Superintendente Ramón Cortines Se Retira del Distrito Escolar de L.A.

July 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) confirmó la semana pasada que el superintendente Ramón Cortines, se retirará del cargo dentro de seis meses.

En forma sorpresiva, el hispano Cortines hizo mención a su retiro el pasado 23 de junio en la reunión de la junta directiva en la que el LAUSD aprobó el presupuesto para el año escolar 2015-16, por un valor de $7.800 millones de dólares, que incluye el despido de más de 380 profesores y ofrece un aumento de salario de 10 por ciento a los profesores en los próximos 18 meses.

A pesar de la mención, al final de la reunión, el presidente Richard Vladovic, según informó el diario Los Ángeles Daily News, restó importancia al comentario de Cortines.

No obstante, al siguiente día, la portavoz del LAUSD, Mónica Carazo, confirmó a Efe que efectivamente el superintendente se retiraría del cargo en seis meses.

La noticia no se esperaba, pues en mayo la junta de gobierno del distrito escolar había extendido el contrato de Cortines por un año más, estableciendo el inicio del 2016 como punto de partida para comenzar a buscar el reemplazo del experimentado superintendente.

Cortines, quien cumplirá 83 años en julio, se desempeñó como superintendente durante tres años desde el 2008 y había estado encargado de la superintendencia en el 2000.

En octubre pasado, ante el retiro forzado del superintendente John Deasy por un aparente conflicto de intereses en un contrato para suministrar iPads a los estudiantes y otras críticas de miembros de la junta, Cortines asumió nuevamente la dirección del LAUSD interrumpiendo su retiro laboral.

El experimentado educador hispano también se desempeñó como superintendente escolar en Pasadena, San Francisco, San José, fue canciller escolar en Nueva York y trabajó como asesor del exsecretario de educación Richard Riley.

El LAUSD es el segundo distrito con mayor número de alumnos del país con más de 655.000 estudiantes registrados en el año académico 2013-2014, según sus propias cifras.

El 73,4 por ciento de sus estudiantes son hispanos y más de 161.000 estudiantes están aprendiendo a hablar inglés en las aproximadamente 1300 escuelas y centros educativos del Distrito.

New LAUSD Board Members Seated

July 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ref Rodriguez and Scott Mark Schmerelson joined the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education today, replacing Bennett Kayser and Tamar Galatzan, while Richard Vladovic began his third term and George McKenna was sworn in to his first full term.

Rodriguez, the founder of a chain of charter schools known as Partnership to Uplift Communities, defeated Kayser in a May runoff election in District 5. Kayser, who was backed by the United Teachers Los Angeles teachers’ union, faced stiff opposition from charter school backers due to his general opposition to charters.

District 5 includes Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Bell, Cudahy, Los Feliz and Huntington Park

Schmerelson, a retired LAUSD teacher and principal, defeated Galatzan, in the San Fernando Valley’s District 3 in May, while Vladovic defeated teacher Lydia Gutierrez to continue representing District 7, which includes the Harbor area and reaches into South Los Angeles.

McKenna ran unopposed for the District 1 seat, which he originally won in 2014 in a special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. The district represents south and southwest Los Angeles.

After the members were sworn in, the board elected Steve Zimmer as board president. Zimmer appointed McKenna as board vice president.

LAUSD Lowers Graduation Requirement

June 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Faced with the possibility that nearly 75% of current sophomores might not graduate high school, the Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to lower graduation requirements scheduled to take effect with the class of 2017.

The school board’s decision will allow students who receive a D grade in college prep classes needed to graduate, lowering the standard set 10 years ago that requires a C or better in so-called A-G classes needed for admission to California colleges and universities.

The controversial Equity on A-G Resolution was co-sponsored by board members Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and George McKenna. The board members said the change is intended to “improve a 10-year old policy aimed at closing the achievement gap, and preparing students for college and careers,” but has resulted in some unintended consequences that could lead to more students dropping out of school.

