Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Argonaut: School autonomy moving ahead in Westchester

School autonomy moving ahead in Westchester
BY GARY WALKER(Created: Friday, December 28, 2007 10:45 AM PST)

Parents and teachers at Kentwood Elementary School, Orville Wright Middle School and the magnet school at Orville Wright continue to bask in the afterglow of the December 11th vote for independence from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which many view as a critical first step for their schools and students to reach their full academic potential.

As the next phase of navigating these uncharted waters begins, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has promised to continue to act as a guidepost on the challenging road to autonomy.

According to representatives of the university, LMU will continue to play a key role in assisting schools that join the Innovation Division, a subdivision of the school district that was created over the summer to provide guidance and support to schools such as those in Westchester that opt for autonomy.

"It is our mission to be involved in the community around us," said Shane Martin, dean of the LMU School of Education. "Our Family of Schools is a perfect example of how LMU is transforming the way universities work with their neighborhood schools."

"It's a great day for the kids and the schools in Westchester," Drew Furedi, executive director of LMU's Family of Schools added. "The vote in favor of autonomy really demonstrates the deep commitment to taking a hard look at what things are working and figuring how to support the things that are working and make them even better."

School district officials have given their blessing to autonomy for Westchester, where there are seven schools.

"[The vote on December 11th] was another important step forward for our families and students as we continue to work together to ensure that children in these schools — which are our highest priority — graduate from high school and are college prepared and career ready," said school superintendent David Brewer. "That's why we created our Innovation Division for Education Achievement as part of our efforts to transform the LAUSD into a high-performing, world-class district."

School board member Marlene Canter, whose district includes Westchester, feels that autonomy is more than just about the acquisition of academic freedom and having hands-on management of a neighborhood school.

"This is a way to create innovation within the district," Canter said. "What I was hoping to do [with autonomy] was to create an access point for partners that could help us create better schools, and autonomy is a great way to create innovation within the district."

Furedi, who has been actively involved in helping to shape conversation surrounding the topic of academic independence since his arrival at LMU this summer, believes that the vote at the three schools was more than just a watershed moment for Westchester.

"We saw strong, overwhelming support from parents in the vote, and you also saw a lot of engagement among parents, teachers, staff and community members during the runup to the actual vote," he pointed out. "In the few days since, we've seen more engagement and excitement in trying to put this into context."

Over 98 percent of the parents who voted at Kentwood cast ballots in favor of autonomy. Of the votes cast by parents at the Orville Wright magnet school, over 95 percent voted yes, and the middle school's percentage was 90 percent.

Furedi listed two reasons he thinks that the decision to pursue freedom from the Los Angeles Unified School District is important and should be viewed in a wider context.

"This is about a community saying, 'We are taking absolute responsibility for the excellence and success of our schools.' That's different from how public education has worked in the past," he explained. "The other difference is, here is a university saying that we are redefining what a university partnership looks like."

Ingrid Lamoureux, who heads the Parent-Teacher Association at Orville Wright, is thrilled that the university has offered to be actively involved with the reform movement.

"I and the [Orville Wright] PTA look forward to collaborating with LMU," said Lamoureux. "Drew Furedi has been a dream to work with."

Stephen Rochelle, the principal at Orville Wright, also feels that having a prestigious university on board is a distinct advantage for his school and others in Westchester that chose autonomy.

"LMU has the infrastructure, the research teams and the resources," Rochelle noted, "and what better partner to have than a university of its caliber?"

The university has begun working with the Innovation Division to continue to design the next stage of autonomy and what it could look like in Westchester.

"Literally right after the votes were tallied, we started working on pulling together foundational data and information around instruction and operation of schools," Furedi said. "We've already begun taking apart the budget to see what the real numbers are going to show us in terms of funding, and we're looking at individual success and talents of students in order to frame a conversation to figure out a way to unlock the greatness that's there, using research based methods and data to figure out what's best for our kids."

Canter, who also has been publicly supportive of autonomy for Westchester schools, believes that autonomy can be "a sustainable way to reform from within the district."

Schools that choose autonomy will chart their own plan for academic improvement, and while there will be discussion, suggestions and comparing notes among all the principals and teachers in Westchester, each school will be responsible for designing its own academic blueprint.

"I think that's the really exciting part of working with the whole group of schools," said Furedi.
"It's exciting for each school to be working with several other schools that might have slightly different programs, but taking into account what the specific needs of their students are.

"It's about maintaining the individual character of a school, but really making more intentional use of a professional learning community," Furedi said.

The remaining five schools in the Westchester area are slated to vote in January. Proponents of autonomy believe that sustaining the momentum of having three schools that have joined the Innovation Division is critical.

"There's a palpable energy and excitement among the parents and teachers that there are schools that have [voted for] autonomy already, and there's an excitement about that," Furedi said. "And I think capitalizing on that energy is very important."

One of the challenges that must still be overcome is that for some, change remains a risky proposition.

"[Change] is difficult, and we realize that," said Furedi.

Canter agrees.

"It's always hard in the beginning," the board member stated. "My hope is that [the December 11th vote] ignites parents to see that now they finally have a vote."

Orville Wright principal Rochelle is looking forward to both the excitement and the challenges of autonomy.

"This is the most important work of our time," Rochelle said.

He contemplated the possibility that Westchester could be used as a reform model for the school district."

If we are successful, could this be replicated throughout LAUSD?" he asked.

Furedi reiterated that the university will continue to be a partner as Westchester parents and teachers explore autonomy in 2008.

"But it's going to take everybody working toward the same goal," Furedi said. "The idea behind autonomy is to give all of the stakeholders a voice in improving their schools, not for the university to become the new LAUSD."

Source: The Argonaut

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Associated Press: Audit: textbook shortage, unqualified teachers at LA-area schools

Audit: textbook shortage, unqualified teachers at LA-area schools
The Associated Press

HAWTHORNE, Calif.—Auditors found textbook shortages, unqualified teachers and deteriorating campuses plaguing eight campuses in the Los Angeles and Centinela Valley school districts.

Hawthorne High School got especially bad marks because of dirty drinking fountains, rotting wood, a leaky roof, exposed wiring and pervasive bird droppings.

Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, also in the Centinela Valley district, was cited for broken cracked windows, doors that don't operate properly and a wobbly wall in one classroom.

