Last week, the first “parent trigger” school takeover was approved in California’s Mojave Desert. A high-scoring charter operator will take over low-scoring Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto. Today, Los Angeles parents will use the trigger law to ask for changes at their very low-scoring school, threatening to convert the school to a charter if they’re not satisfied. Parents at 24th Street Elementary “are demanding stronger leadership, better academics, safer and cleaner facilities and a new culture of high expectations,” reports the Hechinger Report.
As they recruit parents, the 24th Street petitioners cite the grim statistics: More than 80 percent of third-graders and 71 percent of fifth-graders can’t read at grade level, and the school’s 8 percent suspension rate is the second highest out of all elementary schools in the LAUSD. Last year, 24th Street scored a 667 on the state’s Academic Performance Index, a 1,000-point scale that ranks California schools. That was 32 points lower than Desert Trails—the school that won its parent trigger push last week—and well below the state target of 800.
“It hasn’t been that difficult to rally parents,” (parent Amabilia) Villeda said. “Many parents say that if significant changes don’t happen at this school this year, they’re going to take their kids out.”
24th Street Elementary is a turnaround school that hasn’t turned yet. Its 2012-13 improvement plan discusses “stubbornly low test scores, ineffective teaching methods and student concerns about bullying and cleanliness” as well as high absenteeism and transiency rates.
The plan calls for .. . better systems in place to check for student understanding and promote re-teaching, more comprehensive teacher evaluations and increased parent involvement on school committees.
Parent-union leaders says the plan doesn’t go far enough and had little parent input. About 60 percent of parents have signed the trigger petition, according to Parent Revolution, which is backing the campaign.
Parent Laura Wade, 37, said 24th Street shouldn’t get a pass just because it serves a low-income area—100 percent of students there are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. Eighty percent of its students are Hispanic and 18 percent are black. Nearly half of the students don’t speak English at home.
Since her son started kindergarten last fall, he’s had 11 teachers, most of them substitutes, Wade said.
The 24th Street petition “calls for reopening the school under either a charter operator or a partnership model within the district.”
The elementary school shares its campus with Crown Prep, a charter middle school (starting in fifth grade) that’s reached the state target on the Academic Performance Index.