Stanton Fellowship Memo

Stanton Fellowship Memo - M EMORANDUM TO: FROM: ANITA...

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MEMORANDUM TO: ANITA LANDECKER FROM: TERRANCE MCKNIGHT SUBJECT: STANTON FELLOWSHIP PRELIMINARY RESEARCH DATE: 6/1/2011 The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is experiencing a budget crisis, most correlated with that of the State of California. In addition, LAUSD’s limited funding is handled inefficiently; this could soon lead to state receivership [Appendix I, note 1]. The structure and employee duties do not allow for the district to support its schools effectively. If the district went into receivership, how should it restructure afterwards to deliver quality schools to low-income students? BACKGROUND Los Angeles has experienced many school reform initiatives in its history. Decentralization, grassroots involvement, higher standards for all, and greater variety and choice have been tenets of every LAUSD reform plan since the 1970s. The Los Angeles Alliance for Restructuring Now (LEARN) proposed decentralization and direct school funding; it failed because of a non- collaborative environment, difficulty in moving funding to the schools, political distrust, and issues with categorical fund allocation. Current Superintendent Ramon Cortines had a plan to decentralize using autonomous subdistricts during his stint as interim Superintendent that was discarded once he left office. Politics and divergent interests amongst stakeholders in education have always been an underlying theme of Los Angeles reform. In order for LAUSD to prepare its students to be college- and career-ready, it must switch its role at the district level from an oversight agency to support and service provider for schools. Reform has to happen at the district level in order for teaching and learning improvement to occur district-wide; without this, the best reform outcomes are individual schools who achieve in silos throughout the district, while other schools continue to underachieve. LAUSD is moving towards becoming a portfolio district; as a reform initiative, portfolio districts use the following as aspects
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of a comprehensive effort: common school standards, district decentralization, test-based accountability, and diversity of public schools. This reform agenda has three overarching tenets: accountability, great leaders, and culture. Accountability has to be at the forefront of any initiative set forth. Future accountability measures must be based on performance, not compliance. This is best achieved through constant and transparent feedback for all parties and entities involved. Effective leadership is also needed to guide and push the reform initiatives across the district. Culture is the most overlooked aspect of any reform process. In this case, it is also the most important aspect to turning around the Los Angeles’ public schools. There is currently an apathetic culture at LAUSD, driven by low accountability; much of this is due to a no- consequences environment, which decreases operational performance. The district has also historically been inward-looking and wary of external entities. LAUSD is currently working on
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This note was uploaded on 06/01/2011 for the course ORL 1000 taught by Professor Buontempo during the Spring '11 term at Columbia.

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Stanton Fellowship Memo - M EMORANDUM TO: FROM: ANITA...

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