Banning High, Westchester High and Meyler Street Elementary in the Los Angeles Unified School District were also in poor condition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Daily Breeze: Education Briefs (POWWOW citation)

CONGRATS to POWWOW and Proud POWWOW Parent, Florence Bracy, who landed a spot in our local paper, The Daily Breeze, for her coordination of an outreach effort geared toward helping needy families with children this holiday season.

Way to go Florence and POWWOW for your philanthropic and humanitarian efforts!!!!

Education briefs
By Paul Clinton and Shelly Leachman Staff Writers
Article Launched: 12/16/2007 09:01:32 PM PST


100 families get toys, clothing

Students and parents from Westchester High School collected more than 1,000 toys and clothing items to provide to a Westside foster home.

The students presented the gifts to the Westside Children's Center, a foster care and adoption placement center, parent Florence Bracy said.

The gift drive was organized by Parents of Westchester With Orville Wright. The students delivered the gifts Wednesday. On Friday, the agency gave the gifts to 100 families with children 5 and younger.

Read entire story here:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Daily Breeze: LAUSD tries to stem the outflow

LAUSD tries to stem the outflow
by Paul Clinton Staff Writer

Hoping to stem the tide of sixth-graders abandoning Los Angeles Unified elementary schools on the Westside for private schools, trustee Marlene Canter is stepping up recruiting efforts for seven middle schools.

Canter wants local parents to take another look at LAUSD, so she's offering tours of higher-achieving magnets, hosting an open house and extolling the virtues of Los Angeles public schools in speeches.

"Many families in the areas that I represent send their children to LAUSD elementary schools, but opt for private schools when their children get older," said Canter, who represents schools from Westchester to the San Fernando Valley.

"But as the district opens new schools in overcrowded areas, we now have the opportunity to increase local resident enrollment."

Her case should be bolstered by the decision of two Westchester schools to opt out of LAUSD bureaucracy and partner with Loyola Marymount University in a "family" of campuses.

Last week, parents and teachers at Wright Middle School and Kentwood Elementary School agreed to a five-year experiment to bring decision-making powers over curriculum, hiring and budget issues to school communities.

Parents often switch from LAUSD to private schools, because they perceive them to be safer and believe they offer higher quality academics, parents and educators say.

Read more hear:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 12 Letter from LMU Family of Schools...

Three School Communities Vote to Support Local Control


We wanted to pass along the exciting news that yesterday, Kentwood Elementary School, Orville Wright Middle School, and Orville Wright Magnet Middle School voted in favor of joining the iDivision with LMU as a partner.

We had really incredible turnout for the votes from teachers, staff, and parents, so thank you for your interest and effort!!

The other schools in the LMU Family of Schools will continue discussions and meetings with teachers, other school staff, parents, and community stakeholders. These school communities will likely vote when these meetings are finished in either January or February.

Look out for more updates in the weeks ahead!

If you have any questions, please send us an email (





Three Loyola Marymount University Family of Schools vote yes for local control.

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12, 2007 — Three schools from LMU Family of Schools' voted yesterday to join the Los Angeles Unified School District's newly formed Innovation Division. Orville Wright Middle School's community and magnet programs and Kentwood Elementary School, three of the LMU Family of Schools, were invited to join the iDivision this fall. The remaining school campuses will vote in January 2008.

All three school communities demonstrated their commitment to reform through strong support from teachers, school staff, parents, community members and local community organizations.

"It is our mission to be involved in the community around us," said Shane Martin, dean of the School of Education. "Our Family of Schools is a perfect example of how LMU is transforming the way universities work with their neighborhood schools."

Executive Director for the LMU Family of Schools Drew Furedi said he was thrilled with the outcome.

"The yes vote shows support from both the teachers and parents that they are ready for a change in this Westchester community," Furedi said. "LMU is fully committed to serve as a leader and a partner with our Family of Schools and the LAUSD."

Earlier this year, LAUSD established the iDivision to provide school communities with a new opportunity to accelerate learning through the principles of teacher, parent and student empowerment, partnership with strong community organizations and accountability for improved academic achievement.

"Today's vote is another important step forward for our families and students as we continue to work together to ensure that children in these schools - which are our highest priority -- graduate from high school and are college prepared and career ready," said David Brewer, superintendent of LAUSD. "That's why we created our Innovation Division for Education Achievement as part of our efforts to transform the LAUSD into a high-performing, world-class district."

Through partnerships with LAUSD for more than 50 years, LMU's School of Education has trained thousands of teachers, assistant principals, principals and other district leaders and worked to support excellence for the students in local public schools across the District. For more information, visit

Monday, December 10, 2007

Daily News: LAUSD pays for fliers backing mayor's plan

LAUSD pays for fliers backing mayor's plan
By Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 12/10/2007 09:31:15 PM PST

Los Angeles Unified officials have sent thousands of fliers urging parents and teachers to let Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa manage some district schools in what critics decried Monday as a biased campaign that misuses taxpayer funds.

The district paid for the fliers and automated calls to remind parents about today's vote at seven schools, but critics say the information is essentially an advocacy campaign for the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

One flier obtained by the Daily News from the district's innovation division lists the benefits of a yes vote to join the partnership but makes no mention of any potential drawbacks.

"Any time a government official or the government itself has a stake in the outcome of an election, it's unfair to use public money to influence that election," said Tim Bittle, director of legal affairs for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

"It sure sounds like the mayor has a stake in the outcome of this election, because if he can persuade the parents and the teachers to approve this plan and then he pulls off some positive reform, it's going to be a publicity opportunity for him and his quest perhaps for higher office."

But Kathi Littmann, executive director of the LAUSD's innovation division, said her office is working with the mayor to develop the reform effort and did a thorough job informing communities about the issues in a limited amount of time.

Read entire story here:

Monday, December 3, 2007

LA Times: Teachers Draft Reform Plan

Teachers draft reform plan

Union's proposal calls for local, grass roots control over schools and gives instructors more breathing room to formulate curricula.
By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2007

In this education nirvana, teachers would decide what to teach and when. Teachers and parents would hire and fire principals. No supervisors from downtown would tell anyone -- neither teachers nor students -- what to wear.

These are among the ideas a delegation of teachers and their union officers are urging L.A. schools Supt. David L. Brewer to include in the school reform plan he will present to the school board Tuesday.