Easing of the requirement would boost the high school graduation rate, said backers of the change in LAUSD policy.

It also puts the District’s graduation requirement in line with those in neighboring school districts and state standards.

But at a rally in front of LAUSD headquarters Tuesday, parents and students said lowering the requirement is shortsighted. They said the decision would allow students to think they are ready for college when in reality their LAUSD education will leave them unprepared for the rigors of higher education.

“We want to stop graduating them with nothing in their head,” said parent Brenda Hearn, NBC 4 reported.

However, at a larger rally that day, members of a coalition supporting the board’s resolution countered that students should not be blamed for the District’s failure to adequately prepare them to pass the classes with a C or better. They said students shouldn’t be discouraged from getting their high school diploma because the District has failed to live up to promises made a decade ago.

What’s needed is a stronger commitment on the part of the District to help students pass the classes and to close the achievement gap, said Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle, a leading advocate for the tougher requirement a decade ago.

Board member Garcia said the demands of the community are “loud and clear.” They support the A-G requirement and believe “our children are capable of achieving their potential and that every child, with the proper academic support, can become a college and career ready LAUSD graduate.”

Board members also voted to conduct a district-wide audit of programs that are intended to help students prepare for graduation and college.

Board members said the A-G resolution passed Tuesday must be accompanied with a commitment by the District to give students and teachers the support they need to be successful.

Coalition members said Tuesday they expect the District to develop a strategy that will allow students who are “off track” for A-G, to “get the services that they require – such as counselors, credit recovery programs and online courses – in order to pass these classes.”

 

Two Challengers Win School Board Races

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ref Rodriguez and Scott Mark Schmerelson will join the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education July 1, replacing Bennett Kayser and Tamar Galatzan, while Richard Vladovic will begin his third term.

Rodriguez, the founder of a chain of charter schools known as Partnership to Uplift Communities, defeated Kayser, 53.55 percent-46.44 percent in Tuesday’s election in District 5, according to unofficial results released by the City Clerk’s Office.

Kayser, who has generally opposed charter schools, drew fire from the California Charter School Association, which put its financial might behind Rodriguez.

A former teacher and technology coordinator for the district’s Independent Studies program, Kayser had the backing of the powerful United Teachers Los Angeles union, which reportedly spent $800,000 to help Kayser, nearly $1 million less than what the Charter School Association was reported to have spent in support of Rodriguez.

Rodriguez finished first in the March primary election but fell short of the 50 percent of the vote needed to unseat Kayser.

District 5 includes Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Bell, Cudahy, Los Feliz and Huntington Park.

Schmerelson, a retired LAUSD teacher and principal, defeated incumbent Tamar Galatzan, a deputy Los Angeles city attorney, 54.61 percent-45.38 percent in the San Fernando Valley’s District 3.

Galatzan also had the support of the California Charter Association. Schmerelson had the backing of UTLA.

Galatzan congratulated Schmerelson on the victory and said she was proud of what the board accomplished over the past eight years “during difficult financial times.”

“I was an advocate for students before being elected to the school board,” she said. “I am an advocate for students as a board members and I will continue advocating on their behalf long after my time on the board.”

Vladovic defeated teacher Lydia Gutierrez, 55.91 percent-44.08 percent in District 7, which includes the Harbor area and reaches into South Los Angeles.

UTLA officials hailed the election of Schmerelson and re-election of Vladovic.

“UTLA is ready to work with all school board members in our fight for the Schools LA Students Deserve,” according to a union statement.

Breves de la Comunidad

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Ángeles

Ref Rodríguez y Scott Marcos Schmerelson se unirán a la Junta de Educación del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles comenzando el 1 de julio, en sustitución de Bennett Kayser y Tamar Galatzan.

Rodríguez, fundador de una cadena de escuelas Charter, derrotó a Kayser 53,55% contra el 46,44% en las elecciones del martes por el Distrito 5, de acuerdo con resultados extraoficiales de la Oficina del Secretario de la Ciudad.

