By Mark Gomez, Social Studies Teacher at Manual Arts High School
This is a David and Goliath story in which energized teachers, students and parents from Manual Arts High School decided to take matters into their own hands and disrupt the inadequate status quo of public education in South Central LA’s Local District 7.
Through Public School Choice 3.0, LAUSD requested proposals for Augustus Hawkins High School, a new campus that will relieve the overcrowded Manual Arts campus. Local District 7 submitted one generic proposal for multiple new schools to continue business as usual. A group of teachers, students, and parents wanted to create a school that is for the community by the community. Thus, the Schools for Community Action (SCA) were born.
Committed to bring fresh air to a historically stale educational environment, SCA has been tirelessly working to ensure the new Augustus Hawkins campus will be an innovative and effective public school for the families of South Central. Throughout the Spring and Summer, they organized numerous community meetings that brought students, local police officers, parents, business owners, social service workers, university affiliates and educators together to create the vision for this school.
Based on the community input, it became clear that parents and students desire options and concrete college and career paths in their public schools. SCA has submitted four small school proposals for the overall site. Each of SCA’s four small schools plans have a focus – Community Health Advocates School (social work/therapy), Critical Design and Gaming School (game design, tech and media), Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship (local business/responsible consumerism) and School of Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (urban planning, environmental engineering). In addition to campus wide community partners, each school has reached out to specific university programs to further support their instructional programs. USC School of Social Work, Loyola Marymount University, as well as UCLA School of Public Policy, are just a few of the programs committed to support SCA’s academic programs.
Each small school is linked by SCA’s core values, which are: student centered, community collaboration, innovation and excellence, social justice and sustainability. SCA will also have an advisory program in all four schools that is designed to establish a true home base to support student attendance and address the individual needs that students bring to school every day. The SCA school plans are designed to support the whole student and welcomes parent and community support in all of the school programs.
If the Local District 7 plans are approved, students will continue to be limited to blocks of remedial math and English, with only the hope of possibly having the opportunity in their senior year to take courses that relate to a career. The SCA plans are designed to interest and support every student from 9th grade through 12th grade.
Supt. John Deasy is expected to give his decision next week regarding the future of Augustus Hawkins High School.