Friday, June 29, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Please note: Registered Stakeholders must live, work or own real property within the boundaries of NCWPDR. See boundary map below, here or on registration form.
Note: Our next POWWOW Meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 10th at 7pm at our normally scheduled location.
The Education Committe Meeting Agenda and additional information concerning public comments and "speaker cards" can be viewed at the NCWPDR website here...
To learn more about the districts and boundaries within the Neighborhood Council of Westchester and Playa del Rey, click on the link here http://www.ncwpdr.org/index.php?page=gmap7.htm for an interactive map. Enter your address and zip. A blue marker will appear inside your district boundary.
Not a registered stakeholder?
Complete the form located at the link below:
Return the form by mail to the address provided OR a better method, to ensure it is not lost in the mail, might be to walk-in the form to:
- Westchester Council District 11 Office (Monday - Friday; 9am-5pm)
- 7166 W. Manchester Blvd.
- Westchester, CA 90045
- (310) 568-8772
- Any Neighborhood Council Board or Committee Meeting, i.e., the meeting on Tuesday.
- You must live, work or own real property within the boundaries of NCWPDR (map on the form).
- The information you provide will be verified by NCWPDR.
- When registration is complete and verified, membership status will be confirmed.
And, for general information about the Neighborhood Council, visit: http://www.ncwpdr.org/.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Many of you may have recently received or viewed a flier produced by a POWWOW parent, distributed to a number of parents at Westchester High School and posted on this blog stating:
- Schools may not service students who live east of Aviation;
- Autonomy can mean anything a select few want it to mean;
- Experienced teachers may be replaced by novice teachers;
- The magnet schools will close; and
- Parents may have to find alternate schooling for your child as early as 2009.
"No child will be displaced", Kathi reassured the attendees.
Displacement of students
A. No students will be displaced as a result of this process. There are currently waiting lists and permits for students to attend higher-achieving schools. We want equitable access for all students. The schools should mirror the community demographics and provide access for all.
A. We are not anticipating any changes to the magnet program.
POWWOW: One of our parents specifically asked POWWOW how autonomy would affect the magnet school at Westchester High. In turn, POWWOW asked two individuals who we viewed as being reliable sources and was informed that there would be no need for magnet schools once reform took place. In light of the information shared during the LMU Town Hall Meetings, this information may not have been completely accurate. The fact is, the autonomy/reform discussions are just beginning. None of us know EXACTLY what the final outcome will be. The Innovation department of LAUSD headed by Kathi Littman and the LMU Family of Schools headed by Drew Furedi and Shane Martin are making every effort to provide information as it develops and becomes available; however, to date, nothing is etched in stone. For this reason, it is vitally important for ALL stakeholders (teachers, parents of students currently attending area schools, community leaders, administrative staff and residents) to actively participate in the reform process!!
A. The previous timeline (distributed last week) was a conceptual timeline that is very aggressive and only to show the progressive steps that we must take as a community: open dialogue and visioning, skill building, planning, mobilization and implementation. Each individual school will need to work through this series of steps on their own appropriate timeline, and the work could be phased as a community. For example, the Belmont Zone of Choice is beginning with only 10 small high schools out of a family of 41 K-12 schools.
(Information taken from LMU Town Hall Meeting Notes):
All stakeholders will be involved:
- 1 Teacher Representative from each school site selected via UTLA procedures for representation
- 1 Admin Representative from each school level
- 1 LAUSD Representative
- 1 Neighborhood Council Representative
- 1 POWWOW Representative
- 1 WPEF Representative
- 1 LMU Family of Schools Representative
- 1 Preschool representative
- 1 Continuing Education representative
- Each entity will make their own selection
- It will be volunteer-based and inclusive
- It will be research-based; an opportunity to gather information and present ideas to the Westchester community in the fall
- We also request the identification of an alternative for each entity
- Meetings will be open to interested guests, but again, will not be decision-making meetings
As one of the wonderful groups representing parents whose children currently attend Orville Wright Middle School and Westchester High School, POWWOW is committed to disseminating accurate information regarding all issues that concern our schools. Prior to the LMU Town Hall meetings, there was no system in place to secure such information.
As we move forward, POWWOW, along with LMU, LAUSD, WPEF, NCWPDR, UTLA, PTSA, BOOSTER CLUBS, etc.. commits to keeping you connected and involved.