If Brewer passes on the delegation's proposals, the union can go directly to the seven-member Board of Education. Employee unions recently have had success in getting the board to overrule the superintendent on health benefits for some part-time workers and on school staffing.

At stake now is the Los Angeles Unified School District's effort to turn around its 34 most troubled middle and high schools. The data suggests the urgency: As many as three-quarters of the students in these "high priority schools" scored well below grade level across multiple subjects on last year's California Standards Tests.

Whatever remedy emerges is likely to become a blueprint for widespread reform efforts. Brewer and his team are working on their 11th draft; the drafts have evolved significantly since September because of resistance inside and outside the school system.

At a meeting Friday between the district and the delegation from the United Teachers Los Angeles, union leaders were pointedly clear about what they want -- local, grass roots control over schools.

"This is what we think makes for a good education," said Joel Jordan, the union's director of special projects, who took part in the meeting. "We don't want to continue what hasn't worked and has demoralized teachers and students."

Rhetorically, Brewer has endorsed local control, but elements of his proposal cut both ways.

The separate plans of the union and the superintendent, as well as a "Schoolhouse" framework offered in January by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, all cobble together widely accepted strategies, such as smaller classes and schools, and better teacher training.

Read entire story here:,1,6018033.story?coll=la-news-learning

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LA Times: Op-Ed...Should Schools Be Blown Up?

Should schools be blown up?

LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer on English reclassification, payroll problems and failing schools.
November 21, 2007

Admiral David Brewer, superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, dropped by the editorial board the other day to discuss, among other things, the problems of English-language learners and his own on-again-off-again plan to create a mini-district for low-performing schools. Some highlights:

English language learners

David Brewer: We have the largest English-language learner population in the nation, over 200-some-odd thousand students. If we were to carve them out as a separate district, they would be the sixth-largest district in the nation. That population right there is the most challenged population. And there's an irony with that population; 70% of them are native born. And so we said, OK, so what's driving this low achievement throughout the system? Well, the standard English learners, a percentage of whom are also African Americans, are also in this mix. So when we began to look at it we said, my God, if, if you look at one of the pieces, called Reclassification to Fluent English Proficiency, and we're reclassifying about 50% of that population K through 5. That means 50% of that population's showing up in middle school not prepared, frankly speaking, for middle school, because of language. And so we said, OK, then we have to go to a family-of-schools approach.

Now you've heard all the UTLA rumblings. If a separate district was the answer, let them run it, was my position. But when I went and presented to the task force our findings, UTLA came back and said — you know, they were clearly opposed to a separate district. When I look back at [former superintendent Ruben] Zacharias, people were opposed to his hundred schools, because of the labeling, of the stigmatism. And my counter to that has been quite clear. I think that in L.A. the general public, other than through the 1381 debate, you know, really does not know how well or how badly the schools are doing. I don't think they really know. I don't think they're really focused on it.

Read entire story here:,0,7180339.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NAACP Celebrating 71 Years of Youth Leadership and Activism: Saturday, November 10th

NAACP partners with UCLA student groups to increase diversity through a College Access Campaign

  • FIRST AME CHURCH (2270 South Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles)
  • Saturday, November 10, 2007
  • 1:30-4:30pm
The Los Angeles National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is sponsoring College Access Day, 2007.

Students from outreach programs at UCLA will conduct the workshops giving each student personalized attention. College students will educate high school students on the college process and ways to succeed once admitted.

In addition, parents can attend a workshop on "How to Finance Your Child's Education" presented by UCLA Financial Aid Office and Thompson Wealth Management (TWM).

The Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP led by President Geraldine Washington was at the forefront of the campaign to address the low admittance rate of African American students at UCLA. College enrollment and graduation rates among African-American students continue to lag behind the population at large. To mitigate this trend the NAACP and the UCLA student groups are making a special plea calling for parents, high school counselors, teachers, churches and businesses to encourage student participation and support this worthwhile cause.

D'Artagnan Scorza UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences, Ph.D. Student, UC Student Regent-Designate and NAACP Campaign Coordinator states "Education is the great equalizer and has been historically linked to our struggle for freedom. We must do everything we can to ensure access and equity for all of our students in our community"

We need and appreciate your financial support. Please help our students as they reach out and make a difference through education. No amount is too big or too small. Funds will be used for refreshments, instructional materials, printing and transportation. Write your tax-deductible check today and mail to the following address:

NAACP Inglewood/South Bay Branch
P.O. Box 8162
Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone: (310) 671-3174
The following student groups will participate:

African Student Union's Academic Supports Program (ASP):

  • The African Student Union's Academic Supports Program (ASP) is a student-initiated and student-run retention program that historically formed to address the attrition rates for students of African descent. Many African students expressed common concerns such as alienation from the campus, frustration from racism and discrimination, hostility from the campus environment, a lack of motivation to succeed and an uncertainty of goals. The ASP assists students with their academic development which is necessary to achieve graduation. Furthermore, they can gain leadership and other important skills which can be useful in their academic and professional careers.
UCLA students, under the Student Initiated Access Committee (SIAC), work with students in grades K–14 in educationally disadvantaged areas.

  • UCLA students from SIAC projects provide weekly, ongoing services, including one-on-one peer advising, tutoring, skills-building and workshops.
    They also provide field trips, and parent dinners and workshops.
    Their projects also join with various student organizations to host large-scale events promoting college, most of which take place annually.
Student Heightening Academic Performance through Education (SHAPE):

  • SHAPE was created by the African Student Union to counteract the repercussions of the removal of Affirmative Action programs in institutions of higher education, which resulted in the decline in admissions of underrepresented students. SHAPE was designed to target those youth at risk at the Middle and High School level by providing peer advising, tutoring, workshops, fieldtrips, and parent support. SHAPE goes out to the Inglewood, Crenshaw and Watts areas, as well as out to Audubon Middle School and Dorsey High School.

The Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College Scholars, known as VIPS, is a partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles and Pasadena school districts to help prepare historically underrepresented students in grades 9–12 to become competitively eligible for admission to UCLA and to encourage pursuit of graduate and professional education.

  • VIPS is focused on underserved students, including students from low-income and first-generation immigrant families, which includes underrepresented minorities.
    VIPS services include college preparatory workshops, a Buddy Day (high school students shadow UCLA students for a day), college advising, and career and major seminars.

