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

WPEF Community Meeting: September 6th at 6.30pm

Open to all Stakeholders -- that's you!

Save the Date: Saturday, October 13 from 9am-12pm

Media Contact: Karen Grace-Baker
Kid Kulture™ Marketing
Phone: (323) 936-7671 -office or (323) 791-0628-mobile
Fax: (323) 938-1089


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.