Monday, June 18, 2007
The US Department of Education awarded LMU an Upward Bound grant on May 11. The grant ($250k/per annum -$250,000 per year- over four years) will serve 50 students from WHS.
Upward Bound is a TRIO program funded by the US Department of Education to provide supportive services to low-income high school students whose parents have not earned bachelor’s degrees. The goal of the program is to prepare students to gain admission to and succeed in higher education. Funding begins September 1. (http://www.lmu.edu/Page30773.aspx)
Upward Bound...provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree; and low-income, first-generation military veterans who are preparing to enter postsecondary education. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.
Learn more here ==> http://www.ed.gov/programs/gtep/index.html.
The Federal TRIO Programs are educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes six outreach and support programs targeted to serve and assist low-income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects and a dissemination partnership program to encourage the replication or adaptation of successful practices of TRIO projects at institutions and agencies that do not have TRIO grants.
Hopefully, this will launch soon!
Check the LMU, SOE website (select programs and the news + announcements section located in the upper, left corner of the page) regularly and frequently to stay abreast of the reform's progress.
Of course, this blog, will also contain comprehensive data to keep you abreast and informed as well.
- Shane Martin (Dean, School Of Education, SOE, Loyola Marymount University, LMU),
- Drew Fruedi (Executive Director, Loyola Marymount University, LMU, Family of Schools) along with
- Kathi Littman (Director, School Building Planning and Head of the Innovation Department, LAUSD)...
- Autonomy may or may not be what is best for the LMU family of schools.
- There are different models (types, forms) of autonomy that can be explored.
- No decisions regarding the LMU family of schools will be determined without the input of a broad scope of stakeholders (residents, parents, teachers, etc...)
- Per Kathi Littman, the timeline she distributed on June 7, 2007 at a WPEF meeting was created to demonstrate the steps, stages and work involved in achieving autonomy.
- Stage one (visioning) may take several months, according to Littman, opposed to the two months reflected on the timeline.
- Should autonomy be determined to be a viable plan for the LMU family of schools (WHS, OWM, Kentwood Es., Cowan Avenue Es., Westport Heights Es., and Loyola Village Es.), current students will NOT be displaced. This point was emphasized several times by Kathi Littman, Shane Martin and Drew Furedi.
- All stakeholders (residents, parents, teachers, etc...) are being extended an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
- Steering committees are forming soon.
- The LMU family of schools will conduct additional meetings throughout the summer. All concerned parties are STRONGLY encouraged to participate.
Friday, June 15, 2007
THIS COMING SATURDAY (TOMORROW!), 6/16 from 9-11AM
Loyola Marymount University
1 LMU Drive
Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
University Hall (UNH) -- Ahmanson 1000
University Hall is the first building to the right (south side) as you turn east off of Lincoln onto LMU Drive.
VIEW LMU MAP HERE ==> http://www.lmu.edu/AssetFactory.aspx?did=7234
Everyone should be included and notified of the impending changes.
In a meeting with The Times' editorial board, the schools chief says superintendents need at least six years to see their reforms implemented.
By Howard Blume and Joel Rubin, Times Staff Writers
June 15, 2007
After giving his first State of the Schools address Thursday, Los Angeles schools Supt. David L. Brewer, a retired Navy vice admiral, answered questions from the L.A. Times editorial board. Here are excerpts from the questions and his responses.
The Times: What do you do about schools that have been failing for years and lack the capacity to improve?
Brewer: I'm going to have the right to tell some people to innovate.
We need to be pushing support down to what I call the level of execution. We learned this in the military years ago. The reason we win wars is because that sergeant and that petty officer can make decisions. We are pushing $11 million from headquarters to the local district superintendents and several people down from headquarters.
The Times: Would you reconstitute any schools, that is, close them down and rebuild them with new leadership and staff under the authority of the federal No Child Left Behind law?
Brewer: To the extent that we can do that. But there are some union rules there.
I will be very frank with you. I'll have to do a little bit more research on that. I asked the question: Why can't I just shut it down and then reopen it?
I was told … [the] local union contract trumps federal law.
The Times: What's an example of something you'd like to see more research on?
