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Low Performing

February 25, 2010 | By Jason Song
Concepciona Manuel-Flores couldn't answer many of the questions on a standardized English test in December, even though she says she's a straight-A student. "I had six or seven substitute teachers," the Markham Middle School seventh-grader said. "All we did in English was silent reading or the same assignments, over and over." Concepciona is one of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of students at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools.
August 4, 2013 | By Jason Song
Lindsay Garcia was teaching a roomful of Gage Middle School students about the science behind a runner's high last week when someone raised her hand from the back of the class. "How do you know personally that [exercise] relaxes you?" asked Joele Hodgson, 36, a veteran instructor who co-teaches the class. Garcia, 23, barely skipped a beat, saying that she goes jogging every day, and it helps her clear her mind and work off stress; then she moved on to the next slide in her presentation.
January 27, 2010 | By Howard Blume
So you think you can run a Los Angeles school? Make your case. You've got 10 minutes. Would-be school operators are taking part in a kind of Los Angeles Unified School District reality contest, presenting proposals this month at forums on campuses across the district. It's the next step in an unfolding process through which groups inside and outside the system are bidding to operate 12 low-performing schools and 18 new campuses, serving some 40,000 students. The Board of Education approved the strategy in August, and the winners for each school will be chosen before March.
April 17, 2013 | By Dalina Castellanos, Los Angeles Times
For the first time since California's controversial parent-trigger law went into effect, a school district has elected not to challenge a petition submitted by parents. The Los Angeles Board of Education this week ratified a partnership between the district and a charter school to take control of the struggling 24th Street Elementary. The 2010 law gives parents increased authority over low-performing campuses, including the option to convert them to independently operated charter schools.
August 21, 2009 | Jason Song and Jason Felch
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on legislators Thursday to adopt sweeping education reforms that would dramatically reshape California's public education system and qualify the state for competitive federal school funding. The governor's proposed legislation, to be considered during a special session that ends by Oct. 5, was met almost immediately by criticism from the powerful state teacher unions, which called Schwarzenegger's plans rushed and unnecessary. While Schwarzenegger's goal is to boost California's chances to qualify for $4.35 billion in federal grants, known as "Race to the Top," many of his proposals go far beyond those needed for eligibility, and embrace the Obama administration's key education reform proposals.
November 16, 2003
Re "Education's Division Problem," Commentary, Nov. 13: What is the difference between a high-performing school and a low-performing school? I believe that both low- and high-performing schools have dedicated teachers and staff, sound educational programs and adequate facilities. In fact, low-performing schools have access to federal and state funds that can provide computers, supplementary materials and extra tutoring to their students. I believe the difference between low- and high-performing schools is the community and environment that surrounds them.
October 26, 2002
Re "Hooked on Phonics? We Should Lose This Addiction," by Mary Lee Griffin, Commentary, Oct. 22: Structured reading programs have helped more students than they've hurt. In California, we went through a decades-long phonics alternative, the whole-language reading instruction program and found it lacking. There seemed to be a strong causal relationship between lack of structure in the reading program at induction and the lack of interest in reading found in older students at the "low-performing schools."
October 3, 2000
Re Brian Stecher's Sept. 27 commentary on new state rewards for schools and teachers: Bonuses are just part of a long-term, multi-pronged reform effort that has already begun to turn around California's schools. Schools and teachers will be rewarded each year they meet academic achievement goals. Students who achieve in the top 10% of their class in every high school will receive scholarships. Other financial incentives will direct extra help and better teachers to low-performing schools.
October 14, 2001
I found "Vital Jobs Priced Out of Housing" (Oct. 7) by Lew Sichelman, regarding affordable housing, quite intriguing and appropriate. As a registered nurse in Los Angeles and a prospective home buyer, I am more than aware of the obstacles faced when trying to buy a home on my present salary. It has been frustrating that I cannot find a decent home at an affordable price within a short commuting distance from my job. One benefit nurses, teachers and police officers have is that if it is necessary to move outside of the area, they may easily change job locations.
March 16, 2010
Congratulations to the panel of teachers, administrators and parents who put together groundbreaking proposals on smarter ways to hire, pay, evaluate and fire teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Improbable as it is that many of the proposals will be adopted by the school board, which is heavily influenced by the teachers union, they have opened a conversation sought by parents and school reformers, and that conversation is unlikely to be silenced until major changes are made.
