Profesores y padres de familia de Los Ángeles buscan disminuir el elevado número de aulas con más de 45 estudiantes existentes el año pasado en un esfuerzo que se suma al de un sector angelino de mayoría hispana de bajos ingresos que pide mayores recursos para sus escuelas.
Tanto el Sindicato de Maestros de Los Ángeles (UTLA) como los activistas recalcaron el lunes que el problema afecta las condiciones de aprendizaje de las minorías y de los hispanos.
“Esa es una de las preocupaciones que han expresado los padres”, aseguró en entrevista con Efe Tessie Borden, directora de Comunicaciones y coordinadora de Defensoría del Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos (CARECEN).
Por su parte, el presidente de UTLA, Alex Caputo-Pearl, aseguró que el sindicato está presionando al Distrito Escolar para que “ponga por obra de manera efectiva” y continúe con la disminución del número de estudiantes por clase.
Caputo-Pearl señaló a Efe que en “todo lo largo del LAUSD miles de estudiantes se enfrentan a condiciones de aprendizaje que no son las mejores, debido al tamaño de las clases”, y aseguró que el tema formará parte importante de las futuras negociaciones de los maestros con el Distrito.
La representante de CARECEN explicó que en reuniones de preparación para un foro que sostuvieron padres de familia del sector de mayoría hispana Pico-Union de Los Ángeles con el LAUSD, se cuestionó el número de alumnos por clase.
En las escuelas de este sector hispano, “ahora hay más estudiantes por clase y antes teníamos Comités de Título 1 para las escuelas de bajos recursos y ya no los tenemos”, anotó en declaraciones a Efe Diana Guillén, madre de familia de una escuela de Pico-Unión y miembro del Comité de Escuelas de Estudiantes Aprendices de Inglés del área que agrupa a más de 100 escuelas.
Guillén, quien por cerca de ocho años ha colaborado en los procesos de las escuelas, destacó que los padres de familia de estudiantes hispanos “sí están interesados en participar, pero durante más de tres años no hemos tenido acceso a información importante sobre los cambios”.
Guillén aseguró que cada vez la participación de los padres hispanos en la escuela de sus hijos es menor, porque “aunque sí queremos no tenemos las herramientas necesarias”.
La reunión del lunes se centró principalmente en la utilización de los fondos de la denominada Fórmula de Financiamiento de Control Local (LCFF), establecida por el gobernador Jerry Brown para distribuir recursos a las escuelas públicas.
La LCFF establece prioridad para asignar dinero a escuelas con “niños de bajos recursos, niños que son aprendices de inglés y niños que viven en hogares de crianza”, destacó la activista.
“El Distrito ha prometido que va tener estos comentarios en cuenta para desarrollar pautas justas en cuanto la utilización de ese dinero”, agregó.
Un estudio realizado en el 2014 por el Proyecto de Derechos Civiles de la Universidad de California Los Ángeles (UCLA) encontró que “los estudiantes latinos del estado son los más segregados del país”.
“Los latinos en promedio atienden a escuelas en donde tres cuartas partes de los estudiantes son pobres y están fuertemente concentrados en escuelas que tienen mucha menor calidad”, aseguró el estudio al analizar el Índice de Desempeño Académico.
Un estudiante latino promedio en California asiste a una escuela en la que el 84% de estudiantes no es blanco y donde solamente el 20% de los hispanos toma el examen estandarizado de ingreso a la universidad, conocido como SAT.
El estudio, sin embargo, encontró que los estudiantes de origen asiático aunque son minoría, estudian principalmente en escuelas de mayoría blanca, más del 50% aplica al SAT y tienen mejor rendimiento académico que los latinos.
“Estamos buscando que los padres de familia latinos se lancen a tomar la iniciativa y que seamos los principales defensores de nosotros mismos”, concluyó Guillén.
The first of several meetings scheduled to get public input into the search for a new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District was held Monday night at the Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles.
Only 30 or so people attended the meeting but it quickly became clear that there was an area of general agreement: whoever is selected to head the country’s second largest school district must be more accessible to parents, students and teachers. They must also respect parents and be more visible and hands on at District schools.
Some people said they think the new superintendent should be hired from within the District and understand how LAUSD works.
Lea este artículo en Español: Comeniza la Búsqueda para el Próximo Superintendente de LAUSD
Parents should be able to vote for the superintendent, it was also said.
LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer briefly attended the Monday meeting but didn’t speak. He told EGP he will stop by into some of the public meetings and will get updates from the consultant hired to oversee the search process, but won’t get involved in the conversations, which he said the Board sees more as focus groups.
“When people come to a meeting with a board member there it has a different tone,” Zimmer explained. He said the School Board wants to make sure there is “extensive community outreach.”
Boyle Heights resident Luz Maria Montoya has a seventh grader with special needs at Hollenbeck Middle School. She said Monday that the next superintendent needs to step in and take a closer look when important decisions are being made at the school level, such as the selection of a new principal.
As an example, Montoya cited the hiring of a new principal for Roosevelt High School whom she claimed had “no experience” but was nonetheless hired to run the eastside school with over 2,000 students.
“The board of education is not putting any emphasis on choosing qualified principals,” she complained.
Mario Burnell is a teacher at Riverside Drive Charter School, an elementary school located in Sherman Oaks. He said Monday that the new superintendent needs to have direct knowledge of how teachers and parents feel about their principal. Today, there’s no communication now between the current superintendent and teachers and parents, said Burnell, who told EGP he has been a teacher for 18 years and has watched nine principals pass through the school. In all those years, he said, “Nobody has ever asked parents or teachers if they like [the principal] … decisions are taken from a higher level.”
LAUSD enrolls more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at more than 900 public schools and 187 public charters, according to the District’s website.
The current superintendent, Ramon Cortines, earlier this year announced plans to retire by the end of this December. In response to his inpending departure, the school board hired an executive search firm that specializes in finding school district executives, to oversee the search process. Seventy meetings, including 22 community meetings have been scheduled across the District to gather “authentic information” from parents, teachers and the community.
If Monday is any indication of sentiments across the LAUSD, there is a strong desire for a superintendent who is a good communicator and responsive.
Several people said they want a superintendent who has education experience and won’t be mired in the politics of public schools vs. charter schools, but will instead focus on what’s best for students.
“Us, parents, know what the problems are but the superintendent is not aware of it,” Elsa Villareal, the parent of two high school students at Robert Kennedy High School in the Northeast San Fernando Valley said in Spanish.
Students’ voices must also be heard, added Lucia Ortiz, a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in the Northeast L.A. neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. She said the superintendent must base decisions on what students want, because “Students play an important role.”
Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) told EGP via email that public schools need a leader, selected through a transparent process, who deeply knows and has lived public education and has a track record of collaboration with parents and employees.
“What we absolutely don’t need is a graduate from the Eli Broad Academy who wants to run schools like businesses, open unregulated sectors that aren’t good for kids and educators, and turn students into commodities and measures of market share,” he said. Caputo-Pearl was referring to the “The Great Public Schools Now Initiative,” which according to the LA Times, seeks to move half of all LAUSD students into charter schools within 8 years, and increase the number of charter schools from 187 to 260.
The debate over charter schools is one of the hottest education issues in the LAUSD.
While some parents, teachers and activists feel charter schools are hurting students by taking money away from public schools, others, like East Los Angeles resident Alicia Ortiz, don’t see it as a problem.
“At the end of the day, all that I want is that my son finishes school,” whether it’s at a public or charter school doesn’t matter, she told EGP.
Ortiz’s son is a 10th grader at Oscar de La Hoya Animo Charter High School. She said she wants a superintendent who is open-minded, ready to work, impartial and a leader.
“We have a strict district, but we also have parents that demand better education” for their children, she told the audience.
School Board Member Monica Garcia did not attend the meeting but told EGP her very “vigilant” staff is keeping her up to date on what’s being said.
“I’m very interested in a responsible and accountable superintendent,” she said, adding that she believes it’s important to hear from the public before a decision is made.
“We want to make sure we hear from people, either in person or by taking the survey” online or submitting by mail, she said.
Recently, Communities for Los Angeles Student’s Success (CLASS)—a coalition of community groups that says it’s dedicated to ensuring LAUSD provides students with high quality education—sent an open letter- published in this newspaper – to the Board of Education specifying the “desired characteristics” that the next superintendent should have.
“Our expectation is that you will hire the type of Superintendent who will lead this district down the path of continued student achievement gains, like the ones we have seen in recent years. This is a critical moment for LAUSD. It calls for collaborative leadership and solution-driven action,” states the letter.
Time is running out to find Cortines’ replacement, but according to Zimmer, the search process – which is to include dozens of meeting with stakeholders, elected officials, business leaders, teacher employee unions and staff – should be completed by Dec. 31. He added, however, that if the School Board is not satisfied with the results, they can continue the process by either asking Cortines to stay a little longer, or selecting an interim superintendent.
