Humanitas in New Esteban E. Torres High School

Los Angeles (February 2010) – As an outcome of LAUSD’s Public School Choice process on February 23, the new Esteban E. Torres high school campus in East Los Angeles, built for five small schools, will be operated by five teacher-developed pilot schools. Support for the design teams was provided by the Humanitas initiative at Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP).

Pilot schools are LAUSD schools that have autonomy over their budget, curriculum and assessment, governance, schedule and staffing in exchange for increased accountability. They are typically small, with 400-500 students. Previously, pilot schools had been limited to 10, but an agreement in December 2009 between LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles allowed an additional 20 new pilots to be approved.

The pilot schools that will share the Esteban E. Torres campus are the East LA Performing Arts Academy, the East LA Renaissance Academy, the Engineering and Technology Academy, the Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology, and the  Social Justice Leadership Academy. Students will be able to choose which of the five small schools they wish to attend.

The Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology will build on interdisciplinary, thematic instruction which is the hallmark of the LAEP Humanitas initiative and teacher network. The Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology will serve as a teacher training center for the five pilot schools.

“These teachers intend to prove that LAUSD’s most highly-qualified teachers can be entrusted with the futures of our youth,” said Jane Patterson, director the LAEP Humanitas program. “They are ready and poised to exceed parent, community, student and LAUSD expectations.”

The pilot plans for Torres High School embrace a community school model which will bring much-needed resources to the students and their families. Co-located services will be: InnerCity Struggle, which will coordinate local community efforts in the service of students; Bienvenidos, which will operate a full-service wellness center on the campus; Pan American Bank, which will operate a student-run bank; Luis Rodriguez’s Tia Chucha’s Bookstore; and East LA Classic Theatre.

The teacher-developed proposals were part of LAUSD’s public school choice process in which nonprofit applicant groups, charters, or groups of teachers were invited to apply to run approximately 30 new and low-performing schools throughout the district over the next three years. The application process required a written proposal and a vote of the teachers, parents and community. Reviewers rated the proposals, then Superintendent Cortines made his recommendations to the Board of Education, which then voted.

Los Angeles Education Partnership also collaborated on proposals approved for San Fernando Middle School and Valley Region Elementary School #8.

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