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Parents share their hopes for their children’s education

Sarah Favot | October 24, 2016

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At the end of the GPSN panel in Pacoima, a mother tells Myrna Castrejón about her experience with her child's education.

GPSN Executive Director Myrna Castrejón speaks to Veronica Arreguin, secondary instructional director for LA Unified’s Local District Northeast.

One in three students in Pacoima and Panorama City attends a low-performing school, but parents on Saturday heard a message of hope.

Great Public Schools Now, a nonprofit formed to accelerate the growth of high-quality public schools in LA, held its first in a series of town halls with parents and community members from those Northeast San Fernando Valley neighborhoods to learn what they’re looking for in schools.

About 120 parents, children, community members and LA Unified officials attended and shared their experiences about choosing the right school for their children.

GPSN Executive Director Myrna Castrejón began the morning at St. Mark’s Banquet Hall in Van Nuys by talking about a tenant of GPSN’s mission of replicating high-performing schools in 10 areas where 160,000 students are attending under-performing schools. Pacoima and Panorama City are two of the 10 areas identified.

“Today is about hearing from you directly about the challenges and opportunities that exist in our community to make sure that as GPSN really begins to implement its work, that it’s focused, that it’s targeted, that it’s really providing the assistance that you, the parents and the community, want first and foremost,” Castrejón said.

“The entire point is to make sure we do more of what’s already working,” she said.

Castrejón showed maps of both district-run schools and charter schools in Pacoima and Panorama City that highlighted which schools were high-performing and which schools were under-performing.

She noted there are “challenges and bright spots in both sectors.”

“One in three (students) need a better opportunity,” Castrejón said.

There was a panel discussion with Irene Sumida, executive director of Fenton Charter Public Schools, Veronica Arreguin, secondary instructional director for LA Unified’s Local District Northeast, Rev. Joy Magala, of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Michael Gonzales, chair of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council Education Committee, Maria Vinzon, an LAUSD parent, and Tia Weinstein, a parent at Fenton Primary Center.

The panel members spoke about what a high-quality school looks like. Their ideas included students engaged in instruction, attention to detail, collaboration, energy, inviting, safety and prepared teachers.

Local District Northeast Superintendent Linda Del Cueto also attended the event.

Last month, GPSN announced it will give up to $3.75 million in grants to high-performing district-run schools that want to expand.

GPSN Chairman Bill Siart and board member Gregory McGinity attended the event, as well as District 6 candidates in the March 7 primary election for a seat on the LA Unified school board Kelly Gonez and Imelda Padilla. Representatives from the California Charter School Association and Parent Revolution also attended. Los Angeles Education Partnership provided childcare for the two-hour meeting.

The next town hall will be in December in South LA.

Great Public Schools Now and The 74, parent of LA School Report, are funded in part by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

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