Rodríguez obtuvo el primer lugar en las elecciones primarias de marzo, pero no llegó al 50% de los votos necesarios para desbancar a Kayser.

El Distrito 5 incluye Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Bell, Cudahy, Los Feliz y Huntington Park.

 

Boyle Heights

Un camión transportando una carga de vidrio se volcó el lunes por la mañana provocando el cierre de la carretera transición del sur de la autopista Santa Ana (5) a Pomona (60) en dirección este, dijeron las autoridades.

El chofer del camión sufrió heridas menores en el accidente, que ocurrió alrededor de las 6am y también involucró una camioneta, informó la Patrulla de Caminos de California.

La causa del accidente está bajo investigación.

 

Este de Los Ángeles

Doce personas sufrieron heridas leves el domingo cuando una van de pasajeros chocó con un tren del metro de la Línea Dorada, dijeron las autoridades.

El accidente ocurrió alrededor de las 5:35pm  en la intersección de la Calle Tercera y la Avenida McDonnell, dijo el oficial de la Patrulla de Caminos de California M. Alvarez.

Lorena P. García, 30, de Los Ángeles conducía una van Ford 1996 hacia el oeste en la calle Tercera en la intersección de la Avenida McDonnell Avenue y el operador del tren MTA Hugo A. Repreza, 56, de Reseda iba hacia el oeste en la Calle Tercera en McDonnell Avenue, dijo Alvarez.

“Cuando García hizo un giro a la izquierda, la furgoneta chocó con el tren MTA”, dijo el oficial.

Diez de los heridos sufrieron lastimaduras en el cuello y espalda, descritas como menores, y fueron trasladados a hospitales, según el Departamento de Bomberos del Condado de Los Ángeles

El teniente Lester Trull de Servicios de Tránsito del Alguacil del condado de Los Ángeles dijo que todos los heridos se encontraban en la van.

El tren tenía cuatro pasajeros a bordo. Ninguno resultó herido, ni el operador del tren, dijo Trull. El accidente esta siendo investigado por la CHP.

LAUSD Superintendent’s Contract Extended

May 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines Tuesday received a one-year contract extension from the Board of Education.

Terms of the extension were still under review, but nothing, including salary, was expected to change from the previous pact, which runs through June 30, 2015 according to Thomas Waldman, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s director of communications.

Cortines is under a contract that will run through June 30, 2016. It calls for him to receive an annual salary of $300,000.

The agreement will become public once the deal is finished, Waldman said.

Cortines was appointed interim superintendent on Oct. 16, replacing John Deasy, who resigned.

Cortines also served as LAUSD superintendent from 2008-11, when he was succeeded by Deasy. Cortines was also the district’s interim superintendent in 2000.

Respecting School Choice: No Need for Villians

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The denial of space to Collegiate Charter High School at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights may have been for reasons other than a strong opposition to charters schools as far as the Los Angeles Unified School District is concerned.

But there is no denying there are those who see every issue involving a charter school as a call to fight the “devil in our midst.”

We find that view discouraging and disrespectful to parents who feel a charter school would better serve their child’s needs.

The recent decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District to back away from its plans to give space on the Roosevelt High School campus is a case in point.

While we understand the objections to the site placement by students and local activists who believe a Wellness Center would better serve the needs of current and future Roosevelt students and their family, we disagree that the villain in this case is Collegiate Charter.

LAUSD is required by law to share facilities with charter school operators, but the District and local school board member were fully aware of the community’s desire for a Wellness Center at Roosevelt when it agreed to give space to Collegiate on the campus. The problem is LAUSD.

Roosevelt has struggled for more than a generation with poor academic outcomes, forced to endure years of overcrowding and shortages of textbooks, desks, college prep classes, year-round, multi-track schedules and even long lines to eat lunch.

This newspaper has published many articles over the years about the unacceptable conditions at Roosevelt and the desperate need to reduce overcrowding and for real education reform.