For more information visit: http://achieve.lausd.net//site/Default.aspx?PageID=9825
Dear esteemed members of the LAUSD Board of Education,
It is with great hope and high expectations for the future of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that we write to you with our recommendations for selecting the next Superintendent of Schools. No other responsibility bears this much weight for you as the elected – leadership body.
It is with tremendous respect for this endeavor that we express our desire to be your partners in ensuring that community input be included in the selection process and criteria for hiring and onboarding the next LA schools leader.
Our expectation is that you will hire the type of Superintendent who will lead this district down the path of continued student achievement gains, like the ones we have seen in recent years. This is a critical moment for LAUSD. It calls for collaborative leadership and solution-driven action.
This letter represents months of research and targeted community engagement. It reflects the community’s desire to have a say in who leads their schools. The characteristics and process outlined below are informed by community input sessions and the institutional knowledge of a network of over 50 organizations that represent over 150,000 stakeholders; a survey of over 110 civic and community leaders and elected officials; town halls that involved over 1,200 participants; a dozen focus groups of teachers, students and parents; and a student survey of over 450 low-income LAUSD youth.
Desired Characteristics for the Next Leader of LAUSD
—A Trusted Partner to the Community: A commitment to serving the students, families, teachers and school site staff. We believe the Superintendent should regularly engage with these stakeholders and create a culture of service rooted in the belief that these individuals hold the answers to what is most needed and effective in their school communities.
—Driven by Achievement and Equity: Demonstrated investments in closing the achievement gap, with a focus on improving the outcomes of students of color and those living in poverty. The ideal candidate would have a track record of improving equity and performance in areas that are core to our communities such as: graduation rates, early education outcomes, third grade reading levels, access to college-preparatory and Common Core aligned instruction, and safer, more welcoming school climates.
—Bold and Innovative: A knowledge of implementing and supporting multiple school models that have proven successes in the aforementioned areas, such as Pilot Schools, Linked Learning schools, partnership schools, charters and community schools.
—Responsible, Accountable and Transparent: A leader who stands for fiscal responsibility and competency in budgeting that incorporates the disparate needs of Los Angeles’ communities. Decisions around school funding and school site capacity building should be rooted in equity, with direct attention given to the needs of English learners, students of color, students of poverty, foster and homeless youth.
—Politically Aware, Open and Courageous: This leader should have a strong understanding of the unique political and education policy landscape in Los Angeles. He/she must possess a keen knowledge of and experience in national best practices for operating high-quality urban school districts; know how to navigate the complex state and federal education systems; and be a tireless advocate for the children of Los Angeles.
Community Recommendations for the Selection Process
—Community at the Table: We request that a committee of key civil rights and community leaders have the opportunity to sit with the top three candidates and provide their recommendations to the Board.
—Board Accountability: We ask that the Board share their own priorities for a superintendent publicly including a rubric to be used as a strategic planning and decision-making tool.
—Candidate Profiles: While we understand that personal information of candidates cannot be released, we request that the District provide information on the number of candidates who have applied and a brief profile on their professional backgrounds.
—Easily Accessible: All information on the process, including timelines, community engagement opportunities, community priorities, and board priorities should be available in an easy-to- access page on the LAUSD website. This information should be available in multiple languages and continually updated.
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations including United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles Urban League, Community Coalition, Inner City Struggle, UCLA Center X, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org/our-work/education/policy-advocacy/class/
Los Angeles County students performed roughly on par with their counterparts across the state in new Common Core curriculum testing, according to results that were released Wednesday by the state and will serve as a baseline for future testing.
The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, administered to about 3.2 million students across the state in the spring, is vastly different from the previous Standardized Testing and Reporting program. The results of the new tests, therefore, cannot be compared to the previous year.
“The results show our starting point as a state, a window into where California students are in meeting tougher academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical writing,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “California’s new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards.”
“However, just as we expected, many students need to make more progress,” he said. “Our job is to support students, teachers and schools as they do.”
The tests were administered to students in grades three through seven, as well as those in 11th grade.
According to the results, 16 percent of students statewide exceeded the standard in English language arts and literacy, while 28 percent met the standard. Meanwhile, 25 percent “nearly met” the standard, and 31 percent did not meet the standard.
