District to Recruit High Schools for LEARN Program


Dismayed that no senior high schools volunteered to help launch the Los Angeles school district’s decentralization program, Supt. Sid Thompson said Monday that officials will embark on an informal recruitment campaign to gain their support.

At a meeting to review a list of 42 schools that will participate in the first phase of the LEARN plan, school board members expressed concerns that the reforms cannot be successful without high school participation.

Thompson said that he will make a concerted effort in the next week to encourage several high schools to re-evaluate their stance on the plan. The board is scheduled to formally approve the first group of schools on Monday.


The plan by LEARN (Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now) originally called for three high school complexes of about 30 schools to participate in the first phase this summer.

However, the reform campaign was dealt a blow two weeks ago when teachers union leaders voted against supporting the plan unless it incorporates teacher rights. Also, most of the more than 100 schools that initially were interested in becoming LEARN schools failed to obtain overwhelming teacher support for the plan. United Teachers-Los Angeles had requested that at least 75% of the staff at each school agree to participate.

The plan gives principals authority over virtually every aspect of campus management. Schools would be responsible for their own budgets, and parents, administrators and teachers would work together to set educational goals.

The only high school that has volunteered so far is the specialized, 630-student Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Lincoln Heights. Of the 42 campuses, nearly two-thirds are elementary schools. The rest are middle schools, children’s centers and an adult school.

“The initial idea was to assemble complete complexes to provide a continuum. I’m concerned that we don’t too quickly move away from that,” said school board member Mark Slavkin. “In our desire to meet deadlines, we may have missed goals.”

School board President Leticia Quezada said, “If we are going to be missing high schools, then we need to come up with a second vision (of the LEARN plan’s goals). . . . Unless we state that, I’m afraid it will fall into another experimental program.”