Mayor to launch door-knocking campaign at Markham and award $5 million to L.A. schools

The mayor seems focused on education in Los Angeles this week, with a door-knocking campaign for the families of Markham Middle School and a total of $5 million in grants to be handed out to L.A. schools.

Mayor Villaraigosa plans to spend his Saturday knocking on doors in a campaign spanning 2,000 homes to reach out to parents, students and teachers of Markham Middle School. As a new member of the mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles City Schools, Markham’s doors are soon to open for the 2010-2011 school year and Villaraigosa hopes to encourage the community to get involved with local schools and “support student achievement.” Three new schools are due to open this fall under the Partnership for Los Angeles City Schools program.

The event will launch in Markham Middle School’s Multipurpose Room (1650 E. 104th Street) on Aug. 7 at 9am.

The mayor also announced a total of $5 million in grants being awarded to schools in Los Angeles through the L.A. Compact program. LA Compact is one of 49 programs to win a federal investing in innovation grant. The non-profit organization is an alliance of 18 institutions pledging to change education in Los Angeles through the commitment to goals such as a 100 percent graduation rate. Money will be spent on enhancing the Public School Choise Program and funding new pilot programs, according to the mayor’s office.

“The LA Compact is an innovative partnership that unites all stakeholders under a common goal: to put our children first and make their education our top priority,” Mayor Villaraigosa said, as quoted in a press release from his office. “Today, the LA Compact is being recognized for its success in education reform with a $5 million grant through the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The i3 grant program rewards creative, outside-the-box thinking. That is what earned the LA Compact this grant, and that is exactly what the grant will help us continue to do: fund new pilot programs and continue to offer more and better choices to LA students and their families through the Public School Choice Program.”

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the $5 million grant will help support 60,000 students in LAUSD’s lowest-achieving schools through new programs and “teacher collaboratives.”

The Public School Choice Program began in 2009 and pits teacher groups, charter operators and non-profits against one another for the chance to run schools within the LAUSD. Candidates must apply and go through an evaluation process before a decision over school leadership is determined.

The deadline for letters on intent for the second round of PSC were due June 30. According to United Teachers Los Angeles, more than 80 groups submitted letters of intent for the campuses, which together serve about 35,000 students. Green Dot, Aspire, ICEF, and Alliance for College-Ready Schools are among the charter operators participating in this round of the PSC process.

“Unlike the last cycle, when the major charter operators bid only on the new sites, in this round charters have put in letters of intent for nearly all the nine new and eight existing schools on the PSC Round 2 list,” explained the UTLA in their United Teacher newspaper. “Los Angeles High is the only site that does not have a charter operation bidding for it.”

Groups intending to compete will now how to develop a comprehensive education plan for their schools. Full applications for the second round of PSC are due in December.

According to a statement released by the mayor’s office, the LA Compact program “was signed this past February and has already proved itself successful by yielding these grant monies.”