In math, 14 percent exceeded the standard, 19 percent met it, 29 percent “nearly met” it and 38 percent fell short.
In Los Angeles County, 15 percent of students exceeded the standard in English, with 27 percent meeting the standard, 26 percent nearly meeting it and 32 percent failing to meet it. In math, 12 percent of Los Angeles County students exceeded the standard, 19 percent met it, 29 percent nearly met it and 40 percent did not meet the standard.
Los Angeles Unified School District students fared slightly worse, with only 10 percent exceeding the English standard, 23 percent meeting the standard, 26 percent nearly meeting the benchmark and 41 percent not meeting it. In math, only 9 percent exceeded the standard, 16 percent met it, 28 percent nearly met it and 47 percent failed to meet it.
LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines stressed that it is too early to be “pleased or displeased” with the results, saying they will “provide a roadmap for how we can better prepare our students for college or the workforce.”
“As we all expected, the overall results of these more rigorous assessments show that we still have more work to do,” Cortines said. “However, we are committed to strengthening our efforts and providing the support our students need to meet these challenging new standards.”
In Orange County, students fared better, with 23 percent exceeding the English standard, 30 percent meeting the standard, 23 percent nearly meeting it and 24 percent failing to meet it. In math, 22 percent exceeded the standard, 23 percent met the standard, 27 percent nearly met it and 29 percent did not meet it.
Torlakson said the overall results continued to show an achievement gap among some ethnic groups, English-learners and low-income families.
“Clearly we must continue working to eliminate these gaps,” Torlakson said. “Much work needs to be done, but we are moving in the right direction with our efforts to provide extra resources and services for students and schools with the greatest needs.”
There is a growing push in recent years to make public schools more than just the usual places of learning, but comprehensive resources centers where students and families can get help beyond the classroom and homework that can have a profound influence on whether a student performs well academically and socially.
But that wasn’t always been the case, according to Boyle Heights resident Raul Ruiz. He says 12 years ago when his son was diagnosed with autism he quickly realized schools in Los Angeles’ Eastside were doing a poor job of assisting special needs children and their families.
Our communities don’t have the resources that other affluent communities have, Ruiz told a group of about 100 people at Mendez High School in Boyle Heights last Thursday.
It’s been years since his son was diagnosed but Ruiz remains a dedicated advocate for more school-based services for students and the communities where they live. Last week he joined a group of educators, community organizations and other parents in search of innovative ways to improve educational outcomes at low-income, underperforming Eastside schools for the “Community Schools in the Eastside” discussion organized by nonprofit InnerCity Struggle. The discussion was intended to provide more information about the community school concept and to get input on how to improve the system.
There is a growing body of evidence that a student’s academic success is often intimately tied to their home life, whether their family has enough nutritious food to eat, access to health care, a suitable place to live and sufficient wage earnings to pay for those things.
Community schools are public schools that partner with community organizations to try to serve the needs of a neighborhood. They focus on health and social services, youth and community development as well as academics, panelists said.
“Parents are the ones addressing the needs. For example, if their kids have asthma, we need to find the most information available to help them find services,” Laura Zavala, director of policy with InnerCity Struggle told EGP. “It starts with a conversation of where our schools are and what do students and parents need.”
Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest district in the country and enrolls 650,000 students — 74% are Latino. A 2014 study found that many LAUSD schools are failing to meet student needs, including keeping students from dropping out and graduating.
According to the Student Need Index, a report that ranks LAUSD schools with the highest-need to determine which schools should receive funds from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)—a state policy that directs more money to schools with high drop out rates, large numbers of English Learners (EL), homeless or students in foster care —242 of the district’s schools are in need of greater resources.
Most of the schools identified are either on the Eastside or in South LA. They are likely to have three times as many English Learners, 3.5 times more students in foster care and more than three times as many students who are expelled or suspended, according to the report.
Groups like the Roosevelt High School-Partnership for LA Schools, Promesa Boyle Heights, SEIU Local 99 and the St John’s Well Child and Family Center, hope the data will spur more help for schools in Eastside neighborhoods.
Attendees at last week’s discussion cited low-cost health services, wellness centers, after school programs and green spaces among the various needs on the Eastside.
Several parents said it’s important for the community as a whole to learn how to access health, education and social services and they think it’s vital to engage younger generations in their community.
“We also need to include more young adults and students to advocate with us,” parent Irma Cervantes said.
There are currently three community high schools on the eastside: Esteban Torres, Mendez and Roosevelt.