Our goal here is not to judge the effectiveness of public or charter schools, but to remind our readers that there is no simple, single right answer along the path to educational equality and closing the academic achievement gap for Latino students.

We should not forget that the popularity of the charter school movement, and for that matter, the pilot schools and small learning academies on many local campuses today, exist because the status quo public schools were failing too many students.

Students, parents, and yes, many teachers lobbied hard to bring change and greater school choice to LA Unified. EGP believes that no student or parent should be denied an education in the school of their choice, nor should they be intimidated in the process.

We have always been supportive of efforts to provide the best facilities the District has to offer to all students. It disappoints us that instead of greater collaboration between all school systems to better serve all students, some people prefer an adversarial and winner take all scenario.

A parent’s decision for their child’s education should be respected, no matter if it’s for a traditional public, charter or parochial school.

EGP wants all students to find the school that best fits his or her educational needs. All students are entitled to comfortable and safe campuses with good instructional materials, books and counseling.

And we want all the students’ parents to be respected and supported in the system of schools they have chosen.

Charter Blocked to Make Room for Wellness Center

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The battle over charter school expansion was recently front and center at Roosevelt high School in Boyle Heights, where students, parents and anti-charter school advocates are calling a decision to not allow a charter school to co-exist on the eastside campus an important victory.

In November of last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD, started the process to allow Collegiate Charter School to operate out of 6 classrooms in bungalows on the Roosevelt campus, a decision that angered students and area activists who said the move would disrupt the school environment and culture and plans for an onsite wellness center.

In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 39 that requires public school districts to make their educational facilities available to charter schools operating in their district, which is what LAUSD was complying with in their plan.

Roosevelt students celebrate the decision not to locate charter school at their campus.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

Roosevelt students celebrate the decision not to locate charter school at their campus. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

But parents, teachers and students said they did not become aware of LAUSD’s plans until about a month ago, sparking their efforts to halt the District’s plans.

For decades, Roosevelt was one of LAUSD’s most overcrowded schools, serving as many as 5,000 students on a campus built to accommodate 2,500-3,000 students.

The building of new high schools nearby and the creation of the district’s public school choice initiative — out of which a number of pilot and charter schools were created — reduced Roosevelt’s population down to just over 2,000 students today.

The change has freed up space on the campus that students and local activists say can be put to better use than just adding more students on campus.

Maria Brenes, executive director of the nonprofit InnerCity Struggle, said the district’s plans would have circumvented efforts to build a community wellness center on the campus for Roosevelt and Hollenbeck Middle School students, and the community at large. She said Roosevelt is a high needs campus that qualifies to receive part of the $50 million “Wellness Centers Now” investment resolution approved by the school board in 2008.

According to Brenes, InnerCity Struggle and 11 other eastside organizations got involved in the fight to stop Collegiate Charter’s move to Roosevelt when they learned of the issue from two of the school’s student organizations, “Taking Action” and “United Students.”

“We had already identified the bungalows that were empty and would be the future [wellness] center,” Brenes explained.

That’s why eastside organizations like ICS, Promesa Boyle Heights, Proyecto Pastoral, East LA Community Corporation, The Wall Las Memorias, Las Fotos Projects and others, supported the students’ efforts to stop LAUSD’s plans by holding workshops and rallies, writing letters to LAUSD and speaking at a Collegiate Charter School board meeting.

They demanded the space be kept available for the proposed wellness center, which would include space for a parents’ center, student clubs, community organizations and for “restorative justice coordinators, counselors and psychologists serving the students.”

Students, parents and supporters at Roosevelt High School hope to see  a wellness center be built on their campus. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Students, parents and supporters at Roosevelt High School hope to see a wellness center be built on their campus. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

However, the future of the wellness center was not the only issue on the table. Arguments against LAUSD’s plans were steeped with anti-charter sentiment and rhetoric and the belief that charter schools are businesses that take away resources—such as space and money—from students who need it most.

