PSconnect is Public Schools connect, a new level of community engagement for public schools.
As a mom, I choose public schools because I believe diversity is better than division. I want my children to relate to the city and the world in which we live. But there is an assault on public education. Schools are stuck in a conflict that has nothing to do with our children. Schools bare all the responsibility for student success but receive less and less to get results. And there is more competition than ever.
Schools aren't failing. We are failing our schools. That's why I started PSconnect.
We connect public schools to the community and the community to our schools. When community leaders know what schools are accomplishing and what they are lacking, they can help teachers and principals do what they do best. When the media understands what's really happening in our schools, the story changes.
Our public program series, PSconnects Us! covers provocative topics that are impacting our schools. We bring grassroots leaders from across the country to share their stories of hard-won victories and heart-wrenching defeats that inspire and empower LA's parents and education supporters.
Join us as we make Friends to Public Schools!
Karen Wolfe, founderPS connect:
Sometimes corporate reforms come in disguise, like the "iPads are a civil right" that turned out to be a boondoggle for someone's favorite vendor.
LAUSD's school calendar may have been the same. For years, a so-called reform effort to boost achievement cut summers short. It seems no reform is worthwhile unless it punishes someone.
No evidence was shown that connected higher achievement to an earlier school year. Remember, the number of school days did not change, just the start and end dates of the school year. Reform means starting school on August 16th in sweltering southern California rather than after Labor Day.
When three retired principals on the school board, George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Richard Vladovic brought the issue to the board on September 20, they had their own experience to dispel the myth that hijacking families' summers led to higher achievement.
“I think the quality of instruction does not change based upon the calendar,” McKenna said.
Vladovic, who has championed a later start for four years, brought a ream of research, including data showing school districts like Torrance Unified's 96% graduation rate with a post-Labor Day start date.
Schmerelson had said, "My biggest concern is with family time. People from all over the world and the United States come to California to enjoy the beaches and the entertainment that we have, especially during July and August. And the people who cannot partake of that are the actual students in L.A. Unified."
Sounds reasonable. But the backlash was fierce.
Howard Blume was right when he wrote that senior staff seemed awfully invested in keeping the calendar as is. He wrote that the staff's extensive report rationalizing the early start seemed to evaporate on closer examination.
Staff seemed baffled by parents. The report said, "most parents express a strong preference for late start," but dismissed it as "tradition (what they recall from their school days)." Howard Blume wrote that although thousands of parents have signed petitions supporting a later start date, "the school system has not determined what the majority wants."
Corporate reform champion Monica Garcia knew what she wanted. She launched into an aggressive showdown, portraying the change as a slide back to low standards. In doing so, she dismissed the thousands of parents who had contacted the school district asking for their summers back.
She said the district should not roll back successful reforms simply for parents' convenience--and just because they had enough votes on the school board.
That's quite a departure from last week when she shouted at the charter schools Rally in the Valley: "When I say 'Parent!' you say 'Power!'"
Parent voice is important when you're trying to advance the reform of *parent choice*. But at other times? Not so much.
That's when I decided it was important to speak up. So I testified at the board meeting, reminding board members that education is not just about test scores, but about creating citizens. Parents play a big role in that, along with educators.
It's ironic that while the calendar was being deliberated, the LAUSD board room was bracing for a stampede of parents to testify on behalf of the 17 charter applicants that were next on the board agenda. The parents wereReforms in disguise: a report on the LAUSD board meeting