Monday, October 10, 2011

Turning around the 'turn-arounds'

L.A.'s Promise turns out to be a big lie

Out in L.A., they're "turning-around" Manual Arts High School again. School district officials announced that they will retake control over Manual from L.A.'s Promise, a corporate-style reform group they had appointed to turn the school around. The huge campus (3,500 Latino and African-American students) has been beset by overcrowding and endured a disorderly start to the school year that saw initial shortages of desks and textbooks and left some students without class schedules. In March, hundreds of Manual students walked-out to protest teacher lay-offs and transfers forced by the management group.

Ten teachers have no classrooms of their own; instead they share rooms and switch locations from period to period. A new school is expected to open nearby next year to relieve overcrowding. "The primary problem is that the classes have ballooned," said history and government teacher Daniel Beebe, one of the instructors without a classroom.

Writes Howard Blume in L.A. Times:
Top district officials faced a dilemma in dealing with L.A.'s Promise. They wanted to address the situation at Manual Arts without alienating the backers of the nonprofit group. Officials did not want to derail a recently launched, major fundraising initiative led jointly by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and education philanthropist Megan Chernin, longtime head of the L.A.'s Promise Board of Directors.
L.A.'s Promise Doard of Directors also includes former Gates' education chief Tom VanderArk whose recent attempt at starting a chain of N.Y. charter schools ended in disaster.  It's advisory board includes:
Peter Chernin, The Chernin Group; Ivelisse Estrada, Univison; Robert Iger, Walt Disney Company; Kevin Sharer, Amgen; and Ron Sugar, Northrop Grumman.

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