Esteban Torres High School works with the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) and has a full time community school coordinator helping to identify the students’ highest needs for students, according to Lara Kain senior director with Transform Schools at LAEP.
“We also offer college and career services such as mock interviews, resume writing and job opportunities. We try to meet the needs of the students in a very holistic way,” Kain told EGP.
Ruiz said all schools today should operate this way. He said, years ago when his son was growing up, he would’ve loved specialized services like an afterschool autism club, therapy sessions to help him and his wife cope.
Wellness centers focus on the wellbeing of the community they serve. Depending on the location, some wellness centers offer exercise and nutrition classes, resources to fight obesity and diabetes, childcare, computers for job searching and resume review among other services.
The concerns of parents and the data fueled the opening of wellness centers at LAUSD schools like Garfield High School, Zavala said. On the Eastside, “there’s a high rate of asthma, there’s a high rate of contamination and research shows that students do better when they can concentrate more, when they are healthier,” she explained.
Ruiz said all public schools should be equipped with the resources needed to foster quality education for children from the moment they start kindergarten.
“[Our children] will lead healthy and productive lives and flourish as adults who can actively participate in their communities,” if we give them access to the right resources, said the proud parent of a now 11th grade Roosevelt student.
For more information about community schools, visit www.InnerCityStruggle.org.
An important Town Hall meeting to discuss the present and future of Roosevelt High School will take place Aug. 5 at the
Salesian Boys and Girls Club.
The meeting will focus on finding solutions to save the struggling school. Roosevelt students, teachers, parents, alumni, and activists are urged to attend and participate in this important event. The future of Roosevelt is at stake as it may lose its accreditation.
Since Dec. 7, 2007, Roosevelt has been under the control of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). PLAS promised stakeholders that it would work “collaboratively” to increase student achievement— both of these PLAS promises have never occurred.
PLAS is under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LAUSD, which gives PLAS the authority to manage Roosevelt. However, Roosevelt High School is represented by LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia, who represents District 2.
Monica has met with me and other community activists and stakeholders in the past but has refused to terminate the MOU with PLAS. Several community actions, including a massive student on May 15 have occurred, but PLAS outsiders continue to mismanage Roosevelt.
Nearly 8-years have gone by under PLAS control and Roosevelt has not shown any substantial academic growth in its API (Academic Performance Index) or in its STAR tests results, or newer CAASPP scores, where RHS students are tested every year in various academic subjects. Although there have been minor increases and decreases in scores, Roosevelt’s API scores under PLAS throughout the years have ranged from the 520 to 672, not counting the magnet school.
It is important to note that an API score of 600 or below qualifies a school as a “Focus School,” which means it can be reconstituted, taken over by a charter operator, or by a group of teachers. STAR scores range from 200 to 1,000, with 800 being the statewide performance target. Also, under PLAS control, Roosevelt students in general are only about 20 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts and only about 3 percent in math.
With the new State Common Core Standards taking effect, it would not be surprising for Roosevelt students to continue to score low since the new state standards in English language arts will be more demanding and require greater English language development and stronger critical thinking and analytical skills. At the high school level, students will be expected to have a foundation in algebra and geometry.
The new crisis at Roosevelt High School was precipitated by the student walkout in May. Students walked out because 23 Roosevelt teachers were to be displaced due to a loss of special funding. Positive and productive working relationships had developed among teachers and students. The teachers that were to be displaced knew their students’ learning styles, potential, and cared for them.
Losing 23 teachers was an unprecedented event and a shock to students — especially when the state’s education budget was to be increased by $3 billion.
Despite the walkout and the increase in state funding, the 23 teachers were let go and as a result a variety of courses were eliminated.
The next adverse thing to happen to Roosevelt was the resignation of the school’s principal this summer after 5 years at the high school.
Roosevelt’s new principal must not be an outsider. The previous one was from Seattle, Washington. The new principal must know the community and have the experience and ability to reform Roosevelt High School.
The new principal must have the approval of Roosevelt parents, teachers, and parents.
To make matters worse, Roosevelt has been put on academic probation by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges, which grants accreditation to schools. According to WASC, if Roosevelt does not make substantial academic progress in two years, it will lose its accreditation.
On July 7, a group of Roosevelt students met at Boyle Heights City Hall to
express their concerns about
what has happened to Roosevelt. They were talking to a group of about 30 that included Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council members, Roosevelt alumni, teachers, representatives from the LAUSD, community activists, and nonprofit groups.