Brewer: We're having a tremendous problem with young men, especially African American males and Latino males. We had two principals go out and put in all-male academies at their schools — Jordan High School and King-Drew.
The preliminary results look very good, [but] we need to go in and do research on single-gender classes. Not only for boys but for girls. Now some of that research is already out there: That says if you put girls in classes alone, they tend to do better in math and science.
If you put [boys] in classes together, as we've seen in Jordan and King-Drew, you get a reduction in discipline problems and you get the kind of results you see at Jordan, where 99% of those boys in the 11th grade have already passed the high school exit exam. The overall district average is 88%. So that's encouraging.
The Times: What is your view on charter schools?
Brewer: Charter schools — even though they've been effective individually — have not been effective systematically. They sit outside of you. They clearly can create some excellence, but there are a lot of charter schools that are not doing well and failing worse than some of our schools.
We do not do a very good job of looking at charters.
The Times: Aren't charters supposed to be an alternative or a spur to the system to improve?
Brewer: The unions now are being a little more flexible in the rules of what they want to do, [so] the charters are accomplishing their mission. They're putting pressure on us so that we can start to force our own change.
[Across the district] you have pockets of excellence. The problem seems to be benchmarking that and replicating it.
The Times: What about the issue of ineffective teachers?
Brewer: In the public sector, you can't just go in and fire somebody. In our business, people have rights. [Teachers] have tenure after two years. So the real drama is how do you either get them up to capacity or find some other seat for them on the bus. It is extremely difficult. This has been plaguing not just education but lots of organizations.
We told the unions we need to work with you a little bit better. First of all, in the teachers' defense, we've got to come up with better professional development training. That's clear.
We have a lot of good people working heroically in a bad system.
You [also] get a lot of questions about Open Court [a district reading program that some teachers say is limited]. It's almost like a carpenter. You give one carpenter a saw and another one a saw and you can get two different results. Same saw. Why? Because one's a journeyman and one's a master.
You can give two different teachers the same tools, the same instructional model and get two different results, normalizing for the same kinds of kids. Why? Because one is a journeyman and one is a master. My job is to make those teachers masters.
The Times: In your speech you talked about the district's interaction with parents.
Brewer: When [parents] go into our schools they aren't treated very well. This has nothing to do with socioeconomics. I'm going to have to push more customer service into our schools to make them feel more welcome.
[During a recent Town Hall with parents] there was so much frustration in that room. I had to take off my coat, take off my tie. It was one of those sessions, because there was so much frustration.
We're not listening to these people. We need to get out more often.
The Times: Some give the mayor credit for bringing a sense of urgency to local school reform. Do you think the system is as broken as the mayor does?
Brewer: Probably not as broken as he sees it, because I'm on this side and I see a lot of excellence. But I clearly see some significant challenges. The mayor and I don't disagree on much.
The Times: Where are you looking to be in, say, four years?
Brewer: If you look at the "Good to Great" model [outlined in a book of the same name by author Jim Collins], it takes you about six years before you see what they call a flywheel effect.
[In other large urban school districts], one of the reasons they can't sustain change is musical superintendents. You can't do that. I'm not begging to keep my job, but you cannot change superintendents every three years and expect to effect change. That's out.
You gotta stay in that job at least six years. [Former L.A. schools Supt. Roy] Romer stayed six years. That's why you see that big change at elementary [schools] and all this huge building program.
Because people who don't want to change will simply sit back and say, "Well, we know he's going to be gone in three years. I'll just outlive him."
He talks about his innovation unit, which is headed by Kathi Littman, LAUSD, Director, School Building Planning. Kathi distributed the transformation timeline that was in one of our earlier posts.
He talks about "cluster of schools." The Westchester schools are headed toward this cluster.
Want to be INCLUDED? Get Involved and become informed! Join POWWOW today to learn of the impending changes to Westchester schools.
Read 6/14 article, "Brewer unveils "innovation" unit for LAUSD. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd15jun15,1,2194858.story
BY GARY WALKER
A comumunity meeting hosted by the Westchester/Playa del Rey Education Foundation Thursday, June 7th, to discuss the concept of autonomy for Westchester area schools took a contentious turn after several area educators complained that they had not been properly informed of the proposed reform.
