Crenshaw High Taken Over by LAUSD
At the Schools with Audrey Linden
Many teachers were hoping for a last minute reprieve in the decision about the fate of the academically challenged Crenshaw High School. In particular, those teachers, who will have to re-apply for their jobs and who were fighting the conversion of Crenshaw High held out hope the tide would be turned. Parents and students who went to Crenshaw held rallies. But, to no avail. On Tuesday, LAUSD’s School Board unanimously voted to turn the high school into three magnet schools. All School Board members, including Marguerite La Motte voted for Superintendent’s plan. The only School Board member who did not vote was Richard Vladovic who was absent.
The fate is sealed despite teachers, parents, and students input. Crenshaw High has had high dropout rates, and low achievement in test scores. Superintendent Deasy is exercising drastic measures to turn the school around. The student population was largely African American and now has an increasing Latino population. Parents went before the School Board and pleaded for another chance. Superintendent Deasy and the School Board in voting to change the school into three magnets had given the school chances before and the school did not turn around, at least not fast enough for LAUSD.
Teacher, and activist, Alex Caputo-Pearl spoke before the Board and told them progress had been hampered by LAUSD. In seven years, there has been a succession of at least thirty principals and vice principals. Marguerite La Motte, who has been around in the days when Crenshaw High was a good school that graduated championship athletes and was proud to send its graduating seniors to colleges. Marguerite La Motte would like to see Crenshaw reclaim its former reputation, and if that means turning the school into three magnets, so be it.
The school has over 1,300 students, mostly from low income families. Scores in English and math have not improved. Only 17% are at grade level in English, which represents a 2% decline. In math, 3% are at grade level, which is 1% better, but still not enough to be seen as progress. Their API, Academic Performance Index improved from 554 to 569. The school is one of the lowest performing in the state. Enrollment has declined with some students going to charters or moving to other districts.
In making teachers reapply, Deasy is exercising his right under Federal law. If most of the faculty is replaced, it actually will be a “reconstitution” though Deasy is not using that terminology. The criteria to be hired back are not being given. Who will replace these teachers? Will it be experienced teachers or new teachers? Where will these displaced teachers go?
The magnets will draw from students all over and bring them to the campus. That is a way to guarantee the test scores go up. It is not a way to guarantee those low scoring students will suddenly “get it” or start learning. It just improves the ratio and the overall scores by adding higher achievers into the mix. Will those low achieving students be lost in the mix? Does adding students who will score better and changing the balance really address the deeper issue?
Due to this change to magnet schools, Crenshaw High will lose one benefactor in the mix. Ford Foundation in New York had given a grant of $225,000 last year in to help turn the school around. Though they were going to increase the grant money this year, The Ford Foundation is not continuing with the grant money to support LAUSD’s take over.
Career Substitute teacher
Central Calling Area Chapter Chair
HOR Voting Member