The UCLA Center for Community College Partnerships (CCCP) develops and strengthens academic partnerships between UCLA and California community colleges, particularly those with large underrepresented student populations. The center works to help the community colleges develop a "transfer culture."

  • The center works closely with community college administrators, faculty and staff to strengthen and diversify curriculum, create strong academic support programs, improve students' academic competitiveness for admission to the university and increase the diversity of UCLA's transfer-admit pool.

  • Among the center's programs is the East Los Angeles College Summer Immersion Program, a collaboration between the Youth Opportunity Movement, East Los Angeles College and UCLA. This intense 16-day academic program requires participants to complete successfully a three-unit UC/CSU-transferable course in a two-week period.

The Afro-Academic, Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) is a major youth initiative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). founded in 1978, by the renowned author and journalist, Vernon Jarrett, ACT-SO provides a forum through which minority youth can demonstrate the same prowess, expertise and recognition often only reserved for entertainers and athletes. Rooted in the firm conviction that minorities can succeed and compete at the same or superior levels as their counterparts in classrooms, boardrooms and locker rooms across this nation and abroad.

  • The ACT-SO objective is to prepare, promote and recognize youth who exemplify scholastic and cultural excellence. ACT-SO conducts annual academic competitions for students in grades 9-12 NAACP branches throughout the country. Participating branches hold local competitions in 24 categories. The top winners from other cities at the national ACT-SO finals during the NAACP national convention.
The ACT-SO goals are:

  1. To mobilize the adult community for the promotion of classroom and after-school excellence.

  2. To recognize academic achievement among youth on par with the recognition awarded athletics.

  3. To provide and assist students with the necessary skills and tools to establish goals and acquire the confidence and training to make a successful contribution to society.
For more information contact...

  1. Michael Gallin, UC Regent Student Field Representative at (310) 206-4416 or by fax at (310) 206-6067

  2. Marilynn Huff at (310) 672-7939 or email:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Parent Information Meeting @ WHS: TONIGHT @ 6.30pm

We strongly encourage all PARENTS of students attending Westchester area schools to participate. (Another Parent Information Meeting will be held next Wednesday, November 14th at 6.30pm at Orville Wright in the event you can't make this Wednesday's meeting.)

Representatives from LMU and LAUSD will be prepared to field your questions and concerns regarding:

Autonomy &
the I-Division (Innovation Division)

Be sure to formulate your questions and concerns NOW; write them on a note pad and be prepared to seek answers to them. In addition to a parent's main area of concern like...How does autonomy guarantee and/or ensure my student-child obtains a first-rate education in a safe and clean environment?...some sample questions may include the following, but feel free to ask any question.

  1. Governance. Who will make up the governing body?

  2. Who are the players and what role will each play?

  3. Where do Parents fit into the equation?

  4. Where does Community fit into the equation?

  5. Should the Parents, Stakeholders etc. vote in favor of autonomy, when will implementation occur? Target date?

  6. Are there any lessons learned to-date that Westchester can benefit from?

  7. Are there models that closely resemble the plans for Westchester area schools? (Something in LAUSD; no out-of-state models, please.)

  8. How can we view the models, i.e., school tour, datasets --What tangible results can we view...API scores, graduation rates, college acceptance rates?

  9. What are the promises and perhaps perils that an autonomous structure might have on my student-child specifically?

  10. What are the short-term goals and benefits of autonomy?

  11. What are the long-term goals and benefits of autonomy?

  12. Will students become displaced, i.e., over the short-term and long-term? What measures, if any, are in place to ensure displacement doesn't occur?
Again, these are just some questions that come to mind. Think methodically and ask any questions that come to your mind, or ask for clarification on anything that might be ambiguous or unclear to you.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

CAHSEE TESTING: November 6th and 7th

All 11th and 12th graders will be administered the CAHSEE -- CA High School Exit Exam over the course of Tuesday, 11/6 and Wednesday, 11/7.

This is a prerequisite for graduation.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Various News Articles on Brewer's and Villaraigosa's Reform Efforts

DAILY NEWS: School reform facing hurdles
Read entire article here:

Just two weeks after announcing an ambitious effort to reform Los Angeles Unified middle schools, Superintendent David Brewer III finds his plan already foundering amid fierce opposition from the politically powerful teachers union.

Brewer, who proposed creating a special district of 44 low-performing schools, already has had to eliminate 10 of the sites and still faces opposition from teachers over the remaining schools. Only one San Fernando Valley school remains on the list.

And new rumblings have surfaced that union leaders and teachers in the proposed schools intend to kill the plan entirely.


LA TIMES: Idea for failing schools fails to please educators
Read entire article here:,1,5272754.story?coll=la-headlines-california

The L.A. Unified chief says his plan to group lagging campuses into a district is now 'only an option.' Among the many complaints from critics is that his proposal would stigmatize such schools.

Faced with stiff opposition from the teachers union and little support elsewhere, Los Angeles schools Supt. David L. Brewer has backed away from his plan to put nearly four dozen poorly performing schools into a separate "transformation district."

The superintendent's retreat comes only about four weeks after he unveiled the plan, which was widely viewed as an answer to critics who said the retired Navy admiral had accomplished too little in the year since accepting the top job at the Los Angeles Unified School District.


DAILY NEWS: LAUSD drops five of six Valley schools from reform list
Read entire article here:

Just a single San Fernando Valley school is in the running to participate in two key reform efforts widely touted by the mayor and schools chief as a key to boosting performance at Los Angeles Unified.

Superintendent David Brewer III said Thursday that he has cut five of the six Valley schools named in his original reform effort targeting 44 low-performing sites.

Sigifredo Lopez - president of the Parent Community Coalition, which represents 1,800 parents in the Valley and the rest of the district - said parents don't trust the mayor or Brewer.

"Reforms are coming out, but parents are saying nothing makes education better for children and brings more parent participation - that these reforms are political," he said.


THE EDUCATION REVOLUTION BLOG: Brewer Reform: Dead in the Water?
Read more blog entries here:

Teacher Autonomy Meeting: TODAY @ 3PM

Teacher Autonomy Meeting at WHS today at 3pm.

WHS Library

This is not a teacher exclusive event -- Parents are welcome to attend also!

Hope to see many of you today.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Thursday, November 1, 2007


Join the Academic Booster Club, Teachers, Administrators, other Faculty and Parents in recognizing our...