Education advocates, parents, teachers and key members of the Los Angeles Unified School District addressed a packed auditorium at the community room at the Westchester Municipal Building regarding establishing "zones of autonomy" at area campuses, which they feel would improve the level of education, particularly at Westchester High School.
The concept of giving members of the community whose children are currently attending schools in the Westchester neighborhoods more local control, direct community involvement in school policies and a stronger voice in decision-making is an idea that Kelly Kane is excited about exploring."
Autonomy is coming to Westchester," Kane proclaimed prior to the meeting. She is director of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the enhancement and advocacy of public schools in Westchester. "This is just the beginning," Kane continued. She said that she was "inspired and encouraged" by what she called "enthusiastic" support for the possibility of creating zones of autonomy from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) superintendent David Brewer and LAUSD board member and president Marlene Canter, whose district includes Westchester.
The school district, by outward appearances, seems to be receptive to the plan outlined by Westchester parents and some area teachers, unlike the proposal by Green Dot Public Schools, an organization that is seeking to wrest control of Locke High School away from LAUSD and transform the inner-city school into several charter schools, independent of district oversight.
"Everyone who has a stake in making our schools better is being invited to participate," said Kane.
The Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council approved a motion to back the autonomy plan, which is still in its nascent stage, on Tuesday, June 5th. Terry Marcellus, a Neighborhood Council director who heads the council's education committee, said that his organization supports the concept of self-rule in principle, with certain conditions.
One of the most important considerations for Marcellus is having governing councils for the schools.
"In my mind, a governing board that has broad representation of all of the stakeholders is essential," he said.
The Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council also believes that any autonomy plan should include "best practices of charter schools or another autonomy model."
At the community forum, which was the regular meeting of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Education Foundation, Kane repeatedly asked the audience to "open your minds, open your hearts," and "think big."
"We're going to move away from fear, and into beautiful, wonderful, amazing education," she proposed. "Nothing is written in stone, and every voice here will be heard. All of us are on the precipice of greatness, and we can only get there together."
Kathy Littman, who will head LAUSD's new Innovation Division, which has been created to "develop and implement educational models to support effective educational practices," according to the district, spoke in favor of the concept of autonomy zones.
"It's time to do something different," she said. "This is a magic moment that we can take advantage of.
"While Kane and Littman spoke in positive tones about the possibilities of self-governance, several teachers in the audience appeared disgruntled about the reform proposal.
At least three times during comments by Kane, teachers interrupted her to inquire why they had not been notified about the meeting, which several of them learned about at the last minute via word of mouth or from representatives of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the union that represents the majority of the school district's educators.
Various teachers also alleged that parent volunteers have threatened to replace them if the autonomy reform is successful.
A.J. Duffy, the president of UTLA, said that by not notifying the educators in the Westchester area schools, Kane's organization had "scared the hell out of the teachers," which drew applause from many of the assembled faculty members."I made it as clear as I could possibly make it to teachers that if they do not want to be in an autonomy zone, they do not have to be in an autonomy zone," Duffy continued. "I believe passionately in autonomy, and the idea of a family of schools was a concept that we developed at UTLA in agreement with [Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa].
"All of those concepts were about percolating from the bottom, not putting it down from the top."
Kane told the angry teachers that the district had promised to send out a letter to all area school principals informing them of the meeting and highlighting the specifics of the autonomy plan.
She also attempted to assuage the angry teachers' fears that her organization had any ill will toward them.
"What happened is, the information didn't get (distributed) at the right time by the right people," she reiterated. "That is why this meeting tonight is a little tense.
"I'm hoping that we can all step over that, and get to the place where we know where we can be; which is, let's make our schools the best that they can be, for the kids that are in them," she added.
Barbara Stern was one of the teachers who challenged Kane during and after the meeting. She and some of her colleagues took issue with what they believe is the foundation's attempt to squeeze them out of the reform process, and impose its standards on both the faculty and students.
"I specifically asked [Kane] why the teachers had not been invited to this meeting," the teacher told The Argonaut. "Pretty much every teacher that is here came only because they heard about it through word of mouth.
"Stern also wanted to know why Kane did not acknowledge elementary school educators if the scores at those schools have improved.
"The teachers feel like this is coming down from the top, and being thrust upon us," Stern asserted. "As a veteran teacher, I've seen a lot of these programs, and we've been through all of these different reforms, and then the board has dropped nearly every innovation.
