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New group (nee Broad) cites the kind of LAUSD schools it wants to copy

LA School Report | December 7, 2015

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Bill Siart, chairman Great Public Schools Now photo: CSU-Santa Barbara

Bill Siart, chairman Great Public Schools Now
photo: CSU-Santa Barbara

Great Public Schools Now, the outside group seeking to expand the number of LA Unified schools serving students in high-poverty neighborhoods, has released a list of district schools — most of them charters — that represents “the kinds of schools” the organization intends to replicate in the years ahead.

The new group, an outgrowth of a plan from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, has identified 16 charters, 8 magnets and 4 traditional schools within the district that have more than 75 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals and more than 60 percent of students who meet or exceed standards for English Language Arts.

“These schools deliver the kind of high-quality education that Great Public Schools Now will seek to help replicate,” Bill Siart, chairman of Great Public Schools Now, said in a press release today. “It’s critical that we identify what is working in our education system, and seek to expand those successes. Through our effort, we will be targeting our resources to grow these kinds of proven models in specific areas of need.”

The plans of Great Public Schools Now, first revealed by the Broad foundation over the summer, has roiled LA Unified as few issues have before. It has left the community sharply divided between supporters of charter schools as a better option for students and charter opponents, who see the plan as a major threat for its potential to drain students and resources from an already financially-challenged district of more than 600,000 students.

The group is seeking to raise nearly half billion dollars in an effort that was originally aimed at creating 230 charter schools to serve half the district’s student population. Once the plan was formalized under the new organization, its leaders said the effort might not reach 203 schools but would include financial support for high-performing traditional schools in low-income areas.

At its monthly meeting tomorrow, the LA Unified board is scheduled to vote on a resolution from member Scott Schmerelson that would put the board on record as opposing “external initiatives” that serve anything less than the entire district.

In terms of deciding the criteria for whether a school has or could become high-quality, the group said it would base decisions on “multiple measures such as state assessments, graduation rates, and other metrics.”

The 28 schools cited as examples include several common elements, GPSN said in its release. They include evidence that the schools have demonstrated an ability to “provide all students with a high-quality education” and that because “multiple models” have succeeded, “Great Public Schools Now is considering how to invest in multiple types of public schools to expand the number of high-quality options for students throughout Greater Los Angeles.

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