At an April 10 rally outside Roosevelt, students and their community supporters chanted “Roosevelt Si!” and  “Charter No!” as they celebrated their victory to keep Collegiate from moving to their campus.

“Charter schools privatize human rights to our education and take a critical role to segregate students and the community,” said Destiny Renteria, a senior at Roosevelt. “Our voices have been heard,” she said triumphantly.

After meeting with InnerCity Struggle and learning more about plans for the wellness center, Collegiate agreed to work with LAUSD to find another location.

Charter schools are public, tuition-free, open enrollment schools that educate students from the same eastside communities the organizations represent, said Collegiate Executive Director Vanessa Jackson. “Over 95% of our enrolled students reside in Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and East Los Angeles,” she added.

“This is an important resource for the school and there was a concern among community leaders as to where there would be physical space for the wellness center as well as for our school,” Jackson explained. “The District has been working to find a solution that’s going to work for everyone, and we’re happy to be solutions-oriented,” she said. “We’ll be the same school regardless of the campus where we are located,” she added.

But for some of those involved in the protest, Collegiate’s compromise did little to quell their mistrust of charter schools or LAUSD’s efforts to accommodate them in the District. They still believe charters bring “gentrification” to public schools.

Community Rights Campaign organizer Cindy Donis calls it the “privatization” of public education by people who have no experience in education and are more interested in profits than people.

“Pushing Collegiate out of the heart of Boyle Heights demonstrates the power and the beauty of unity and what we can accomplish when we put our demands at the forefront,” she said.

Jackson calls the amount of “misinformation” about charter schools “disheartening.”

“We are open-enrollment and entirely nonselective…I think that all families should have access to accurate information as they’re making the important choice of where to send their students for high school,” she said.

According to Jackson, they are close to signing an agreement with LAUSD for a new facility. It could come within a week or so, she said

“Collegiate will still be on the Eastside…Our new location is within a two-to-three-mile radius of where the vast majority of our enrolled families live,” she said.

But for people like Carlos Montes, president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, the fight to push charter schools out of the eastside is not over. “We will work to unite other school communities to defend public education and build a movement to keep our schools public.”

Los Angeles Unified Approves Teacher’s Contract

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Unified School District board voted unanimously Tuesday in support of a three-year contract with teachers that provides roughly 10.4 percent in salary increases.

Members of the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, are expected to vote on the proposed contract next month. If ratified by the union, the contract will return to the LAUSD board for a final vote.

“LAUSD and UTLA believe this agreement is good for students, educators and the stability of the district moving forward,” according to a joint union-district statement issued late Friday, when the tentative deal was struck.

The agreement also calls for reduced class sizes and increased counseling services and makes changes to the teacher evaluation system and teacher reassignments, according to the district and union.

The tentative agreement came as UTLA engaged in a series of protests they called “escalating actions” aimed at reaching a more lucrative contract for teachers. LAUSD Superintendent had been holding the line on raises, saying offering more money would lead to across-the-board layoffs.

In a report to the Board of Education, Cortines said the proposed contract could leave the district in the red by hundreds of millions of dollars by the 2016-17 school year. He said, however, he was hopeful that Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget would help erase an anticipated 2015-16 deficit of about $140 million.

According to UTLA, the proposed contract includes a 4 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2014, and another 2 percent retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year. It also includes another 2 percent raise effective July 1, and another 1 percent effective Jan. 1.

Students, Parents: Rate LAUSD Schools

March 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Parents, students and school staff will be rating the Los Angeles Unified School District through a new a new poll that will help evaluate the quality of their school. 

The survey asks whether the school offers opportunities for students to become leaders, how welcoming and collaborative is the environment and how clean and safe is the campus.

Students will take home a survey for parents that can be filled out on the form or online at www.reportcard.lausd.net. Students and staff will take the survey at school. The deadline to respond is April 10.

For more information, contact school or call (213) 241-5600.

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