"They stop funding them, dissolve them or they just drop them."
Kane said she believes that a lot of the "panic and rumors" that were on display at the forum were the result of misinformation that emanated from teachers union circles and the failure of the school district to distribute the letter that would have explained the plan in more detail.
"We felt that they dropped the ball," the foundation director contends, referring to the fact that the letter of explanation to the school principals about the community meeting and the autonomy proposal was not mailed.
"It was important that the letter come from the LAUSD chain of command. They left it up to us to tell the community."
Kane said that Canter, who also spoke at the foundation meeting, agreed to make sure that the letter was distributed, and denied telling any member of her group that teachers might be replaced if the proposed reforms take place.
Kane stated that her organization later heard that the letter had been "held back" by the school district.
"Principals were told by our district leaders to not distribute the information," Kane alleged.
During an interview subsequent to the community forum, Kane repeatedly stated that she and her advocacy group believe that teachers are invaluable to their mission of improving Westchester schools.
"We love our teachers," she reiterated. "How can we expect to have good teachers without good schools?
"To be accused of trying to take away teachers' benefits makes me absolutely irate."
Duffy says that he has great respect for Kane and other parent volunteers.
"I believe that they are pure of heart, and want what's best for their kids," he acknowledged. "But even though they say that they have no desire to force people to go along with their plan, [not being included in discussions about autonomy] makes it appear to the teachers that it is mandatory."
He took umbrage at what he felt was an attempt by Brewer and Canter to hijack an idea that he says his union initiated.
"They have talked about a 'family of schools' that doesn't exist," he said.
"It has to be created, and teachers have to play a critical role in any kind school reform, and I will not allow that family to be created for another top-down organization," Duffy vowed.
He alleged that Brewer and Canter brought forth "an amalgam of ideas, none of which were theirs."
"(Duffy and I) agree that our ultimate goals are the same; that we want better schools and more local control, so that our kids can have the best education possible," said Kane.
However, she said she was surprised that Duffy would make the statements that he did at the community meeting.
"I think that Duffy does not like the speed at which I travel," Kane speculated.
The Neighborhood Council's Marcellus, a longtime education advocate and a graduate of Westchester schools, concurs that teachers are a valuable part of any new reform.
"Teachers are one of the key stakeholders in this autonomy plan," said Marcellus, who attended the gathering. "They want to make sure that they get the benefit of their seniority and the benefit of their contract."
Loyola Marymount University (LMU), which is involved in an educational partnership with Westchester High, plans to be an important participant of any reform plan that is created, said LMU's dean of education Shane Martin.
There will be additional forums on the topic of autonomy zones and education reform throughout the summer. LMU will host a community discussion Saturday, June 16th.
From Kane's point of view, school autonomy is not a matter of how; it's a matter of when."Autonomy in this generation started on May 18th with Admiral Brewer," Kane asserted.
"The autonomy train is coming to Westchester."
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Let's meet on the WHS campus at 7:30 am to connect with parents dropping off their children.
Let's meet again on the WHS campus at 2:30 pm to catch the parents picking up their children.
We will be armed with brochures and time-line fliers!
None of us are available all the time, but all of us are available sometime!
Our next meeting will be held Tuesday, June 19th at 7pm.
Marina Christian Center
5730 West Manchester Blvd.
To all Resident Parents: As a resident, you are entitled to attend the following meetings. Make sure you participate in the next NCWPDR meeting the 4th Tuesday of each month (June 26th at 6.30pm); and the WPEF community meeting every 1st Thursday of each month (July 5th at 6.30pm). Both are held at the Westchester Municipal Building, 7166 Manchester Avenue -- adjacent to the Library.
There is so much to bring everyone up-to-speed on. Sit back -- no, get-up, get involved, become informed, let your voice be heard -- and let's tackle inclusion together. This blog will serve as a notification of meeting dates, minutes from prior meetings, events and much, much more!
There are very important and serious issues that face our schools. Although positive changes are underway, this past April, the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC) committee determined there are several areas that demand YOUR -- OUR attention.
Join POWWOW today and learn how you can become part of the solution! Membership is free of charge, but not free of participation!
Send email to ==> firstname.lastname@example.org