2 Leading School Reform Groups Merge

Two of the largest school reform groups in Los Angeles have merged into a new organization dedicated to building public support for improving academic achievement.

The Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project (LAAMP) and the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now (LEARN) have combined to form the new LAAMP/LEARN Regional School Reform Alliance.

"We've designed a new, unified structure to advance the central reform principles of our founding organizations: focusing on improved student achievement as our No. 1 goal," said William Ouchi, co-chairman of the alliance.

"The best way to achieve that goal," he said, "is through school-based, decentralized decision-making and increased community involvement in local schools."

The alliance's initial tasks will include helping the Los Angeles Unified School District create a clearer, more workable budget system that maximizes funding at school sites.

Robin Kramer, the alliance's interim president, said the reorganization is expected to intensify and accelerate LEARN reform efforts already underway at more than half of Los Angeles' public schools.

LEARN is a nonprofit organization created in 1991 to promote a reform model that includes more school-based authority over budget and principal selection. Funded by Los Angeles business interests, LEARN aims to give greater voice to parents, teachers and principals.

The five-year, $53-million LAAMP program, which was established to promote reform activities at Los Angeles County schools, is scheduled to phase out of operation within 18 months.

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