Students said Roosevelt’s identity has been destroyed under PLAS. Neighborhood students no longer want to attend the school and the student population has dropped to about 1,500 and 86 teachers.
It is a stripped–down model of a comprehensive high school that lacks dozens of Career Technical Programs (CTE) and classes such as Auto Mechanics, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Mental and Behavioral Health, and Entrepreneurship. There is no bilingual education program for its core academic subjects.
The meeting produced four major recommendations: to select a new principal who is bilingual and has a track record of successfully reforming a Latino high school; to dump PLAS; to search for a viable candidate to replace Board Member Monica Garcia in District 2, and to convene the Town Hall meeting at Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club on Aug. 5,
The town will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Salesian Boys and Girls Club: 2228 E. 4th St, L.A. 90033.
John Fernandez was a lead teacher at Roosevelt High School, where he taught for 24 years and was the former director of the Mexican American Education Commission for the LAUSD.
A small high school in Boyle Heights was forced to close its door on short notice June 26 leaving 40 or so students scrambling to figure out where they will go to school in the fall.
For eight years, the Boyle Heights Technology Academy has enrolled youth offenders and other students who do not perform well in a regular public school. Enrollment over the years has averaged around 75 students, but dropped last year to fewer than 45 students, according to Ramiro Palomo, a teacher at the school.
Lea este artículo en Español: Condado Cierra Escuela Preparatoria de Boyle Heights
The problem was LAUSD said they would not send us any more students, Palomo told EGP.
According to the L.A. County Office of Education (LACOE), parents were informed that the county could no longer afford to keep the school open “due to a decrease in student enrollment,”
Students and parents, however, say the school closed after county education officials and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) failed to reach an agreement about who should pay for the students’ education and LAUSD wanted students to return to their home school rather than continue paying the county to educate them.
Students, parents and teachers question the soundness of that plan, noting that many of the students were expelled from their local school and might not be allowed to return.
The Academy, one of 11 community schools operated by the county, primarily served students from the area surrounding the Pico-Aliso Housing projects. Many of the students are on probation or parole, homeless or face other issues that put them at high risk of dropping out. In some cases, parents requested placement at the school for a child needing a different learning environment to succeed.
Adam del Real of Boyle Heights is one of those students.
On June 25, he took part in the school’s last graduation ceremony even though he still needs to complete 20 more units before he gets a high school diploma. Adam said he’s not happy with the options presented to him for completing school: Mujeres y Hombres Nobles County Community School in Monterey Park near the East Los Angeles border, or Roosevelt High, his home school.
“I don’t really want to go to another school, I’m better at independent studies,” he told EGP.
The 16-year-old says he’ll struggle at Roosevelt and that the travel time to Mujeres y Hombres is too long.
His mother Claudia del Real agrees. “They don’t understand the damage they cause these kids,” she told EGP.
They claim the county failed to evaluate the school on its merit. “Don’t they see the good that the school does,” del Real said.
Making things worse, stakeholders claim they were given very little notice of the impending closure, and little direction as to where they could get help finding a new school.
A two paragraph letter saying the school is closing and directing “enrolled students to report to Mujeres y Hombres Nobles County Community School” is not enough of an explanation or a plan, parents said.
According to a June 18 memo from the school’s then-Interim Principal Diem Johnson and then-Assistant Principal Adriana Hernandez, addressed to Palomo and other staff, “On or about June 5, 2015” [Los Angeles County Office of Education] Central Office sent “students, parents, guardians, paraeducators and teachers” correspondence explaining why the school was closing. The memo went on to say there has “been a lot of inaccurate information” spread, creating “confusion and frustration for families.” It also directs staff to “refrain” from providing information and to instead direct all stakeholders to the Central Office.
EGP has a copy of the two-paragraph letter addressed to parents and guardians dated June 2, also signed by Johnson and Hernandez, informing them of the school’s impeding closure, but according to some parents, they never received the letter.
Rachel Cohen, a former staff member at the site, said she never receive a letter either. “I was notified by Human Resources just before July 1st that I would be moving” to the Hollywood Media Arts Academy, the East LA resident told EGP.
Margo Minecki, a spokesperson for the office of education, said students, parents and other stakeholders were all informed of the school’s closure, but could not verify when or how they were notified. Johnson and Hernandez could not be reached for comment.
“We’d love to run more programs but we can’t afford them anymore, because we are getting fewer and fewer students,” Minecki said. “The districts where they live are responsible” for their education, she told EGP.