"Academic Student-Achievers"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SSC ELECTIONS: TONIGHT! Tuesday, 10/30 @ 6pm

Westchester High School Site Council Parent Vote Is Tonight!


Our Teachers, Administrators and Staff are looking forward to working with you in creating wonderful opportunities at our high school.

Come out tonight and vote for your Parent reps!

(All School Site Council meetings are open to the public.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

EXTENDED DEADLINE through October 30th


Create and submit your own scholarship idea IMMEDIATELY!!!!

Go to:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Community Service-Based Grant for Single Parent Women

Community Service-Based Grant For Single Parent Women

This grant is awarded to professional single parent women with outstanding student loan debt who contribute to their community through volunteer work. We honor women who volunteer in their community.

Student loan repayment grants are available to women who volunteer their professional talents for an average of 8 hours a month, for a period of time to be determined by the amount of their student loan debt.

We recognize that women who are in the helping or teaching professions already contribute to their communities, therefore, no further volunteer work is required to qualify.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: December 1, 2007

Website/Contact Info...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Neighborhood Council Meeting: Tonight @ 6.30 pm

UTLA PRESIDENT TO PRESENT SCHOOL REFORM MODEL — A.J. Duffy, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), will be the guest speaker at the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey Education Committee at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 23rd, in the Westchester Municipal Building Community Room, 7166 Manchester Ave.

Duffy will present UTLA's model for school reform and local control. UTLA has submitted a proposal to the Innovation Division of the Los Angeles Unified School District to assume control of Woodland Hills Academy, the former Parkman Middle School. The UTLA model would provide for increased funding to the school site, and, in the words of the proposal, "absolute control" over financial resources, hiring, curriculum, professional development and bell schedules.

Public schools in Westchester and Playa del Rey have been invited to submit their own reform proposal to the Innovation Division as members of the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Family of Schools.

The board of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey has voted to support such a proposal, provided that local schools report to the Innovation Division rather than LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Local District 3, are governed by a board with significant local community representation, and follow the best practices of successful independent charter schools, such as Palisades Charter High School.

Teachers, parents and community members are invited to attend the event and will have an opportunity to present their questions and comments to Duffy.

View entire agenda below...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Daily Breeze: LAUSD Enrollment Down 2%


LAUSD enrollment down 2%

This year's decline is attributed to fewer county births and students moving to charter campuses.By Paul ClintonStaff Writer
Los Angeles Unified's total student enrollment has continued its expected decline, dropping 2 percent from 708,461 students last year to 694,288 this year, according to figures released Thursday by the district.

Although the Harbor Area also saw declines, school board member Richard Vladovic said it wasn't as dramatic as he thought it would be.

"It's down 2 to 3 percent," Vladovic said. "We anticipated more."

About 41,000 of the students - or 6 percent of the population - are enrolled in fiscally independent charter schools.

Charter schools reduce enrollment at traditional LAUSD schools by about 1 percent per year.

District officials attribute the drop to a decline in births in Los Angeles County, which have decreased sharply since 1990 but have now stabilized.

The district saw a decline in each grade level, except for 11th and 12th grades.

Economic conditions like job availability and housing costs also contributed to the decline, officials said.

In Local District 8, Gardena High School reported the steepest decline, to 3,211 students from 3,428 a year ago. The school lost seven teachers and an assistant principal, officials said.

At Carson High School, enrollment dropped to 3,466 from 3,508, forcing Principal Ken Keener to cut two unfilled teaching positions.

The school also will lose an assistant principal, local administrator Myrna Brutti said.
About 100 additional students are attending Westchester High School this year (1,837 compared with 1,733 a year ago), which reversed a three-year decline.

The school has fallen from its peak of 2,369 in 2004-05, because fewer students filter in from other, more-crowded schools.

To boost attendance, Local District 3 administrators implemented an open-enrollment policy
that allows any student in the LAUSD attendance boundary to attend the school.

Friday, October 19, 2007

PANCAKE BREAKFAST: Saturday, 10/21 @ WHS






Wednesday, October 17, 2007


1. WHS lost 250K. Why? Not enough 'Meal Ticket' applications were submitted. PLEASE take the time to complete and submit your meal ticket applications even if your child is not going to use them or you feel your family does not qualify.

2. WHS School Site Council Information meeting is being held Wednesday October 17th at 6:00 pm in the school library. IT IS VITAL for ALL parents to attend this meeting. This council is responsible for governing the entire school!!! Let YOUR voice be heard!!

3. Orville Wright College week is this week!! Come out and support our school and students prepare for college.

4. Orville Wright's PSAT testing is Wednesday October 17th from 8:00 am to 10:45 pm. We need POWWOW parents go help facilitate (Proctor) this test.

5. Orville Wright Back To School Night is Thursday October 18th at 6:00 pm. POWWOW will be on campus welcoming families and registering parents.

6. POWWOW is selling Pancake Breakfast Tickets.This is our very first fund raising effort. We are asking all parents and friends of POWWOW to purchase 2 tickets from the WHS Parents Center as we endeavor to raise enough money to purchase a copy machine and other office equipment. (Only tickets purchased from the Parent Center will go towards POWWOW.)

7. POWWOW is encouraging ALL parents to drop in and visit YOUR child's class this month!! WHS parents are to check in at the parent center. Those random, surprise visits do wonders in encouraging our children to always be on their BEST behavior.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I hope to see or hear from you soon.Have a
terrific day!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Daily Breeze: LAUSD will get more bond money


LAUSD will get more bond money

Measure by L.A. legislator changes formula to free funding.
By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a measure designed to provide up to
$640 million to Los Angeles schools from a voter-approved bond.

The governor Sunday signed Assembly Bill 1014, authored by Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, designed to fill a loophole in Proposition 1D, a school-construction measure approved last November as part of Schwarzenegger's package of bonds aimed at improving California's infrastructure.

A provision in the measure, however, would have placed severe limits on the ability of Los Angeles Unified - the largest school district in the state - from getting its fair share of the funds.

Bass' measure changed the formula for funding from looking at new-student growth to considering traditionally overcrowded school districts, such as LAUSD.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, school board President Monica Garcia and Superintendent
David Brewer III issued a joint statement praising the governor and Bass.

"With the stroke of the governor's pen, the children in Los Angeles' public schools will receive their fair share of statewide funding to help build the safe, clean and new schools they deserve," the statement read.

