Green Dot Public Schools, a successful charter school operator, will try to take over a Los Angeles high school known for racial violence, low test scores and a high drop-out rate. The Jewish Journal reports:
If allowed to run Jefferson as he does his other schools, (Steve) Barr would divide the campus into eight or nine schools. Teachers would lose tenure protection, but could not be fired without “just cause.” Teaching staff also would have a central role in planning curriculum and purchasing instructional materials. The staff would not belong to United Teachers Los Angeles, the powerful L.A. teachers union, but could instead join the independent union that represents faculty at Barr’s other schools. Teacher salaries would be 10 percent higher. Parents would be required to volunteer at the school. Staff currently at Jefferson, including the principal, would be invited to reapply for their jobs.
Barr has started five charter high schools in low-incme minority neighborhoods, but he’s never taken over an existing school to turn it into a charter. It will be enormously difficult to turn around a school this dysfunctional, assuming Green Dot gets the chance to try. It will work only if the new school can transfer students who are unwilling to obey the rules.
According to the LA Times, the teachers’ union president has vowed to block Green Dot and school board members are sniffy that Barr went first to teachers and parents, not to district officials.
Barr had to get the state board of education to extend the charter of his first school, Animo Inglewood Charter High, because the local school district refused. The school is ranked in the top 10 percent of comparable schools in the state, the top 30 percent compared to all schools.