Parents and teachers said the decision should not have been just about money.
“We have had students accepted to schools such as UC Irvine and Cal Poly Pomona, it’s like a private school for this area,” Palomo said.
According to the teacher, about 95 percent of the school’s students are Latinos and 5 percent are African-American. He’s worried that LAUSD may not be willing to accept juvenile offenders at a traditional school if they were previously expelled. He’s also concerned that students like Adam — who has never been in trouble with authorities — will not be comfortable at a traditional school.
“Teachers were very attentive in the academy and I got very comfortable,” Adam echoed.
An adult school, 5 Keys Charter School, will take over the school site. Because “They serve students 18 and over and we serve 14 to 18 years old,” most of our students can’t go there, said Palomo.
LAUSD spokesperson Shannon Haber told EGP that they didn’t have a say in the decision to close the Academy, but that LAUSD takes full responsibility for the education of all students living in the school district.
“We are absolutely on board to [help] relocate these students,” Haber said. LAUSD has “so many schools” there’s bound to be “a good fit for each student,” she said. Any student having trouble finding a school should contact the LAUSD East L.A. district office, she said.
Adam said students like him need more support. He just wants to finish high school without any obstacles and to apply to a college where he can study to be an X-ray technician.
“It is not good that people just think about the money and not about the students,” he lamented.
Students needing help finding a new school can contact Jose Huerta, administrator of the LAUSD East L.A. office at (323) 224-3100, or the L.A. County Division of People’s services at (562) 803-8451.
Una pequeña escuela preparatoria en Boyle Heights se vio obligada a cerrar sus puertas con notificación a corto plazo el 26 de junio, dejando alrededor de 40 estudiantes tratando de averiguar dónde asistirán en el otoño.
Durante ocho años, la escuela Boyle Heights Technology Academy ha instruido a delincuentes juveniles y otros estudiantes que no se desempeñan bien en una escuela pública regular. La inscripción en los últimos años promediaba alrededor de 75 estudiantes, pero disminuyó el año pasado a menos de 45 alumnos, según Ramiro Palomo, maestro de la escuela.
Read this article in English: County Closes Down Boyle Heights School
El problema fue que el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) dijo que no nos iban a enviar más estudiantes, Palomo le dijo a EGP.
De acuerdo con la Oficina de Educación del Condado de L.A., los padres fueron informados de que el condado ya no podía tener la escuela abierta “debido a una disminución en la matrícula estudiantil”.
Estudiantes y padres, sin embargo, dicen que la escuela cerró después de que funcionarios de educación del condado y de LAUSD no llegaran a un acuerdo sobre quién debe pagar por la educación de los alumnos y el LAUSD quería regresar a estos estudiantes a su escuela de origen en lugar de seguir pagando al condado por educarlos.
Los estudiantes, padres y maestros cuestionan la solidez de ese plan, teniendo en cuenta que muchos de los estudiantes fueron expulsados de sus escuelas locales y no pueden regresar.
La academia, una de las 11 escuelas comunitarias operadas por el condado, sirve principalmente a estudiantes de la zona de viviendas de los proyectos de Pico-Aliso. Muchos de los estudiantes están en libertad condicional, sin hogar o se enfrentan a otros problemas que los ponen en alto riesgo de abandonar la escuela. En algunos casos, los padres solicitaron la colocación en la escuela para un estudiante que necesita un ambiente de aprendizaje diferente para tener éxito.
Adam del Real de Boyle Heights es uno de esos estudiantes.
El 25 de junio, él participó en la última ceremonia de graduación de la academia. A pesar de que todavía tiene que completar 20 unidades antes de recibir su diploma de preparatoria, Adam dijo que no está contento con las opciones que se le presentan para completar la escuela: Mujeres y Hombres Nobles del Condado en Monterey Park, cerca de la frontera con el Este de Los Ángeles, o Roosevelt, su escuela de origen.
“En realidad no quiero ir a otra escuela, prefiero hacer estudios independientes”, le dijo a EGP.
El joven, de 16 años, dice que le costará trabajo adaptarse en Roosevelt y el tiempo de viaje para la escuela Mujeres y Hombres es demasiado largo.
Su madre Claudia del Real está de acuerdo. “No entienden el daño que les causan a estos niños”, le dijo a EGP.
Afirman que el condado falló en evaluar la escuela por su mérito. “¿No ven lo bueno que la escuela hace”, dijo Del Real.