"Assembly Bill 1014 will help put an end to the decades-old struggle against overcrowding in our schools and send a message to the 200,000 kids in Los Angeles who go to school in temporary classrooms each day that we will no longer shortchange their education."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Daily News: De facto LAUSD breakup

Daily News Article...

De facto LAUSD breakup

If it works, it doesn't matter what it's called
10/14/2007 05:13:51 PM PDT

LOS Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David Brewer's plan to create a separate district for low-performing schools and to target middle schools for reform is an acknowledgment that something drastic needs to be done to improve education.

Brewer says that this is a step toward improving the LAUSD by empowering this new mini-district of the 44 worst-performing schools to be more flexible and to have the autonomy to tailor solutions to meet the students' needs. In addition he will create "personalized learning environments" at all of the district's 92 middle schools, which he said have been long neglected.

It seems the de facto breakup of the country's second-largest school district, begun with the mayor's breaking up two school clusters, is accelerating.

No one, of course, would call it such. That word carries too much political baggage.

"It's our way to try to create more smallness out of largeness," one district official said.

Whatever. But it doesn't matter what words people use to describe this important decentralizing of the power of the LAUSD. All that matters is the principles of breakup - such as empowering schools, the principals and the communities to take charge of their schools and educational needs, and not cede them to the vast and often uncaring LAUSD bureaucracy.

When it comes to schools, smaller is always better. It's what district secessionists have been saying for years.

Still, what counts is that this carving out of special districts be more than just a public-relations stunt. There's a real danger of ghettoizing the special district full of low-performing schools once they've been removed from the rest of the district.

If this breaku- er, reform effort, has a chance of succeeding, it needs more than just a separation. It needs sustained commitment to the ideals of smaller, more autonomous and innovative schools.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meet the Press (10/14/07) feat. Bill Cosby

NBC's Tim Russert interviewed Bill Cosby and his co-author, Alvin F. Poussaint, on the release of their new book entitled, Come On People: One the Path from Victims to Victors.

Watch the complete, hour-long show (available through Saturday, 10/27 at 11.59pm) below:

Read more about the book here:

Friday, October 12, 2007

COLLEGE FAIR THIS WEEKEND: Saturday, 10/13 from 9-12



West Los Angeles College-Saturday, October 13, 2007-9am -12 noon

Objective is to increase applications to colleges and to demystify the college application process(Los Angeles, Ca-August 29, 2007)

A consortium comprised of local area high schools in the Los Angeles area (including Venice and Culver City) have joined forces to promote their first “Westside College Fair” college recruitment and workshop series arriving just in time for the college application season.

Presented by the Los Angeles Unified Local District 3, Culver City Unified and the Star Prep Academy with support from West Los Angeles College, this FREE one day event will be held on the campus of West Los Angeles College on Saturday, October 13 from 9am to 12 noon. With representation from over 80 colleges and universities across the country, college test preparation companies and financial aid and college scholarship representatives, both parents and students will have the ability to do ‘one stop college shopping’ in one location.

Participating colleges who will be sending representatives include colleges from the California State and University of California college systems as well as West Los Angeles and several other community colleges.

Representatives from both public and private colleges from both within and out of the state of California will be represented and representatives will also be present to distribute admissions materials and answer questions about their college admissions process.

The Westside College Fair will have something for everyone and is geared towards both middle school and high school students as well as parents.

An added feature of the fair will be a series of “hands-on” comprehensive college preparation workshops including topics such as “Show me the Money: College Financial Aid Tips”, “Preparing for the SAT/ACT”, “Middle School 411-The Right Steps to College”, and “Interviews and College Essays” as well as a host of other informative workshops designed to demystify the college application process.

Representatives will also be on hand to assist students in completing online applications to California State University and University of California colleges. The workshop series presented will feature the latest methods and information and will be relevant to both the novice or more experienced students and parents.

The Westside College Fair is sponsored by Crenshaw High School, Culver City High School, Dorsey High School, Hamilton High School, Los Angeles High School, LACES, Star Prep Academy, Venice High School, University High School and Westchester High School.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Taste of Soul: A Huge Success!

Because of each of you - "A Taste Of Soul" POWWOW Parent Meeting and Teacher/Parent Appreciation was a HUGE success!!!
Some reports of the event estimate there were close to 100 in attendance!!!
Parents, teachers, Administrators, School Staff and even the media enjoyed an evening of information sharing, appreciation and "A Taste Of Soul."

WHS Representatives included:
Anita Barner (Principal)
Cynthia Hill (Asst. Principal)
Dechele Byrd (Assistance Principal)
Mr. Glenn Mitchell (Dean and Biology Instructor)

The aforementioned updated parents of the 4x4 schedule, Small Learning Communities, student intervention programs, positive discipline, truancy and tardy policies, Williams book distribution and results, and so much more!

Mr. Cooper and Mrs. Billie Silvey (Healthy Start)
Dr. Salazar (Instructor)
Mr. Wright (Instructor)
Our Librarian
Terry Marcellus (Booster Club Pres.)
Robin Adams (Academic Booster Club President)
Patrick Ingram (Plant Manager)
...and a host of informed, engaged parents!!

OWMS Representatives included:
Ingrid Lemeaux (PTSA President)
...and several OWM parents!!!

LMU Representative included:
Mr. Drew Furedi of the LMU family of Schools who addressed our parents regarding the family of schools and the upcoming vote on Autonomy.

LD3 Represenative included:
Mrs. Cheryl Newman of local district 3 (Parent Ombudsperson) who shared vital information about School Site Council Information meeting and the upcoming elections at Westchester High.

ALL parents and Teachers received Certificates Of Appreciation for their commitment and dedication to working together in improving our schools and educating our children.

POWWOW parents who have volunteered in any capacity received coffee mugs filled with chocolates!!

Our administrators (Mr. Rochelle and Mrs. Barner) received eloborate gift baskets for their support of POWWOW. We would not have been able to achieve the success we have if our administrators did not support us.

Mr. Cooper (Healthy Start) and Mr. Clark/Ingram (Plant Managers) also received eloborate gift baskets for being so accommodating, supportive and responsive to all the special needs of POWWOW during our formative stages!!!

AND...There was soooooo much food!!!