April 10, 2013 | By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
Parents at 24th Street Elementary School have overwhelmingly chosen a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and a charter operator to run the persistently low-performing Jefferson Park campus. Among those eligible to cast ballots, 80% chose a district collaboration with Crown Preparatory Academy, which already runs a middle school out of surplus classrooms on the campus. Next fall, the district will manage kindergarten through fourth grade and the charter will handle students in grades five through eight.
November 26, 2012 | By Eric Pincus
The Lakers lost two straight road games last week, in Sacramento and Memphis, before a big win in Dallas. Center Dwight Howard, who averaged just seven points and 6.5 rebounds over those two defeats, blamed himself. "The two games before [Dallas], my energy wasn't there," Howard said. "For this team to be successful it doesn't matter how many points I score or how many rebounds I get. As long as my energy is there on the defensive end and I'm active on the offensive end if I'm running, it just picks everybody up. My energy level has to stay high.
February 21, 2012 | By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
Foster Washington knows the odds are against him. The Los Angeles Southwest College student is a 20-year-old from a tough neighborhood in Watts where, he says, there was little encouragement or preparation for college. Recent studies suggest that students such as Washington are the least likely to stay in school, get a degree or transfer to a four-year university, hampering their future job prospects. But Washington is determined to be the first college graduate in his family of 12 siblings.
October 6, 2011
Nick Lowe focuses on continuing to hone his skills, the results of which are evident on his wryly (as usual) titled new album, "The Old Magic," which comes out as he embarks on a string of North American shows opening for Wilco. After that, he'll do a handful of solo shows, including Friday at Largo. As with his previous studio collection, 2007's "At My Age," the new album is a collection of elegantly mature, astutely sophisticated pop songs from an artist who clearly is no longer one of the new kids on the block — and utterly pleased not to be. Largo, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. 8:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
August 31, 2011 | By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Board of Education made a major change in its controversial, 2-year-old policy allowing charter groups and other outsiders to take over new campuses. The board unanimously agreed Tuesday to give teachers and administrators first chance at those schools. If inside groups' plans are unacceptable, then charter operators, who mostly run schools that are nonunion, and others can apply. The rules remain the same, however, for existing, low-performing schools; any group can compete for those campuses.
July 19, 2011 | By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times
In the eyes of Wall Street, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's Achilles' heel has always been his unabashed love of newspapers. Now with Murdoch and son James scheduled to testify before Britain's Parliament on Tuesday, media analysts are hoping the phone-hacking scandal at the company's now-closed News of the World tabloid will finally convince the 80-year-old mogul that it is time to stop the presses that threaten the family empire. "Investors hate everything to do with the newspaper business," said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG.
March 14, 2010 | By Diane Ravitch
There have been two features that regularly mark the history of U.S. public schools. Over the last century, our education system has been regularly captivated by a Big Idea -- a savant or an organization that promised a simple solution to the problems of our schools. The second is that there are no simple solutions, no miracle cures to those problems. Education is a slow, arduous process that requires the work of willing students, dedicated teachers and supportive families, as well as a coherent curriculum.
October 11, 2003
Re "UC Berkeley Admissions Scrutinized," Oct. 4: What is the surprise? That UC Berkeley recognizes that talent comes not only under the guise of high SAT scores? That Berkeley recognizes that most students would have high scores if they attended high-performing schools? That under-represented students tend to attend low-performing schools that fail them? I teach at a low-performing school that in 1999 earned the distinction of being the lowest-performing middle school in the state.
July 8, 2011 | By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
In a bizarre game of musical chairs, nearly 1,000 Los Angeles teachers — who are guaranteed jobs somewhere in the school system — have been hunting for a school that wants them. And hundreds of them have to counter a stigma that they are undesirable castoffs, because they previously worked at low-performing schools that are being restructured. These teachers are from eight schools that are undergoing shakeups intended to bring in new talent, shed previous instructors and administrators and fundamentally change the academic culture.
May 3, 2011
Right now California's so-called parent trigger law, which allows parents at low-performing schools to force a change in their school's institutional structure via petition, is stuck in a sort of limbo. The one petition that has been delivered, at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, is delayed by legal wrangling. Meanwhile, the state Board of Education is going back and forth on how to implement the law and a legislator has introduced a bill that could render the trigger toothless. Blame the legislation that created the trigger.
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