LA builds arts palace for the untalented

Los Angeles Unified’s new arts school will have a very expensive “world-class” building — but the school won’t enroll the most talented students, reports the LA Times. In fact, students with artistic, musical and dramatic talent will be urged to go elsewhere.

. . . usually in the case of a school play, “The part’s going to go to the kid who shows the greatest talent, and that’s not the kind of school that this is going to be,” (district administrator Richard) Alonzo said. “This is really looking at building potential in communities that have been underserved, for kids that really haven’t had the chance.”

While the school might tell star performers that they would likely be happier elsewhere, it won’t refuse to accept them if they really want to attend, he said.

For years, neighborhood students attended low-performing schools. The district now has put $232 million into the unnamed arts school (naming rights go for $25 million): It has space for 1,700 students.

Up a broad flight of stairs, the campus’ main buildings offer three dance studios with sprung maple flooring.

A professional-quality, 950-seat theater. Music classrooms with acoustic tiling and special whiteboards designed for musical notation.

Floor-to-ceiling windows with motorized blackout shades. Ceiling-mounted projectors in every classroom, allowing teachers to display lessons from computers.

Track lighting in the hallways to illuminate student art. An outdoor atrium for firing Japanese raku pottery. And the school’s centerpiece, a conical library whose dazzling interior swirls upward to an off-center skylight.

The nearby Roybal Learning Center, plagued by toxics issues, cost $400 million; it will serve 2,500 students.

Let’s hope LA has a few bucks left over for “world-class” teaching, curriculum design, books and technology.

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Comments

  1. What a story! According to the piece, this is the second most expensive high school ever built, and there’s no cogent plan for running it, less than a year before it opens. But the howler is the idea that the most talented students will be discouraged from attending. When did we declare war on intelligence, talent and ability? The money quote in the piece: “I just think that L.A. Unified rushes to mediocrity,” said former school board member Caprice Young, who said she thought the goal should be the highest level of performance, regardless of geography. “As a school district, we need to be honoring excellence.”

    Ya think?

  2. We live in the end days.

    Cherry Christmas!

  3. Richard Nieporent says:

    Alonzo said students at the school may not have the most experience in the arts, but they will not suffer for it. For instance, usually in the case of a school play, “The part’s going to go to the kid who shows the greatest talent, and that’s not the kind of school that this is going to be,” Alonzo said. “This is really looking at building potential in communities that have been underserved, for kids that really haven’t had the chance.”

    Clearly they should name it Harrison Bergeron High School.

  4. Truth isn’t stranger than fiction, reality just gets its ideas there. This reminds me of a classic Onion article: “Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act.” http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28982

  5. This article says more about access to the fine and performing arts in urban elementary and middle schools than anything else, for families where private lessons is not an option.

    Ditto for the final line: “Let’s hope LA has a few bucks left over for ‘world-class’ teaching, curriculum design, books and technology” — Why can’t we have teachers, books, and arts, too?

  6. Maybe they can get Johnny Depp to donate the 25 mil if they name it Ed Wood High. Heck maybe they don’t even have to change the name, its already Central Public High School No. 9.

  7. [i]Why can’t we have teachers, books, and arts, too?[/i]

    Those are your priorities. If you want them translated into reality you’ve got find people who have the same priorities, are willing to run for school board, get them elected to the school board, keep them on the board while the school system is overhauled with the sort of sweeping changes necessary to “have teachers, books, and arts, too”.

    There, now that wasn’t so tough was it?

  8. The only thing more beautiful than the entry are the comments! The Americans with No Abilities Act!

  9. So… rather than providing these students an environment where they could find something they can excel at, we are giving them yet another chance to be confronted by their own shortcomings.

    I’m sick of this society’s perverse attempt to teach everyone that they can excel if they but try hard enough.