Para empeorar las cosas, los interesados afirman que se les dio muy poco tiempo de aviso del cierre inminente y poca orientación en cuanto a donde podrían obtener ayuda para encontrar una nueva escuela.
Una carta de dos párrafos diciendo que la escuela está cerrando y dirigiendo a “alumnos matriculados a reportarse a la “escuela comunitaria del Condado Mujeres y Hombres Nobles” no es suficiente explicación o un plan, dijeron los padres.
De acuerdo con un memorando del 18 de junio de la entonces directora interina de la escuela Diem Johnson y la directora asistente Adriana Hernández, dirigido a Palomo y el resto del personal, “En o alrededor del 5 de junio de 2015” la [Oficina de Educación del Condado de Los Ángeles] Buró Central envió “a los estudiantes, padres, tutores y maestros-educadores” correspondencia que explica por qué la escuela estaba cerrando. La nota continúa diciendo que ha “habido mucha información inexacta” difundida, creando “confusión y frustración para las familias”. También dirige al personal a “abstenerse” de proporcionar información y en su lugar insta a todos los interesados a visitar la Oficina Central.
EGP tiene una copia de la carta dirigida a los padres con fecha del 2 de junio, también firmada por Johnson y Hernández, informándoles de cierre de obstaculización de la escuela, pero de acuerdo con algunos padres, ellos nunca recibieron la carta.
Rachel Cohen dijo que ella tampoco recibió una carta. “Fui notificada por Recursos Humanos antes del 1 de julio que iba a ser trasladada” a la Academia de Media Arts de Hollywood, le dijo la residente del Este de LA a EGP.
Margo Minecki, portavoz de la oficina de educación del condado, dijo que los estudiantes, padres y otros interesados fueron informados del cierre de la escuela, pero no pudo verificar cuándo o cómo se dio el comunicado. Johnson y Hernández no pudieron ser contactadas para hacer comentarios.
“Nos encantaría ejecutar más programas pero no podemos pagarlos, porque estamos recibiendo cada vez menos estudiantes”, dijo Minecki. “Los distritos donde viven son responsables” de su educación, agregó.
Los padres y maestros dijeron que la decisión no debería haber sido tomada sólo por el dinero.
“Hemos tenido estudiantes aceptados a escuelas como la Universidad de California Irvine y Cal Poly Pomona, es como tener una escuela privada en esta área”, dijo Palomo.
De acuerdo al maestro, alrededor del 95 por ciento de los estudiantes de la escuela son latinos y el 5 por ciento son afroamericanos. Le preocupa que el LAUSD no este dispuesto a aceptar a menores delincuentes en una escuela tradicional si fueron expulsados previamente. También le preocupa que los estudiantes como Adam—quien nunca ha tenido problemas con las autoridades—no se sentirán cómodos en una escuela tradicional.
“Los maestros eran muy atentos en la academia y me sentía muy cómodo,” dijo Adam.
Una escuela de adultos, 5 Keys Charter School, ocupará el espacio de la academia. Debido a que ellos “sirven a estudiantes de 18 años y mayores y nosotros servimos de 14 a 18 años de edad”, la mayoría de nuestros estudiantes no pueden asistir ahí, dijo Palomo.
La portavoz de LAUSD Shannon Haber le dijo a EGP que el distrito no tiene voz ni voto en la decisión de cerrar la academia, pero que el LAUSD tiene total responsabilidad de la educación de todos los estudiantes que viven en el distrito escolar.
“Estamos absolutamente enfocados en [ayudar a] reubicar a estos estudiantes”, dijo Haber. LAUSD tiene “tantas escuelas” destinadas a ser “un buen ajuste para cada estudiante”, agregó. Cualquier estudiante que tenga problemas para encontrar una escuela debe ponerse en contacto con la oficina del LAUSD del Este de Los Ángeles, dijo.
Adam dijo que los estudiantes como él necesitan más apoyo. Él sólo quiere terminar la preparatoria sin ningún obstáculo y aplicar a una universidad donde pueda estudiar para ser un técnico en rayos X.
“No es bueno que la gente sólo piense en el dinero y no en los estudiantes”, lamentó.
Los estudiantes que necesiten ayuda para encontrar una nueva escuela pueden ponerse en contacto con José Huerta, administrador de la oficina de LAUSD del Este de Los Ángeles al (323) 224-3100, o a la División de Condado de Los Ángeles de los servicios de la gente al (562) 803- 8451.
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.
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.