Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Ten years ago, artist Matthew Hoffman decided to create a positive self-affirming message, “You Are Beautiful,”and spread that message globally by using small two-inch stickers. Theodore Roosevelt High School and Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt (MSTMA) students adopted Hoffman’s concept by hosting a weeklong “You Are Beautiful” celebration from November 16th through the 20th.
This month, we announced the Partnership’s highly anticipated Lundquist Fellows class of 2015-16! A total of 22 students from across the Partnership’s middle and high schools were selected after a competitive interview process. The Richard and Melanie Lundquist Fellows Program launched in 2010 to identify and develop promising young leaders who have already demonstrated leadership, and commitment to their school, education and communities.
Earlier this month, 30 Math, Science & Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School (MSTMA) students and two teachers were invited to attend the County Board of Supervisors meeting to receive a recognition from Board Supervisor Hilda Solis. Students were recognized for being the first California school to receive the Student Voices award from the State Education Technology Directors.
What began thousands of years ago is growing to new heights at the Partnership in 2015. Restorative justice in schools is based on indigenous practices like holding circles to build relationships, discuss issues and heal harm. Borrowing from the Maori in New Zealand and the First Nations in Canada, school districts in the United States are adopting restorative approaches to address discipline and to strengthen school culture and classroom climate.
On Saturday, January 24th, dozens of students, families, and community partners with the Building Healthy Communities – Boyle Heights Health Happens in Schools Workgroup participated and facilitated at “Illuminarte,” an all-day community event at the General Hospital Wellness Center.
Thanks to our funding for restorative justice from The California Endowment, we were able to participate in the planning and execution of the festivities. Several of our students from Roosevelt and Mendez created and led carnival-style learning games on the School Climate Bill of Rights (SCBOR) and Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
We don’t just tell people about our work with restorative practices; we open our doors and invite them in. We welcome visitors to participate in circle, interview our students and staff, and engage in deep conversations about the lessons we’ve learned. On September 18th, Roosevelt, Gompers and Markham had visits from two school networks and several community partners eager to see our implementation of restorative practices in action.
Something’s different this year. Walking down the halls of our schools, there’s something notably different about the school and classroom environments. It’s not just the summer deep cleaning or the freshly waxed floors (though they help); there’s something collective about our environment expectations that has shifted the way schools and classrooms look and feel across the Partnership network.
This summer the Partnership once again welcomed several interns to work alongside our staff to learn more about our turnaround efforts. Interns came from all over the State including Berkeley, CA. Partnership summer interns participated in everything from family and community engagement to assisting the CEO and the executive team. We asked our interns to reflect on their time at the Partnership.
With the generous support of The California Endowment and the technical assistance of the California Conference for Equality and Justice, Roosevelt High, Markham Middle and Gompers Middle Schools each received a Restorative Justice coordinator to develop and implement restorative practices this past school year.
A colleague once remarked to me that teaching is about enabling connections. We work to connect students to the content, to ourselves, or to their classroom peers in an effort to engage their minds in learning. As educators, we should similarly connect ourselves in as many ways as possible to those who can help us further refine our craft. One way of enabling this is by traveling abroad and fostering relationships with educators of different nationalities. Not only do we gain insight into how different cultures approach the central problems in education, but we see our own society's approach to education with fresh perspective. Such a trip is invigorating both on personal and professional levels.
It's been almost eight years since Antonio Villaraigosa moved into LA City Hall and announced fixing the public schools would be a hallmark of his administration -- even though he had no formal control over the school district. Cynics scoffed and advisors cautioned, but the new mayor was on a mission and the behemoth Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, would never be the same.