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School Takeover Threat Spurs Compromise Between LA District, Parents

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By Karla Scoon Reid. Cross-posted from the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.

Parents at 20th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles put the brakes on their parent-trigger campaign last week.

Parents of children attending the low-performing school voted unanimously May 29 to accept a 16-page agreement penned by Los Angeles Unified School District officials to improve student achievement at 20th Street. Gabe Rose, chief strategy officer of Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles-based parent-trigger advocacy group, which is advising the 20th Street Parents Union, said parents were encouraged by the measures outlined in the district's plan.

The parent union announced plans in April to mount a parent-trigger campaign if, according to a letter they submitted to Superintendent Richard C. Cortines, they didn't receive "an acceptable pilot school proposal or similarly strong turnaround plan" from district officials.

California's Parent Empowerment Act allows the majority of parents at an academically underperforming school to force school districts to enact sweeping education reforms, including replacing staff or converting the school into a charter.

Rose said 20th Street parents collected enough petition signatures—more than 51 percent—to demand comprehensive changes at the school. More than half of 20th Street Elementary's 600 K-5 students are not reading at grade level, and parents there had been organizing for well over a year before they started collecting petitions this spring.

The agreement, which was crafted with input from both parents and teachers, outlines increased opportunities for professional development for teachers and a detailed parent-engagement plan. The proposal also identifies specific academic goals, including boosting the reclassification rate of English-language learners by 5 percent annually. Almost 60 percent of the school's students are English-language learners. Rose said the inclusion of specific academic goals is "uncommon" in district-parent agreements.

Related:

Nevada Lawmakers Pass Expansive Private School Choice Bill

Legal Challenge to Charter School Funding in New York Clears Hurdle


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