A Strategy to Create Small, High-Performing College-Preparatory Schools in Every Neighborhood of Los Angeles
Green Dot Public Schools, Bain & Company [180K PDF]:
Public school reform has become the #1 issue for the City of Los Angeles. While most acknowledge the poor state of the public education system, the discussion to date has largely focused on governance issues, such as mayoral control and district break-up. This whitepaper is intended to refocus the debate on a future vision for public schools in Los Angeles about which all stakeholders will be enthusiastic. Simply put, every child in Los Angeles should have the opportunity to attend a small, safe, college-preparatory public school. This whitepaper also provides a strategy for how the City of Los Angeles can take advantage of its historic opportunity to make this vision a reality. With $19 billion in bond funding, the Los Angeles Unified School District has unparalleled resources to execute a dramatic transformation.
Every young Angeleno should have the opportunity to attend a great public school. A neighborhood school that is safe, personalized, rigorous and engaging. A school where every teacher knows every student’s name and parents are actively involved in the education process. A school that provides children with the skills they need to reach their potential, fulfill their dreams, and thrive in today’s economy. A great school system is the foundation of a great city; Los Angeles desperately needs a great public school system to harness the city’s creativity, diversity and boundless opportunity.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles’ public schools are in a state of crisis. Only 45% of high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (“LAUSD” or “District”) graduate after four years.i Most public schools, particularly at the high school level, are overcrowded, academically deficient, and too often violent and unsafe. The city’s economy, safety, social stability and sense of hope are at risk, prompting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to comment that the high school dropout problem is “the new civil rights issue of our time.”
While the need for dramatic reform is clear, LAUSD has been unable to create a vision or strategy for dramatically improving its public schools. In a collaborative effort to help LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer create such a reform plan, Green Dot Public Schools, a leading public school operator in Los Angeles, and Bain & Company, one of the world’s preeminent management consulting firms, developed the “School Transformation Plan.”iii The School Transformation Plan details how LAUSD can leverage its successful $19 billion school bond campaign to transform its 46 comprehensive high schools into 500 high-performing small schools within 10 years. The School Transformation Plan is made up of the following core components:
- Definition of the key attributes consistently found in high-performing schools, called the “Six Tenets,” which all LAUSD high schools should follow in order to have the greatest likelihood of success.
- An introduction to “School Transformation,” a process that can be used to transform all comprehensive high schools in LAUSD into clusters of small successful schools that follow the Six Tenets.
- Identification of strategies LAUSD can use to roll out School Transformations at all of its high schools and the key execution implications that the District must address to effectively implement School Transformations on a broad scale.
Were LAUSD to embrace the School Transformation Plan immediately, it could start this fall by transforming Jefferson High School, the lowest-performing high school in the District. In parallel, LAUSD could further refine the School Transformation Plan, leading to a larger scale rollout that would fundamentally remake the District within 10 years.
It is an unprecedented time to change Los Angeles’ public schools. The District has recently raised over $19 billion in bond funds that can be used in School Transformations, citizens of this city are demanding dramatic public school reform and the state and federal governments are putting pressure on LAUSD to fix its failing schools. The mayor of Los Angeles has committed to prioritizing education reform as the top issue of his administration and has expressed his desire to take responsibility for all LAUSD schools. If School Transformations are executed at all high schools throughout the District and all schools follow the Six Tenets within 10 years, then we truly will have a vibrant city where all young Angelenos can get the education they need to fulfill their dreams.