L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus
Controversial group that began with the mission of rapidly expanding charter schools in Los Angeles has named its board of directors, come out with a plan and publicly defined its mission as supporting new, successful public schools of any kind.
The board for Great Public Schools Now mostly includes faces and groups that are familiar in the education reform wars of L.A., including representatives from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
The chair of the nonprofit is retired banker Bill Siart, the only board member who had been previously announced. In 1997, Siart vied to become superintendent of L.A. Unified, losing out to insider Ruben Zacarias. Later, Siart founded ExED, a company that provides specialized office services to charter schools.
Nearly all the other board members are widely regarded as pro-charter, even though their backgrounds are diverse.
Charters are independently operated, free public schools that are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. Most are nonunion.
Siart said he hopes L.A. Unified will work with the nonprofit to create superior schools.
“They have some very good schools — some magnet schools and traditional schools — that are performing well for kids,” he said, then added, “and they have other schools that don’t,” even after repeated turnaround efforts.
“A lot of turnarounds don’t turn around,” Siart said. “We need to see demonstrated success, not hope.”
The group’s glossy, 16-page plan identifies 10 low-income, low-achievement neighborhoods as areas of focus. Clustered in the east San Fernando Valley and south and east of downtown, they include Boyle Heights, Pacoima and South Gate.
Although the plan is short on specifics, the group plans to announce its first grants L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus - LA Times: