vital to ameliorate the fiscal challenges facing the District and we continue to advocate for the equitable distribution of internal and external resources.” — Elmer Roldan, director of Education Programs and Policy at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

“I appreciated the plan’s recognition of the value of teachers and principals and the recognition that enrollment in teacher preparation programs is ‘rapidly declining.’ As I attended graduations over the last two weeks, I was struck by the hundreds of students crossing the stage due to their hard work and dedication and the hard work and dedication of their teachers and school staff. Teachers, principals, and school staff dedicate their professional lives to making the dreams of our youth a reality. They educate our children so that our children can live their dreams as writers, artists, doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, etc. But something is clearly going wrong when people no longer want to be teachers and ’50 percent of new principals are not retained beyond their third year of leading.’

“I hope that GPSN’s efforts will focus not only on teacher and principal preparation but also getting our society to recognize the value of teachers and principals professionally and economically.

“As the School Board representative for both Pacoima and Panorama City, I welcome any efforts to truly acknowledge and assist the schools, students, parents, and communities in those areas. I suggest that GPSN transparently and openly reach out to the Neighborhood Councils and many highly active CBO’s in the areas and get to know what the community really wants via open and widely-publicized public forums.” — LA Unified school board member Monica Ratliff

“The charter community wants one thing above all else: high quality public schools. We support any effort to identify great schools, whether they are charter, magnet, pilot or any other type of public school, and help them flourish and expand in the neighborhoods that need them most.”  California Charter Schools Association

“Well, as your article noted, it has a dearth of details. Reading it from a philanthropic perspective, however, they telegraph pretty clearly who’ll be receiving funds. I gather that will be officially revealed on Thursday. I wish they’d shared what portion would likely go to each of their four categories. Any of the four could easily absorb the entire budget.

“I also hope that the open invitation to LAUSD by GPSN to collaborate isn’t met with a cold shoulder, because that’s not what would be best for children.” — Jim Blew, director of StudentsFirst California

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