Last night was Open House at the high school where my daughter is a Freshman.
She is in an inter-disciplinary Magnet program, so while we had an opportunity to shake hands with her Algebra and Spanish teachers, the rest of her schedule is taught by a team - so all the ninth grade magnet parents were given a presentation in the auditorium (which I learned is now called the "Multi-Purpose Room").
In the middle of discussion about the program, what the kids are doing, and what we can expect over the next few months, was this bombshell:
The proposed budget being considered by the school board will eliminate 90% of funds from the magnet program, effectively killing it.
A form letter was passed out to us, with an urgent request to email Superintendent Cortines and each member of the School Board - by today. Here is the version I sent out:
Dear Mr. Cortines:
A couple of days ago, we received our School Report Card. Overall, it is a disappointing snapshot of the efficacy of LAUSD's efforts to prepare our next generation for adulthood: Only 51% of the students at Cleveland are proficient or advanced in English Arts, with 47% proficient or advanced in math (however, both are better than the LAUSD average).
On the back page of the brochure, we found statistics for our 9th grade daughter's Humanities Magnet, which offers a completely different picture: 90% of the Magnet kids are scoring Proficient or Advanced in English and 71% are doing so in Math.
With everything LAUSD gets wrong - why would you dismantle one of the few programs that is doing it right?
The proposed budget cuts will reduce the Magnet program budget by 90%, which would most likely eliminate our magnet coordinators (and thereby end the Magnet programs entirely).
Our Magnet has grown and contnued to thrive because of its excellence in academic programming. It raises the bar for educational leadership and is committed to integrating its curriculum in such a way that our students themselves set new standards for excellence.
The program cannot survive nor continue to excel without a coordinator. This dedicated full-time job involves creative program development, admissions, counseling, supervision, staff management, curriculum development and more. These activities are crucial to the educational experience of each and every Magnet student.
My child needs this program. She came to the high school a little bit terrified by the exacting standards and the requirement that all students learn to write well. She was especially frightened of the quarterly inter-disciplinary exams, which pose the students with a question that results in a complex (and long) essay, illustrating what they have learned and understand about a topic (her first one was about the history of Mexico and how its culture came about through the relationship between the indigenous people and their Spanish conquerors). It's basically college-level work - and my ninth grader is thriving.
Please don't dismantle LAUSD's Magnets. Our students are counting on you.
Donna Schwartz Mills
If you are an LAUSD Magnet parent, you have likely received requests to send similar emails. If you are in LAUSD and were thinking you might want to place your child in a Magnet, you may wish to send something out, too.
Here are the email addresses of the Superintendent and the members of the School Board:
John E. Deasy, Ph.D.
District 1-Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte
District 2 - Monica Garcia
District 3 - Tamar Galatzan
District 4 - Steve Zimmer
District 5 - Yolie Flores-Aguilar
District 6 - Nury Martinez
District 7 - Richard Vladovic