School board concedes they don’t have much to do with what goes on in the LA classroom, considers changes
Some school board decisions get ignored, all board meetings are too long and most decisions have nothing to do with what goes on in the classroom. That’s some of the conversation that came out of an all-day session Tuesday with the LA Unified School Board and superintendent. The meeting, led by a private facilitator, was held...
By Mike Szymanski | September 30, 2016
Strategic plan lacks clear mission, so board agrees to champion ‘100 percent graduation,’ but how?
LA Unified’s three-year strategic plan lacks a clear mission statement. That was the consensus of an all-day school board session Tuesday. So the seven board members decided to fix it, landing on the goal of a 100 percent graduation rate. Yet the draft of the strategic plan remains light on exactly how to accomplish it. Because...
By Mike Szymanski | September 28, 2016
‘The data is miserable’: LAUSD board members rake academic officer over the coals for ‘crisis’ in test scores
LA Unified’s chief academic officer came before board members Tuesday with an upbeat-titled report called “Breaking Our Own Records,” but instead of resting on the improvement in overall test scores, the four school board members in attendance grilled her for nearly two hours throwing out terms like “frustrating,” “depressing” and “disappointing” and saying the district is...
By Mike Szymanski | September 13, 2016
These 20 LAUSD schools are among the state’s lowest performers
A total of 20 schools—14 district schools and six charter schools—that fall under the LA Unified umbrella are among the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools in the state of California. The schools are eligible for School Improvement Grants (SIG) money that can result in $2 million a year for five years if the school administrators...
By Mike Szymanski | August 25, 2016
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District puts renewed emphasis on required ethnic studies courses
Anti-immigrant rhetoric going on in presidential politics and a potential state law have added a renewed emphasis on developing required ethnic studies classes in the LA Unified curriculum. An expert from the University of Arizona spoke to an LA Unified school board committee this week to explain the importance of ethnic studies in education. He brought...
By Mike Szymanski | May 5, 2016
Renowned educator warns that LA Unified’s future is ‘dire’
Internationally renowned education expert Pedro Noguera warned members of the LA Unified school board and superintendent that unless more serious measures are taken, the nation’s second-largest school district is destined to lose more students. “The future is dire,” Noguera told the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday afternoon. He pointed to entire neighborhoods in Philadelphia...
By Mike Szymanski | April 28, 2016
A recipe for teaching from LAUSD board member George McKenna, who’s been at it 55 years
George McKenna is going into his 55th year as an educator, and he has a lot to say about it. In fact, he declares: “Give me a school that’s supposedly poor-performing for three years and I guarantee you no charter school would be able to snatch any kids from that school, and no kids will...
By Mike Szymanski | March 28, 2016
A view from inside LAUSD’s board: Teaching moments from George McKenna and his McKenna-isms
George McKenna is often considered one of the more curmudgeonly characters on the LA Unified school board (although he has some competition). As vice president of the board and the senior member of the seven elected members, McKenna is given a lot of leeway and respect when he has something to say at the board...
By Mike Szymanski | March 28, 2016
More money sought for after-school programs
Members of the LA Unified School Board and the Los Angeles City Council joined last week with after-school program supporters, families and students to call for an increase in state funds. About 75 people gathered Friday outside L.A. City Hall in support of a resolution authored by City Council member David Ryu, chair of the...
By LA School Report | March 22, 2016
A movie, a principal and a turnaround school: 30 years since ‘The George McKenna Story’
George McKenna doesn’t talk about it much, but Denzel Washington played him in a TV movie called “The George McKenna Story.” Fellow LA Unified school board members may occasionally rib him about it, and on a recent tour of an elementary school, Superintendent Michelle King pointed it out to impress the students. “This man had...
By Mike Szymanski | March 7, 2016