December 14, 2010 The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education and local charter leaders have signed on to an compact to work together to share best practices and to ensure all students have access to a high-quality public education.
"This is a tremendously exciting collaboration between LAUSD and the charter community," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), who was asked by the Gates Foundation to be the charter community lead for the work in Los Angeles. "This is a huge step in the right direction--of putting students first and working together to ensure that all students in Los Angeles receive a high-quality public school education."
The Los Angeles Quality Schools Compact outlines 11 bold ideas that will help accelerate the success, growth and sustainability of high-quality public schools. They include:
- Working jointly to establish a low and high bar for academic performance to ensure clear measures of accountability for all students
- Giving charter schools access to low-interest trans loans and expediting the charter renewal process
- Commissioning a joint study to identify best practices for serving English Language Learners and Standard English Learners
- Moving forward on a reorganization plan for the District's Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Working together on a joint advocacy agenda to increase education funding
- Creating professional learning communities with teachers from both charter and traditional public schools
Los Angeles is one of nine cities that were represented in Denver this week at a gathering to announce the unprecedented collaboration effort. Cities signing on to a similar Compact include: Baltimore, Denver, Hartford, Conn., Minneapolis, Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans, New York City, and Rochester, N.Y. As a result of the momentum created and successes in student achievement that Los Angeles and the eight other cities hope to achieve through these compacts, the Gates Foundation is pursuing round two of the Compact work, which could potentially include at least two more cities in California.
To date, 136 out of 183 Los Angeles charter schools have signed on to the Quality Schools Compact, and more continue to sign on. This represents more than 52,000 students who live within the boundaries of LAUSD.
"While many of the cities faced common problems, it was interesting to see the differences in the local dynamics and their approaches," said Allison Bajracharya, CCSA's managing regional director of policy and advocacy for Greater Los Angeles, who attended the announcement in Denver on behelf of CCSA.
Bajracharya pointed to the fact that some cities have as high as 60 percent of charters co-located on traditional school sites, a result of the districts' strong commitment to providing them space, as one difference among the participating districts. In Denver, where 100 percent of the charters signed on, the two principals at a site are treated as equals by the district, not that one is the host principal and the other a visitor. In New Orleans, about 70 percent of students now attend charter schools, so leaders in that region are focused on how to share services and reduce costs across all the schools.
In total, the nine cities represented three million students, 30 percent of all urban students. LAUSD Deputy Superintendent John Deasy attended the event in Denver, as did several superintendents and Colorado elected officials, showing that the compact is a true priority for them.
The Quality Schools Compact effort is an outgrowth of a roundtable discussion that occurred last February between 13 major urban school district superintendents matched with charter leaders from each of those cities. Each of the participating cities will be eligible for a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the work outlined in the Compact.