The array of dishes included...
Collard and mustard greens, black-eyed-peas, hot water cornbread, chicken (fried and baked), potato salad, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lemon cakes, pound cake, chocolate cakes, soda, water, even egg rolls, salami and salads!!!

Plan for next month's meeting (Wednesday November 14, 2007 at 6:30 pm). S
taff, administrators, teachers, counselors and parents are planning another INFORMATIVE and eventful meeting.

YOU do not want to miss what we have planned for next month!
Thank each of you again and again for your support and attendance and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007



October 9, 2007

Dear Parent/Guardian:

The County of Los Angeles Probation Department, in partnership with the Hamilton High School Administrators, request your presence at a MANDATORY MEETING at Hamilton High School (In the Cafeteria) located at 2955 S. Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90034 on Thursday, October 25, 2007 from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.

We plan to discuss the role of the probation officer on campus, proactive solutions that result with increased campus safety, strategies to assist students with a positive and productive learning experience, and most of all any of your concerns.

There are several resources available for students at the school site and through the Probation Department as well. We want to ensure that your son/daughter receives the maximum benefit from the available resources.

We look forward to your presence on Thursday, October 25th, 2007. If you have questions, feel free to contact Deputy Probation Officer Darrin Deckard at (310) 365-3064 or Supervising Deputy Probation Officer Bertelle Berry at (323) 298-3554.


Stan Ricketts
County of Los Angeles Probation Department
Director, School-Based Programs Cluster 2

Monday, October 8, 2007

Parent & Teacher Appreciation Night: Wednesday, 10/10

We hope everyone can come out and support our Parents and Teachers!

When: Wednesday, October 10th at 6.30 pm

Where: Westchester High School

Because: We appreciate our Parents and Teachers!

Bring: Food contribution to add to the table

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The first PTA/Booster Meeting of the school year IS TONIGHT!

Wednesday, September 19th

7 pm


Mr. Rochelle, Principal, will be speaking. We hope to see you there!

Questions: Please call Ingrid Lamoureux @ 310 645-2030 or

Monday, September 17, 2007

LA Times: Op-Ed "Schools Can't Be Colorblind"

Schools can't be colorblind
Narrowing the achievement gap in schools requires acknowledging race, not ignoring it.

The achievement gap between African American and Latino students and their white peers is stark and persistent. It has existed for decades, and it's growing more pronounced.

The data refute what would be reassuring explanations. The gaps in reading and math test scores are not due to income disparities, nor are they attributable to parents' educational levels. The simple fact is that most black and brown children do not do as well in school as most whites. The data also show, however, that African American and Latino children are excelling in schools scattered throughout California and the nation, suggesting that the achievement gap is not intractable. Rather, there is a profound disconnect between what we say are high expectations for children of color and the quality of education delivered to them in the classroom.

All of which leads to an uncomfortable but important conclusion: If a less-stratified society is desirable, we must be prepared to design educational programs that explicitly take race into account, that address African American and Latino students specifically and that openly recognize that we are not a single society when it comes to the needs of our children.

That is not easy, and it runs against America's desire to move beyond a preoccupation with racial differences. In its last term, the Supreme Court struck down school integration programs in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., engaging in legal and moral sophistry to suggest that race no longer matters. And California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell set off a tremor last month when he called on the state's schools to help Latino and African American students close the gap.

The court is wrong and O'Connell is right: Race does matter, and schools are better off realizing it. Ironically, one of those who implicitly recognizes that fact is President Bush, whose No Child Left Behind Act requires states to set the same performance targets for all students and to report those results by race, among other categories, revealing the truth of racial disparities in learning.

There was a time when the gap seemed on its way to obsolescence -- a relic that Brown vs. Board of Education and school integration would remedy. From 1970 through the late '80s, the gap between blacks and Latinos and white students narrowed exponentially. Then, in the '90s, improvement leveled and the gap began to grow.

Assigning causes is difficult, but there are striking examples of success amid a sea of failure. Why does Ralph J. Bunche Elementary School in gang-plagued Compton have an Academic Performance Index score of 866, almost equal to those of elementary schools in Beverly Hills and higher than many in Santa Monica or Torrance? After all, the school is 100% minority, and 40% of the students are non-native English speakers. Why do 81% of the students at Edison Elementary in Long Beach, where 90% of the students are Latino, 72% of whom are learning English, score as proficient or above in mathematics?

There are a few answers. In schools that help all children excel, the focus is squarely on instruction. The "teacher quality gap" runs almost parallel to the achievement gap. In math and science, for example, only about half the teachers in schools with 90% or greater minority enrollments meet minimum requirements to teach those subjects -- far fewer than in predominantly white schools. Early intervention in reading is key, as is truly ending "social promotion" -- the practice of promoting students to the next grade even when their skills lag behind significantly. And at great schools, teachers and students talk. They talk about expectations for themselves and for each other.

Do we honestly believe all children can achieve? Yes, we do. It therefore follows that strategies tailored to African American and Latino students must be integrated into the schools they attend. That requires developing programs based on race and devoting special resources to minority children, an approach that may offend the Supreme Court and those who wish for a society in which this is not needed. To them, we say: It is fair to wish for the day when we may cease to talk about race; in the meantime, it is inexcusable to ignore it.,0,3799936.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Events: Mark Your Calendars

Hi all:

Please mark your calendars for upcoming events, happenings and shortened days at Westchester High School.

Professional Development Day for Teachers
Early Dismissal (1.33pm) for Students

Back to School Night -- 6-7.45pm

& New Student & 9th Grade Student/Parent Orientation -- 5-6pm


FRIDAY, 9/21
Early Dismissal at 1.53pm

Professional Development Day for Teachers
Early Dismissal (1.33pm) for Students

School Site Council Meeting -- 5.30PM

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Orientation & Elections @ Orville Wright Middle School

Orientation: Friday, Sep. 21st

Elections: Tuesday, Oct. 9th


Orientation & Elections for…

• School Site Council (SSC) Committee

• Title 1 Committee

• English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Daily Breeze: Best Way to Education Students?

Best way to educate students?
Amid debate over how to improve scores, Westchester High School switches to a college-styled schedule.

By Paul Clinton

Westchester High School welcomed students back from summer recess last week with an ambitious restructuring plan to raise achievement and improve the graduation rate at one of the area's lowest-performing high schools.

The Los Angeles Unified school, which has sunk to the bottom fifth in the state academically, moved forward with the reform effort over the objections of teachers and community members who have questioned the school's ability to execute the plan.

