Los Angeles Unified School District School Board Vice President Yolie Flores has commended Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his staff for their thorough review of the applicant proposals for the operation of 24 new schools and 12 existing “focus” schools on the eve of the School Board’s historic vote on Public School Choice. The Board’s vote this Tuesday is the culmination of the first round of this school reform process, which began when the Board of Education passed the Public School Choice resolution in August 2009.
“We have a historic opportunity to place high value – first and foremost – on quality education for all students. Not one school and not one student should have anything less. This has and continues to be my unwavering commitment.”
Expert review panels, an advisory vote process, and Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ experience over five decades in public education led to the recommendations that are now before the Board.
“Although there were initial challenges with the advisory vote process, the rigorous review process by multiple panels, consisting of individuals representing parents, higher education, district professionals, unions and charter operators has resulted in some exceptional recommendations by Superintendent Cortines,” said Flores “We have flung our doors wide open and invited partners to join our movement for transformation. The recommendations from Superintendent Cortines balance the voice of our parents and community with the best action plans for change.”
The Public School Choice motion introduced by Board Vice President Flores is a result of too many schools failing to meet the basic education needs of thousands of LAUSD students and failure to show significant improvements in academic performance and increased graduation rates over the years. Since its passage, the process has engaged thousands of parents, students, and community members in ways not seen previously in LAUSD. It has also created key partnerships with civic organizations, such as United Way, League of Women Voters, Families in Schools, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, and others.
“This process has energized and provided the catalyst for hundreds of LAUSD teachers and administrators to put forth ideas and best practices they had been eager to implement but had been shelved because of archaic and bureaucratic rules or because of a culture of mediocrity,” said Flores. “Also, we are increasing our ability to learn from high quality charter schools and galvanizing the power of parents to take action on the quality of their child’s education.”
“Throughout this process, I have met with parents, grandparents, and foster parents. They all want change; they all want quality education for their children as soon as possible. We may not all agree on the ‘how’ – but we agree that change must happen now. I hope my colleagues on the board will focus on the merits of the proposals,” said Flores. “The proposals recommended by Superintendent Cortines represent the best action plans to improve student achievement, collaborate with parents, and result in long-term transformation for the entire school community. This is the beginning of greater expectations for all our schools. We should not squander this opportunity.”Moving forward, Flores has urged a deliberate and robust review of the process, particularly the parent engagement and capacity-building efforts to help parents better understand the current educational system, the need for these and other reforms that will guarantee great schools for all students, and the choices that they have.