POV: A Model School For Los Angeles? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

POV: A Model School For Los Angeles?


FOX 11 Vice President and General Manager Kevin Hale has the story of a Los Angeles school that's pulled off an incredible turnaround. Could it be a model for the rest of the city?

You can watch the full video of the editorial in the media player... and share your comments on the topic below the editorial transcript.

Full Editorial Text:

"We love our school!"

I came down to 99th Street Elementary in South Los Angeles, to get a firsthand look at a school that's trying to beat the odds. The enthusiasm is palpable. Under Mayor Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, 99th Street has made great strides in recent months. Test scores are up, enrollment's up, attendance is up and the campus is filled with hope.

Marshall Tuck
"This is a school that in two years has gone up 20 percent."

A new principal, Sherri Williams, has completely changed the culture of this campus.

Sherri Williams
"When I first came here this school had such a bad reputation."

Now, the campus is pristine, the kids are engaged, 13 students have been identified as gifted, and parents are here day in and day out helping out in the trenches.

"Good morning Mr. Hale."

"Good morning to you. Very nice to see you."

"A number of things really impressed me and one was how respectful the kids are."

"That's the atmosphere that we're providing for them."

99th Street hit a milestone under the Mayor's watch-it's being removed from the list of low performing schools.

It still has a long way to go and like many schools in the district, it's facing huge challenges. Administrators can't, in effect, fire failing teachers; they don't even have the power to evaluate a teacher's performance; and when cutbacks come, seniority rules force out new hires-often the best and brightest. And leaders like Principal Williams, who spent months training staff, must say goodbye to the very people who've helped reshape the school.

Blame this. It's the State Education Code, which in many ways protects adults over what's best for kids. Governor Schwarzenegger tried to change the tenure and seniority rules in the code, and tried to garner more local control, but was shot down by the teachers union. No surprise here.

We all care about teachers but not at the expense of our kids. You can demand change: Revamp the code once and for all and start putting our kid's education first.

Jerry Brown
"As Mayor of Oakland I created two charter schools. I have stood up to teachers unions."

You should hold him to that. You can write to Governor-elect Brown and Tom Torlakson, the state's new superintendent of Public Instruction, and tell them to take up the fight and change the Code. Brown's gone on the record saying he wants to simplify the Education Code and return decision-making to local schools. Well, the only way local control will work is to give administrators the power to evaluate and get rid of under-performing teachers.

Dedicated principals like Sherri Williams need your help.

Thanks for listening.


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