Another parent group that formed in the spring has taken a less skeptical approach by pledging volunteers to help in classrooms and offices.

Fresh for the 2007-08 school year, Westchester High School began using a college-inspired class schedule - four classes per quarter rather than six classes per semester - and clustered groups of its 2,400 students into four learning academies, a concept that has taken hold districtwide.

Carson High and San Pedro High have also embraced smaller schools this year to give students more attention so they aren't lost in the shuffle of a 3,500-student mega-campus. Narbonne High in Harbor City and Banning High School in Wilmington converted their schools a year ago.

To create the academies, high schools develop theme-oriented small schools with topics such as business, arts, media and health. The schools also spend district bond funds to divide the physical geography of the campus into zones with logos, signs and other visual branding.

"The most major change one can see at a school is the move into a contiguous space, which creates neighborhoods, personalized instruction and camaraderie," said Ellis Kauffman, a district facilities director. "We believe that this is what urban youth really need. They get lost if they are on a huge campus."

Westchester High finds itself at the heart of a heated debate about the best strategies to provide a higher-quality education to Los Angeles schoolchildren.

Read entire article here:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Johnson's Response to The Argonaut Article posted Sept. 6th

Response to Gary Walker:
  • THE HEADLINE: When articulated to me, the headline was "Westchester parents forge bond in efforts to improve schools." Which would have been absolutely accurate. However, the additional wording "....through autonomy from L.A. school district" is not at all accurate.
Gary, you and I never discussed my views on 'autonomy'. I shared that the parent groups in Westchester are all working toward the common goal of 'improving' our schools, however, I also expressed that our functions and approaches were very different.

The assumption can not be made that, although our groups are NOT at war, that we share the exact same sentiments regarding reform. For the record, I am both in favor of and opposed to autonomy. Theoretically and conceptually, becoming autonomous seems to afford communities, schools, students and parents with a world of opportunity and freedom to provide 'excellent' educational opportunities - which is ABSOLUTELY wonderful; however, to date, 'autonomy' lacks structure. When the 'hard' questions are asked, teachers and parents are told that 'these areas are still being determined or figured out'.... (I am reminded of instances when track homes were being built on top of land fills and sink holes. The models looked 'beautiful' and 'wonderful'. Developers and marketers emphasized all the wonderful amenities and possibilities new home owners would be afforded by living in these 'new/innovative' communities. Then, weeks, months, even years later, the foundations began to crack, there were sewage issues, severe flooding during the rainy seasons, etc... )

My position as the leader of Parents Of Westchester With Orville Wright is NOT to 'persuade' or 'dissuade' parents. My sole responsibility is to insure parents are involved, informed and remain in a position to make their own informed, educated decisions.

So, in the very first paragraph of the article where it states, "two parental education advocates have joined forces to seek autonomy from Los Angeles Unified School District" is a false and misleading statement. Kelly and I agree that change needs to take place in order for our schools to improve - the jury is still out (from my perspective) as to whether autonomy is the ONLY solution.

  • THE GROUP PICTURE contains, not Crissina Johnson of POWWOW, but Kelly Kane of WPEF and Kelly's group. Next to Kelly is Ms. Leslie Brag, the UTLA Chair for Westchester High. Leslie embraces both POWWOW and WPEF, yet is an official representative for UTLA.

  • POWWOW DID NOT 'CONTRIBUTE' BOOKS - POWWOW parents distributed books according to William's vs. California. Our parents worked tirelessly this summer over the course of 3 weeks to insure textbooks were distributed to classrooms prior to the first day of school so students and teachers would be able to begin instruction from day one.

Gary, I would have loved to share my views with you regarding autonomy had you asked. Although the article hopefully laid to rest the rumors of discord between Kelly and I - it simply is inaccurate regarding my views on autonomy.

Have an amazing day and I do look forward to speaking with you soon.

Crissina D. Johnson
POWWOW Founder/Coordinator

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Argonaut: Westchester Parents Forge Bond...

Westchester parents forge bond in efforts to improve schools through autonomy from L.A. school district

Read entire article here:

After a summer of intense discussions and heated debates about the need to improve the level of academic instruction for Westchester students, two parental education advocates have joined forces to seek autonomy from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Kelly Kane of the Westchester Playa-del Rey Education Foundation and Crissina Johnson of Parents of Westchester With Orville Wright, with the help of dedicated teachers, business leaders, local residents and Loyola Marymount University educators, are determined to create a new paradigm for educational success in Westchester through advocacy for autonomy from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Along the way, there have been a few stumbling blocks. Not all parents and teachers are certain that they want to see autonomy from the district in Westchester, although the majority of those who have spoken with The Argonaut have indicated that they would welcome some type of reform effort.

How and when educational reform arrives is still being debated, and the challenge of balancing the need for all interested parties — teachers, parents and district officials — have shown signs of improvement, but they are still a work in progress.

"The reform train is coming to Westchester," Kane declared in an interview this summer, "and everyone is welcome to ride along with it."

Adding to the sometimes contentious movement to bring education reform to Westchester schools are rumors that surfaced recently implying that there was tension between Johnson, who is black, and Kane, who is white.

"The idea is absurd," Kane responded when questioned about the rumors over friction between the two parent support organizations. "For anyone to use that as a way to slow down change in Westchester is unacceptable."

Johnson, whose three sons attended Westchester schools, also sought to quell the rumors, which were heard at a teacher conference earlier this summer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Race War Hyperbole" by Westchester Dad

Race Wars In Westchester???

Dear David,

Enough Is Enough!

My phone has rung numerous times this summer with individuals expressing that our group (POWWOW) and the other community groups in the Westchester area are divided and at odds based on the racial composition of our perspective groups. Please allow me to personally shed some light on this matter and PLEASE feel free to QUOTE me.

Thank you so very much,

I have to admit, I was a little floored by the title and the first two sentences of a POWWOW email I received this morning. The email was sent out to subscribers (parents, teachers, admins) affiliated with Westchester High School, Orville or people participating in the local reform movement.

A little hyperbole? Yep. It’s important to not use a few instances of some event (phone calls) and try to apply it to a scale the size of a community. A few gang banger wannabes might catch wind of the email, believe it, and try to finish a war that never was.

Read Westchester Dad's entire 8/27/07 post at