Unlocking Locke

Green Dot‘s plan to turn a low-performing LA high school into 10 small charters got a boost this week with a $7.9 million grant from the Gates Foundation. In May, a majority of Locke’s tenured teachers petitioned for charter status. Under district pressure, several teachers rescinded their signatures; the district rejected Green Dot’s takeover plan. But the mayor and a new school board majority want to consider Green Dot’s proposal, reports the LA Times.

A story features a Locke teacher who sees some signs of progress but is frustrated by the lack of leadership. Zeus Cubias’ two-day geometry lesson was postponed when nobody told him half his students were going on a field trip to the beach.

“I’m just tired, man,” he said later. “Tired that whenever you want to do something positive for the kids, it’s a struggle. It shouldn’t be this hard.”

Friends of Dave criticizes Karen Brown, a Locke fashion-design teacher, who says the school is serving its students.

How in the heck can Karen say they’re giving students what they need when more than half of them will drop out before graduation (41.1% graduation rate) and 80% of students are below grade level in Language Arts and nearly 90% of students are below grade level in Math. These kids are NOT getting what they need and while Karen’s “fashion design” program might be fun to teach, it isn’t going to help these kids if they lack the basic skills to read, write and balance their checkbook.

The charts on student performance show improvement in recent years, but students remain way, way behind.

If Locke goes charter, other low-performing schools may follow suit.

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