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Tue, Dec

Yet Another Crisis at Roosevelt High School: You Can Help

EDUCATION POLITICS-On August 5, an important Town Hall meeting will take place at the Salesian Boys' and Girls' Club, located at 2228 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, to discuss the present and future of Roosevelt High School and to seek solutions to save the struggling school. 

The Town Hall meeting will be from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Roosevelt High School students, teachers, parents, alumni, and activists are urged to attend and participate in this important event. The future of Roosevelt High School is at stake as it may lose its accreditation. 

Since December 7, 2007, Roosevelt High School has been under the control of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). PLAS promised stakeholders that it would work "collaboratively" to increase student achievement--neither of these PLAS promises have been fulfilled. 

PLAS is under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LAUSD, which gives PLAS the authority to manage Roosevelt. However, Roosevelt High School is represented by LAUSD board member Monica Garcia, who represents District 2. Monica has met with me and other community activists and stakeholders in the past but has refused to terminate the MOU with PLAS. Several community actions, including a massive student walkout by Roosevelt High students on May 15, 2015 have occurred, but PLAS outsiders continue to mismanage Roosevelt.

Nearly eight years have gone by under PLAS control and Roosevelt High School has not shown any substantial academic growth in its API (Academic Performance Index) or in its STAR tests results, or newer CAASPP scores, where RHS students are tested every year in various academic subjects. 

Although there have been minor increases and decreases in scores, Roosevelt’s API scores under PLAS throughout the years have ranged from 520 to 672, not counting the Roosevelt magnet school. It is important to note that an API score of 600 or below qualifies a school as a "Focus School," which means it can be reconstituted, taken over by a charter operator, or by a group of teachers. 

STAR scores range from 200 to 1,000, with 800 being the statewide performance target. Also under PLAS control, Roosevelt students in general are only about 20 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts and only about three percent in math. With the new State Common Core Standards taking effect, it would not be surprising for Roosevelt students to continue to score low since the new state standards in English language arts will be more demanding and require greater English language development and stronger critical thinking and analytical skills. At the high school level, students will be expected to have a foundation in algebra and geometry.

The new crisis at Roosevelt High School was precipitated on May 15, 2015 when students walked out was because 23 Roosevelt teachers were set to be displaced due to a loss of special funding. These teachers knew their students' learning styles, potential, and cared for them. Positive and productive working relationships had developed. Losing 23 teachers was an unprecedented event and was a shock to students--especially when the state's education budget was to be increased to $3 billion. Despite the walkout and the increase in state funding, the 23 teachers were let go and a variety of courses were also eliminated.

The next adverse thing at Roosevelt was the resignation of the principal during the summer, after five years on the job. The selection of a new Roosevelt principal must have the approval of Roosevelt parents and teachers. That person must not be an outsider. (The previous one was from Seattle.) He or she must know the community and have the experience and ability to reform Roosevelt High School.

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Making matters even worse, Roosevelt High School has now been put on academic probation by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges, which grants accreditation to schools. According to WASC, if Roosevelt does not make substantial academic progress in two years, it will lose its accreditation. 

On July 7, Roosevelt High School students met at the Boyle Heights City Hall to express their feelings and concerns about what has happened to their school.  They spoke to about 30 individuals, including Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council members, Roosevelt alumni, teachers, representatives from the LAUSD, community activists, and non-profit representatives. 

At the meeting, the students said that the heart and soul and identity of Roosevelt High have been destroyed -- that potential new students would no longer want to attend their school. Roosevelt High School has only about 1,500 students and about 86 teachers. It is a stripped-down model of a comprehensive high school that lacks dozens of Career Technical Programs (CTE) and classes such as Auto Mechanics, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Mental and Behavioral Health, and Entrepreneurship. Roosevelt High School currently does not have a bilingual education program for its core academic subjects.

The meeting at the Boyle Heights City Hall produced four major recommendations: (1) to select a new Roosevelt High School principal who is bilingual with a track record of successfully reforming a Latino high school; (2) to dump PLAS; (3) to search for a viable candidate to replace board member Monica Garcia in District 2; (4) and to convene a Town Hall meeting at Salesian Boys' and Girls' Club on August 5, 2015.

 

(Dr. Fernandez was a lead teacher at Roosevelt High School, where he taught for 24 years and was the former director of the Mexican American Education Commission for the LAUSD. This article first appeared in Perdaily.com.) ]

 

–cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 62

Pub: Jul 31, 2015