Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
The Partnership for LA Schools is a non-profit organization focused on turning around LA’s lowest performing public schools and on piloting innovations that can be scaled across the Los Angeles Unified School District, (LAUSD). Launched in 2008, the Partnership is a collaboration of LAUSD, the City of Los Angeles and the philanthropic sector, and today it serves more than 15,000 students across 17 campuses in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA. The Partnership is the same size as the Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu school districts combined, and is one of the largest public school turnaround initiatives in the nation. Last year, the Partnership schools outperformed the district and state in every subject area covered by the California Standards Tests, (CSTs). Moreover, the Partnership was the # 1 improving mid- to large-size school district in the state last year, the year before that, and over the last five years according to the Academic Performance Index, (API).
The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools issued the following statement today regarding the announcement of a pending settlement in the historic case of Reed v. State of California, et al.
“At the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, our mission is about equity. We strive to empower all students with a high-quality education, no matter where they live. That's why we contacted the ACLU and Public Counsel and asked them to take this case in the first place," said Joan Sullivan, CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. "Today, thanks to ongoing collaboration, we have all parties coming together around a landmark settlement that promises to bring students across Los Angeles closer to the educational opportunity they deserve."
The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa contacted the ACLU and Public Counsel to initiate this lawsuit in 2009. At the time, Partnership schools such as Markham and Gompers Middle Schools stood to lose nearly half their faculty due to budget-based layoffs while more affluent schools would lose few if any teachers. The lawsuit alleged the disproportionate impact of such budget-based layoffs denied low-income students their fundamental right under the state constitution to equal educational opportunity. In 2010, the Partnership joined the case directly, represented on a pro bono basis by lead Partner Diana Torres of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis. “Our firm believes that all students deserve an equal chance at a great education, so we were happy to team up with the Partnership to ensure that budget cuts did not disproportionality impact the city’s most vulnerable students. We are proud to work with an organization leading the charge to improve public education in Los Angeles.”
An initial court injunction in 2010 protected Markham, Gompers and a third school, John Liechty Middle School, from budget-based layoffs, and Los Angeles Unified District (LAUSD) subsequently agreed to protect an additional 42 LAUSD schools from layoffs. Ultimately, the case worked its way through the courts ending with today’s proposed landmark settlement under which 37 LAUSD schools qualify for protection, including six Partnership schools: Markham, Gompers and Stevenson Middle Schools; and Mendez, Jordan and Roosevelt High Schools. The proposed settlement is pending approval of the Los Angeles School Board on April 22 and ultimate approval by the courts.
The proposed 3-year settlement will bring a range of supports for teachers, administrators and other staff in order to improve staff stability and reduce dropouts at each of the campuses. These schools, known as “Investment Schools” in the settlement, will receive new mentor teachers, another administrator, additional counselors or social workers, support positions for special education students, support for special training at each of the schools, incentives for leadership stability, and more planning time for new teachers, among other supports. This settlement provides an approximately $20 million per year to the 37 schools over three years.
As soon as Oscar Espinoza enters his classroom, he is instantly busy talking to a student who needs help with his grades. Unphased, Mr. Espinoza, teacher and Magnet Coordinator at Markham Middle School, puts everything down and assists the student with a grade change; he makes phone calls and arranges to help the student raise his grade.