Statement in response to UTLA opposition to high-quality school expansion funding

Great Public Schools Now Reacts to News that UTLA will Oppose Funding for District Schools

November 4, 2016 (LOS ANGELES, CA) – Great Public Schools Now (GPSN), a non-profit organization committed to replicating successful schools in communities in need, released the following statement in response to a press release from United Teachers Los Angeles opposing GPSN’s work with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

 “I wish I could say I was surprised to see UTLA – which purports to represent teachers and students around Los Angeles – put politics ahead of what is essentially no-strings-attached funding for district schools. Instead, I am just perplexed. Why would UTLA impede teacher leaders from doing what they do best and lead more innovative programs to serve students better?” said Myrna Castrejón, Executive Director of GPSN. “When we launched in June, there was a lot of skepticism around the idea that we would ever make an effort to fund district schools – something the LAUSD Board mandated, and to which our commitment has never wavered. After months of work, and positive community feedback across Los Angeles, we were proud to announce funding would be made available to schools through a two-phase grant process

 “The idea behind Great Public Schools Now is to do something that hasn’t been done before - to focus on bringing the best education possible to students in communities in need, and not get bogged down in the politics. UTLA seems to be looking for villains in education. So, to support their own political agenda, they’re willing to turn down funds that schools – and their students – desperately need."

 “Our research and public outreach has shown that communities are hungry for more high-quality public schools. During polling last fall, 88% of L.A. residents supported making sure every student in a district with an underperforming public school has a choice of attending a higher performing public school.”

“And at our recent town hall in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, three out of four attendees wanted more high-quality elementary and middle schools in the area and 71% said they wanted more educational opportunities for their children.”

“It is our goal at GPSN to work collaboratively to meet the needs of these families and we are willing to work with a wide variety of partners to make this happen.”

This spring, the L.A. Unified Board of Education approved a motion seeking to replicate high-performing District schools, which is exactly what the GPSN-L.A. Unified grants will do. Funding will be awarded to non-selective, high-performing magnet, pilot, or traditional schools where at least half of the students met or exceeded proficiency in English or math on state tests. Funding can also go to campuses where no fewer than 25% of students perform at proficient levels and the school as a whole performed significantly better in math and English than surrounding schools with similar demographics. The grants will be used to pay for school expansion, either through adding capacity for enrollment or adding a whole new campus, and are only available to district-run schools, in partnership with LAUSD.