2 High Schools Apply for LEARN

Two West San Fernando Valley high schools--Taft and Canoga Park--have applied to become LEARN schools to improve student achievement and gain greater control of their schools.

"We're looking for change-ready schools," said Judy Burton, LEARN superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

LEARN, which stands for Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, is a district program that allows schools to become semi-autonomous from the district, Burton said. This year's application deadline for LEARN is March 15.

Burton said she believes that Taft High in Woodland Hills and Canoga Park High will be accepted because they already have adopted LEARN-like policies.

Also, the majority of the elementary and middle schools that feed into Taft and Canoga Park are LEARN schools themselves, a pattern that LEARN officials have made a priority for acceptance this year.

Taft High had tried to become a LEARN school two years ago, said Principal Ron Berz, but opted for school-based management because only 65% of the faculty voted in favor of LEARN.

School-based managements put control of administative decisions in local hands. LEARN takes this a step further by making teachers and administrators accountable for student achievement.

The United Teachers of Los Angeles requires that 75% of the faculty vote for LEARN for the school to adopt the program, Berz said.

In this round of voting, 84% of Taft's teachers voted in favor of becoming a LEARN school, Berz said. He said he expects an easy transition to LEARN because the school already follows the LEARN calendar and has school-based management.

But for Canoga Park High, which has a shared decision-making plan, this is its first try at LEARN and the school's staff is confident about making the change.

Principal Larry Higgins said 96% of Canoga Park's faculty voted for LEARN.

"We've just been waiting to explore LEARN," Higgins said.

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